Thursday, April 28, 2016


The schismatic diocese of South Carolina (DSC) is supposedly in "discernment" about whether to join the Anglican Church in North America. A special convention is expected to be called this autumn to pass the first approval. The second and last vote will come in the regular convention of March 2017. Since the committee on affiliation is recommending joining ACNA, and the committee was personally named by Mark Lawrence, it is a foregone conclusion that DSC will join ACNA. (See my post of March 23, 2016, "South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America.")

The recent election of a new bishop in the schismatic diocese of Pittsburgh should be a cautionary note for the folks in South Carolina. See the excellent description in EpiscopalCafé: and the comment of blogger Mark Harris: .

On April 23, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (ADP) (of the Anglican Church in North America, ACNA) held an election for a bishop to replace retiring Robert Duncan. Originally eight candidates were presented but three dropped out leaving five, all from outside the diocese. Another candidate was nominated from the floor, the Rev. Jonathan Millard, a popular rector in the diocese. He was obviously the first choice of the clergy and laity of the diocese, but just before the election, Duncan issued a dire warning to the assembly that Millard might not get approved by the College of Bishops of ACNA because he was divorced. (Ironically Duncan had been elected bishop of Pittsburgh after being nominated from the floor). On the first ballot, Millard led the field with clearly the highest votes in both clergy and laity. The Rev. Jim Hobby, rector of an Anglican church in Thomasville GA, trailed. The same was true on the second ballot as Millard remained the clear favorite among both clergy and laity. On the third ballot, three candidates remained and votes shifted toward Hobby. By the fourth ballot, Hobby was ahead and Millard dropped away. Hobby was elected on the fifth ballot. In the end, the diocesan convention elected a person who was not the leading favorite of the assembly.

Under the Constitution and Canons of ACNA, power is concentrated at the top, in the archbishop and the College of Bishops. A bishop is nominated by election in the diocese but must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the College of Bishops. In TEC, bishops are normally approved by a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses. The ACNA C and C also spell out the approval of sexual relations only within a permanent and lifetime matrimonial union of one man and one woman. This sets a very high bar indeed as it would presumably disqualify anyone for bishop who ever had any kind of sexual relations outside of legal, heterosexual marriage as well as divorced men (only men can be bishops in ACNA). Even so, the delegates in Pittsburgh wanted to elect, and almost did elect, a man outside the narrow bounds as laid out in the ACNA C and C.

Before the good people of DSC go headlong into the ACNA, they should be aware of what joining will mean to their selections of their own bishops. They will have to follow out-of-date and very narrow guidelines that will eliminate many good candidates, as Millard. They will also have to submit to near-dictatorial rule of the ACNA hierarchy. A two-thirds vote is tantamount to a veto among the bishops of ACNA. This will leave DSC, as it has ADP, at the mercy of the ACNA archbishop (who alone can convene the College of Bishops) and bishops. DSC will be very highly constricted in whom it can choose as its own bishop. This is a cautionary tale for a "diocese" that for years before the schism of 2012 railed long and hard against the supposed tyranny and dictatorship of the Episcopal Church. In reality, ACNA is far more undemocratic than TEC ever was. DSC may have to learn this the hard way, as the good people of Pittsburgh have just learned.

The schism in Pittsburgh has not gone so well for the planners, not only in the defiant vote mentioned above. State courts ruled entirely in favor of the Episcopal diocese. Some local churches that initially broke away, returned to TEC. The Episcopal diocese now lists 36 local churches and about 10,000 members while the Anglican diocese lists 40 churches and 7,937 members with many in these numbers being beyond the geographical boundaries of the old diocese. 




