Monday, May 25, 2015


On May 20, 2015, Bishop Hector Zavala (Bishop of Chile and primate of the Anglican Church of South America) visited the independent diocese of South Carolina to assure the followers of Mark Lawrence they are "part" of the Anglican Communion. On May 22, the diocese issued a news release quoting Zavala: "I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury." The release went on: "The Archbishop of Canterbury was with the Global South Primates 'Steering Committee' in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 2014 when 'we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to some dioceses in order to keep them within the Anglican Communion' said Zavala."

The above remarks may imply that the Archbishop of Canterbury approved of Zavala's visit to South Carolina and supported the Global South primatial oversight scheme established in 2014.

I contacted Lambeth Palace, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to get their response to Zavala's remarks. The press office of Lambeth Palace replied today and gave me permission to publish their statement:

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said: "The Global South Primates Steering Committee announced in 2014 the establishment of Primatial Oversight for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, which had seceded from the Episcopal Church, in order to keep the diocese within the Anglican Communion. The steering committee informed Archbishop Justin of their decision when he joined them for the final day of their meeting in Cairo.

"Archbishop Justin has since had discussions about how the arrangements will work, exploring the exercising of pastoral, not episcopal oversight by Bishop Zavala. Archbishop Justin has discussed these developments with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori."

The operative phrase here is: "pastoral, not episcopal oversight by Bishop Zavala."

Thus the Archbishop's office has clarified several points:

1-The DSC claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury was "with" the Global South primates' steering committee when they decided to make the oversight scheme is not true. In fact, the Archbishop arrived only for the end of the meeting (Feb. 15, 2014; Cairo) and was presented a fait accompli of a primatial oversight scheme that had already been drawn up by the primates.

We already knew that the Archbishop neither signed this primatial scheme (released on Feb. 20, 2014) nor ever publicly endorsed it.

2-The Archbishop has not approved of any primatial oversight scheme.

3-The Archbishop encouraged "pastoral" oversight only and did so while informing the Episcopal Church's primate.

4-There is no evidence that the Archbishop "consented" to Zavala's visit to South Carolina. Zavala did not define what he meant by the word "consent."

In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury approved of "pastoral" not primatial oversight for the Diocese of South Carolina. What is the difference between the two? A great deal as it turns out.

Pastoral oversight would be an informal arrangement of friendship and communication of one body with another. In fact, anyone is free to offer pastoral care to the independent diocese. It should come as no surprise that the titular head of the Anglican Communion should strive for healing, reconciliation, and peace in his far flung and loosely organized Communion. He would be remiss in his duties if he did not encourage pastoral care.

Primatial oversight is something else completely. This would be a formal arrangement wherein a primate of the Anglican Communion would exercise episcopal authority over an entity such as a diocese beyond the established range of his or her province.

If Bishop Zavala and the Diocese of South Carolina meant to imply that the Archbishop of Canterbury had approved their scheme to set up a primatial oversight arrangement whereby the Global South primates would exercise episcopal authority over the Diocese of South Carolina, they were wrong.

Lambeth Palace has cleared up the confusion.

Bottom line:  the Archbishop of Canterbury has not approved a primatial oversight scheme for the secessionist Diocese of South Carolina.

Nothing has changed. The independent Diocese of South Carolina is not "part" of the Anglican Communion in any official way.

NOTE:     On May 21, I sent an enquiry on the "Contact" form provided by the website of Lambeth Palace ( asking for a response to Bishop Zavala's claims made in South Carolina on May 20 that the Archbishop of Canterbury had met with the Global South primates and had agreed to GS's oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina.

On May 25, I received by email a response from "Ed Thornton, Senior Press Officer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace." I have given the exact text above. Before the text: "Dear Professor Caldwell, Thank you for your enquiry about Bishop Zavala and the Diocese of South Carolina. My apologies for the delay in responding to you. Please find below a statement which I hope is of help."

After receiving this, on May 25, I sent a response e-mail to Mr. Thornton asking if I had his permission to publish his e-mail. He returned an e-mail to me: "Please feel free to publish the statement I sent you."

Anyone is free to contact Lambeth Palace using either the "Contact" form given above or their e-mail: They also list their telephone number and street address on the Contact form.

