Saturday, June 29, 2019





GREAT MAJORITY 
OF ANGLICAN BISHOPS 
TO ATTEND LAMBETH 2020




The Anglican Communion News Service has announced that 65% of the bishops of the Anglican Communion have already signed up to attend the Lambeth Conference next year. Find their announcement here . Altogether more than 1,000 bishops and spouses have registered. 566 of the 877 bishops of the Anglican Communion have committed to attend the meeting. Attendance is not free. Each bishop must pay a fee of $6,285 plus pay for his/her own transportation. By the time the conference meets next year, it could well meet the attendance level of the 2008 meeting when 623 bishops attended.  

This means that the GAFCON leaders' efforts to break up the Anglican Communion have failed. GAFCON claims to have more than half of the Anglican bishops. If two-thirds of all the Anglican bishops in the world have signed up for Lambeth, this means that many of the GAFCON bishops will attend despite the GAFCON leaders' attempts to suppress attendance. 

So far, only 4 of the 40 primates of the Anglican Communion have publicly announced boycotts of the Lambeth Conference. They are Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda. This equatorial African band is the original heart of GAFCON which was set up in 2008 on the eve of the  Lambeth Conference of 2008 to oppose equality for and inclusion of open homosexual persons in the life of the church. While the four primates will not attend, it is possible that many of their bishops will go to Lambeth. They have all been invited. 

Since its inception in 2008, GAFCON has tried hard to re-make classical Anglicanism. They have created a fundamentalist anti-homosexual-rights and anti-feminist coalition anchored in equatorial Africa outside of the institutional structure of the Anglican Communion. GAFCON claims it has the majority of Anglicans in the world. They created the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and have "recognized" ACNA as the only legitimate Anglican province in North America. This is contrary to the structure of the Anglican Communion which recognizes the Episcopal Church as the only branch of the Communion in the United States. The GAFCON primates' council has placed the archbishop of ACNA, who is not a bishop of the Anglican Communion, as its chair. 

Last year, the GAFCON primates' council sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury demanding that TEC bishops be replaced at Lambeth by bishops of ACNA. The ABC, Justin Welby has not responded and certainly will not agree to this illegal demand which, if accepted, would effectively end the leadership of the ABC in the AC. In fact, he has invited the TEC bishops to Lambeth (minus the same-sex spouses). 

Without compliance of the ABC to their demand, the GAFCON primates called an anti-Lambeth conference the month before Lambeth. It is to meet 8-14 June 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda. GAFCON has not announced how many bishops have signed up to attend this alternative conference but the number must not be great. If it were, we would know it. No GAFCON conference has ever assembled a majority of Anglican bishops. The most has been forty percent. Bear in mind that the GAFCON primates' council has not officially called for a boycott of the Lambeth Conference and probably will not do so now since two-thirds of Anglican bishops have already signed up to go to the Conference. A failed boycott would be an embarrassment.  

Mark Lawrence and all of the fifty-odd bishops of ACNA have not been, and will not be, invited to the Lambeth Conference simply because they are not bishops of the Anglican Communion. They call themselves Anglicans but they are not recognized as Anglicans by the Archbishop of Canterbury. To be an Anglican, one has to be in communion with Canterbury. The ABC has said more than once he is not in communion with ACNA. GAFCON's "recognition" of the ACNA bishops is meaningless in the structure of the Anglican Communion.

Yet, the Diocese of South Carolina, and some of their congregations continue to insist they are parts of the Anglican Communion. This is flatly false. They may call themselves "Anglicans" or whatever they wish but the bare fact is they are not in the Anglican Communion. They know it and the Archbishop of Canterbury knows it. The people following Lawrence should know it. If the laity of DSC believe they are in the Anglican Communion, they are believing something that is not true. There were two great claims that the DSC leadership made to their followers at the schism. One was that the diocese was independent and sovereign and therefore could leave TEC at will with the property in hand. The SC Supreme Court proved that claim to be false. The second was that they could leave TEC and remain in the Anglican Communion. Exclusion of DSC from the Anglican Communion's decennial conference next year proves that notion false. The schism in SC was based on two assertions that turned out to be untrue (at the cost of millions of dollars).

Likewise, DSC's parent, the Anglican Church in North America claims, brazenly, to be a part of the Anglican Communion. On their website here we find this:   "On April 16, 2019 it [ACNA] was recognized as a province of the global Anglican Communion by the Primates of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans." This implies obviously that ACNA is a province of the Anglican Communion. Such an idea is flatly false. The AC is composed of 40 provinces. ACNA is not now, never has been, and never will be a province of the Anglican Communion. This group of primates had no authority to "recognize" anyone in or out of the AC. Just saying something is true does not make it true. If it were, we would have 12 million new American citizens in an instant.

The bottom line is that, despite its eleven year effort, GAFCON and its American proxy ACNA have failed to break up the Anglican Communion just as they have failed to replace classical Anglicanism with their new narrow and intolerant fundamentalist version of Anglicanism. Now, it is still entirely possible that some of the GAFCON primates could remove their provinces from the AC and form a separate communion. The 40 provinces are independent churches after all and perfect free to leave the AC at any time. 

The clear majority of the Anglican bishops around the world will be attending the Lambeth Conference of 2020. This is a huge victory for the traditional Anglican Communion and a stinging defeat for the new dissenters. For the moment, at least, the center of power in the Anglican world remains in Canterbury, not in equatorial Africa and Anglicanism continues to be the broad and enlightened religion it has always been. This is true because the majority of bishops of the Anglican world want it to be true.

Friday, June 28, 2019





A FRIDAY BREAK 
IN AN EARLY SUMMER GARDEN




My garden has transitioned into its early summer phase and is flourishing thanks to lots of rain and a little care. Given the mild winter and a great deal of water since, the plants are going gangbusters and so are the weeds and pests. However, I say a garden that won't grow good weeds is not much of a garden. Strolling around my modest Eden these days we find:


From this angle, the garden appears to be an overgrown jungle. Actually, it is not as crowded as it looks in this picture. However, in planning the garden I followed the Olmsted rule, over plant at first and thin out later. As you can see, in a sense, I have never left the Florida of my youth.


Crepe Myrtle is the glory of a southern summer. This one is "Tuscarora" (Lagerstroemia indica, 'tuscarora'), a large shrub with deep pink flower clusters. I would say crepe myrtle is the most common summer flowering shrub in the south for obvious reason.


Great Coneflower, aka Giant Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia maxima) puts up 6' flower stems topped with large seed pods, a favorite of birds. I am sure I have the happiest birds in the county because I give them plenty of natural food and nesting space. They reward me with the sweetest music in the world. It's a happy trade-off on both sides.



Red Hot Poker "Lola." (Kniphofia 'Lola'). Perennial, striking in masses.



Lantana is another southern favorite. It comes in bush form and trailing ground cover form. This is a perennial bush form called "Miss Huff." Given full sun, it will bloom prolifically all summer and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.



Abelia grandiflora 'Sherwood.' The abelia family of shrubs is one of the best for southern gardens. They are foolproof, low-maintenance and often used as trimmed hedges. I prefer that plants grow naturally as long as they do not overwhelm their neighbors.



