Tuesday, December 30, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

The year 2014 has been an eventful one for the people involved in the schism of the old Episcopal diocese of South Carolina. October 15 marked two years since the division occurred. December 5 marked two years since the presiding bishop removed Mark Lawrence as a bishop. The second anniversary of the independent diocese's lawsuit against the Episcopal Church will pass in a few days.

I enjoyed keeping this blog and adding numerous posts and am gratified to know that many people have found it of interest. I had over 32,000 visitors to this blog in the year 2014. I hope I added to the reliable information and reasonable opinion on the history of the unfortunate schism in the old diocese. I know I benefited greatly from organizing and expressing my thoughts. It helped me clarify my understandings as I continue to write a narrative history of the schism in South Carolina. In the year, I completed a rough draft of the period of Lawrence's episcopate (Jan. 2008-Dec. 2012). It comes to 200 single-spaced pages and 856 footnotes, mostly from original documents. I appreciate greatly the many kind and generous people who have helped along the way, particularly the ones who gave of their time for interviews. At present I am working on the early part of the manuscript, the time up to Lawrence's consecration. After that, I will turn to the other end for the post-schism period of litigation. I hope to have some legal closure before beginning on that part.

The year 2014 produced a small gold mine of new information (or at least new to me) on the history of the schism. The circuit court trial in July gave us over 1,300 pieces of evidence entered into the public record called "Exhibits." The most important of these was Lawrence's official deposition (Exhibit D-24) of 194 pages. It is most enlightening. Others included crucial documents of the standing committee and the trustees. Unfortunately however, thousands of key documents remain secret and hidden, if indeed they still exist, in spite of legal efforts to uncover them, namely the thousand e-mails between Lawrence and his chief legal strategist Alan Runyan.

The many newly revealed documents have struck me in several ways and have caused me to reconsider some of my earlier understandings of the flow of historical events. The biggest revelation to me was the apparent existence of a sort of deal between Lawrence and the leading clergy and laity of the old diocese. It appears the two sides operated under an unwritten, and perhaps unspoken, working relationship. The bishop would give them a war against the hated Episcopal Church on homosexuality and give them the local properties. In return the leaders would give Lawrence authoritarian power to govern the diocese. It seems to me it was an invisible but real arrangement that worked out effectively for both sides. It produced the schism of 2012 whether or not schism was the original agreed-upon goal. Both parties gained measurably from the deal even if the going has been anything but free and easy.

The compact actually started before Lawrence arrived in the diocese in January of 2008. A month before, the standing committee, which was to be the primary vehicle to build Lawrence's authoritarianism, pushed aside the nine-year Bishop Suffragan by demanding, and getting, his resignation. Lawrence was to have no rival or obstacle in reorganizing the diocese. He then brought in a new staff to the diocesan headquarters, and hired an assistant to do his bidding, a Canon to the Ordinary. Later he hired a "Visiting Bishop," a former bishop in England who does not visit often.

Lawrence immediately became the dominant power in the diocese rarely missing a meeting of the trustees or the standing committee. After 2009 Runyan routinely accompanied Lawrence to the standing committee sessions. It was through these two bodies that the bishop's power gradually increased, rubber-stamped by frequently called and compliant, even robotic, diocesan conventions. In his first two years, the former champion wrestler used every bit of his amazing energy and stamina to build crucial bonds with the clergy, leading laity, and socially reactionary Anglicans abroad. Lawrence's obviously successful record in this was truly impressive.

A glaring failure in Lawrence's progress was the case of St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant. There the anti-Episcopal Church movement was far too advanced. Nevertheless, he tried. On May 29-30, 2009, he offered a prayer of "discernment" in the standing committee after which the twelve approved St. Andrew's transfer of $3.5m in property into an irrevocable trust. It should be recalled that the Dennis Canon of the Episcopal Church required all property to be held for the diocese and the national Church. Within a few months, St. Andrew's congregation voted to leave the diocese and the Church, a decision affirmed by the vestry. They took the property with them. As Lawrence looked on, the parish joined the Anglican Church in North America, the anti-Episcopal Church. Lawrence lost a parish. That was not to happen again.