2nd ed---
CORRECTION:     I said above "In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury approved of 'pastoral' not primatial oversight." This should be corrected. Actually, the Archbishop has not "approved" of any oversight scheme, pastoral or otherwise. If one reads carefully the words of the statement from Lambeth Palace, one sees the Archbishop has only had "discussions" about "exploring" pastoral care. It is also clear the Archbishop is decidedly opposed to foreign episcopal oversight for South Carolina.

Lambeth's statement of May 25 is a defeat for those advocating alternate primatial oversight in the Anglican Communion, not just for South Carolina.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


The more I observe the schism in South Carolina, the more I am drawn to reread Alice in Wonderland. Both are episodes of absurdity. The difference between the two is that Alice is amusing.

The visit of Bishop Hector Zavala, primate of the Anglican Church of South America, is just the latest act in South Carolina's non-comedy of errors. His appearances, his remarks, the reports of what he said and did not say, on what he meant and did not mean are head-spinning. What is going on here? As in Wonderland, have we all gone mad?

Zavala's visit supposedly stemmed from the independent diocese's search for affiliation. He was brought in to shore up the claim that DSC is part of the Anglican Communion, something that is not true and has not been since the group going by the name of DSC left the Episcopal Church on October 15, 2012. When it left TEC, it also left the Anglican Communion.

Global South has been the core of the Anglican support for Mark Lawrence and has been very active from the start in seeking to protect the legitimacy of South Carolina's schism from TEC. Zavala is on the GS steering committee. On February 14-15, 2014, the GS Primates' Steering Committee met in Cairo. The Archbishop of Canterbury attended at least part of this meeting accompanied by his Director of Reconciliation. On February 20, the Primates' Committee published a Statement signed by the entire Committee but not the Archbishop of Canterbury or his aides. The Statement declared the Committee would set up a "Primatial Oversight Council" to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to "dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses." Although ABC attended the Cairo meeting, there is no record that he had anything to do with the Cairo Statement of Feb. 20. The assertion that the Archbishop of Canterbury supports Global South's primatial oversight of DSC is not supported by any evidence that I can find.

Indeed, on the contrary, the Archbishop has been a steady defender of the so-called "Instruments of Unity" that bind, however loosely, the worldwide Anglican Communion. In fact, he said in an interview last year that the Anglican Church in North America is not in the Anglican Communion. ACNA has been recognized by GAFCON, the larger organization tied to Global South, as the only legitimate Anglican body in the U.S.  

Zavala was quoted as saying last Wednesday in Charleston, "I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury." One must ask, exactly what "consent"? When, where, how, and why did the ABC give his "consent" to Zavala to ignore the Instruments of Unity of the AC? (I have contacted Lambeth Palace about this. I will keep readers posted.) Zavala may have gone on to imply that the Archbishop's presence at the Cairo meeting meant his approval of the oversight scheme. Again, there is no evidence of the Archbishop's support of the Cairo Statement. If Zavala meant to say that he was representing the Archbishop of Canterbury in South Carolina and that the Archbishop had approved the primatial oversight scheme, there is no evidence at all of this. Indeed, it contradicts everything else we know about the Archbishop's attitude to the structure of the Anglican Communion.

Where is the independent diocese going with this whole business about affiliation? I think it is more useful at this point to focus less on where it might go and more on where it has been. After more than two and a half years, the Lawrence diocese is still on its own. The "primatial oversight" scheme concocted by Lawrence and his socially conservative allies in Global South is nonsense in terms of the structure of the Anglican Communion. It is, as lawyers say, ultra vires, that is, beyond their legal rights. Global South had no right within the structure of the Anglican Communion to set up any such arrangement. DSC is not, as Lawrence claims, an extra-provincial diocese of the Anglican Communion. It is not now and has not been since Oct. 15, 2012.

Despite repeated assertions to the contrary, in truth the Lawrence diocese is neither "in" the Anglican Communion nor "part" of it. What Lawrence's group does have is the friendship and moral support of several Anglican primates of Third World countries who agree with him that Anglicanism must reject the full inclusion of homosexual persons, and to a degree women, into the life of the church. This is at heart a culture war.