Saturday, April 23, 2016


Two weeks ago (April 9), I posted photos of my garden. Since many people appreciated seeing the garden, I am posting more photos showing what is blooming in the garden today, Saturday, 23 April. As any gardener knows, plants change daily, and show off at different times in different ways. This year is providing an unusually beautiful springtime here in the South. As one sees I am fond of trees, shrubs, and perennials. My motto is: "Low Maintenance." One will also see weeds. My philosophy is a garden that does not grow good weeds is not much of a garden. I pull the weeds as I can but do resort to Round-Up although I hate putting poison in my garden.

I hope you enjoy this garden as well as the gardens in different forms all over the place. They are everywhere if one will only look. Every now and then it is best to forget about everything else and just soak in the incredible beauty of God's creation all around us.

 Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis) is an old fashioned Southern favorite shrub. You can see why.

Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus) is covered with white "fringe." It is nearly full grown at about 15'. The star of the garden at the moment (Snowball bush is fading out).

Clematis is one of the most common vines anywhere, and for good reason. This is 'Polish Spirit.'

Red Knockout Rose is my favorite rose because it is low care and blooms prolifically from frost to frost. Japanese beetles arrive in late May early June but do not last as they are favorite food for some of the birds that inhabit my garden. I have 32 Red Knockout Rose bushes. I prune them in winter, give them a little fertilizer and then leave them alone. They reward me in abundance.

Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis 'Purple Smoke') is another favorite perennial shrub.

Blue Wild Indigo with banana trees in foreground. Every southern garden should have banana trees.

Eve's Necklace (Sophora affinis) is a small tree, eventually to 15'. It has long blooms resembling necklaces. This is one of the most unusual plants in my garden. In fact, I have never seen one growing anywhere else. I ordered this as a seedling from a nursery in Texas.

Clematis 'Duchess of Edinburgh'.

Bananas on left. Foreground is Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii). Middle ground is Wild Indigo, yellow (Baptisia 'Screaming Yellow'). Large bush in background is a camellia.

Weigela is another common southern shrub. This one is an unidentified cultivar. It is also quite large, over 7'.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata var. atrosanguinea). The vine is on a trellis but I let it tail as it likes. In gardening, as in life, I am a democrat. I believe society should incorporate Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. I give the plants freedom as long as they are not invading other's spaces (BIG exception=poison ivy). I treaty them equally. and I give them an environment of brotherhood and harmony, hundreds of very different species living together happily. I suppose my garden is my own little metaphor for my worldview. Crossvine is one of many plants feeding the many hummingbirds in my garden.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana 'Concord Grape') in foreground. Back is Louisiana Palmetto (Sabal minor "Louisianaises"), my favorite bush-type palmetto, very cold hardy and producing large blue-green fronds. The weeds are evident.

Where did you get your plants? I have heard that a lot. I have over 800 individual plants representing over 300 different species ranging very widely. Most of my plants came from nurseries local to me, others from my travels, or other people's trips. For my readers in South Carolina, I can tell you my two favorite nurseries in SC. One, Woodlanders, in Aiken, is primarily a mail-order business. They have a huge variety of native and unusual plants. For a walk-through nursery, my favorite in SC is Nurseries Caroliniana in North Augusta. It is vast but well organized, presenting an enormous variety (for instance the Chinese Fringe Tree pictured above came from there), and reasonably priced. Of course, every city in SC has its share of fine nurseries too. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

with Addendum (20 Apr.) and
Second Addendum (21 Apr.)

Original post, 19 April:     The Texas Second Court of Appeals, in Fort Worth, is hearing the Episcopal Church case today, Tuesday, 19 April, at 1:30 p.m. To my knowledge, there is no audio or video streaming of today's hearing. The judges will be hearing arguments from the competing dioceses concerning the Episcopal Church's appeal of the "Final Judgment" of Judge John Chupp, of the 141st Judicial Court, of Tarrant County, Texas, dated July 24, 2015. The Judgment awarded everything in question to the breakaway diocese.

Of all five secessionist dioceses, Fort Worth has had the most curious history of litigation. Three of the five cases were completely one-sided, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin entirely in favor of the Episcopal Church while Quincy was the opposite, completely in favor of the secessionist diocese. Fort Worth, however, has been on both sides.