While the documents revealed the growing authority of the bishop, they also showed remarkable personal gain for Lawrence. On March 17, 2010, only two years into his episcopacy and well before he was investigated, Lawrence made a lease agreement for the bishop's residence at 50 Smith Street in Charleston for one dollar a year for five years with right to renew for another five years (Exhibit D-28). This would remain in effect regardless of his status as bishop. The house is valued at one million dollars and is surrounded by other million dollar properties. It is 4 levels, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths with 4,251 sq. ft. I imagine the monthly rent on that place would be around $4k (10 yrs=$480k). 

On February 1, 2011, three years into his term and still well before he was investigated by the Episcopal Church, Lawrence got a highly lucrative employment contract from the standing committee (Exhibit D-29). Counting the value of the housing, the aggregate value of the various parts of the package amounted to around $240,000/yr. (Base salary $121,170 + family medical ins. + $10,000 annuity + retirement of 18% of housing, housing and annuity + $35,000 travel + housing). The contract had no ending date or retirement date apparently making it virtually in perpetuity. It also stated that if he were removed as bishop he would continue as chief operating officer of the corporation, a position lacking any description but keeping the salary and benefits. The contract could be terminated only by Lawrence's choice, his death, his total disability, or the terms of the bylaws which were unanimous vote of the standing committee along with a two-thirds vote of both orders in a diocesan convention. To my knowledge, all of the the details of this employment contract were not known outside the secretive ruling clique until this year. In this stunning move, Lawrence was all but guaranteed a handsome income from the diocese as long as he wished even if he were not bishop. The son of a postal worker and a store clerk who had worked his way through college, in seven years, Lawrence had arrived at a standard of living in Charleston he could only have dreamed about growing up in modest circumstances in far-off Bakersfield.

Not only the standing committee but also the trustees and the diocesan convention played parts in increasing Lawrence's authority. The convention gave to him the sole right to make absolute interpretations of the constitution and canons of the diocese. The trustees amended their bylaws several times in his favor. He was made the President of the corporation, the legal entity of the diocese (Exhibit D-16). As the President, on October 19, 2010, he amended the official charter to remove all references to the Episcopal Church (Exhibit D-9). On January 4, 2013, the trustees amended the bylaws again to make Lawrence personally (not as bishop) the president of the corporation (Exhibit D-17).

Under his absolute power to interpret the constitution and canons, Lawrence ruled on October 2, 2012, that he had the right to remove, or "disassociate," the diocese from the Episcopal Church (he also gave the right to the standing committee and the diocesan convention). On that, the committee voted a conditional withdrawal of the diocese from the Episcopal Church, a decision that was put into effect on October 17, retroactive to he 15th.

After the schism, power continued to concentrate in Lawrence's hands. He refused to join the ACNA even though all the earlier secessionist dioceses had joined it. Through his close friends in the conservative Anglican group called the Global South he agreed to a strange scheme to link the diocese with that group on the claim of oversight but also on the provision he could pull out of the arrangement at will. That scheme is a sham. Since he left the Episcopal Church (Oct. 2012), Lawrence has not publicly sworn allegiance to any higher institutional authority. In 2014 he hand-picked a committee to recommend a "realignment" or new provincial affiliation for the diocese. It is unimaginable his appointees would do anything but Lawrence's wish.

Thus, by early 2014, six years after his arrival in South Carolina, it seems to me that Lawrence and the old diocesan leaders had constructed a remarkably effective, albeit invisible, compact. As a result, Lawrence was in a very powerful position as the great authority in his independent diocese that is now an entity really disconnected from anything else. The deal proved strong enough to carry the majority of the old diocese along without a hint of dissent. Whether the relationship between Lawrence and the leaders was a conspiracy, for now I will leave up to the lawyers (conspiracy being defined as a group making a premeditated plan for illegal act or acts). I will have more to say on that in my manuscript.

However, a strange and potentially crucial event occurred in early 2014 that may well spell trouble for the seemingly solid bond between Lawrence and the diocese. In the diocesan convention in March of 2014, eleven pre-prepared resolutions were presented to the convention for approval. As usual they were issued, most by unanimous vote of the standing committee and the council, for quick rubber-stamping in the routinely obedient convention. One of the resolutions was C-3 that would give the parish rector control over the local property. Since another resolution gave the bishop direct control over the clergy, this would mean the bishop through the rector could control the local property.