Mark Lawrence left the Episcopal Church in 2012 and the majority of the communicants of the old DSC followed him. From there, the secessionists went off on a path all their own. Unlike the earlier four cases of departures, DSC refused to join the ACNA. It has also failed to adhere to any Anglican province. Meanwhile, Lawrence continues to enjoy authoritarian power in the diocese with an all but ironclad lifetime employment, a quarter of a million dollar annual income, and a million dollar residence for a dollar a year. After two and a half years on his own, he appears to be in no hurry to change anything.

It seemed to me in listening to Lawrence's talk in the recent diocesan convention that he has a grand vision of promoting true Anglicanism (as opposed to the false gospel of TEC) in the world. This is a much bigger cause than just the small matter of diocesan affiliation. It may be that what he is doing now is his way of approaching the enactment of that sweeping vision. He has not joined ACNA. He has gained the visible and vocal support of conservative Anglican prelates overseas. Now he is engaged in two wars, one alone against TEC in court, and one jointly against TEC in the world. I think if we hold that in mind, we have a better understanding of the issue of affiliation in the independent Diocese of South Carolina.

(Read Steve Skardon's excellent first-hand description of Zavala's visit:  He was present at the public presentation; I was not.)


Tuesday, May 19, 2015


"That is why the Bishop Lawrence and his followers plotted this scheme. The Court should reverse." Thus ended the 51-page initial brief of the attorneys for the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC). It was filed with the state supreme court on May 15, 2015 as part of the Church's appeal of the circuit court decision rendered by Judge Goodstein on February 3, 2015. The brief is available online at . The independent side (DSC) has 30 days to file a response. A hearing has been set before all the justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court, in Columbia, on September 23, 2015 with no chance of delay. The court will consider action in regard to Goodstein's lower court order (Feb. 3).

What is the argument in this initial brief? What are the Church lawyers asking of the state's highest court? And, how strong is their case? What I am offering here is my layman's opinion. If you have a different take on this, let us know.

The overriding argument the lawyers make in this brief is that Goodstein used the wrong principle in judging this lawsuit (brought by DSC v. TEC and later TEC and ECSC). She should have used the "deference" standard instead of the "neutral principles" one she claimed to employ. The Church lawyers insisted this entire case arose from internal religious problems: doctrines and church governance. The issue of property was only the outcome of the disputes, not the origin of the differences. Since the schism stemmed from internal disputes, it must be treated as a "deference" case because courts are forbidden from interfering in the internal matters of a religious institution. This is based on the First Amendment's guarantee of the freedom of religion. On this alone, the lawyers want the court to overturn the Goodstein Order of Feb. 3. If so, that would be the end of the case, at least in the state of SC. If the court declared for the deference rule, the whole matter must be left up to the national Episcopal Church to settle. The civic state must "defer" to the religious institution. Therefore, the Church lawyers devoted the bulk of the space in the brief to describing the Episcopal Church as an hierarchical organization where dioceses are subject to bonds with the national Church. As one aspect of this, the lawyers emphasized the role of the Dennis Canon in this arrangement. This Canon held power over the diocese just as other parts of the Church's Constitution and Canons did, even by the diocese's own declaration.

If the state supreme court does not agree with the premise that Goodstein erred in following the wrong principle, the Church's lawyers' fall back position is to argue that Goodstein's decision should still be overturned because it is insubstantial, partial, erroneous, and even contradictory. She proclaimed neutral principles then proceeded to ignore them. She delved into church matters when it suited her and refused as she wished. In the end she made a sweeping judgment on the internal structure of the Episcopal Church by declaring it a congregational church (to the great bewilderment of informed people). 

The lawyers went on to argue that Goodstein made several other serious errors such as: she allowed state-registered trademarks to override federal ones thus upending the federal constitutional system; she recognized the revisions the Trustees Corporation made in their articles when they unilaterally, and illegally, declared the right to contravene the original articles of incorporation; she recognized the sovereignty of the local diocese in disregard of its longstanding, obligations to the national Church; and she recognized acts of the Bishop and of the diocesan conventions that were actually "ultra vires" (that is, beyond their legal rights). In sum, she made repeated, egregious misinterpretations of the civil laws of South Carolina.

