Thursday, December 27, 2018

2nd Edition


One calendar year is about to come to a close and another is about to start. This is a good time to reflect on the status of the schism, where we have been in the last twelve months and where we might be going in the next twelve. We are now in the seventh year of the schism (sigh). It started on October 15, 2012 (we were all much younger then). We are about to begin the seventh year of litigation between the two sides. The law suits began on January 4, 2013 (painful to recall). Weariness, exhaustion. This is what I hear the most from people on both sides. When will this end? How much longer? And, where is God? Why does not He stop this disaster and bring peace? This is the unspoken sentiment I sense coming from people often too. These are all good questions. They are all valid. They should all be embraced with all of the emotions they may evoke. It is best to get things out in the open. Wounds heal quicker in fresh air.

We have turned the corner in the history of the schism. The most significant event of the year 2018 was the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of cert. This meant the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017 is the final law of the land. It cannot be changed or appealed. It must be enforced by the lower court. That decision gave the bulk of the prize to the Episcopal Church by recognizing Church control over 29 of the 36 parishes in question, plus Camp St. Christopher.

In the past year, the two sides reacted to the SCSC decision strongly but, of course, entirely differently.


The DSC strategy is to deny and delay, first to deny that the decision says what it says and secondly to delay its implementation even if it says what it says. This is called offensive defense. And so, DSC has been on the offensive all year long against the decision and its beneficiary, the Episcopal Church.

DSC leaders carried out contradictory moves throughout the year. On one hand, they told their followers they need not worry about losing the properties because the diocesan lawyers would throw up roadblocks in court to prevent TEC from seizing the churches for many years to come. On the other hand, they carried out a campaign to move communicants out of the buildings into quarters elsewhere. 

DSC leaders combined plans for relocation with a fierce demonization of the Episcopal Church, to prod their faithful with a place to move and a reason to move. Efforts of emotional manipulation and brainwashing swept the diocese. On December 1, 2017, the DSC leaders released a secret plan to move congregations out of their buildings to meeting places elsewhere (see my blog piece on this here .) 

DSC's attack on the Episcopal Church was particularly intense. To be sure, it was nothing new. As early as 2013, Bishop Lawrence had called TEC "the spiritual forces of evil." This is still up on the DSC website. Find it here (p.2, lower left). In March, April, and May of 2018, DSC leaders conducted two "teaching" campaigns in St. Michael's and St. Philip's churches to convince parishioners that TEC had abandoned the true faith, and therefore any return to TEC would amount to abandonment of the true faith (see my blog post on this here ). At an ACNA conference in Birmingham and in an address of Kendall Harmon, the speakers seem to imply that TEC was a "pagan" religion.

DSC's bitter denunciation of the Episcopal Church took a definite turn in intensity after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected DSC's appeal of the SCSC decision, on June 11. With this, it was clear that TEC would regain control over the 29 parishes. It was just a matter of time. In order for DSC to remain a viable entity, it would have to create new congregations out of the old parishes. The SCSC decision left it with just six local churches. Hence, the vitriol arose.

The highlight, or lowlight as the case may be, of DSC's public relations campaign against TEC was Bishop Lawrence's tour of the diocese from July 31 to August 9, with stops in Sumter, Walterboro, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and James Island. About a thousand communicants of DSC attended. The obvious aim of the swing was to strengthen the emotional bond between the people and their bishop. On this, it succeeded. He portrayed himself as the innocent victim, emphasized the us against them dichotomy, and declared there would be no reconciliation. However, he subtly promoted contradictory themes telling the people on the one hand the SCSC decision was unenforceable, and on the other people should not be attached to their buildings.

At this moment, we cannot discern the effects of the contradictory themes. However, more than one parish has announced that it is no longer raising money to pay lawyers. Meanwhile, rumors have been flying that numerous DSC parishes are actively looking for meeting places in exile. Apparently, some DSC parishes are proceeding under the secret Template of Dec. 1, 2017 for relocation.


TEC and TECSC are looking for the implementation of the SCSC decision of August 2, 2017. They are awaiting Judge Dickson's orders for the return of the 29 parishes and Camp. They have proposed to the judge to name a Special Master and to appoint an accounting firm to expedite the SCSC decision.

In the federal court, they succeeded in getting the trustees of DSC and the DSC local churches included as defendants in the case. Just last week, they asked Judge Gergel for a summary judgment in favor of TEC/TECSC and against DSC.

Another important event in 2018 was the failure of the court-ordered mediation process that began in October of 2017. In January and February it became clear the mediation had gained nothing, and on February 14, Gergel lifted the stay he had imposed on the case pending the mediation.


Having looked at what happened in the year past, what can we reasonably expect to develop in the year ahead?

Circuit court Judge Dickson is unpredictable. He has had the case for nearly a year and has done nothing about it but gather arguments. He has indicated the SCSC decision is unclear and uncertain even though the last page of the decision spells out precisely and concisely the three decisions of the high court. Moreover, he has taken up only one of the six motions/petitions before him. Therefore, anyone's guess of what Dickson will do and when he will do it is as good as mine. I do wonder at this point if he is waiting for guidance upon the ruling of the federal court. Otherwise I have no understanding of why he is delaying this case.

Federal court Judge Gergel is much more predictable. We can expect expeditious attention to this case this year. The TEC/TECSC side submitted its request for summary judgment on Dec. 7. The DSC lawyers responded by filing a flood of papers with Gergel, all nonsensical in my opinion. As I understand it, Gergel may either hold a hearing or go straight to the trial he has already targeted for March 2019. Either way, I expect we will get decisive action soon and a resolution of this case in 2019. Odds are that the Church side will prevail in federal court mainly because of two main factors: -the hierarchical nature of the Episcopal Church, and 2-the First Amendment separation of church and state. I expect Judge Gergel to grant TEC/TECSC all of their requests although this may not come until after the trial. 