Althea, aka Rose of Sharon. Red Double Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus amplissimus). Not a rose at all, but a deciduous hibiscus shrub. A common summer flowering shrub in the south and for good reason.



Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii "Harlequin'). Well-named, but for whatever reason, there has been a serious decline in the butterfly population in my garden in the last few years (the monarch has disappeared). I miss the butterflies.



Butterfly bush comes in several colors. This one is yellow.




Another abelia. This one is "Kaleidoscope." Again, one of the best shrubs for the garden.



Balloon Flower "Astra" (Platycodon 'Astra'). Good choice of a perennial flower that thrives on neglect. 



Oregano. Where would Mediterranean cooking be without oregano? Dull. If you have room for one herb, try this. It makes an elegant plant that flowers in summer and is very easy to grow. This garden-grown plant has a stronger and more "minty" flavor than the stale store-bought kind. Another good garden herb for the south is rosemary.



Golden Delicious Apple. I have two semi-dwarf apple trees and three large blueberry bushes yet I do not get to have any apples or blueberries. My garden is popular with the wildlife. I have learned by experience that apple is a favorite snack of deer. These apples are only half-grown but already the deer are eating the low-hanging fruit. Soon they will start stretching up on hind legs to reach higher. 


I hope you enjoyed our little stroll around my garden and are having a pleasant summer. Given the state of the schism, everyone needs some diversion and therapy to stave off the  madness that may come from battle fatigue. My best therapy is gardening, for both the physical work and the aesthetic enjoyment of God's beautiful creation. Not everyone has the room for or the interest in growing things. Other people prefer other forms of therapy. Some people lose themselves in their jobs, or in their studies. My father's escape was fishing. He would have fished 24/7 if it had been possible. His therapy must have paid off because, in spite of a highly stressful job of police chief in Pensacola, he died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 96. Some people clean house to a fault, some shop til they drop, some work out in the gym until there is no sweat left, some lose themselves in music, or in any of a thousand other satisfying hobbies. All of these are useful for our emotional well-being. 

My point is, the schism is dragging out longer than anyone thought it would and the breakaway side has shown every sign that they are resolved to throw up every roadblock possible to keep from turning over the keys of the properties the state supreme court has already awarded to the Episcopal Church. No one has any way of knowing how much longer this tragedy is going to last but we do know the wheels of justice turn very slowly. Glaciers melt faster. 

If you feel frustrated, disappointed, even angry by what has happened in the schism, you have every right and reason to feel that way, and you are not alone. Claim those feelings. However, it would be wrong to let those feelings, legitimate though they may be, get the best of us. That is why I suggest everyone sinking in the pluff mud of the schism should find a diversion, a therapy, and keep occupied for the duration. The litigation will end one day. It is just a matter of time. We just cannot know when that will be. Meanwhile, garden, or go fishing, or ( fill in the blank ).








Monday, June 24, 2019





CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES




In the past few days, I have been thinking a great deal about the choices we make, why we make them, and what consequences these choices may have for ourselves and others. What brings this up are two anniversaries that have absolutely nothing to do with each other but illustrate well the dilemmas we all face in life of making choices. I will return to the two cases momentarily.

The schism involved choices, huge ones. The consequences of these choices were also enormous and affected the lives of thousands of people caught in the current. To make the schism, a group of church leaders, mostly clergy, decided they had to break the diocese away from the Episcopal Church in order to preserve their understanding of God-ordered society, namely that women should remain submissive to men and that open homosexuals and the transgendered should be denied equality and inclusion in the life of the church. Then, the majority of the laity in the old diocese made the choice to go along with this separation from their ancestral religion. The minority of the clergy and laity also made a decision, that is, to remain with the Episcopal church. As a consequence of these choices, the two sides have been locked in a bitter legal war for the last six and a half years, a war that seems to go on interminably, even at the cost of between five and ten million dollars. This has become a war of attrition that took a bizarre turn recently when the Episcopal church insurance company revealed they have been making payments to the schismatics. The patience and faith of everyone is being put to the test.

And so, today I am thinking of two timely examples of cases where people made historic choices that turned out very differently.

The first is the case of my home church St. Luke's of Jacksonville, AL. Jacksonville was first settled by white people in 1833. In 1837, a large extended family arrived from North Carolina, the Hokes-Forneys-Abernathys. These were well-to-do people who became the propertied classes of the little courthouse town in the hill country of northeast Alabama. Col. John D. Hoke became the mayor, postmaster, colonel of the local militia, and founder of boys and girls schools. His wife, Anna Maria Whitaker Hoke, arrived as the only Episcopalian in the town of some 600 people. The rest of her clan were German Reformed and Lutheran. Rather than melt into the Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist churches in town, she made a fateful choice. She resolved on her own to make an Episcopal church. On June 30, 1844, by her arrangement, a deacon from Rome, Georgia, held the first prayer book service in Jacksonville, in her front parlor, baptizing three of the extended family's children. Gradually, Hoke convinced most of the rest of the extended family to join her little fledgling new Episcopal congregation. In 1847 Col. and Mrs. Hoke journeyed to New York, Anna Maria's home, to await the birth of a baby. The infant was baptized in Richard Upjohn's magnificent new structure at the foot of Wall Street, Trinity Church. 

By popular demand from people like the Hokes, Upjohn published, in 1852, his landmark pattern book, Upjohn's Rural Architecture. It had a huge influence on spreading the Gothic revival movement across rural and small town America. The Hokes decided that they would build the "church" in the book and so raised the necessary money among the little flock, $2,200. St. Luke's church building was constructed and fully furnished in 1856 almost exactly by the Upjohn plan. Today it stands as one of the truest and best preserved of all of the hundreds of Upjohn "churches" built in mid-nineteenth century America. St. Luke's was the first permanent church building constructed in Jacksonville. The parish went on to play a major role in the history of the town as it still does. It all started with one person, a woman of firm resolve and faith. The choices she made turned out to be a boundless blessing to the people of her life and those who were to came after. It should never be said that one person does not make a difference. This one person made all the difference. 

Next Sunday, June 30, 2019, the people of St. Luke's and Jacksonville, Alabama, will be remembering the wonderful choices one person made 175 years ago and the even greater consequences of those choices. Here is the memorial plaque in St. Luke's to the founding mother (it is rare for nineteenth century churches to have memorials to women). 



"A Mother in Israel" refers to Judges 5:7 and Deborah, a prophetess and leader in Israel who demonstrated that God chooses women as well as men as leaders. This is a remarkable tribute to Hoke at a time when women were not allowed to speak in church let alone hold any place of authority.       

The church the Hokes built:


The spire is now covered in copper, but the structure is almost all wood, heart-of-pine, from the centers of giant, ancient pine trees that once covered the south. This style of board-and-batten is sometimes called Carpenter's Gothic. The first bishop of Alabama, Nicholas H. Cobbs, knocked on this front door to begin the consecration of this structure on Jan. 4, 1857. Services have been held by the congregation every Sunday since, even in the darkest days of the Civil War. The original bell came from Charleston (confiscated in Civil War).  



