Thursday, July 27, 2017



Wipf and Stock Publishers have informed me that our work, A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina, is to be published next month, August 2017. It should be in hand within about a month.

This book is the result of four and one half years research and writing. I examined 2,500 original and secondary sources, what I believe to be all of the publicly available evidence of the schism. I cited 900 of these items, as often as possible in the original words. There are 2,200 footnotes.

The book is 527 pages not counting the front matter, as table of contents and preface. The publisher now plans to print it as one (hefty) paperback volume. A hardback book will be issued a few weeks later. In time, it will also be released as an e-book.

My blog entry "Notes---June 30," provides the first pages of the chapters and the index. This gives one an idea of the scope and depth of the book. 

I am posting here the first four pages of the Preface. This should give one a better idea of the purpose, aim, and method of the book. Forgive the poor quality of these images, they were made on my smart phone:


Here are two of the readers' "endorsements" that will appear on the cover of the book:

"A thorough and balanced study of the events that led not only to the schism among Episcopalians in South Carolina, but in four other dioceses as well. There is something of interest for anyone interested in the history of American religion, the Episcopal Church, or contemporary reactions to the liberalism in mainstream denominations." Joan R. Gundersen, Professor Emerita of History, California State University San Marcos and Archivist, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

"Dr. Caldwell's narrative of this critical moment in Episcopal Church history is fast-paced and compelling, a rare achievement in such a comprehensive effort. His description of the penultimate years building to the schism itself returned me inexorably to a time freighted with the paradoxes of humanity: a potent stew of truth and deception, grace and law, faith and fear, loyalty and betrayal, persistence and impatience, and above all, hope for reconciliation met face to face with determined---and planned---separation. I couldn't help thinking of David M. Potter's classic work, The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861, on the events, politics and personalities that led our nation to war over whether we would stay together or go our separate ways." The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

A soon as I have the information, I will post on this blog how this book may be ordered. One may always check the Wipf and Stock website. In time, it will be available there and on other sites, as Amazon. Of course, I will announce to all the moment the book is in hand. We are almost there.

Friday, July 21, 2017

                 JUDGE HOUCK DIES

Judge Charles Weston Houck died on July 19, 2017. He was the federal judge handling the Church case in Charleston. He was 84 years old.

Judge Houck voluntarily took the case. As a semi-retired senior judge he could have passed on it. Apparently he found the whole matter far more complicated and difficult than he had imagined. He once said with sad resignation that he was having trouble making heads or tails of it.

Houck handled two different aspects of adjudication and essentially passed on each. In one instance, the Episcopal Church side moved the state court proceeding to Houck's federal court in April of 2013. In June, Houck refused and remanded the case to the state circuit court.

The second instance was the larger one. In March of 2013, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg brought suit against Bishop Mark Lawrence claiming that ML was in violation of the federal Lanham Act that protects against trademark infringement. VonR said ML was falsely claiming to be the Episcopal bishop even though he had left TEC.

There are two principles that federal judges may follow in deferring to state courts. Brillhart/Wilton allows a wider discretion. Colorado River has a much narrower window. Under it, a federal judge may defer to state court on a matter of federal law only under rare and exceptional circumstances.

In August of 2013, Judge Houck cited Brillhart/Wilton as his guide in refusing to adjudicate and deferring to the ongoing proceedings in the state court. At the same time, Houck declared that ML had renounced the ordained ministry and the Episcopal Church was hierarchical.

The Church lawyers appealed Houck's decision to defer. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Houck had used the wrong standard and should have followed Colorado River. They remanded to Houck.

Houck ruled a second time as the first. He deferred to the state court. A second time the Church lawyers appealed to the federal court of appeals that, once again, directed Houck to follow the narrow Colorado River principle. This was six months ago. Houck did not respond to the second direvtive.

Presumably another judge in the U. S. District Court in Charleston has been or soon will be assigned to the case. I would imagine this will drag out matters even more.

Obviously the courts are finding the Church dispute far more difficult to resolve than they had thought. Judge Houck essentially threw up his hands in exasperation and kicked it all down to the state courts. The circuit court decision was so over-the-top in favor of the secessiomists that the state supreme court could hardly restrain their ridicule. Now apparently that court has slogged to a halt. After 21 months of waiting we have nothing at all from the five high justices of Columbia. Unfortunately for them, they cannot punt the ball as Houck did. They are obliged to give us a decision.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Kendall Harmon has posted on his blog a flatly untrue statement that must be set straight.

On July 17, on his blog, TitusOneNine ( he posted a note entitled "A Look Back to the Episcopal Church in 2007..." He wrote:

"There is not one but two active lawsuits by the Episcopal Church against the Diocese of South Carolina currently ongoing at the present time." This is a very serious charge that is false.

Here is the truth:
There are indeed two lawsuits but neither was started by the Episcopal Church and neither was against the Diocese of South Carolina.
Lawsuit # 1, was entered in state court by the Diocese of South Carolina on January 4, 2013 against the Episcopal Church. A few days later, the Church diocese, called the Episcopal Church in South Carolina was added as a defendant. THE DSC SUED THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH. 
This went to trial in the circuit court of Dorchester County in July of 2014. Judge Goodstein's ruling entirely favorable to the DSC was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court which held a hearing on Sept. 23, 2015. We are still awaiting the written decision from that hearing.