There is a major "however" in both of these courts. The decision of both judges can be appealed, the circuit court to the South Carolina Court of Appeals and the federal court to the United States Court of Appeals, in Richmond. Even so, I see no reason why the Church cannot repossess the properties, assuming the judgments are favorable, and proceed with the restoration of the old diocese even during the appeals. If so, there is a good chance that the 29 parishes will return to Episcopal Church control in the calendar year of 2019. 

Although there is still a long way to go before all the litigation ends, it is clear the final outlines of settlement have been made. The Episcopal Church has regained 29 of the 36 parishes in question, plus the Camp. Judge Dickson has no choice but to implement the decision of the state supreme court. Likewise, I think Judge Gergel has no choice but to recognize the Church as hierarchical and therefore entitled to determine its own government. 

So, where does this leave the two sides? Both will be in much weaker conditions with difficult roads ahead. Even as TEC/TECSC "wins" the 29 parishes, it loses many of the communicants, how many we cannot know yet. TECSC will be hard pressed to rebuild these diminished congregations and  make them self-supporting. 

The independent diocese will be in a much worse state with six local parishes and a handful of other parishes and missions. When it loses the entity of the pre-schism diocese, it will have to start from the ground again to rebuild, a highly formidable task given the severe diminution of assets which will occur. A feasible alternative to rebuilding is to melt the present DSC into the ACNA Diocese of the Carolinas under Bishop Steve Wood, at St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant. Bishop Lawrence, soon to be 69 years old, could retire and go off into the sunset to live comfortably. The DSC leaders could still claim a victory of a sort by having removed a certain part of the Episcopal diocese. The removed part would still be in ACNA and still committed against equality for and inclusion of homosexuals, transgendered, and women in the life of the church.

I think the two sides should disabuse themselves of some wrong-headed beliefs. TEC/TECSC should not assume the "congregations" in the 29 parishes will return to the Episcopal Church. The parishes will return but many of the people, probably at least half, will leave the buildings rather than return to the Episcopal Church. That is just the reality of the situation that no wishful thinking can change. In time, I expect some of these people will return to their "home" churches, but this may take a long time.

The DSC leaders should drop the unreality that somehow they are going to keep the 29 parishes and the Camp. Most of all they should stop telling their people such. It is cruel to mislead them so. The SCSC decision is the law of the land; and it is not unclear. Just the opposite. It is only a matter of time before TEC regains possession of the 29 parishes, the Camp, and the legal entity of the old diocese. The assertions that DSC is going to keep any of this are just far from true.

The DSC leaders are only compounding their mistakes which have been many already. They were given three chances to make out of court settlements and they turned down all of them. And, why they did, we really do not know. They will have to tell us that. Looking back, their biggest mistake was to reject the June 2015 offer from the Episcopal Church to swap the parishes (to DSC) for the diocese (to TEC). If the DSC had accepted this, all of the 36 parishes in the lawsuit would now be permanently independent of TEC and sole owners of their local properties. Instead, 29 of them now are returning to trust control and physical control of TEC.

Let's be frank and honest here. The schism has been a failure. The DSC authorities led their people to believe they could leave the Episcopal Church and take the properties of the diocese and the parishes with them. The SCSC has proved them wrong. The DSC faithful are now left in the lurch.  

Unfortunately, I think we can expect an acceleration of DSC's bitter attacks against TEC in the year ahead as the courts inevitably move in on the Church side. What we saw in the past year was bad enough, but I am afraid it is going to get worse. The DSC leaders have shown that they will go on to the bitter end doing all they can to prevent TEC from regaining the old diocese, at least the people if not the buildings. No doubt they will increase the pressure on the 13,000 communicants in the 29 parishes to leave their churches rather than return to the "false teachers" and "pagans."

So, all signs indicate this war is still going on full-fledged and has a long way to go with many more casualties to come. Gettysburg has occurred, but the end of the fighting is still far off. It is just so hard for some people to accept failure. The schism has been, and still is, a disaster for the old diocese of South Carolina. Some people made some bad choices. Unfortunately, the consequences of those wrong-headed choices fell on thousands of innocent people. The schism has been going on for more than six years now, longer than the Civil War, longer than the Second World War. The wounds are open and deep, the pains too real. The destructive effects are pervasive. Nevertheless, what one should focus on now is not the past but the future, not where one has been but where one can go. There are signs of grace all around. There is redemption ahead. There is always new life after a wildfire. There is new life ahead. And, all is because enough people are committed to the two great commandments, love God and love neighbor. With this as the guide, the people of the grand old diocese of South Carolina will find their way home even though the road is still long and hard.

Friday, December 14, 2018


Memo to the independent Diocese of South Carolina:  the inning is over and the game is about done. You've had three strikes and you're out. Time to accept the reality of loss, as hard as it may be. Strike 1:  the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on August 2, 2017 that the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have trust control over 29 parishes, and Camp St. Christopher. Strike 2:  the SCSC rejected DSC's request for rehearing and, with reprimand, recusal of Justice Kaye Hearn. Strike 3:  the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the SCSC decision, even to put it on the short list.

What we have seen since the third strike, of last June, is the loser arguing with the umpires that the calls were wrong. It won't work. Argue all one wants, the result will remain the same. The horse is out of the barn, the train has left the station, the toothpaste is out of the tube, insert whatever image you wish here.