Most of what one sees in this compacted picture is original to the building and follows faithfully the pattern-book instructions. The crowning glory of the Upjohn design is the sharply-pitched and dark-stained heart-of-pine ceiling. The brass chandelier is believed to be a gift of the Roosevelt family, friends of the Hokes. The altar windows were made by Sharp and Steele of NYC, the company that made the altar windows of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church on King St. in Charleston.

From the happy choices and consequences of Hoke, we turn to our second example, one that is entirely different. It is disturbing but ultimately redemptive.

William Alexander Guerry was bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina from 1908 to 1928. He was way ahead of his time as he called for the creation of a suffragan bishop for "Negroes." The white racist diocesan convention flatly rejected this proposal but Guerry was undeterred in his advocacy of reforms to benefit African Americans. On June 5, 1928, he was shot in his office by a deranged man who had published a blatantly racist book, "The Negro Bishop Movement in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina." The gunman then shot himself to death. Guerry died four days later. 




For decades to come, Guerry's death was treated as simply the work of a deranged man, absent of any racial element. Then, in the early 2000's, researchers Calhoun Walpole, now archdeacon of TECSC, and Thomas Tisdale, now chancellor of TECSC, began to round out the story in its full light of racism. Thanks mostly to the work of the staff of Grace Church Cathedral in Charleston, Guerry was declared "Bishop, Reformer, Martyr," to be celebrated on his feast day of June 9. He is now memorialized in Canterbury Cathedral among the great martyrs of the church.

Starting in the 1950's, the Episcopal Church began a great democratic reform movement bringing in dramatic changes for equality and inclusion of long persecuted, maligned, marginalized, and ignored social elements, namely African Americans, women, and homosexual and transgendered people. This was in the spirit of Guerry. However, in 2012, the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina resolved to repudiate this train of reform. They declared a separation from the national church and led the majority of the laity out. The schism was the direct result of opposition to equality and inclusion of women and gays. Bishop Guerry is the spiritual forerunner of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, not of the independent diocese. Grace Church Cathedral has made a major effort to remind people of Guerry's legacy to the contemporary church. It has made a chapel in his honor. Yesterday, it held a grand service in honor of Guerry with an address by Walter Edgar. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is the great beneficiary of Guerry's life and work. The consequences of grace were a long time coming, but they did arrive nevertheless. 

So, Guerry made a choice, to advocate for the dignity and worth of every human being, namely African Americans. On the suffragan bishop idea, at least, he was shot down by the white supremacists in control at that point in history. He remained undeterred. He kept making choices to improve the conditions of people who were being persecuted for no good reason. He was finally shot down by a man who had shown a racist past. 

What were the consequences of his choices? Guerry left a legacy that only slowly developed in the diocese. It was Bishop Gray Temple, in the 1960's and 1970's who really carried out Guerry's policies of righting the wrongs done to blacks and others. It was the minority of loyal Episcopalians in the diocese who kept up the social reforms after the tragic schism of 2012. Only recently has Guerry been given the recognition he was due. His name is now honored by the church as it should have been all along. 

So, what's the moral of this tale of two cases of choices and consequences? The moral is we make the best choices we can in life according to our understanding of right and wrong. In the Garden of Eden humankind was given the knowledge of good and evil and also given the free will to make choices, followed by consequences. Sometimes these choices have wonderful and bountiful outcomes. Sometimes these choices cause our deaths. We make them anyway because that is our calling as Christians. We make our choices believing they are the right ones knowing that one way or another grace will flow from them whether beautifully as with Hoke, or tragically, as with Guerry.

This means that everyone caught in the schism has to make choices. We should make them according to our understanding of our faith, not because they are easy or will have immediate gratification, but because they are morally and ethically right. Sometimes our choices lead to bountiful blessings but sometimes they lead to immediate death. Either way, if they are the right choices, grace will flow from them even if it is a long time coming.

And so, I end with a favorite hymn of my beloved college chaplain at F.S.U., Lex Matthews (RIP):

They cast their nets in Galilee
Just off the hills of brown
Such happy simple fisherfolk
Before the Lord came down

Contented peaceful fishermen
Before they ever knew
The peace of God That fill'd their hearts
Brimful and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,
Homeless, in Patmos died.
Peter, who hauled the teeming net, 
Head-down was crucified.

The peace of God, it is no peace,
But strife closed in the sod,
Yet, brothers, pray for but one thing-
The marvelous peace of God.       

Friday, June 21, 2019





WHAT'S GOING ON WITH 
THE CHURCH INSURANCE COMPANY?



The actions surrounding the Episcopal Church insurance company and the schism get curiouser and curiouser by the day leaving all of us wondering what in the world is going on with that company.

The Church Insurance Company of Vermont, as it is officially known, is a function of the Episcopal Church. It is one of three insurance entities under the Church Pension Group. Find their official blurb here . The CIC-VT provides insurance coverage only for Episcopal churches. It is what is called a "captive" insurance company.

The CIC-VT provides coverage for the Church diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. However, it has come to light recently that CIC-VT has also been paying coverage for at least one of the breakaway congregations. This means it has been paying some of the legal costs of both sides of the schism. 

The latest episode in the strange saga of CIC-VT is its court action of June 14, 2019. We will return to this momentarily.


First, a brief outline of what we know now about the CIC-VT and the schism:


1. TECSC.

CIC-VT insured TECSC effective January 1, 2013.
Then, CIC-VT declared it was not obligated to pay TECSC's legal bills. TECSC went to federal court claiming breach of contract. The federal judge, Patrick Duffy, ruled three times in 2014 that CIC-VT was obligated to pay coverage for TECSC. On Dec. 3, 2014, CIC-VT and TECSC signed a "confidential" (non-disclosure) agreement of a settlement. This certainly meant CIC-VT would pay at least part of TECSC's legal costs.


2. No public news from CIC-VT from 2014 to 2019.


3. News from St. Philip's.

On March 6, 2019, this blog broke the news that St. Philip's, one of the secessionist congregations, had billed the CIC-VT for legal costs. This revealed that CIC-VT had been paying something to the breakaway side in the litigation.


4. TECSC Complaint.

On June 11, 2019, TECSC filed a Complaint in federal court against CIC-VT. Find it here . TECSC charged that CIC-VT "...secretly, knowingly, and wrongfully made payments and misdirected insurance proceeds to the insured's disaffiliated adversaries to fund their litigation efforts against the insured..." TECSC asked the court to award it damages from CIC-VT.


5. CIC-VT Complaint.

On June 14, 2019, CIC-VT entered a Complaint in the federal court in Charleston asking the judge for a declaratory judgment. Find it here .
On page 14, CIC-VT admitted to paying some of the breakaway parishes:  "29. CICVT is and has been providing the Disassociated Parishes a defense in the Underlying Action under a reservation of rights pursuant to the applicable Policy issued to each of them."
The Complaint listed seventeen secessionist congregations which it had covered:

Redeemer, of Orangeburg
Old St. Andrew's
All Saints, Florence
Our Saviour, Johns Island
Holy Trinity, Charleston
Church of the Cross, Bluffton
St. Philip's, Charleston
St. John's, Johns Island
St. Bartholomew's
Holy Cross, Stateburg
Good Shepherd, Charleston
Resurrection, Surfside
Holy Comforter, Sumter
St. David's, Cheraw
St. Michael's, Charleston
St. Jude's, Walterboro
Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant

On page 14, use of the word "is" implies CIC-VT presently covers these seventeen local churches.