Mixed in the text are several other important points that should not be overlooked. For instance, the lawyers tell us Goodstein's Order of Feb. 3 was in essence written by Lawrence's lawyers (p. 10). Only the lawyers and the judge know the contents of the sets of "orders," or requests for judgment that the two sides privately submitted to the judge in December 2014. According to this brief, Goodstein relied heavily on Alan Runyan et al in her decision.

In an historical perspective, the brief emphasized the premeditated nature of the secessionist movement in the old Diocese of South Carolina. For at least three years, there was a concerted and increasing movement to separate the diocese, the Trustees Corporation, and the local parishes from the Episcopal Church. The logical conclusion of this movement was to leave the Episcopal Church with the assets (land and money) in hand. They used the All Saints decision as the cover for the quit claim deeds. They transferred money into different bank accounts. They gradually cut ties to the national Church, in the end conspiring in secret to "disaffiliate" the diocese from the Episcopal Church.

Finally, the Church's lawyers argued that Goodstein's decision is so flawed that the justices might wish to disregard it altogether and make their own decision (de novo). 

In summary, it seems to me the Church lawyers are trying to get the state supreme court to cast aside this case on the grounds it requires "deference" to the national Church. On that, they have made the necessarily strong argument that the whole dispute between the two sides is a religious one. Their "Plan B" is to argue that Goodstein's decision itself is thoroughly erroneous and should be tossed out in favor of a whole new judgment made by the supreme court justices. On this, they have also made a good case. Moreover, they have a huge collection of laws and judicial decisions around the United States heavily weighted on the side of the Episcopal Church.       

Saturday, May 16, 2015


On May 20, DSC will host a visit by the Most Rev. Hector ("Tito") Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Primate of the Anglican Church of South America, one of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. According to the DSC press release, he will be in SC "specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina." Actually, no "specifics" were given as to how he was to encourage and support. His visit is supposedly part of the discernment process for deciding on diocesan affiliation although exactly how was not given. The whole affiliation issue remains a mystery.

Zavala is a close ally of Lawrence. As a member of the Global South Primates Steering Committee, he was one of the seven Anglican primates who rushed a letter of support to Lawrence on December 14, 2012 ("We recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion."), just nine days after the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church had accepted Lawrence's renunciation of his Holy Orders and had released and removed Lawrence from the office of bishop. These seven primates directly rejected the authority of a fellow Anglican primate in her own province.

Zavala was elected primate in 2010 to replace the Argentinian bishop Gregory Venables in what used to be called the Province of the Southern Cone. The Anglican Church in South America is one of the largest in geography and smallest in membership in the Anglican Communion. It has 25,000 members in an area of 110,000,000 people (2 people in a thousand). It includes Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Zavala is the first person of Hispanic heritage to be the primate of this Anglican province.

Even before GAFCON, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, and Global South, the Province of the Southern Cone was aggressively active in opposing the Episcopal Church. In 2007 and 2008, it took in the four secessionist groups that left the Episcopal Church: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Ft. Worth, and Quincy, and declared them dioceses of the province of the Southern Cone. This was in direct disregard of the Windsor Report that had called for a moratorium on cross-border interventions and of the established policies and practices of the historic Anglican Communion, a loose confederation of 38 independent churches around the world separated geographically. When the Anglican Church in North America began in 2009, the four dioceses left the Southern Cone for it even though ACNA was not, and still is not, in the Anglican Communion.

Following the episode of the four dioceses, in 2010, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion removed Bishop Zavala as a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order. Obviously, unity and order had not been high on the Southern Cone's agenda.

On February 27, 2010, there occurred in central Chile the sixth strongest earthquake ever recorded, an 8.8. It and the resulting tsunami left the region devastated. More than a million homes were destroyed or damaged. 525 people were killed. The cost of the damage ranged between 4 and 7 billion dollars.

In a telephone conversation with Episcopal News Service on March 22, 2010, soon after the earthquake, Zavala said he was overwhelmed by the generous response from Anglicans everywhere: "It is good that our ideological differences can be put aside when we are concerned with helping others."  (  )

However, Zavala showed a far different attitude in an interview with The Living Church in 2013: "In 2010 when an earthquake struck in Chile, I received many, many phone calls from [the Episcopal Church center in] New York offering us money. But I said no; not out of arrogance but because we had broken communion with TEC and it would not be right to accept their money." ( ). Thus, as it turned out, Zavala himself had not put "ideological differences" aside as he coldly turned away desperately needed aid dollars only because they were offered by the Episcopal Church.