In the circuit court appearance, of last month, the DSC tactic was to sow confusion about the SCSC decision. When one does not have clarity on one's side, muddy the waters. This roil the waters ploy may work in the short run, as it is apparently doing with Judge Dickson, but it will not work in the long run. Dickson has no choice but to implement the SCSC decision which has three precise and concise directions in its conclusion. It is unthinkable that a circuit court judge would dare to refuse to enforce a state supreme court decision, even more inconceivable that he would re-litigate the case. It's not going to happen. Dickson is well-known for his reason and integrity.

Now, in the federal court, the DSC tactic is to inundate the judge with paper. DSC says it submitted 38 motions to Judge Gergel on December 7 (DSC posted 13 on its website. Where are the other 25?). 38 motions at once! (Find links to the papers here .) I have never heard of such a thing. If one does not have quality on one's side, try quantity. If DSC thinks this is going to overwhelm Gergel and throw him off his game, they do not know him. He is famous for his no-nonsense, efficient, fair, and expeditious approach. He is out to get the job done as quickly and correctly as possible. Gergel will not be stymied by DSC's transparent attempt to confuse him.

So, what about the 38 papers of last Friday? It has taken me some time to go over them and try to understand them. Here is what I see. They are ridiculous, amazing in their absurdity. Reading them is trying to make sense of the senseless, reason from the unreasonable. I am astonished at how weak and irrelevant they are. I cannot imagine any judge being favorably impressed with them.

As I read this nonsense, what I see is that the DSC lawyers are trying to convince Judge Gergel that Bishop Lawrence cannot be in violation of the Lanham Act because the terms in question are all "generic," e.g., "episcopal." While arguing this, they are operating from their pre-SCSC decision stance that the DSC was, and still is, an independent and self-governing entity not subject to the authority of the national Episcopal Church. In fact, the SCSC has already overruled this. They said the Episcopal Church is hierarchical and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is the heir of the pre-schism diocese.

In spite of all the DSC lawyers' tactics of obsfucation by clouds of fog and deluges of paper, the issue at hand in the courts is really clear and simple:  Is the Episcopal Church hierarchical? If it is, it has the right to determine its own internal affairs and is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This would make TECSC the legal Episcopal diocese and Skip Adams the legitimate and legal bishop of the diocese. If it is not, DSC is an independent entity entitled to keep the names, insignia, legal rights, and assets of the old diocese, and Mark Lawrence can go on insisting he is the bishop of the Episcopal diocese.

So, the basic question at hand before the courts is whether the Episcopal Church is hierarchical. Judge Weston Houck, who handled the federal case before Gergel, declared that TEC was hierarchical. The majority of the justices of the SCSC said TEC was hierarchical, and made it clear that TECSC is the heir of the pre-schism diocese.

No doubt Judge Dickson will recognize this once he blows away the fog of confusion and realizes that he has no choice as a judge but to carry out the SCSC decision. In every likelihood, Judge Gergel will follow Houck's and the SCSC justices' lead and declare TEC to be hierarchical. That will leave him no choice as a federal judge but to side with TEC.

The people of DSC should recognize the reality that the game is over, as much as they might not want to do so. Things do not always work out the way we think they are going to, and sometimes that hurts, maybe a lot. The courts have ruled in favor of TEC. What is left is just clean-up, that is, putting into effect what the courts have already decided.

Three strikes and you're out. Judges Dickson and Gergel are bound to bring this unfortunate game to a close, and I expect sooner rather than later. Gergel has set the trial in his courtroom for two and a half months from now. The expectation is he will wrap this up asap.

I suppose these 38 papers are the best the DSC lawyers can do under the circumstances, but they really have already lost these cases. Nevertheless, if this is the best they can do, the trial will be no contest. Odds are strong that TECSC will regain full ownership of the old diocese by right of hierarchy and the Constitution, and will do so in the near future.

My point is, we have passed the crisis in the legal war. The end is in sight even if it is still far on the horizon. This man-made madness will end one day. I say the sooner the better. Enough already. 

Monday, December 10, 2018


On Friday, December 7, 2018, attorneys of the Episcopal Church and its diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, filed papers in the United States District Court, in Charleston, supporting their request to Judge Richard Gergel for a summary judgment favoring the Church side in the case of vonRosenberg v. Lawrence. The TECSC document is "Memorandum of Law in Support of Bishop vonRosenberg, Bishop Adams, and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina's Motion for Summary Judgment." Find it here . The TEC paper is "Plaintiff-in-Intervention the Episcopal Church's Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment." Find it here .

The federal case originated on March 5, 2013, when Charles vonRosenberg, bishop provisional of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, entered a suit against Mark Lawrence, bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, charging that Lawrence was in violation of the Lanham Act, a federal act protecting trademarks. He said Lawrence was pretending to be the Episcopal bishop even though he had left the Episcopal Church. In essence, this suit asked the federal court to declare the Church diocese to be the legal heir of the pre-schism diocese instead of the secessionist diocese which was still using the names and controlling the assets of the entity of the old diocese.

As this non-lawyer understands it, the litigation that has been going on for nearly six years now follows two streams, state court and federal court. The state court dealt mainly which who owned the local churches. The federal dealt mainly with who owned the entity of the old diocese. The state court has finished in the SCSC decision that recognized TEC/TECSC trust control over 29 of the 36 parishes in question. We are waiting on Judge Dickson to implement the decision. The federal court has yet to rule. Its ruling will boil down to whether it sees the Episcopal Church as hierarchical or congregational, that is whether sovereignty rests in the church as a whole or in its individual parts. TEC says it rests in the whole, DSC says in the local parts. The secessionists' position all along has been that the diocese is sovereign and self-governing. They claim the diocese left TEC intact and is the Episcopal diocese even though it is not in the Episcopal Church. The Church's position all along has been that the diocese is under authority of the national Church. It cannot act contrary to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. What the federal case boils down to is whether the secessionist diocese or the Church diocese is the true heir of the pre-schism diocese. This would include names, marks, insignia, legal rights, and property, as diocesan headquarters and the bishop's residence. 