In the conclusion of the Complaint, CIC-VT asks the judge to render a decision on the company's "rights and duties under each of the Policies." In other words, they are asking the judge to decide whether the company has to cover the breakaway churches and, if so, what the coverage should be.
Interesting to note that CIC-VT listed TECSC as one of the defendants in this Complaint but did not mention anything about TECSC in its requests of the court.

It is interesting to contrast TECSC's Complaint of June 11 with CIC-VT's Complaint to the same court of June 14. TECSC accused CIC-VT of wrongdoing  and asked the court to make CIC-VT pay damages. CIC-VT admitted its relations with seventeen breakaway churches and asked the judge to tell it how it should relate to the "disassociated" churches. 


Can you keep all this straight? If not, you are not alone. A lot of this makes no sense to me, and I strongly suspect there is more here than meets the eye. Unfortunately, what we know now leaves us with far more questions than answers. Here are a few of my questions:

---CIC-VT made an undisclosed settlement with TECSC in 2014. Then, why did CIC-VT name TECSC a defendant in its June 14 Complaint? Anyway, in the end, it made no demand of TECSC in the Complaint.

---Why is CIC-VT issuing policies to non-Episcopal churches? It admitted coverage to the seventeen listed. This coverage must have been going on for years. As I understand them, the rules allow it to cover only Episcopal churches. Is it possible the company officers did not know these seventeen were non-Episcopal congregations? Such a thing seems incredible to me.

---Surely CIC-VT knew the seventeen congregations were outside of TEC/TECSC. What could possibly be their reason for providing them insurance policies? The schism occurred six and a half years ago.

---Why was CIC-VT paying both sides in the legal war? Betting against oneself seems disingenuous to me.

---Why ask a judge to tell a company what its own rules and regulations are? Why cannot the company interpret its own regulations? The procedures should evolve from the company's mission.

---Why does CIC-VT need any advice at all on how to conduct their own business? They could simply follow their own policies. 

Thus, there is much here that I do not understand given the documents we have at hand. As I said, I suspect there is much more to this story than is publicly known. Perhaps in time we will understand more. At the moment, I just cannot imagine why the Episcopal Church insurance company is paying anything to parties who are fighting in court against the Episcopal Church. I am baffled.

As they say, stay tuned. 




Wednesday, June 19, 2019





THE STATUS OF THE LITIGATION,
 19 JUNE 2019



Unfortunately, there is nothing new on the litigation to report, today, June 19. Nevertheless, this is a convenient time to review the status of the legal war between the independent diocese, the Diocese of South Carolina, and the Episcopal Church and its diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. We now have four tracks of litigation to watch, two in state court and two in federal court:  

1-(state) circuit court, on implementation of the Aug. 2, 2017 SCSC decision;  

2-(state) South Carolina Supreme Court, on response to TECSC's petition for a writ of mandamus directing the circuit court to implement the Aug. 2 SCSC decision;  

3-(federal) U.S. District Court, on the suit of vonRosenberg v. Lawrence;  

4-(federal) U.S. District Court, on the Complaint of TECSC against the Church Insurance Company.

These are four different legal actions, but all are somewhat related as aspects of the schism. To review the four:


Circuit Court

The SCSC remitted its Aug. 2, 2017 decision to the circuit court, in Orangeburg on November 17, 2017. A "remittitur" means the lower court is ordered to implement, or carry out, the high court decision. The last page of the decision listed three majority rulings of the court:  29 of the 36 parishes are property of the Episcopal Church;  6 parishes own their property individually; and Camp St. Christopher is property of TECSC. It is the job of the lower court to put these three orders into effect. TECSC asked the circuit court judge for a special master to oversee the transition and for an accounting firm to provide a financial accounting. 

The circuit court judge in Orangeburg, Edgar Dickson declared the SCSC decision unclear and asked the two sides for more arguments. He has had the SCSC decision before him for a year and a half and has taken no measure to implement it. It is not true that the SCSC decision is unclear. In fact, the three orders of the decision are plainly listed on the last page of the decision. They are perfectly clear. Dickson's reason for refusing to implement the decision remains a mystery. 

Since Dickson has done nothing to enact the decision, my best guess now is that he will not order an enactment of the decision on his own before the SCSC reply on the writ. It is reasonable to assume if he were going to act on his own, he would have done so by now. A year and a half is more than enough time in my view. I expect he is waiting on the SCSC to issue a response to TECSC's petition for a writ of mandamus before proceeding.


SCSC

The SCSC issued a majority decision on the church case on Aug. 2, 2017. It recognized 29 parishes and the Camp as property of TEC/TECSC. It remitted the decision to the lower court on Nov. 17, 2017. 

Given the failure of the circuit court to implement the decision, on March 20, 2019, TECSC filed a petition with the SCSC for a writ of mandamus, or order directing the lower court to enact the law. We are now awaiting a response. Typically, the SCSC takes three to six months to respond to a petition for a writ.

A writ can be granted by one justice of the SCSC. However, in a case of this magnitude, it is most likely that more than one justice will issue the response. It may well be that all of the justices will join in a response in order to maintain unity and make a point. After all, the authority of the SCSC is at stake as well as the integrity of the state judicial system.

The response will either grant or deny TECSC's petition for a writ. Either way, there will probably be a several-page explanation of the response. Judge Dickson has not declared a refusal to enact the SCSC decision. He simply has not made a decision or taken any action to enact the SCSC decision. It boils down to whether a year and a half of delay amounts to denial of the law. It seems reasonable to me that inaction for eighteen months is the same as denial. However, since Dickson has not refused enactment directly, the SCSC justices may well hesitate to grant a writ on the grounds that he has not rejected any law. Even if they deny, they are likely to remind the lower court of its duty to implement a decision of the state high court, particularly one that has been denied rehearing and cert at SCOTUS. If so, this could have the same effect on the lower court. One big question about a response from SCSC is whether the justices will give a time limit on implementation of the decision. A denial without a time constraint would leave Dickson in the same position, to delay enactment indefinitely. So, two main points to look for in the SCSC response: grant or denial of writ, and explanation with particular reference to time.

My guess is we will have a response from the SCSC by the end of September and that one way or another, the justices will direct Dickson to carry out the decision. It is inconceivable SCSC would allow a circuit court to ignore or reject a decision of the state high court.


vonRosenberg v. Lawrence

TECSC entered this suit in March of 2013, that is, more than six years ago in the U.S. District Court, in Charleston. While the state case dealt essentially with the ownership of the local churches, the federal case concerned the ownership of the pre-schism diocese, its names, rights, and assets. For the first few years, the case was handled by Judge C. Weston Houck who refused to proceed with it even though he was directed twice by the federal court of appeals to do so. He died leaving the case in limbo.

Judge Richard Gergel, now has the case. The last papers were submitted to him in January of 2019. He set the date of a trial at May 1, 2019 or after. There has been no word from Gergel in the last few months. 