Something happened in the convention to cause resolution C-3 to be tabled, that is, withdrawn without a vote. All of the other resolutions sailed through instantly, some unanimously. In all of Lawrence's years in South Carolina only one other resolution of the dozens offered had been tabled. That was the Rubric of Love, the controversial statement about homosexuality in October of 2009. When it was introduced, the convention started falling apart in disagreement. Seeing an impending disaster, the managers quickly set it aside, only to kill it at the next convention. In all of Lawrence's years, only one resolution was defeated. That one was Kendall Harmon's proposal to suspend (boycott) the General Convention in 2009. It is extremely rare for a proposed resolution to be opposed in the diocesan convention. Thus, the tabling of C-3 may indicate a significant shift in the diocese.

News of what happened to C-3 in March of 2014 has been completely concealed. Indeed Lawrence's diocese had long proved itself masterful in manipulating and controlling information and keeping its secrets. It still is. There was not a word in the diocesan newsletters about what happened to C-3. As the convention was closed to visitors and the media, not a word has leaked out about what happened. We are only left guessing. All we know for sure is that the resolution was presented by the standing committee and the diocesan council (certainly on Lawrence's wish) and that it was tabled. Why was it tabled? Is it dead? Will it be presented at the next convention in March of 2015?

Regardless of the questions, it is clear that the smooth running of Laurence's authoritarian diocese hit an unexpected roadblock. The fact is the resolution was set aside without a vote. I wonder if Lawrence had not finally reached too far. After all, a deal is a deal if indeed he had traded war against the Church and property for autocratic power. Trying to take the property after the fact would be reneging on the deal. Perhaps rumblings of opposition in the diocese had finally sounded. If so, it is the first major break in a heretofore solid structure governing the diocese. This is a possibility although at this point only a speculation. We should have a clearer picture at the convention in March. 

To recap, it seems to me the documents revealed in 2014 give us a new level of understanding of the working dynamics in the old diocese and in the new independent one. In my view, an unwritten deal was made between Mark Lawrence and the clerical and lay leaders of the old diocese. They gave him authoritarian power while he gave them war against the Church and property. Where did homosexuality fit in? It was the most visible element in the war against the Episcopal Church. It was the wedge issue Lawrence and the leaders used to pry the majority of communicants away from their ancestral  church. The issue of homosexuality was the direct, or trigger, cause of the schism. However, it was part of a much bigger arrangement at work.

The year 2014 has been a lively one for the people of the old diocese. What will 2015 bring? It certainly will bring more and more awful litigation. For starters, Judge Goodstein's impending decision will be appealed to the state supreme court. We are still awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. We can expect another long year in the courts.

All this heaviness needs some levity at year's end. I would like to end my reflection on a lighter note from another source. The great comic actor and Episcopalian Robin Williams gave us ten good reasons to be an Episcopalian. I can think of no better way to end 2014:

Why be an Episcopalian?
10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don't have to check you brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All the pageantry--none of the guilt.
2. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized.
1. No matter what you believe, there's bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

My favorite is #7.

Thanks to you reader for choosing to spend time with me on my blog; and thanks to all my correspondents for their e-mails. Most of all I thank God for the Episcopal Church. With all of this, let us look bravely and confidently into the new year, 2015.
Ron Caldwell

e-mail me at ronaldcaldwell1210@gmail.com


Monday, December 22, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Welcome to the first annual awards for my choices of heroes of the year. I define "hero" as an ordinary person who, seeing wrong, goes way beyond the call of duty to right that wrong, at any and every cost to him or herself. There are heroes all around us. I see them all the time. I should start with the thousands of loyal Episcopalians across lower South Carolina who refused to take the easy path and follow the erring crowd. I especially admire those who had to leave their beloved old church homes in order to keep the true faith and do the right thing at whatever the cost. They are heroes but they are too many to name individually here. Below is my personal list of the top ten who belong in my new "South Carolina History Hall of Fame." These are in no particular order.