The original court judgment in Fort Worth awarded all to the Episcopal Church side. That was Judge Chupp's order of 21 January 2011. The breakaways then appealed that decision directly to the Texas Supreme Court which held oral arguments on 16 October 2012, and rendered a written decision on 30 August 2013. In a 5-4 split, the supreme court ruled that the case must be remanded to the Judicial Court with direction to follow "neutral principles." The minority of the court held that the case was not appealable to the state supreme court. The Church side then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 but that court refused to accept the case for judgment, perhaps because it had not been decided by the highest court in the state of Texas. The case then went back to the original judge, John Chupp, in the 141st who held a new hearing directed by the state supreme court order for neutral principles on 20 February 2015 and issued a terse written order on 2 March 2015 with a short "Final Order" on 24 July 2015. Chupp awarded all to the breakaway diocese, the exact opposite of his 2011 ruling. It is this "Final Order" that the Church side appealed to the Appeals Court and is being heard today.

There is plenty here for the appeals court judges to consider. The Church side is essentially arguing for hierarchy, that is with sovereignty in the central authority, while the secessionist side is arguing for local rights, that is, with sovereignty in the local entity.

On December 3, 2015, the Episcopal Church diocese and the Episcopal Church both filed briefs (written arguments) with the appeals court, 202 p. and 49 p. These may be found at: . The breakaway (also known as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth) side then filed a response brief of 95 pages on 4 March 2016: .  

Since we cannot see or hear the hearing today, we can only hope for a detailed description from the two sides involved asap. I will pass these along as I receive them.

ADDENDUM, 20 April. The hearing was held yesterday in the Second Court of Appeals, in Fort Worth. Three judges heard the oral arguments: Anne Gardner, Lee Gabriel, and Bonnie Sudderth. The courtroom was packed to capacity for a hearing that lasted 39 minutes.

An audio recording is available at: . This also has a report from the Episcopal Church diocese.

The schismatic diocese also has a report on the hearing at: .


Having heard the audio of the hearing on 19 April, these are my thoughts:

The plaintiff (Episcopal Church diocese) lawyer spoke first. He argued basically that the Episcopal Church was hierarchical and that when the diocese was created (in 1983) it gave unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church with the force of an irrevocable contract. The diocese had no right to unilateral independence or to secession from TEC. In Fort Worth there were two entities: 1-the Corporation (incorporated under Texas law) that held title to the deeds and 2-the unincorporated diocese. The corporation held the property in trust for the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth which itself is part of the national Church. In sum, this property issue was really an ecclesiastical issue that must be left to the Church under the First Amendment.

The defendant (secessionist diocese) lawyer countered that the diocese was an independent entity free to amend its rules under state law. The Corporation was an independent entity under state law and governed by the diocesan convention. Courts must follow "neutral principles" and settle the property issues under state property laws.
A judge interrupted the defendants' lawyer to speak twice: 1-are not we getting into ecclesiastical issues (referring to the structure of the diocese)? and 2-the Texas Supreme Court did not make a decision in the case, only remanded to lower court with direction for neutral principles.

The Church lawyer then offered a rebuttal. He said only the Church, not the courts, may decide which is the rightful diocese. He also pointed out that the 55 property deeds state explicitly the property was held in trust for the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Ft. Worth. He asked the court to enforce the deeds.

The fundamental issue in Ft. Worth was the same as in South Carolina, sovereignty. The Church's position is that ultimate power rests in the national Church, specifically in the General Convention. All dioceses must recognize that. As for property, all local properties are held in trust for the Episcopal Church and its diocese. On the other hand, the secessionist side argued for local sovereignty, that the local diocese governed itself and existed as an independent legal entity under state corporate law, and that the national Church had no right over the local properties.