Gergel can hold a formal courtroom trial or he can issue a decision on his own. Both sides have asked him to make a summary judgment on his own. 

Since there has been no word from Gergel in months, it seems unlikely he will hold a trial. If he were going to have a trial, he probably would have announced some kind of scheduling for it by now. A trial requires a preparatory period for discovery. My best guess is he will render a decision on his own in the near future. Federal courts tend to side with national institutions.


Church Insurance Company

As of last week, we have a fourth avenue of litigation to join the three long underway. On June 11, 2019, TECSC filed a Complaint with the federal court in Charleston against the Church Insurance Company of Vermont. This is a company that insures Episcopal churches.

The Complaint charged that the CIC-VT "secretly, knowingly, and wrongfully" made payments to at least one non-Episcopal Church congregation that is an adversary in court. The Company is a "captive" one, in that it can insure only churches affiliated with the Episcopal Church. CIC-VT is the insurance company covering TECSC. Yet, St. Philip's Church of Charleston, one of the breakaway congregations, announced it had billed the CIC-VT for payment on an insurance policy.   

Technically, St. Philip's is property of the Episcopal Church as per the state supreme court decision. However, the clergy and laity occupying the premises are not affiliated with the Episcopal Church but with a non-Episcopal Church diocese. If CIC-VT made any payment to the non-Episcopalians occupying the property, this would presumably be in violation of the company's rights not to mention aiding the adversary in the ongoing litigation. If CIT-VT paid St. Philips, it would have been paying both sides of the litigation.  

TECSC is asking the court for damages, legal fees, and an accounting.


Why is this taking so long?
What people mean by this is why have we not had closure of the schism by now. That is the question I get a lot and one I ask myself often. The legal war began on January 4, 2013, almost six and a half years ago. We are all exhausted and frustrated. Fighting the former brothers and sisters in court goes against our grains as Christians. This is not how Christians should behave toward each other. There is widespread longing for an end to all of this, for closure and healing.

In searching for the answers of why so long, we have to go back to the origins of the Anglican Realignment in the 1990's. That movement began as an attempt to destroy or greatly diminish the Episcopal Church as an institution in American life. So, remember the original goal was negative, to do as much damage to the Episcopal Church as possible. The reactionaries have accomplished a considerable amount toward this goal. But the drive is not over, so whatever damage they can continue to do is justified in this line of thinking.

We have to consider too that the reactionaries are Anglican fundamentalists. GAFCON and its creation the Anglican Church in North America are fundamentalist offshoots of the classical Anglicanism of the three-legged stool. Fundamentalists have a definite mindset in which the universe is divided into opposing dualities: God/Satan, saved/unsaved, good/evil, heaven/hell, orthodox/heretical, etc. There is no in between, no shade of grey in this black and white view of the universe. Thus, if a fundamentalist believes God is on his side, Satan must be on the other. There is no compromise with evil. In the last couple of years DSC leaders have said, or implied that TEC is the "false teacher," "pagan," and non-biblical. Demonization of the other is an aspect of fundamentalism.

This may help us understand why the leaders of the schismatic diocese rejected every offer of compromise and mediation. They are likely to continue this attitude. Most famously they rejected the generous offer of TEC in 2015 to trade the local churches for the diocese. If they had accepted the offer, the war would have been over a long time ago and all 36 parishes in question would now be independent of the Episcopal Church. Instead, 29 of them have been returned to TEC by the court. Too, from October of 2017 to January of 2018, there were meetings of mediation ordered by the federal court, meetings that accomplished absolutely nothing.

Since, in all likelihood, there is going to be no settlement by compromise or mediation, we can expect a long and drawn out legal war that will be eventually settled by the courts. Having lost in state court, the DSC leaders' apparent strategy has become deny and delay. They have denied the SCSC decision said what it said. They insisted it was "conflicted" and "unenforceable" when it is not. They have refused to accept the SCSC decision. Moreover, they have thrown up every roadblock they can to the implementation of the decision.

DSC leaders have told their followers that they need not worry about losing the properties because they can keep the litigation going far into the future. Actually, there is some truth to this, unfortunately. Judge Dickson's decisions can be appealed to the state appeals court. Judge Gergel's orders can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond. As we all know, appeals can go on for years. More delay.

Bottom line---all signs suggest to me that DSC is in it to the bitter end. The DSC leaders are confident God is on their side and they seem to have no inclination to compromise or mediate.  I would not be surprised if the DSC leaders surrender only when the sheriff shows with the vacate order. Episcopalians would be wise to hunker down for the long haul. I wish this were not the case, but I fear it is.



Then, why the fight? Why do not Episcopalians just throw in the towel and let the breakaways have the old diocese and the local properties? Would not it be easier just to quit and have peace and closure now? Answer=two words:  human rights. The Episcopal Church is fighting the good fight for the bedrock biblical principle that every person is made in the image of God only a little lower than the angels. Every person has God-given dignity and worth. This divine creation requires equality for and inclusion of all people in the life of the church, at this time notably for African Americans, women, and homosexuals. The fight may be long and hard, but who said doing the morally and ethically right thing was supposed to be easy? We Christians know doing right is often costly, even to life itself. Yet, we do it because it is right to do as children of God and followers of the Great Inclusionist, Jesus Christ. 

This is the kernel of the struggle at hand in South Carolina. The leaders of DSC took their followers out of TEC to keep some people, particularly women and homosexuals, from gaining equality and inclusion in the church. DSC forced the legal war on TEC with the original lawsuit of 2013. TEC is fighting long and hard in the courts for the human rights of all people. As long and hard as it it, this is the good fight and God, in his unfathomable wisdom and grace, will see it out.



____________________

As always, readers, I remind you I am not a lawyer or legal expert, and the views here I offer only as opinion.

Thursday, June 13, 2019





FOUR YEARS AGO



Nearly four years ago, on June 17, 2015, our collective heart broke when we learned the news of the cold-blooded massacre of nine people at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in old Charleston. Dylann Roof, a twenty-one-year-old white supremacist apparently aiming to start a race war, was soon apprehended. He was convicted and sentenced to death and is now in federal prison awaiting execution.

In many a place in America, such a horrendous racially-motivated crime would have produced violent reactions of proportional scales: mass riots in the streets, neighborhoods in flames, clashes with police, national guard called in, that sort of thing. Not in Charleston. Out of the unfathomable grief came not the expected violence but the unexpected forgiveness. The bravest families in the world swallowed their almost unbearable pain to tell the satanic murdered to his face they forgave him. Our hearts broke again. The very worst of times brought out the very best in these people. They taught us all how to live as the Christians we claim to be. It was truly amazing grace. Today every one of us owes these families profound respect and gratitude.

As we remember now, we have two new outstanding works at hand to help us understand what happened in the event and the aftermath.

The first is the movie, "Emanuel: The Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting." It is an hour and twenty-minute documentary featuring the families of the victims produced by the NBA star Stephen Curry and award-winning actress Viola Davis. The movie will be shown on June 17 and 19 in select theaters across America. In the Charleston area, it will be shown at 7 p.m., at the Terrace, on James Island, Palmetto Grande in Mt. Pleasant, and Charles Town Square in North Charleston. All producers' proceeds will go to the victims' families and survivors.