1. CHARLES VONROSENBERG.  No doubt he thought he was going to have a nice quiet retirement in lovely Charleston and enjoy his five beautiful grandchildren. Nevertheless, when duty called, he refused to turn away and take the easy way out. This year he endured hours, days, weeks of awful legal unpleasantness, but refused to give in to negativism. Indeed, as the trial began, he announced a plan for the blessing of same-sex unions. Reconciliation remains his admirable ideal. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina could not have asked for a better bishop.

2. JEFF RICHARDSON. A devout Anglo-Catholic and social conservative, he refused to go along with the conservative majority of the old diocese. He saw to it that St. Stephen's, in St. Stephen, and St. Alban's, in Kingstree, stayed with the real Church. He then picked up a third to serve as vicar, St. Catherine's in Florence, a congregation of faithful that has grown and flourished remarkably under his leadership. He has kept true to his views while nourishing those of his flocks. He is my choice for model priest of the year in South Carolina.

3. H. DAGNALL FREE. At first he went along with the secessionists and kept his desirable post at St. John's on Johns Island. In time, he came to see where he really belonged and made a reconciliation with the mother Church. A family man, he gave up a great deal to sacrifice for the right thing. He is due all the admiration and respect possible, and is the model for the other 102 clergy in South Carolina who were released and removed by the Episcopal Church in 2013.

4. DOLORES MILLER AND FRANCES ELMORE. The prime movers of the Episcopal Church in Florence. When "restricted" Bishop Lawrence appeared in St. John's of Florence in October of 2012, Miller was the only one to confront him to his face and challenge his right to be there. He was not amused but she steadfastly refused to back down. At the first opportunity, Miller and Elmore rallied the dozen devoted Episcopalians in the parish and made their own way against the odds and from scratch. St. Catherine's of Florence is a vibrant, growing, and flourishing congregation today. It would not even be there except for Miller and Elmore. They epitomize the best of the Episcopal laity in South Carolina.

5. STEVE SKARDON. Everyone knows Steve. For many years, he tirelessly provided information and opinion on his blog, scepiscopalians, as almost the lone voice giving the antidote to the nonsense flowing from the old diocesan ruling clique. Without Steve, the public relations initiative coming from Bishop Lawrence and his inner circle would never even have been questioned let alone challenged. Along the way, Steve remained the intrepid informer, refusing to mince words or hold back justifiable punches. He was the invaluable source of information when communicants in South Carolina needed it the most.

6. HOLLY BEHRE. Although employed as the part-time public relations officer for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Behre put in countless hours to keep everyone promptly informed on the latest developments. This was particularly invaluable during the circuit court trial in July. She has even posted practically all the court proceedings of the year including the monumental transcript of the circuit court trial. Sorry Jan Pringle and Joy Hunter, Behre was way ahead of you in communications.

7. WES HILL. Wes Hill? The Trinity School for Ministry professor Mark Lawrence permitted to speak in his diocese? Yes, that Wes Hill. He represented a major and positive change in attitude toward homosexuality among the people who had made that topic the wedge to pry away the majority of the old diocese from the Episcopal Church. Hill argued that homosexuality is a natural, or innate, state. This contradicted the old conservative view that it was a learned condition of choice. Hill also argued that homosexuals should remain "celibate" because, he said, homosexuality is condemned in the Scriptures. However, if one accepts Hill's view of the inborn nature of homosexuality, the next logical step is to see it as God's creation, and therefore good.

8. TOM TISDALE. Chancellor of the diocese years ago, the Church called on attorney Thomas Sumter Tisdale, esteemed descendant of one of the great old families of South Carolina, to come to its rescue once again. He did not refuse. He threw himself wholeheartedly into what he knew would be a long, hard, and terrible legal war against dozens of top-notch lawyers the secessionists had already lined up. He gave it his all and proved a tireless litigator all year long. He knows too that there is much more to come and remains unwavering in his dedication and devotion.

9. PATRICK DUFFY. United States District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy ruled last January and repeated throughout the year that the (Episcopal) Church Insurance Company of Vermont must provide benefit coverage to the real Episcopal Church diocese (called the Episcopal Church in South Carolina). Duffy had the wisdom to see which side was actually the Episcopal Church side. Some other judges out there seem to have trouble distinguishing the authentic Episcopal Church diocese from the other. Apparently, the ECSC now has sufficient funds to continue the litigation that has been forced on them by the independent diocese's lawsuit. That side is out campaigning among its people for millions of dollars in donations.