The Anglican Church of South America is one of the most conservative parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Early on, it cut off communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada because of their policies of inclusion for homosexual persons. As for equal rights for women, it is among the nine provinces of the AC that do not allow women to be ordained to the priesthood although it does allow women as deacons.

Unfortunately, I cannot be present for the meet-and-greets on May 20, but I do have a few questions I think are pertinent to ask of Bishop Zavala:

1. If asked, would your province, Anglican Church of South America, accept DSC as a diocese?

2. As a member of the Global South "oversight" primates committee, please explain exactly how the "oversight" works? What are the details of the relationship of DSC and Global South? Could this become a permanent relationship?

3. You are on record as saying it was good to set aside ideological differences in the aftermath of the terrible 2010 earthquake in Chile, yet you are also on record as refusing money from TEC because of ideological differences. How do you explain this contradiction?

4. How much money did you refuse from TEC? How much from the Anglican Church of Canada? What other Anglican provinces did you refuse when they offered help? From which Anglican provinces did you accept aid? How much money did you receive?

5. Your province, ACSA, allows ordination of women as deacons but not as priests. How can you justify the one and not the other? How many women deacons are in ACSC?

6. Episcopal dissidents believe liberal religion leads to decline and conservative leads to growth in membership. Your province is quite conservative yet also very small in numbers. What keeps the ACSA from becoming a major denomination in your region?

7. Your province broke communion with the Episcopal Church a decade ago. How can the Anglican Communion function if each province is free to choose which other provinces it will recognize as "in communion"? Is not being "in communion" the whole idea of the Anglican "Communion"? 

8. What would be required for your province to restore communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada?

9. What has been your relationship with the Anglican Standing Commission on Unity since you were removed from it?

10. What do you see as your purpose in being here today?

11. Your are now standing in the Anglican Communion province of the Episcopal Church. Did you ask permission of your fellow primate, the Presiding Bishop of TEC, to be here? Did you inform the Presiding Bishop you would be in her province?

12. Will you participate in official Anglican Communion meetings if the primate of the Episcopal Church is present? Will you take communion alongside the primate of TEC? What is your opinion of primates boycotting meetings that include the TEC primate and avoiding communion with the primate of TEC?

13. You have been quoted as saying TEC is not "true Anglican." Exactly what is a true Anglican?

14. Mark Lawrence renounced his membership in TEC in October of 2012. In December of 2012, the Presiding Bishop and primate of the Anglican Communion province of TEC accepted his renunciation of Holy Orders and officially removed Lawrence as an Episcopal, and therefore Anglican Communion, bishop. You were one of those primates who directly rejected this official action of a fellow Anglican primate, in her own province. Why did you do this? How would you feel if the TEC primate had done this to you in your province?

15. GAFCON and Global South have in effect rejected the validity of the "Instruments of Unity" that preside over the Anglican Communion. They have split the AC into two widely differing factions. What is the difference between this and schism?

16. When the Archbishop of Canterbury visited you recently, what did you tell him about the future of the Anglican Communion? Do you support having a Lambeth Conference in 2018? Would you attend?

17. What do you see as the future of the Anglican Communion?

18. How is your presence in South Carolina today promoting a better future for the Anglican Communion?

Bishop Zavala, have a pleasant stay in charming old South Carolina, one of the most beautiful, hospitable, and inviting places in the world. You may have broken communion with the Episcopal Church, but it has not broken communion with you. I am sure we can all agree that the Anglican Communion should survive and thrive, but in order for that to happen we have to accept the very Anglican principle of toleration and respect for widely differing views. And on that, I hope we can all agree too. 



Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Within a few weeks, the United States Supreme Court is likely to rule on the issue of whether individual states can prohibit legal marriages of same sex couples and can refuse to recognize such marriages from other states. Oral arguments before the nine justices occurred on April 28, 2015. The printed and audio records of the hearing are readily available on the Internet. And, once again, Episcopalians, or at least certain Episcopalians, have done the right thing. They have stood courageously for human rights. They have added their voices to the Court in the cause of freedom and equality. 