Lawsuit # 2, was issued by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg against Bishop Mark Lawrence in March of 2013 in the United States District Court (federal court) in Charleston. Bp vonR charged that Lawrence was in violation of the federal Lanham Act, that protects against trademark infringement, because Bp Lawrence was holding himself out to be the bishop of the Episcopal diocese of SC even though he had left the Episcopal Church.
The federal judge (Houck) refused to act and deferred to the state court proceeding whereupon the Church lawyers appealed to the federal appeals court. That court remanded the case to the lower court with direction for adjudication. The local judge refused again whereupon the Church lawyers once again went to the appeals court that, a second time, remanded the case to Charleston with direction for adjudication. Six months on we are still awaiting Judge Houck's action.

Let's separate fact from fiction. Facts are the Diocese of South Carolina sued the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church bishop sued the former Episcopal Church bishop. These were not initiated by the Episcopal Church. These were not made against the Diocese of South Carolina.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


In case you missed it, there was big news from the Church of England recently. On July 9, the Synod of the Church overwhelmingly passed a resolution welcoming transgendered people. This is a major milestone in a Church which only recently stood up for equal rights in boldly rejecting a bishops' report critical of full inclusion of homosexuals.

The 9 July resolution recognized "the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church." The Synod also called on the House of Bishops to consider liturgies to support transgender.

The vote:
House of Bishops: 30-yes; 2-no; 2-abstain
House of Clergy: 127-yes; 28-no; 16-abstain
House of Laity: 127-yes; 48-no; 8-abstain

This indicates clearly that the Church of England is moving along the path toward full rights for homosexual and transgendered people behind the Anglican Church of Canada, the American Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Numerous others among the 38 Anglican provinces are also moving in the direction of equality. 

Of course, the GAFCON primates of equatorial Africa expressed their displeasure. All of this should make the upcoming Anglican Communion primates' meeting in October, in Canterbury, interesting. As far as we know, the GAFCON/Global South primates will be there and ACNA's Archbishop Foley Beach will not. Apparently he has not been invited. If he had been, we would all know about it.

For years before the schism in South Carolina, Bishop Lawrence was fond of railing against what he called the false gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity. By that he meant equal rights and inclusion of homosexuals. Yet, he seemed particularly concerned about transgender. I sat in on a "bishop's forum" in October of 2012 in which he spent a good deal of time bemoaning the fact he had met two transgendered priests at the recent General Convention. Ultra conservatives assert that God created everyone male or female. For them, it was bad enough to question that but worse to try to alter "identity." In the annual diocesan convention of 2015 Lawrence put himself on the line to oppose gender reassignment. He insisted on keeping rejection of transexuality in a resolution even though it was extraneous to the point which was against homosexual rights. The convention affirmed his stand by two-thirds vote.

Meanwhile society across the western world is moving quickly to accept equality for and inclusion of homosexuals and transgendered. A recent Pew Research study showed that 60% of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage, a fifteen point jump in a decade; and the trend is rising rapidly. Among young people, the percentage is at 90. This is true for South Carolina too. In time, the socially reactionary Diocese of South Carolina will have a harder and harder time attracting young people. Just look at the photos of the DSC conventions these days, mostly old white men. The DSC churches lost 28% of their communicants in the first three years after the schism. This downward track is only bound to accelerate as demography overwhelms them. So, the leaders of DSC can continue their campaign against human rights for all people but they will be doing so to increasingly empty churches.

Indiscriminate inclusivity is not the false gospel. It IS the gospel. Our Lord turned away no one. He did not discriminate. As His followers, we are to love one another and not stand in judgment.   

For a report on the 9 July vote, see this article . See also this article

Saturday, July 1, 2017


On Wednesday, I made no report on the state of the South Carolina Supreme Court. This will be my practice from now on. Of course, I will report if and when the Court ever does issue a decision. After 21 months of waiting, I am beginning to have serious doubts that we will ever have a definitive ruling by the state high court. Obviously, something is very wrong in the process to create such a delay.

In writing my history of the schism, I had been waiting on the Court to issue a ruling in the Church case in order to have some closure to the story. I grew weary of waiting and went ahead and finished the book to submit for publication.

For readers who are curious about the status of my history of the schism:
I am happy to report that all is finished in the preparation for publication. The book is all set up for production, that is, the printing process. Unfortunately, I have no idea how long this will take. It depends on many factors such as the number of books ahead of mine with the publisher, Wipf and Stock. Perhaps the book will be in hand by the end of the year.

I am posting here some sample pages from the book. These are pictures from my cell phone, so are not very clear. But, one gets the idea of the format and appearance. I am pleased at how it turned out.

Title page. Publisher is Wipf and Stock, of Eugene, Oregon. They specialize in works of religious themes.

As evident, the publisher decided to go with a larger page and smaller print in order to conserve space. Even so, the text is 512 pages. Counting the index and front matter, the book comes to about 550 pages. I think the plan at Wipf and Stock still is to publish it in two volumes.

I believe that I have consulted all of the publicly available documents and have produced as complete a narrative history of the background, events, and aftermath of the schism of 2012 as possible given the evidence available today. The chapters are long and detailed. The 2,200 footnotes cite 900 of the 2,500 works I consulted. The book contains 300,000 words. I doubt that I have many words left to say about it. When published, this will be the first scholarly history of one of the five schisms in the Episcopal Church, 2007-12.