10. RICHARD GERGEL. United States Judge Richard M. Gergel in Charleston ordered in November that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry. This all but ended the long war against rights for homosexuals, at least in South Carolina. Legal same-sex marriages began in South Carolina on November 19 as dozens of couples across the state started obtaining official marriage licenses. This meant that 35 of the 50 states now permitted same-sex marriage. Among Episcopalians, same-sex couples could now marry legally and also have a blessing of the same-sex union in the church.

These are my personal choices for heroes of the year. There are many others who rightfully belong on this list, and maybe you, reader, are one of them.

With so many fine people of good will surrounding us in 2014 and with our unwavering faith in God, we should all look forward confidently to the new year of 2015. My best wishes for you all, Ron Caldwell.

E-mail me at ronaldcaldwell1210@gmail.com       

Sunday, December 21, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

When the old diocese of South Carolina split on October 15, 2012, how many people went with the Lawrence side and how many remained with the Episcopal Church? Unfortunately it is impossible to know exactly. The independent diocese claimed that 82 % of the old diocese adhered to Lawrence. This is not true. The problem with this figure is that it counts every person who was on the books as a member of the breakaway parishes and missions in 2012 before the schism. In fact, in virtually every parish and mission of the old diocese, members left to go to the other side. There has been a great deal of fluidity. I known personally of many cases where loyal Episcopalians are still counted as members of the non-Episcopal local churches.

Now comes an article that claims the Episcopal Church diocese in South Carolina has suffered sharp declines. The article is Jeff Walton's "Episcopal Church Baptisms Dry Up" http://juicyecumenism.com/2014/12/19/episcopal-church-baptisms-dry/ . This was copied by Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine on 12-20-14. The problem with Walton's view is that is a misinterpretation of the statistical data. His assertions of the decline of the South Carolina Episcopal Church diocese are inaccurate.

The Episcopal Church has published its statistical data sheets for the years 2012 and 2013: www.episcopalchurch.org/sites/default/files/2012_table_of_statistics_of_the_episcopal_church.pdf and www.episcopalchurch.org/sites/default/files/2013_table_of_statistics.pdf .
The table for 2012 gives the figures of the pre-schism diocese. In the 2013 table, the Church lists the full numbers for the old pre-schism parishes, missions, and membership, then changes for baptisms, confirmations, receptions, marriages, and burials. The numbers under these headings refer only to the activities in the Episcopal Church diocese after the schism. The baptisms etc. in the non-Episcopal churches are obviously not legitimate in the Episcopal Church and cannot be counted in the official Episcopal Church statistics. Therefore, there is a big change in the statistics in the categories of baptisms, confirmations, marriages etc. between pre-schism 2012 and post-schism 2013. The numbers given for 2013 are roughly one-third of those for 2012 (e.g. 388 baptisms in 2012 dropped to 135 in 2013). However, another way of looking at the statistics is that the Episcopal diocese has about one-third of the old diocese, a number far more realistic than the purposely inflated claim of the secessionist group. A two-thirds, one-third breakdown is about the fallout of the old diocese.

Whether the people realize it or not, individuals being baptized, confirmed etc. in a church of the Lawrence diocese and not being baptized etc. in the Episcopal Church. Lawrence and all the clergy following him have been released and removed from the list of Episcopal Church clergy. In fact, the Lawrence churches are not in any larger denomination as their leader steadfastly refuses to join one.

Anti-Episcopal Church parties have long claimed that the Church is dying. They gleefully tout this as "proof" of what is "wrong" with the Episcopal Church. Mark Lawrence used to be fond of saying the Church was a comatose patient on life support. He was wrong then and he is wrong now. It was just a lot of wishful thinking. In spite of those who tried to destroy her, the Episcopal Church is alive and well in lower South Carolina. For instance, the loyal Episcopalians of Florence, forced out of their buildings through no fault of their own as former Episcopalians continued to occupy illegally the premises, gathered 12 people in a living room in December of 2012. A few weeks ago, their Sunday service counted 82 people. Meanwhile, the Lawrence diocese is seeing expanding problems. Only recently they put out a desperate-sounding cry for money to pay the horde of lawyers doing their bidding in court. Fewer people are being pressed for more money. It is clear which side is rising and which is falling, and the misuse of statistics cannot hide that reality.