A vast group of religious leaders in America joined together to present a brief of Amici curiae (friends of the court) to the Supreme Court in support of same sex marriage. A long list of religious institutions signed on as well as nearly 2,000 individual clergy and theologians representing many religious backgrounds (many of them were Episcopalians). Leading the list of religious institutions was "President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church" and "The Episcopal Bishops of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee." Then followed the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, numerous Reformed Jewish groups, and various Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran associations. Under the "Table of Authorities" in the brief, the Episcopalians included the resolutions of the Episcopal Church General Convention supporting rights for homosexual persons, 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012.

The justices of the Supreme Court could not avoid being impressed by this massive outpouring of religious support for marriage equality. As a writer in the New York Times recently pointed out, "It's Not Gay Marriage vs. the Church Anymore" ( . (Click on "Episcopal Church" for the Amici brief.) There has been a significant wave of religious support for same sex marriage in recent years. Even the Presbyterian Church (USA) recently voted to allow ministers to perform same sax marriages; and a majority of presbyteries approved this. The myth that Christian and Jewish leaders were united in opposition to same sex marriage has collapsed. 

Of course, this is not the first time Episcopalians have stood up in the courts for same sex marriage. In 2013, all of the Episcopal bishops in the state of California supported the challenge of Proposition 8 in the U.S. Supreme Court. At the same time, 29 bishops representing 23 of the 24 dioceses in states with marriage equality joined in supporting the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Supreme Court. In that instance, the majority of the Supreme Court justices voted to overturn Prop 8 and DOMA. Justice Kennedy was the "swing" vote to carry the majority. The witnesses of so many Episcopal leaders could not have been lost on the majority of justices. For years, SCOTUS has usually been 5-4 conservative. 

Right now all eyes are on Justice Kennedy, again. In the hearing of April 28, he dropped little hint of how he would vote. Conventional wisdom holds that the Court, as in 2013, once again will narrowly support same sex marriage, but as we all know it is risky to jump to conclusions about how the court will vote. Still, considering the clear-cut recent history of the Court's handling of this issue in favor of marriage equality in case after case, one could only be shocked if the Court now reversed its attitude. A ruling of the Supreme Court is expected next month. It will be a landmark decision setting the national policy on same sex marriage. This is a moment of high drama in the social history of the United States, and perhaps of the world.

The Episcopal Church has been wrestling with the issue of rights for homosexual persons for forty years. On the whole, the Church has done the right thing. Slowly but surely the General Convention, the policy making body of the Church, has voted in favor or equality and justice. Bit by bit homosexuals have gained rights in the Church. Last month's amici brief was simply the most recent example of that long process of doing the right thing. (One note, however; the Episcopal Church has not yet approved same sex marriage, only a blessing of a same sex couple.)

As we have seen, opposition to equal rights for homosexuals in the Episcopal Church was the direct cause of the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina's decision to leave the Episcopal Church. This puts DSC on the wrong side of history. Polls show that the majority of Americans support equal rights for homosexuals; and that majority is growing rapidly. Within a few years even the most conservative sections of America (e.g. South Carolina) will support equality for all. Young people especially are overwhelmingly in support of freedom and toleration. As time goes by, DSC will find fewer and fewer people supporting its dying social prejudices. It will either have to accept equality for homosexuals or face extinction, or at least a severely diminished following, mostly of old people.

(Thanks to Sylvia Folk for her help with this material.)

ADDENDUM, May 12:     Even conservative bishops can find a way to do the right thing. Bishop Gregory Brewer, of Central Florida, recently found himself in the middle of an explosion in cyberspace. A male same-sex couple asked to have their adopted infant son baptized in St. Luke's Cathedral, in Orlando (Anglo-Catholic heritage), only to run into opposition. The couple put their experience on Facebook. It went viral. Thousands of people protested to Bishop Brewer. Long story short, Brewer agreed with the baptism which will now proceed. Brewer's moving letter to his diocese is online:  .  If some conservatives can do the right thing and keep their heart-felt beliefs, could not all do likewise? As Bishop Brewer, in 2012 the bishop of South Carolina could have done the right thing and kept his principles. Instead, he chose to leave the Episcopal Church.