As I read Friday's two memoranda, the Church is basing its new appeal to Judge Gergel largely on the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. In this, the majority of justices declared the Episcopal Church to be hierarchical and the Church diocese to be the true heir of the old diocese. The SCSC decision is final having been denied rehearing and refusal of cert by the U.S. Supreme Court. In short, the Church lawyers are asking Gergel to act on part of the SCSC decision. 

Other points the TECSC lawyers emphasized were:   ---the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids the civic state from interfering in the internal affairs of a religious body,  ---TECSC is the beneficiary of the trust of the old diocese including its assets,  ---the independent diocese is in violation of trademark laws and false advertising. In conclusion, the lawyers wrote, "The public confusion resulting from Defendants' conduct is pervasive. It is undeniably causing irreparable harm to The Episcopal Church, and more locally, to TECSC and its Bishops. All that the Plaintiffs seek in this action is declaratory and injunctive relief, not damages (for which they could easily make a case). They have been asking for relief since this action was initiated in 2013. Respectfully, this Court should grant their Motion for Summary Judgment and award them the relief to which they are entitled." Note that the lawyers emphasized they want only a declaratory judgment, in favor of TEC, and an injunction, against Lawrence. They are not asking for damages. 

The second paper, from the national Church lawyers, follows along the same lines of argument, and, at 42 pages, adds a great deal of detail supporting the charges of damaging trademark infringement and confusion. The lawyers spent an enormous amount of time and effort presenting an apparently exhaustive listing of evidence supporting the Church's arguments. It is impressive.

An item of interest to everyone is in the TECSC memorandum on page 17. Here we find an official list, from the Church diocese, of the local parishes that are under trust control of the Church, those that are not and the others. 


1. All Saints, Florence

2. Christ/St. Paul's, Yonges Island

3. Church of the Cross, Bluffton

4. Church of the Holy Comforter, Sumter

5. Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg

6. Holy Trinity, Charleston

7. St. Luke's, Hilton Head

8. St. Bartholomew's, Hartsville

9. St. David's, Cheraw

10. St. James, Charleston

11. St. Paul's, Bennettsville

12. Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston

13. Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island

14. Church of the Epiphany, Eutawville

15. Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston

16. Church of the Holy Cross, Stateburg

17. Church of the Resurrection, Surfside

18. St. Philip's, Charleston

19. St. Michael's, Charleston

20. St. Jude's, Walterboro

21. St. Helena's, Beaufort

22. St. Matthew's, Ft. Motte

23. St. Paul's, Summerville

24. Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach

25. Trinity Church, Edisto

26. Trinity Church, Pinopolis

27. Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant

28. St. John's, Johns Island

29. St. Andrew's, Charleston (Old St. Andrew's)


1. Christ the King, Waccamaw

2. St. Matthew's, Darlington

3. St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant

4. St. John's, Florence

5. St. Matthias, Summerton

6. St. Paul's, Conway

7. Prince George Winyah, Georgetown


---Barnwell,   Holy Apostles

---Blackville,   St. James

---Berkeley County,   Strawberry Chapel

---Charleston,   St. Alban's Chapel

---Charleston,   St. Andrew's Mission

---Charleston,   St. John's Mission

---Dillon,   St. Barnabas

---Florence,   Christ Church

---Goose Creek,   St. James

---Grahamville,   Holy Trinity

---Hagood,   Ascension

---Marion,   Church of the Advent

---Myrtle Beach,   Church by the Well

---North Myrtle Beach,   Grace

---Orangeburg,   St. Paul's

---Cane Bay,   St. Timothy's

---Walterboro,   Atonement

---Sullivans Island,   Church of the Holy Cross

As I understand it, the lawyers will examine the records of the "to be determined" local churches to see if they acceded to the Dennis Canon and therefore fall under trust control of the Episcopal Church diocese. Thus, there are three categories of local churches now in DSC: those under TEC/TECSC trust, those outside the trust, and those to be determined at some time in the future.

I cannot tell you what happens next in the ongoing litigation. I suppose the Lawrence side lawyers will present counter-memoranda to Judge Gergel in opposition to the Dec. 7 papers of the Church side. As far as anyone knows, Gergel is still on track to hold the trial in his court in March of next year. However, I do not know what would stop him, before then, from granting the Church side's petitions for expeditious summary judgment in their favor.

Meanwhile, there has been no word from Judge Edgar Dickson, in the state, circuit, court. I am beginning to wonder if he is waiting on the federal judge to rule before he makes a ruling. Dickson has had the case before him for nearly a year now and has made no decision. All he has done is pile up arguments, written and oral, from the two sides. His desk must be overflowing with papers. 

My best guess is that as the next act in this drama attorney Alan Runyan will present counter-arguments to Judge Gergel soon. 

Whatever happens, I will relay the news as I can.

See also the press release from TECSC concerning the Dec. 7 court memoranda. Find it here.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


An infamous, idiotic quote from the Vietnam war was, "We had to destroy the village to save it." This oxymoron is still called "the Vietnam Syndrome." This attitude of destroy to save is apparently emerging in the independent diocese as the 29 parishes await the inevitable transition to their legal owners, the Episcopal Church and its diocese. The preacher at St. Philip's Church recently prayed to God to destroy the building rather than have it fall to "the false teachers," i.e., the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Andrew O'Dell preached a sermon entitled, "Not One Stone will be Left" to the congregation of St. Philip's on Nov. 18, 2018. It is available on audio here . Go to the 20 minute mark to hear O'Dell praying to God, on behalf of the people, as he said:

If this building is to be handed over to the kind of false teachers you have warned us about, tear this building down wall by wall, pillar by pillar, stone by stone, until it is nothing but rubble lest it be used to lead men astray.