What do you think? E-mail me at ronaldcaldwell1210@gmail.com . 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History Emeritus

Everyone agrees. Bishop Skilton is a good  man with good intentions. He wants to bring peace, healing, reconciliation and closure to the gaping wound in his beloved old Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Admirable. Unfortunately, and tragically, we now see the very opposite effect. The wound is worse than ever. Everyone should agree that this is a sad outcome for a man who had contributed so much in the past to the church in South Carolina.

Skilton was elected Bishop Suffragan in 1995 topping a competitive field including Henry Parsley who later became the revered bishop of Alabama and front-runner for presiding bishop in 2006 (in the end the ultra-conservatives cynically cast their votes to elect Jefferts-Schori). However, when the search committee to nominate a new bishop formed in 2005 it did not consider Skilton. Indeed, the standing committee unanimously "requested" Skilton's resignation with a reward of a $20,000/yr stipend. He compliantly resigned in December of 2006 in order to give incoming bishop Lawrence a clean slate to run the diocese as he wished. The pro-Lawrence party simply and coldly pushed Skilton aside.

Skilton remained a conservative voice; he was one of 12 bishops who signed a declaration condemning the resolution of 2012 allowing the blessing of same-sex unions. He is now an Episcopal bishop retired from South Carolina and from the Dominican Republic. He is listed as clergy in good standing on the independent diocesan website, but not on the Episcopal Church diocesan website.

According to the documents that Skilton provided in the DSC website on December 15, early on, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg of ECSC asked him not to officiate publicly on the non-Episcopal Church side. In March of 2013, presiding bishop Jefferts Schori asked him not to "function sacramentally" on either side until things settled down. Apparently Skilton rejected both bishops' requests. He felt instead that it was important for him to preach and celebrate the Eucharist in the non-Episcopal churches of the old diocese.

On December 2, 2014 Bp. vonRosenberg sent Skilton a letter complaining about Skilton's adding to the confusion of the situation. There is plenty of confusion. To anyone attending the trial last July or reading the transcript, confusion abounded from first to last. Judge Goodstein burst out in frustration more than once, and in the very end showed bewilderment on when and how the "disassociation" had occurred even though Runyan had hammered the previous thirteen days that it did not matter, the diocese was an independent and self-contained entity.

In his letter of December 2, vonR told Skilton he would not be permitted to "function sacramentally" in a church of the Episcopal diocese. In addition, Skilton would not be allowed to represent the Episcopal diocese in any official capacity. In response, Skilton sent a letter to vonR on Dec. 11 and wrote another to "Anglicans/Episcopalians in Lower South Carolina" on Dec. 12. He did not have to publicize this correspondence, but he chose to do so anyway. He gave all three letters to the independent diocese that promptly posted them all on its website on Dec. 15 for all the world to see. Since then the anti-Episcopal Church blogosphere has predictably exploded in wrath against their favorite whipping horse, Jefferts Schori, with vonR thrown in for good measure. Badly treated by the pro-Lawrence party before 2008, Skilton was now allowing himself to be used by those same people for their anti-Episcopal agenda.

William Skilton remains officially an Episcopal bishop. He has not committed offenses that would get him removed as a bishop by the House of Bishops. He has not ordained clergy or administered confirmation in non-Episcopal churches, wrongdoings that would get him deposed right away. There is no indication that he is about to be removed.

I wrote a post here recently giving my thoughts about reconciliation. I think it will come down the road, although far down, and it will not be done by well-meaning but misdirected people. Jefferts Schori and vonR are right; there does need to be some clarity at this moment about what has happened since the majority of the old diocese broke away from the Episcopal Church. They left but still claim to be "the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina." By its own self-declared action, the independent diocese has no connection whatever with the Episcopal Church. It is not the Episcopal Church diocese. Neither is it in the Anglican Communion. However, I expect that if you ask the average person-in-the-pew in a breakaway parish, they would tell you, Oh yes, we are the real Episcopal Church and we are in the Anglican Communion. We are because our bishop told us so. If that is not confusion, nothing is. Meanwhile, we await the impending judgment from the circuit court. More confusion anyone?