ADDENDUM, May 20:     More conservative bishops are continuing to do the right thing. Bishop Lillibridge, of West Texas, was once prominent among right-wing bishops. West Texas was one of the twelve dioceses that could be counted on as staunchly and reliably resistant to rights for homosexuals. No more. As Brewer, Lillibridge has changed his policies if not his mind. Thus, the old Robinson-era coalition of the alliance of the twelve hard-right dioceses in TEC is slowly but surely collapsing in the face of reality. Read the detailed and informative article by the conservative writer Mary Ann Mueller, "West Texas Bishop Now Sees Through Rainbow Colored Glasses"

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Though with a scornful wonder/ we see her sore oppressed,/ by schisms rent asunder,/ by heresies distressed (The Church's One Foundation).

Schisms by the dozens have rent asunder the Anglican Communion and the U.S. Episcopal Church. The Anglicans Online website lists at least 55 independent splinter "Anglican" church entities in the United States and dozens of other "Anglican" denominations outside of the U.S. ( ). Not one of these is in the Anglican Communion (AC), not one recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). In the eastern half of South Carolina there are at least 10 "Anglican" denominations, all claiming jurisdiction over this small space of earth and operating local churches therein. That means there are 10 "Anglican" bishops claiming authority in the same place. Only one entity, the Episcopal Church, is in the AC and recognized by the ABC. The others are:

---The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the old Reconstruction era splinter group;

---The Anglican Mission in America, the handiwork mostly of Chuck Murphy;

---PEARUSA, the Rwandan mission;

---The Diocese of the Holy Cross, Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas;

---The Anglican Church in America;

---The Anglican Catholic Church;

---The Orthodox Anglican Church;

---The Diocese of South Carolina (Mark Lawrence);

--The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Now comes the news that Mark Lawrence and his inner circle have met a group of "leaders" of ACNA for conversations at Camp St. Christopher, April 28-29. DSC, the independent diocese, posted a report of the meeting on its website ( ). The meeting raised more questions than it answered.

Mark Lawrence has had a mysterious relationship with ACNA. The ACNA was formed in 2009, largely under the leadership of the former Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan. Lawrence was well acquainted with Duncan as Lawrence served in that diocese for fourteen years before returning to Bakersfield in 1997. The four breakaway dioceses all joined the new ACNA (San Joaquin, Lawrence's previous diocese; Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh, and Quincy). The ACNA was created to be a sort of broad confederation of diverse semi-independent "Anglican" denominations, such as the Reformed Episcopal Church. Its views and policies are also wide-ranging. For instance, women were allowed to be priests to satisfy one party, and not allowed to be bishops to satisfy another. ACNA claims 100,000 members. In 2012 it created "the Diocese of the Carolinas" and made Steve Wood, the rector of St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant its new bishop. Wood had been a finalist for bishop of DSC in 2006-07. Wood and his parish left the Episcopal Church, property in hand, under Bishop Lawrence's tenure after Lawrence had signaled he would not enforce the Dennis Canon. While he was still an Episcopal bishop, Lawrence attended Wood's consecration as an ACNA bishop although he did not participate in it (grounds for removal as bishop in TEC).

When Lawrence announced he and the diocese had left TEC in October 2012, he also announced there would be no affiliation with a higher group for the time being. His oft-repeated quip was about coming out of a bad marriage, one did not want to rush into another marriage. He declared that DSC was an "extra-provincial diocese" of the Anglican Communion, something that had never existed and would not be recognized by the ABC. He made it plain there would be no joining ACNA in the near future. Instead, in 2014, Lawrence made an even more peculiar arrangement of "oversight" by the Global South, a collection of socially and theologically conservative Anglican prelates, mostly in the Third World. This was also something that had never existed and would not be recognized by the ABC. The "oversight" arrangement was not described. At the same time the DSC annual convention rubber-stamped this deal, it also passed a resolution requiring only the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer be used in DSC churches. This came on the heels of a new prayer book that had been adopted in ACNA, and much of which was written by Lawrence's friend Keith Ackerman. The new ACNA prayer book was silently but pointedly ignored in DSC.

The question of affiliation continued to hang over DSC as everyone awaited leadership from the authoritarian bishop. He hand picked a committee on discernment in the Spring of 2014. They were to present a report on an affiliation of DSC with a larger body at the 2015 annual diocesan convention. The chair of this committee was Craige Borrett, Kendall Harmon's fellow clergyman at Christ/St. Paul's, and stalwart Lawrence partisan. 