In other words, destroy the church to save it. This kind of thinking is as idiotic and cruel today as it was all those years ago in the helpless little villages of Vietnam. It is shocking, but it is the low state of affairs where we find ourselves today in the tragic schism in South Carolina. Apparently there are people who seriously want the church buildings destroyed rather than have the Episcopal Church bishop resume control over them. This is mind-boggling. To what have we descended?

The theme of O'Dell's sermon was to compare St. Philip's iconic church building to the Temple in Jerusalem in Jesus' day. As Jesus warned his followers not to rely on buildings, O'Dell suggested the church building could be an "idol." And, as Jesus had said to his disciples, "See that no one leads you astray," one should "beware of false teachers, false shepherds, false prophets, false gospels." These are all well-known code words for the Episcopal Church among the breakaways. 

After praying to God to destroy the building rather than letting it fall into the hands of "false teachers" [the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E.], O'Dell went on to offer a deal to God, let us keep the building and we will "draw people back to you." 

There is so much disappointing with this, I do not know where to start. Mostly, it makes me very sad, not surprised, but still profoundly sad. We do not promote ourselves by diminishing others. Quite the opposite. I ache for anyone who would harbor hardness and bitterness in his or her heart, particularly against his old family. Anyway, this is not what Christianity is supposed to be about. It is about love, love of God, love of neighbor. It is not about demonizing others.

Actually, O'Dell's thoughts and words fall right into line with what we have heard coming from the leadership of the Lawrence diocese for the past year, since the state supreme court refused to rehear the church case. All along we have heard terms as false gospel, false teachers, evil, pagan, among others. Of course, the point of all this offensive fusillade against the Episcopal Church is to prepare the congregations of the 29 parishes the court recognized as under the Episcopal Church to leave their cherished church homes and meet elsewhere as DSC congregations. Obviously, the DSC clergy are stepping up the psychological pressure on their people. It looks to me as if they are making it as hard as possible for anyone to stay in the buildings when they return to the Church. I expect we will see more and more of this hysterical tactic in the months to come no doubt reaching a crescendo at the moment the occupiers have to hand over the keys to the owners.

I would say to the Rev. O'Dell and the other DSC clergy, the people of the old pre-schism diocese should not be enemies. They should be friends. They all follow the same Lord. They all say the same liturgies. They are all in the same boat. No one has a monopoly on God. And, stop and think of what you are doing to the communicants whose ancestors from generation upon generation form the great cloud of witnesses in that grand, old sacred space of St. Philip's and whose bones are beyond the walls. Think about them. Do not the descendants have every right to cherish their building as they cherish their love of God? Of course they do. And, what right does anyone have to tell them to break the bonds of affection to their church home? Moreover, one should take care in speaking for God who works in mysterious ways, not man's ways; and I doubt seriously God, the great "I AM," would ever do deals offered by mere mortals although I am sure everyone of us has tried in our Job-like moments of desperation.

Remember, when all the madness of the schism is over, we should all be able to say we did the right things and for the right reasons. Above all, we must all be able to say we did our best to love God and our neighbor. 

NOTE: For 74 photos of St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Charleston, see the Yelp website here .

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


In my last few blog posts, I discussed Chief Justice Donald Beatty's part of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017 that recognized Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina's trust control over 28 (or 29) parishes, the independence of 8 church organizations, and TECSC's possession of Camp St. Christopher. It was necessary to focus on Beatty's opinion because Diocese of South Carolina attorney and chancellor Alan Runyan made a major issue of it in his oral arguments before Judge Edgar Dickson in the court hearing of 19 November in Orangeburg. Since Runyan made so much of it, we should revisit Beatty's opinion now as a way of clarifying the issues at hand.

Runyan's remarks about Beatty's opinion may be found here on pp. 19-27. As I understand them, this is what Runyan is saying about Beatty's opinion:

---The All Saints decision is the law.

---The Dennis Canon did not create a "legally cognizable" trust under SC law.

---The Dennis Canon had no effect until parishes gave it written accession.

---As for Beatty's conclusion that the 28 parishes' express accession to the Dennis Canon was sufficient to form trusts, Runyan apparently refers to this when he says: "This sentence is ambiguous because it is completely at odds with the record and the rest of the opinion" (p. 26).

I see three major takeaways from these points:

1) --- Runyan seems to be implying that Beatty's opinion is self-contradictory from the earlier text, and illogical, or at least inconsistent. Thus, Beatty's conclusion should not be taken by itself.

2) --- Instead, the court "must discern intent from all parts of opinion, not an isolated part" (p. 26). Thus, a judge must discern the meaning of an entire text, not just the conclusions of the text.

3) --- "No accession facts before the Court" (p. 25). In other words, there is not sufficient evidence in the record before the court that the parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon.

Now, let us consider each of these three points.

1-The meaning of Beatty's opinion. The text is relatively short. Find the pages in my last blog posting here . Beatty's language is perfectly clear, precise and concise, and, I would add, logical and reasonable. Here are Beatty's main points in his opinion:

---"I would find those parishes that did not expressly accede to the Dennis Canon should retain ownership of the disputed real and personal property." 
(The 8 church organizations that had not acceded to the Dennis Canon.)

---"In fact, I look no further than our state's property and trust laws to determine whether the purported trust created by the Dennis Canon comports with the requirements of either an express or constructive trust." 
(Follows All Saints decision.)