It is impossible at this point to predict how the Texas Second Appeals Court will rule. It is dealing with contradictory decisions from the same judge (John Chupp), the first giving all to the national Church side, the second giving all to the secessionist side, and a direction from the state supreme court that the case be heard under "neutral principles." (The appeal before the court is Chupp's second decision). A judge asked only two questions on Tuesday, both of which suggested reluctance to interfere in an ecclesiastical matter. As we have seen, neutral principles does not necessarily mean the secessionist side will win. In California, the court followed neutral principles and found all in favor of the national Church; and this was affirmed by the appeals court. 

Monday, April 18, 2016


The Anglican Consultative Council voted today to reject the "consequences" imposed on the Episcopal Church by the primates in their January 2016 gathering in Canterbury.

According to the Episcopal News Service report just posted, the ACC today passed Resolution C34 which recognized the Archbishop of Canterbury's report on the primates' gathering and affirmed the decision to "walk together." Then, the ACC tabled (withdrew without a vote) Resolution C35 which would have accepted the primates' statement. The ABC himself wanted C35 to be withdrawn. For EpiscopalCafé's report see: .

Passing C34 and killing C35 speaks loudly and clearly that the ACC rejected the primates' directive to the ACC to impose punishment (using the euphemism of "consequences") on the American Episcopal Church.

Two points to emphasize here: 1-the Anglican Communion has no central government. It has "Four Instruments of Communion" that are separate and co-equal. No one Instrument has any authority over any other. No one has any right to interfere in any of the 38 independent churches (provinces) of the AC. The primates' had no right to direct the ACC to do anything and the ACC has now told the primates' that in no uncertain terms.

2-More evidence to support my contention that the movement to drive the Episcopal Church out of the AC and replace it with the Anglican Church in North America is dead (see my postings of April 11, "The Collapse of the Anti-Episcopal Church Movement in the Anglican Communion" and of Feb. 1, 2016, "The Failure of the Replacement Strategem"). The ABC and the ACC rallied to save the Episcopal Church's place in the AC. The anti-TEC hardliners have now been reduced to a marginalized handful of the most fiercely anti-homosexual-rights primates of equatorial Africa. In one case, Kenya, even the delegates rejected their archbishop's wish and attended the ACC meeting anyway.

Monday, April 11, 2016


After three days of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, it is not too soon to draw the conclusion that the movement to drive the Episcopal Church (TEC) out of the Anglican Communion (AC) has ended in a fizzle. Death occurred in Lusaka, Zambia.

The movement actually started in 1997 in a conference hosted by the newly-formed right-wing political action committee called the American Anglican Council that brought together anti-homosexual-rights' forces in the Episcopal Church with anti-homosexual-rights' Anglican leaders from equatorial Africa. In 1998, this coalition pushed through the Lambeth Conference a statement condemning homosexuality. From there, equatorial African primates began incursions in America, in violation of a longstanding principle in the AC against cross-border actions. In 2000, the primate of Rwanda sponsored the Anglican Mission in America, under Chuck Murphy, of Pawleys Island, SC. Peter Akinola, primate of Nigeria, was in the U.S. on the eve of the vote on Gene Robinson in 2003 to help unify the anti-homosexual forces. Soon, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda were all making links among the anti-homosexual forces leaving TEC. The Chapman Memo in December of 2003 outlined a blueprint for schism from TEC. The Barfoot Memo in March of 2004 laid out a scheme for dissident Episcopalians to unite with African bishops. By 2004, when the Anglican Communion Network formed, the goal of the anti-homosexual American dissidents was to create a replacement church to take the place of TEC in the AC.

In July of 2008, GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) formed from Third World, highly evangelical, Anglican provinces and drew up the Jerusalem Declaration that purported to set up a "confessional" Anglicanism which explicitly condemned homosexuality and rejected the authority of Anglican provinces (i.e. TEC and Anglican Church of Canada) that supported rights for homosexual persons. The next year GAFCON "recognized" the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the outcome of the 10-year movement in TEC against the reforms favoring homosexuals. GAFCON and its allied group, Global South, supported ACNA as the replacement church to take the place of TEC. Global South was an organization of 24 Anglican provinces (of the 38 in AC), with a Steering Committee headed by Mouneer Anis, primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East. He has been a very strong advocate for Mark Lawrence, even before the schism of 2012. In 2014, GS announced an "oversight" plan for the schismatic diocese of South Carolina.