In 2014, Lawrence attended the installation of Foley Beach as the new archbishop of ACNA but did not participate in the consecration. The ABC announced beforehand that ACNA was not in the Anglican Communion, if anyone were still wondering. GAFCON, however, in defiance of the ABC and the instruments of unity of the AC announced that it recognized ACNA as the legitimate branch of Anglicanism in the U.S. GAFCON had been created in 2008 largely by equatorial African Anglican prelates promoting a rigidly conservative social and religious agenda to suit their local needs. 

In the DSC annual convention of 2015, Lawrence had few good words for affiliation with ACNA, or with anyone else for that matter. Borrett's committee on discernment, that had been charged with making a report, in fact gave no report. Two and a half years into the schism and there was still no proposal of affiliation. Lawrence talked in circles about affiliation to the convention. He gave no clear view at all of where DSC should go on this issue. ACNA has been around for almost six years. DSC has been out of TEC for two and a half years. How long should a decision on affiliation take? In fact, DSC was still adrift in nowhere, going nowhere as everyone looked to Lawrence for guidance.

Duncan and ACNA had tried hard to recruit Lawrence. In September of 2013, Duncan invited various "Anglican" groups in the low country to a meeting at Camp St. Christopher. He brought together representatives of PEARUSA, REC, Diocese of the Holy Cross, as well as ACNA and DSC. Without explanation, he omitted several other "Anglican" entities in SC. Chuck Murphy, an original pioneer of the "orthodox" Anglican movement in South Carolina was not present. Nothing came of this meeting.

Once again, DSC and ACNA met, this time just a few days ago. According to the DSC press release, DSC was represented by: Lawrence; Wade Logan, chancellor of DSC; Alan Runyan, attorney of the Standing Committee; Craige Borrett, chair of the affiliation committee; Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of DSC; Jeffrey Miller and Elizabeth Pennewill, members of the affiliation committee; and Jim Lewis, assistant to Lawrence. This was the inner core of DSC.

ACNA was represented in the meeting by Foley Beach, archbishop of ACNA; Ray Sutton, a bishop of REC; John Guernsey, ACNA bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic; Bill Atwood, bishop of "The International Diocese," one of the constituent elements of ACNA; Terrell Glenn, missionary bishop of the ACNA Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast (he resigned from the Anglican Mission in the Americas in the midst of the Rwandan debacle of 2011); Phil Ashley, chief executive office of the highly conservative American Anglican Council; Jack Lumanog, "Canon to the Archbishop and Chief Executive Officer" of ACNA; Scott Ward, chancellor of ACNA, chancellor of ACNA Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, and chancellor of Falls Church Anglican in VA; and Ted Brenner, chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Quincy and leader of the team of lawyers, including Alan Runyan, that litigated the case of the breakaway diocese of Quincy against TEC.

Absent from the meeting was anyone from the local ACNA Diocese of the Carolinas. The bishop, Steve Wood, was not present, nor was his chancellor, nor was anyone else in authority of that diocese which, after all, includes all of South Carolina. No explanation was given for this absence.

What did the assembly discuss in the two days? The press release tells us very little but does offer some tantalizing clues. Anyone can make of these whatever they wish. Here are my thoughts. One sentence said the group had "frank exchanges" (translation-widely differing opinions) on "compatibility of the ecclesiologies" of ACNA and DSC (translation-DSC is a long way from joining ACNA). Apparently they discussed mostly the numerous overlapping "Anglican" jurisdictions in SC. DSC saw these as "barriers" whose removal would be a "necessary precursor to ecclesial order" (translation-Lawrence wants a unified "Anglican" diocese before he joins ACNA). How all of this was to be accomplished was left blank. And how any of this could possibly proceed without the local ACNA bishop was equally blank.

The tone of the DSC press release was one of differences between DSC and ACNA with no real process for reconciling them. No evidence was presented that the conferees discussed ways to move forward to union. No statement of any kind was issued by the conference at its conclusion either as a group or individually.

Bottom line, it seems to me that after all these years the former Episcopal bishop Mark Lawrence, now head of an independent diocese in the low country of South Carolina, is not inclined to join ACNA; and the reasons are just as mysterious now as they have always been.