---"Assuming that each parish acceded in writing, I would agree. In my view, the Dennis Canon had no effect until acceded to in writing by the individual parishes." 
(Follows All Saints decision.)

---"I would find the parishes that did not expressly accede to the Dennis Canon cannot be divested of their property. Because there was no writing purporting to create a trust and they took no other legal action to transfer ownership of their property, I believe these parishes merely promised allegiance to the hierarchical national church." 
(Trust cannot be imposed by external party. Settlor must make trust by explicit written means. The 8 religious organizations made no accession in writing to the Dennis Canon.)

---"I agree with the majority as to the disposition of the remaining parishes because their express accession to the Dennis Canon was sufficient to create an irrevocable trust."
(The 28 parishes made written accessions to the Dennis Canon
with the effect of forming unbreakable trusts. This follows state laws on trusts; thus, no inconsistency with All Saints.)

In sum, Beatty says that the All Saints decision is the guide, in that, in South Carolina, an external party cannot impose a trust on a deed holder unilaterally. The owner must make written statement to set up a trust for another party. With that in mind, Beatty went on to say 28 parishes did indeed set up trusts for the Episcopal Church. They did this by making explicit accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church without condition or limitation. The Dennis Canon was a canon of the Episcopal Church. By declaring accession to all of the canons, the 28 parishes adopted the Dennis Canon which included trust control of the local property for the beneficiaries, the Episcopal Church and its diocese. So, when the parishes' gave written accessions to the C and C of TEC they set up trusts for TEC. As contracts, these trusts were not revocable by one party. The parishes may later say they were withdrawing their trusts, but they could not do so unilaterally under state law. 

This is my understanding of Beatty's opinion in the August 2, 2017 SCSC decision. I see nothing ambiguous, contradictory, or illogical about it. It is perfectly reasoned and reasonable. It follows exactly on state laws concerning property and trusts. Any assertion that Beatty's opinion is too problematical to be enforced is completely without merit.

2)-On the second point, that a judge "must discern intent from all parts of opinion." I have already discussed this, in my last two blog postings. Our judicial system has always held that conclusions of a supreme court decision are final. How the justices arrived at their decision(s) is irrelevant to the law. Anyway, it would be impossible for judges to interpret the meaning of a whole text of any supreme court decision. I see this as an absurd assertion.

3)-On the "facts." As I see it, this was really the most important point of Runyan's argument in the hearing. He seemed to be saying there were no supporting facts to prove that the 28 parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon as the Church lawyers were claiming. If they did not give explicit written statement for a trust, they did not in fact make a trust under SC law.

The question then becomes, In what form does a written statement setting up a trust have to be?

When the five justices of the SCSC were going over this, four of them agreed that 28 of the 36 parishes had indeed formed trusts over their properties for the Episcopal Church and its diocese. Pleicones, Hearn, Beatty, and Kittredge all agreed. Only Toal dissented. Of the four, one, Kittredge, went on to say that the 28 parishes revoked their accessions to the Dennis Canons thereby freeing themselves from the obligations of the trust. That left a majority of three justices agreeing that the 28 remained under trust control of TEC. Thus, eighty percent of the SCSC justices agreed that by giving written accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, the 28 had in fact formed trusts for the Church. They did not have to make an explicit statement that they were setting up trusts under the Dennis Canon because that was covered in the accession to the "canons" of the Church. The Dennis Canon was, of course, one of the canons they were accepting. The terms of the Dennis Canon contained the trusts. By acceding to the canon, they acceded to the trusts.

The four justices did not pull their opinions out of thin air. They considered a mountain of evidence provided by the Church lawyers showing in detail how each parish had acceded to the Dennis Canon. This evidence was presented in the circuit court trial of 2014 and again to the state supreme court in 2015. It is a matter of public record. The full body of information is too voluminous to give here. Instead, I am providing some of the summary pages from "The Record on Appeal" that went to the SCSC (click on image for enlargement): 

The pages provide the salient facts about these parishes' accession to the canons of the Episcopal Church, including the Dennis Canon, and to the trusts contained therein.

In conclusion, I would emphasize two points coming from all of this:

---Chief Justice Beatty's opinion is soundly constructed and his conclusions are based on facts. There is no ambiguity or inconsistency in his opinion; and, therefore, Judge Dickson should consider Beatty's conclusion as the final word of his opinion.

---The charge that there is insufficient evidence the 28 parishes set up trusts for the Episcopal Church has no substance. There is in fact a great deal of supporting evidence that they acceded to the Dennis Canon which included a trust. They set up trusts when they adhered to the Canon. 

Bottom line--- Judge Edgar Dickson has a clear statement from the majority of the South Carolina Supreme Court justices that 28 parishes made trusts giving the Episcopal Church beneficiary control over the local properties. He should implement the SCSC decision as soon as possible.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Thoughts about the hearing of 19 November, which I attended, keep going around in my head as I continue to sort out what happened in the hour and a half hearing and what it meant. I have gone over and over my notes of the lawyers' remarks to the judge, as well as attorney Alan Runyan's presentation, and the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. Runyan helpfully provided a slide presentation on his arguments. It is available online here . Speaking only for myself as an ordinary layman, here are my thoughts and opinions now about the hearing and what should happen next:

The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asked the judge to implement the SCSC decision. 

The Diocese of South Carolina asked the judge not to implement the SCSC decision and to decide the issues on his own.

That is it in a nutshell.

The SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017, was "remitted" to the circuit court on November 19, 2017. DSC appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, but SCOTUS refused, in June of 2018. Thus, the SCSC decision is the law of the land. It cannot be appealed. It cannot be retried. Under the "Remittitur," the circuit court is obligated to enforce the decision.