In 2015, TEC adopted same-sex marriage and changed its canons to reflect this, the first province in the AC to do so. The equatorial African bishops responded with strong protests against the destruction of "the godly order" of the AC. By late 2015, the movement to drive TEC out of the AC seemed stronger than ever and on the brink of success.

The unknown problem was that much of the anti-TEC movement was an overblown illusion and had been all along. Neither GAFCON nor GS had the unity or resolve they tried to project. This became starkly and surprisingly clear in the primates' gathering in Canterbury in January of 2016 when the GAFCON/GS coalition put everything to the test. Stanley Ntagali, primate of Uganda led the attack on TEC. No doubt he was upset by TEC's General Convention resolution supporting pro-homosexual groups in Africa. Ntagali presented a crisis to the primates on the first day of the gathering demanding that TEC be expelled. Put on the spot, GAFCON/GS, which actually counted the majority of the primates, collapsed. Ntagali stormed out of the gathering in protest, alone. This drew back the curtain revealing the actual disarray of the anti-TEC coalition. Next, the anti-TEC party tried to get TEC expelled from AC for three years. That failed too, the second blow to GAFCON/GS. Then the primates drew up a communiqué with two landmark provisions: a slap-on-the-wrist for TEC (called consequences), and the rejection of the ACNA for admission to AC. This ended the "replacement" scheme. In retrospect, the Archbishop of Canterbury's (ABC) "walking together" theme saved the day for TEC. He insisted the AC would remain the same. This was the important point that saved TEC; the "consequences" were really inconsequential.

The hardliners refused to throw in the towel. As a last gasp in the anti-TEC movement, certain equatorial African primates turned to the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, 8-19 April, 2016. They insisted that TEC had rejected the "consequences" and demanded TEC be restricted in the meeting.

As a protest against TEC, 5 primates announced they were opposed to their provinces participating in the Lusaka meeting (the equatorial provinces of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, plus Mouneer Anis' (chair of GS) Jerusalem and the Middle East). A strange case happened in Kenya when the primate claimed a forged letter allowed his delegation to attend. The three delegates from Kenya did attend in spite of their archbishop's opposition. (The official attendance roster showed that only three provinces actually boycotted the meeting: Uganda, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Kenya was in fact represented by its 3 delegates and Jerusalem/Middle East by its 1, the Rt. Rev. Michael Lewis.) The reality that only 3 of the 24 GS provinces actually boycotted the meeting showed the dying weakness of the anti-TEC movement among the GAFCON/GS caolition. Obviously the vast majority of the GAFCON/GS churches in the AC were no longer willing to act against TEC.

Before the ACC meeting, the chair, James Tengatenga, of Malawi, made it clear that TEC had every right to attend and participate. The ABC sent a letter to all 37 other primates on March 16 urging them to support the meeting. This was a scarcely veiled rebuke of the equatorial primates who had announced their (anti-TEC) boycott. In his opening address to the ACC meeting on 8 April, the ABC made it clear that all proper actions had been taken regarding TEC and the meeting should proceed. All three TEC delegates were present and ready to participate fully. 

Then, on 11 April, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, General-Secretary of the Anglican Communion, of Nigeria, issued a blistering rubuke to the equatorial primates, particularly that of Kenya. ( ). He listed nine points strongly defending TEC, and the ABC, and taking to task the anti-TEC side. He minced no words. One should read it to get the full effect that a second-hand description would lack. It appears to me that Idowu-Fearon's statement of today is the nail in the coffin of the anti-TEC movement.