See the movie website here for trailers and much more information about this landmark production. You can find on the website the theaters in you area screening the film. All indications suggest this movie is a wonderful tribute to the victims, the survivors, the community of Emanuel, and finally to South Carolina. Ultimately the story is not about the evil of the crime; it is about the redemption in the grace that overcame the crime. Devout Christians were put to the worst test imaginable. They passed spectacularly. 

The second new work is a book, Grace Will Lead us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey of Forgiveness, by Jennifer Berry Hawes, the tireless
Charleston Post and Courier reporter who covered the story (as she did the schism for the first several years). The book was published this month and has received only rave reviews. The hardcover is available at Amazon for $18.89. I am putting it on my summer reading list.

Here we are four years later, remembering the almost unbelievable crime and the victims, but also remembering the greater almost unbelievable forgiveness that prevailed over the evil. And so, we have have learned great lessons, all to our benefit. We have been changed. We learned how to die with dignity; and more importantly, we learned how to live with courage and faith. Thus the victims and their families are with us, in our hearts forever. Thankfully, we now have a great movie and book to remind us of this.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019





JUNE 11 --- NEWS 
FROM THE CHURCH DIOCESE



Today, 11 June, we have two news items from the Episcopal Church diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

1)   The first item is the official announcement that TECSC is going to a full-time bishop. Find the news release here . On 23 May, the TECSC standing committee voted unanimously to 1-find a new full-time provisional bishop for the near-term, and 2-find a full-time diocesan bishop for the long-term. Bishop Adams has said he wants to leave his post as provisional bishop by the end of 2019. This does not allow enough time to put into place a diocesan bishop. The time required to get a "regular" bishop enthroned is between 18 and 24 months. Therefore, a new provisional bishop will have to be in place to fill the gap between Bishop Adams's term and the start of the diocesan bishop's term.

TECSC has had two provisional bishops, Charles vonRosenberg and Skip Adams. Both were retired diocesan bishops who generously agreed to serve temporarily in the part-time position of provisional bishop. The idea of a provisional bishop is one to serve for a couple of years until the diocese can become strong enough to have a regular diocesan bishop. After six years and two provisional bishops, TECSC has reached that point of strength. With that, the standing committee voted unanimously to go to a full-time bishop, first a provisional one, then a diocesan one. This is great news for the Episcopalians of eastern South Carolina.



2)   The second item of news concerns litigation. Today, TECSC lawyers entered a "Complaint" in the United States District Court, Charleston, against the Church Insurance Company of Vermont, the insurance company serving the Episcopal Church in general, and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina in particular. See the TECSC press release about this here . Find the Complaint here .

CIC-VT declares that only churches affiliated with the Episcopal Church are eligible for coverage from CIC-VT. However, a breakaway parish, St. Philip's of Charleston, reported in 2019 that they had billed the CIC-VT for reimbursement of part of its legal expanses. Today's "Complaint" says:  "Upon information and belief, CIC-VT made such payments of insurance proceeds to that Lawrence Parish Entity during the year 2018 and/or 2019 and/or other years with knowledge that it has claimed to be disaffiliated from TEC since 2012." In conclusion, TECSC is asking of the court:  awards for general, compensatory, and punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and an accounting (of payments made by CIC-VT to Lawrence parishes). For all of this, TECSC is requesting a jury trial.

Apparently, the TECSC lawyers believe the CIC-VT paid claims to at least one Lawrence parish and part of the purpose of the Complaint is to discover how much was paid and to whom it was paid. The lawyers wrote:  "...insurance company secretly, knowingly, and wrongfully made payments and misdirected insurance proceeds to the insured's disaffiliated adversaries to fund their litigation efforts against the insured and to aid and abet them in depriving the insured of valuable trust property that the policy was intended to protect and cover for the benefit of the insured."

No doubt, the insurance company will file a response to today's Complaint. 


(NOTE.     It was this blog that broke the news of St. Philip's action in regards to the CIC-VT. On March 6, 2019, I posted "St. Philip's Church Bills the (Episcopal) Church Insurance Company of Vermont." Find the posting here . However, I cannot take credit for discovering this strange incident. An eagle-eyed reader alerted me to St. P's annual report. So, thank you reader. 

Scepiscopalians.com and I try hard to keep people informed of what is happening in the schism. We cannot do it alone. We rely on the help of a lot of people out there and we appreciate greatly the information and leads we receive. So, thank you readers for your support in what is really a community effort.)




VIDEO OF THE DAY



Click here to see the video of the day (1 minute, 22 seconds). This will break your heart and warm your heart at the same time. It is love at its most primal.

Monday, June 10, 2019





JUNE 10, 2019 --- NOTES




I'm back, and I am glad to be back. In my last post, on 30 May, I declared a pause in my blog to give myself a break. My siesta is now over. I am here and ready to catch up with what is going on, or what is not going on, as the case may be, in the schism.



LITIGATION

What is the status of the litigation between the independent diocese, the Diocese of South Carolina, and the church diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina? Unfortunately, nothing has changed in months. We are still waiting on the three courts to act.

Circuit Court

The circuit court, Judge Edgar Dickson. Dickson has had the matter before him for a year and a half. The South Carolina Supreme Court remitted its Aug 2, 2017, decision to the circuit court on Nov. 17, 2017. The circuit court has taken no action on implementing the SCSC decision since then. The SCSC decision recognized Episcopal Church/church diocese ownership of 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher.

On Mar. 20, 2019, lawyers for TECSC filed a petition with the SCSC for a writ of mandamus. This would order the circuit court to implement the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. 

In the two and a half months since then, Judge Dickson has not taken any action in the case. He could have proceeded on his own to effectuate the SCSC decision but he has not. Apparently, he is waiting on the SCSC for direction on how to proceed. My best guess is that Dickson will not act until the SCSC responds on the petition for a writ. If he were going to act on his own, I expect he would have done so by now.


SCSC

The SCSC received TECSC's petition for a writ of mandamus to the circuit court, on 20 March 2019. Shortly thereafter, both sides submitted arguments on the petition. There has been no word from the SCSC since then. 

The SCSC typically takes between three and six months to issue its replies to petitions for writs. The justices may or may not hold a hearing on the petition. Since nearly three months have passed, and there has been no word from the SCSC, it is reasonable to assume the court will not call a hearing but will issue a decision on its own. Three to six months would place a decision between June and September.

The SCSC will either grant or deny the petition. It is typical for the justices to issue an explanation of several pages with their decision. If they grant the petition, the justices will issue a writ of mandamus to Dickson who will then have no choice but to execute the order. If they deny the petition, perhaps on a technicality, the justices could still make it clear to Dickson that, even without a writ of mandamus, he is required to implement the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. It is beyond belief that the SCSC justices would allow a circuit court to discard a state supreme court decision, particularly one that has been denied both rehearing from SCSC and cert from the U.S. Supreme Court. The SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 is the law of the land and must be enforced.

It is reasonable to assume we will have a decision from the SCSC in the next three months. It is likely this will prod Judge Dickson to act on restoring Episcopal Church control over the 29 parishes and Camp.