If DSC is asking the judge not to implement the decision, on what grounds could they argue such? That is the point of the matter in lawyer Alan Runyan's arguments to the court last Monday. As I understood it, these were Runyan's main points in his presentation to Judge Dickson:

---The decision is unenforceable because it is unclear, fractured, and filled with ambiguities.

---The five separate opinions meant no collective statement, no guidance, no certainty.

---The circuit court  must discern what the SCSC decided. Since the issues were not settled in the decision, this court has jurisdiction to settle them.

---the All Saints decision (2009) prevails. It requires a settlor to make explicit, written construction of a trust.

---TEC/TECSC did not provide factual proof the 29 parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon.

---The circuit court must now decide whether the parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon.

---Chief Justice Donald Beatty's opinion is key. 

Runyan spent much of his time focusing on Beatty's part of the SCSC decision (see Runyan's online presentation cited above, pages 19-27). As I saw it, he implied that Beatty's opinion was self-contradictory because it held the All Saints decision to be the standard, then abandoned the standard. Runyan implied Beatty's conclusion that the 28 parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon cannot be taken at face value because it contradicted his earlier avowed statement of the standard that a trust required an explicit written statement of the settlor. Runyan said this did not happen with the parishes; and therefore, the parishes never established a trust for TEC/TECSC. Thus, the lawyer said, Beatty's conclusion in support of TEC/TECSC must not be accepted but must be considered only as part of his whole opinion. Runyan said, the court "must discern intent from all parts of opinion, not an isolated part." I take this to mean that Runyan is asserting that a judge has to take into consideration the entire text of an opinion and not just the conclusion.

Et voilĂ , there is the crux of the matter. DSC wants the judge himself to interpret each of the opinions of the supreme court. This would mean interpreting the entire text, not just the conclusions. If I am seeing this right, it would turn a supreme court decision on its head and reverse the entire way in which supreme courts have worked in American law since the founding of the republic. "Discern intent from all parts" is absurd and completely unworkable. No decision could every be enforced because lawyers would argue about "intent from all parts of opinion" until the cows come home. No judge could ever "discern" the justices' meanings in every part of every decision, nor should they have to. That is the whole point of having a supreme court. That is why the high justices give their conclusions at the end of the paper. That is why former chief justice Jean Toal listed the orders on the last page, so that the lower judges would know exactly the rulings of the high court and would not have to "discern" anything. The very idea that lower court judges should interpret an entire decision and make their own conclusions in disregard of the orders of the high court is absurd. Nothing would ever be settled. It would leave only chaos in the whole legal system. As disingenuous as it sounds, this is what I understood to be in the statement "...discern intent from all parts of opinion...". 

In fact, the way supreme court decisions have always worked, is for the conclusions to become the law of the land. A state supreme court decision may be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. If SCOTUS denies cert, or takes the case and affirms the state court, the state supreme court decision becomes the fixed law and unappealable. This is what happened in the church case in South Carolina. It seems to me that Runyan is now telling the lower court judge that he does not have to accept the conclusions of the SCSC decision as final and can relitigate the issues settled by majority vote in the SCSC. If so, it is incredible.

As for Runyan's assertion that the SCSC decision is too ambiguous to know, this is demonstrably untrue. The last page (77) of the decision explicitly spells out the three orders of the court (as I showed in my last blog piece). These were majority decisions.

Now, back to Beatty's opinion. Here are the three pages (pp. 36-38) of it from the SCSC decision (click on image for enlargement):

I encourage you to read all three pages. And, I also encourage you to read Runyan's arguments about Beatty's opinion on pages 19-27 mentioned above. Compare the two. 

Look at Beatty's next to last paragraph where he gives his conclusion:

I agree with the majority as to the disposition of the remaining [28] parishes because their express accession to the Dennis Canon was sufficient to create an irrevocable trust.

This is a direct and clear conclusion whose meaning cannot possibly be ambiguous. Beatty said the 28 parishes gave express accession to the Dennis Canon and this created an unbreakable trust. This is Beatty's opinion. How he arrived at this is irrelevant. Supreme court decisions must be followed by what they said, not how they got to what they said.

What about the Dennis Canon? In his written and oral arguments to Judge Dickson, Runyan referred frequently to the All Saints decision. This SCSC decision was written by Chief Justice Jean Toal and issued in September of 2009. It was a unanimous agreement among the five justices, one of whom was Beatty. The decision said that All Saints parish, of Pawleys Island, owned its property solely and had seceded legally from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The important point was that the diocese had given a quit claim deed to the parish in 1903 relinquishing in perpetuity any claim to the property. Therefore the Dennis Canon, adopted by the diocese in 1987, could have no automatic effect on the parish. In order to effectuate a trust, the parish would have had to make written and explicit accession to it, something that it did not do. Thus, All Saints remained the full owner of their property. 

What was the relation of the All Saints decision to the church case in 2015? Toal, the author of the decision, stated explicitly in the hearing of Sept. 23, 2015, that the All Saints decision was not at issue. The two cases were different. What Runyan argued was that the 2009 decision should be made blanket for the whole diocese in 2015. 

When the five justices of the SCSC made their decisions on the church case, only one defended the All Saints decision, Toal. The other four justices interpreted it differently. They agreed that the 28 parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon. Two of the four (Pleicones and Hearn) said the Canon went into effect automatically under the structure of hierarchy. Two (Beatty and Kittredge) said it did not go into effect automatically, as per the All Saints decision, but only when the parishes acceded to it. It was the parochial action, not the Canon itself, that put the trust into effect. However, Beatty and Kittredge then broke apart. Beatty said the parishes did not have the right to revoke their accessions. Kittredge said the parishes did have the right to revoke their accessions, which, he said, they legally did. In the end, only Kittredge agreed with Toal that all of the parishes were outside of the trust control of TEC/TECSC while the majority agreed that the 28 parishes were under trust control of TEC/TECSC because of the effectuation of the Dennis Canon. This is the great conclusion and order of the SCSC. It is not unclear.