In the end, the reality of the AC remains unchanged. It is essentially a friendship circle of 38 independent churches that adhere to a religious and cultural heritage from the English Reformation. It has no central government of any kind. There are four "Instruments of Communion" (ABC, primates, ACC, and Lambeth meetings), but not one has any right to interfere in any one of the 38 churches (called provinces). Moreover, the four Instruments are separate and equal, and no one Instrument has power over any other. Thus, the primates had no right last January to impose any requirement on the ACC. The ACC is an independent body with its own constitution.

TEC survived. Her enemies failed. The AC survived. Classical Anglicanism survived. I do not think it is too early to declare that the storm has passed. GAFCON/GS proved to be only an angry house of cards. Life goes on. But it goes on with greater justice, freedom, and equality because the American Episcopal Church had the courage and resolve to lead the way and the ABC, and other Anglican leaders had the wisdom to defend the Anglican Communion.

(Footnote. Time, events, and greater knowledge have compelled me to alter my original impressions of the primates' gathering of Jan. 2016. In hindsight, we can see that there were two dangers lurking by 2016: the Anglican Communion was about to split up into two hostile groups, and the Episcopal Church was close to being expelled and replaced. Either would have been a tragedy. It was the deceptively wise, calm, and resolute leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury that kept both of those from occurring. We can now see that what he did in the secrecy of that primates' meeting was really a stroke of genius. He saved the Anglican Communion. He saved the Episcopal Church's place in the Anglican Communion. What more could we ask?
Time has also revealed to us the ABC's biological father. Somehow I think the father, Sir Anthony Montague Browne, a noteworthy public servant in his own right, would have been proud of what his son did this year.)          

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Let's take a break from church business and just enjoy this most beautiful springtime for a moment. There is nothing more glorious than Spring in the South. These are pictures of my garden I took this morning, April 9, 2016. I live in a small subdivision in Jacksonville, Alabama, where I have my retirement home. I bought the vacant lot next to my house a dozen years ago and developed from scratch my dream garden. Planning, planting, and tending it has been my therapy as well as my joy for all these years. I have hundreds of plants, mostly trees and shrubs but also perennials, vines, groundcovers, palms etc. There are walk paths and seating areas. One will notice no bird feeders. Instead I planted an abundance of natural bird food; and now I have a garden filled with happy birds that sing to me every day. I live on the line of zones 7/8 so have a great variety of plants, some tropical and some northern (as apple trees). In the landscape, there is a lawn in the middle with two garden areas flanking it. Most of the plants are common southern ones, but I do have some rare and unusual ones I collected between Florida and California. You are welcomed to visit! 

"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
     The song of the birds for mirth,--
 One is nearer God's heart in a garden
     Than anywhere else on earth."
Dorothy Frances Gurney, "God's Garden."

The trellis is White Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata 'alba'). The arching trellis forms an entrance. Flanking the trellis are boxwoods. The tall conifers in the background are Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). Along the lawn are Red Knockout Roses (pruned in winter). In a month, they will be in full bloom providing a blanket of red along the lawn. The small tree to the left of the trellis is Corkscrew Willow. The palm is a dwarf palmetto (sabal minor). To the left of it is Spartan Juniper.

The larger side of the garden. Red Knockout Roses along the lawn.

My favorite view. From the top of a slight slope, I can see most of the garden. Camellias on left, hydrangea on right. Small tree is crabapple. Large trees on left, maple.

Yellow Lady Banks Rose (Rosa banksiae). Small tree is Grancy Graybeard (Chiomanthes virginicus). The ground cover on left is Blue Rug Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis 'wiltonii'). Shrub on right is forsythia.

Purple shrubs=Loropetalum Chinese. Yellowish shrubs on right=Abelia grandiflora 'Francis Mason'

Japanese Snowball (Viburnum plicatum 'Sterile'). The crowning glory of the garden at the moment. 15' tall. Hundreds of "snowballs."