Federal Court

The federal court case, vonRosenberg v Lawrence, is another matter. The above cases relate to the ownership of local properties. The federal case is about the ownership of the pre-schism diocese, its rights and assets. 

The case is before Judge Richard Gergel, of the United States District Court, in Charleston. There has been no word from Gergel in the past five months.

In December of 2018, both sides asked Gergel for a summary judgment, that is, a decision on his own. The last papers were submitted to him on Jan. 11, 2019. Gergel had set the earliest date for a trial at March 1, 2019, but changed that to May 1, 2019. 

Since there has been no word from Gergel since January, and the May 1 date has long passed, it is reasonable to doubt that Gergel will hold a courtroom trial but will issue a summary judgment on his own. When he would do that, however, cannot be known since he is under no time constraint. Although state and federal courts are entirely separate, it is possible Gergel is waiting on the SCSC decision before proceeding. It is simply impossible at this point to know what is going on with Gergel or when he will act.

BOTTOM LINE on litigation. Still waiting. All things considered, I think it is reasonable to assume the SCSC will issue a decision in the next few months directly or indirectly ordering Dickson to implement the Aug. 2 decision. As for Gergel, my best guess is he will issue a summary judgment on his own in the next few months.

The big decision on the local properties has already been made. It is just a matter of time before Dickson carries out the SCSC decision. The 29 parishes and the Camp will be returned to control of the Episcopal Church. The decision on ownership of the old diocese has not been made but all signs point to a resolution favorable to the Episcopal Church. Even though these settlements are agonizingly slow in arriving, it seems clear that they will occur in the foreseeable future. It is unfortunate in these cases that justice moves so slowly. Justice delayed is justice denied.



THE CULTURE WAR

The culture war rages on in America, although I do not know of anything new apropos the schism in South Carolina. The independent diocese continues with its reactionary white male chauvinist policies victimizing blacks, women, and gays under a cloak of selective biblical literalism. This is really nothing more than a backlash against the democratic revolution in the Episcopal Church in which African Americans, women, and open homosexuals won equal rights and full inclusion in the life of the church. The battle lines in South Carolina are starkly clear. It is the future versus the past. Anyone who thinks the schism is not much and does not matter is wrong. 

One should not discount the strength of the reactionary backlash in America against the democratic revolution of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We are in the midst of a fiercely fought counter-revolution right now. The revolutionary tide will eventually prevail but the warrior reactionaries can do a lot of damage in the meantime. Case in point is the present battle on abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1973, declared a woman has a constitutional right to control her own reproduction. Yet, numerous states have recently passed laws in blatant violation of women's constitutional rights. These state laws will be struck down by the courts but in the meantime they can greatly, if temporarily, diminish women's freedom.

On the national level we have a president who is deliberately stoking the culture war for his own political gain. He is more than a national embarrassment. He is a danger to our national democratic republican system. He is up for reelection next year. It is a certainty that he will ratchet up the culture war to energize his base which is the racist white working class man and evangelicals. 

Meanwhile, Alabama remains in the headlines as a hotbed of reaction in the culture war. It was not surprising that the white Republican men in the state legislature ganged up to pass the most extreme anti-abortion law in the country. However, it was a bit surprising that Alabama Public Television jumped in to side with the reactionaries on rights for gays. Last month, APT refused to air an episode of the children's program "Arthur." Arthur is a popular children's cartoon show that teaches ethical and moral values to build a better society. This episode featured a gay wedding. Find a news report about this here . APT got a lot of blowback but to this day refuses to air the episode.  

Thank God for the First United Methodist Church of Birmingham. You may recall a blog piece I wrote about them, on 19 March called "The Divinity of Light." Find it here . Well, they have risen to the occasion again. On June 15, at 10:00 a.m., First UMC, of Bham, will be screening the banned episode of Arthur and throwing a big wedding party to boot. (Even if you cannot attend, you could send them a thank you note for standing up for human rights.) Find a news report about this here . Find the First UMC announcement on their website here . Meanwhile, a block away from First UMC, the Episcopal cathedral church stands coldly indifferent and silent. 

While still on the subject of the culture war and Alabama, word is that Roy Moore is seriously [!] considering running for the U.S. Senate again next year. This is so outrageous that even President Trump has come out publicly against it. Now that is saying a lot. Personally I am hoping and praying Moore runs. I may even send him a campaign contribution. Moore as the Republican nominee will guarantee the reelection of Doug Jones.


SUMMER READING


The slower, lazier days of summer are good ones to catch up on one's reading. I, for one, have been doing this of late. Here are three books I read recently that you might consider for your summer reading. 


1)
Gergel, Richard. Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019. 324 p.  (Available at amazon.com in hardcover, paperback, audio CD, audiobook, and Kindle.)

The great Revolutionary and Napoleonic diplomat Talleyrand, a high aristocrat, once said no one born after 1789 could know how pleasant life could be. I would rephrase that to read, no one born after 1960 could know how racist life could be. I grew up in the 1940's and 1950's in the Jim Crow south. Those of you born after 1960 simply cannot know the true nature of racism or how thoroughly poisonous it was. I know racism still exists, but what we have now is light years away from Jim Crow. For this reason, I put off reading Gergel's book. I looked at it for several months before I could make myself open the cover and delve into what I knew would be a painful remembrance of the past.

In the first place, you should recognize the author's name. This is the Judge Gergel who is handling the federal case of vonRosenberg v Lawrence.

I must confess, I knew nothing of Isaac Woodard, and only a little of Judge Waring. Having lived in Charleston once, I knew something about the renegade old Charlestonian judge who came to champion civil rights. So, since the book was by a judge important in the schism, and addressed a subject I knew little about, I finally decided I had to read it.

First I went to the standard reference work, The South Carolina Encyclopedia to catch up on the subject. It was not much help. The brief article on Woodard even misspelled his name. There was no mention of a tie to Truman or Waring. The article on Judge Waring gave no reference to Woodard. Then I turned to Walter Edgar's South Carolina, a History and found one sentence on Woodard and a couple of references to Waring. Thus, the dearth of information on the Woodard case and its aftermath piqued my interest and made me open the cover and start reading.

Summary:      An African American army sergeant, Isaac Woodard, Jr., was removed from a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, Lexington County, South Carolina, in 1946, on charge of disorderly conduct. He was beaten by the local police chief, Lynwood Shull, and left blind in both eyes. Shull was put on trial and acquitted by an all-white jury. The horror of the blinding and the apparent miscarriage of justice "awakened" President Truman and Charleston Judge J. Waties Waring to the need for civil rights reforms. Each became a giant in the history of human rights in America.

Gergel gets right to it. His first chapter is a recounting of the horrific incident that left Woodard blind. Then he shows how this little known event in small town South Carolina became a national phenomenon. Interestingly enough, none other than Orson Welles turned out to be highly instrumental in making this a major story. Gergel goes on to show how Truman was affected by the Woodard case and issued sweeping reforms for civil rights by executive order, most famously the integration of the armed forces in 1948.

Unsurprisingly, Gergel is very strong on the legal history involved in this story. His retelling of the trial in 1946 is one of the best parts of the book (one cannot help but recall To Kill a Mockingbird). The second half of the book is an excellent recounting of the legal history of Waring after 1946. This is the best part of the book. It shows conclusively the essential tie between Waring's work in South Carolina and the landmark Brown case of 1954, arguably the starting place for the civil rights movement in America.

There is no problem with the legal history in this book. In fact, it is very well done. Where I have a problem is with the book's thesis, or at least implied thesis. The title says "Awakening." This suggests that the Woodard incident started Truman and Waring on their courses of civil rights reform. Although Gergel never says so explicitly, the point of the story is that the Woodard case caused Truman and Waring to champion civil rights. If this is the thesis of the book, as it seemed to me, it does not quite work. 

In fact, the author himself brings up, time and again, that Truman had political motivations for advocating civil rights after 1946. Unfortunately, this book does not expand on this. Besides, Truman already had a record of favoring civil rights well before 1946. He did not suddenly wake up to civil rights in 1946 although obviously the Woodard affair spurred him on. Thus, we are left wondering how much of Truman's motivation was revulsion at Woodard's treatment and how much was established attitude and cold politics. After all, the master politician Truman unexpectedly won election in 1948 (much as Trump did in 2016). Truman understood the electoral benefits of pursuing rights for blacks.

In the case of Waring, the author likewise brings up other motivational factors beyond Woodard. In one, Waring divorced his wife and married a twice-divorced northerner in 1945. As the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, they too were ostracized from established society, in this case the Charleston South of Broad set. This was particularly painful because Waring was the scion of ancient Carolina families. He was as old Low Country as one could get. Moreover, the new wife "from off" was very outspoken in her criticism of the local racist society. The Warings were not just ostracized, they were terrorized. Once a cross was burned in their yard. On another occasion, a cement block crashed through a window. Again, as with Truman, Waring did not suddenly wake up to civil rights in 1946. He too had an established record of leaning toward civil rights well before the Woodard incident. Thus, as with the case of Truman, we are left wondering exactly how much Waring's life and work after 1946 was motivated by revulsion at the Woodard incident and how much was a reaction against the social ostracism and the influence of his new wife. The book does not address this.

I am afraid Judge Gergel has not quite made the case to this juror that Truman and Waring "awoke" to civil rights because of Woodard. There were just too many factors involved, factors the author himself introduces, which beg for more exploration. The most we can say is that the Woodard case was a big, perhaps the biggest of several, motivational factor that prompted both Truman and Waring to greatly accelerate their work on civil rights. This is enough. We really do not need to say any more to make the essential point of the importance of Woodard to Truman and Waring. In this case, it is the monumental accomplishments of those two great men that is most important. 

My remarks are not meant to belittle this book. It is an important work in its own right as a much-needed contribution to southern history, indeed American history. It stands alone on its merits as good and valuable legal history. Gergel is a gifted writer and story-teller. My only reservation is that the author does not prove that Truman's and Waring's great accomplishments evolved entirely, or even primarily, from the Woodard case. There were other factors involved. With that in mind, I would change the title of the book from "...the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring" to "...the Resolution of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring." The Woodard case certainly spurred on Truman's and Waring's resolves to accomplish great things for civil rights. There is no doubt about that. That is all we really need to say.

Bottom line---I highly recommend this book not only as a good read, but also as a necessary reminder of the hard work that so many people did to accomplish the first goal in the great American democratic social revolution of the post-Second World War world, freedom and equality for African Americans. It is with pride that we southerners should recognize that two early giants in this monumental strike against racism were southerners, the Missourian Truman and the Charlestonian Waring (in a sense a third great southerner completed their work, the President from Texas, Lyndon Johnson).

My initial attitude about the book was right. It was indeed painful to read, at least at first. But, it was ultimately much more than that. It was overwhelmingly life affirming. Grace upon grace followed after an horrific crime. In the end, it does not really matter what the motivation was. It matters that heroic people created a much better world for all of us. Moreover, it matters that Judge Gergel has revealed this to us.


2)
Carolina Grace, Gold for the Soul, Journey 2019.  Find it here .

This is a miscellany of 25 entries in 52 pages edited by the Ven. Calhoun Walpole, archdeacon of TECSC. It is a mixture of personal reflections, essays, poetry, reprints and the like, some by clergy, some by laity, some local, some not. One will see here some well-known names, some not so known. 

As the title indicates, the theme is a journey. Episcopalians in South Carolina are definitely on a journey, even if it is not one they wanted or one of their own making. They are in it anyway. 

These are short pieces to be savored, like sips of fine wine. Every one of them is important because, as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, they are different but ultimately join to make a unified whole. I do not want to point out my favorites, just to say I have reread some of them several times. They warmed my soul. 

You too will find these pieces enlightening and comforting. There are lots of different people on this journey, and each has something unique to add and share. So, read, enjoy. You are not alone.


3)
the Rev. Dr. William (Roy) Hills, Jr. Divine Glimpses, Church Stories. Vol. I, Vol. II, 2018-2019. (Available at amazon.com in paperback and Kindle.)

From heavy history, to aesthetic meditations, we move to levity. Roy Hills's two books are just what we need to liven things up. They are delightful, humorous, and heartwarming vignettes of ordinary Episcopal church life, a sort of Vicar of Dibley meets Yorkshire vet (Heriot) meets Chicken Soup. Each entry is short, several pages and accompanied by apropos Bible verses and hilarious cartoons by the Rev. Bill McLemore. 

The first volume, at 217 pages, treats all sorts of topics of church life but begin with discernment and seminary. Along the way we move on to parish work, youth groups, nursing homes, charity, interacting with non-Episcopalians, blessing of the animals, acolytes, pastoral work, and passing the peace. Every person, clergy and laity, can relate to these little stories, and perhaps even see yourself there. 

In the second volume, 207 pages, the stories get better. These vignettes are even more charming, and often hilarious. Not all are light however, as one deals with the serious issue of gay rights (p. 154-58). Every person who is clergy, or who goes to church often can relate to these episodes. Here we find: "always did it this way," the parish directory, home visits, stewardship, time changes, loss of hearing, fishing, hospital visits, weddings, Shrove Tuesday, lady bugs, buying a new car, attendance, Christmas, visiting the elderly, vestry disputes, church bulletins, funerals, remodeling, living in the Bible Belt, Holy Week, Christmas, youth groups, death, and ultimately redemption. Every one of us who takes church seriously will say, "been there, done that" and recall our own experiences which may have been just as humorous and heart-warming. We are part of the church and the church is part of us. Neither is perfect. 

I found all of the episodes in the two volumes to be enjoyable. Some gave me a chuckle. Some made me laugh out loud. All of them made me remember people and places that were important to me. For that, I am grateful to Roy Hills. You will be too.


Next on my reading list:

Ryrie, Alec. Protestants, the Faith that Made the Modern World. New York: Penguin Books, 2017. 513 p.

Purnell, Sonia. A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy who Helped Win World War II. New York: Viking, 2019. 352 p.  The almost unbelievable story of the irrepressible secret agent, Virginia Hall, a woman with one leg, who played a key role in liberating France. This is my read in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the greatest military exercise in human history.