Why Runyan focused so much on one justice, Beatty, is interesting to contemplate. Before the SCSC decision, Runyan had every reason to believe that Toal would fight for her 2009 work (as we know  now she in fact did). Too, he had reason to believe that Beatty would remain a supporter of Toal's work since he had been one of the signatories of her 2009 opinion. All Runyan needed was one more justice to make a majority and carry the day. If so, this was Runyan's fatal miscalculation. He must have been very surprised when the SCSC decision came down and Beatty had sided with the pro-TEC faction (Pleicones and Hearn) against the pro-DSC side (Toal and Kittredge). As it turned out, Beatty was the determining vote among the five justices; and his determination that the 28 parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon was the turning point of the whole case. Runyan must have been terribly disappointed that Beatty had not joined Toal.

As I see it, Beatty agreed that All Saints required the deed holder to make explicit written terms to set up a trust. Then, Beatty went on to say the 28 parishes did just that. He was going on the evidence he had seen. In this, Beatty was in the great majority who said the parishes did indeed create trusts by acceding to the Dennis Canon. Only Toal disagreed. I see Runyan's argument that the parishes did not create trusts as weak. It was not an issue to four out of the five justices. I cannot see why it should be an issue today.

So, why the focus now on Beatty? My best guess is that Runyan has no cards left to play. In reality, he has lost the game. Choose your own imagery for his present tactics: everything including the kitchen sink, throwing spaghetti on the wall, a Hail Mary pass...  Since this was the "swing" vote, Beatty's opinion would be easier to isolate and use to sow confusion in the circuit court than picking one on the polar sides, deadlocked two to two. My guess is that Runyan's aim here has less to do with Beatty and more to do with Dickson. He needs to make Judge Dickson believe the SCSC decision is too unclear to implement; and therefore, the judge will have to decide the issue of the properties on his own. So, the criticism of Beatty is for Dickson's benefit. At least, this is the way it appears to me. It smacks of desperation.

In conclusion, as I see it, Judge Dickson has no choice but to implement the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2015. This decision is clear and contains three explicit directives: 28 parishes under TEC/TECSC, 8 parishes outside TEC/TECSC control, Camp St. Christopher under TECSC.

If I am right that Runyan is trying to render inert the SCSC decision and get the judge to retry the property issue, I do not see this happening. Anyway, what judge in his or her right mind would want to reopen this highly complicated, complex, and difficult case that has challenged the wisdom of Solomon among the legal community for years. Recall it took the highest court in SC 22 months to publish a decision.What I do not understand is how Judge Dickson can see the SCSC decision as unclear, as he keeps saying, or indicating. Unless I am misunderstanding a lot, the decision is perfectly clear just as is the established role of a supreme court decision in our judicial system. It's the law.

In my opinion, the sooner Judge Dickson implements the SCSC decision the better because justice delayed is justice denied. The SCSC remitted its decision to the circuit court more than a year ago. Continuing to delay its implementation after so long a time is not reasonable.

As I see it, Judge Dickson can do one of two things, order the implementation of the SCSC decision, or relitigate the whole case. I cannot believe this famously reasonable, fair, deliberate, and judicious man would ever choose the latter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, 2018. A few days ago, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina enjoyed a festive annual meeting. Two days ago, circuit court judge Edgar Dickson held a hearing on the church case. This is a good moment to stop and assess where we stand now and why we should give thanks. 

STATE COURT. On Monday, November 19, Judge Dickson listened to the two sides' lawyers present their arguments concerning the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. The judge said he was considering at the moment only one of the six motions/petitions before him, the one in which the breakaway diocese (DSC) is asking the judge to set aside the SCSC decision and rule anew on the issue of the properties, the 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher. In response, lawyers for the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina argued that the circuit court has no choice but to implement the SCSC decision. The circuit court does not have the discretion of retrying a case settled in the SCSC. 

The overall message coming from Judge Dickson was that the SCSC decision is not clear and he is challenged to interpret what the opinions mean. Respectfully, I do not understand the judge's view at all. In fact, the SCSC decision is as clear as it can be.

The decision is online here . I am presenting below its last two pages. The unnumbered pages are 76 and 77. This is the end of former chief justice Jean Toal's contribution. Before the hearing, Toal assigned herself to be in charge of this case. It was obvious in the hearing of Sept. 23, 2015 that she was very much in control of the case and the whole courtroom. Her goal, as we learned later, was to validate and universalize her 2009 All Saints decision, which she has written herself. That ruling had come down in favor of the local parish in leaving the Episcopal diocese and in keeping its property, in spite of the Dennis Canon. In the Aug. 2 decision, Toal's was the last and longest opinion. Since she was in the minority, she could not write the majority opinion. Pleicones did that. Thus, Toal gave her opinion of the issues first and then on the last few pages summarized the court's majority conclusions. Here are the last two pages (click on image for enlargement):

In Footnote 72, Toal summarizes perfectly clearly the decisions of the court. The key sentence is this:

"However, we [Toal and Kittredge] are in the minority, because a different majority of the Court --- consisting of Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Hearn, and Acting Justice Pleicones --- would reverse the trial court and transfer title of all but eight of the plaintiffs' properties to the defendants."

This sentence is the decision in a nutshell.

This is the explicit order of the Court. It is a 3-2 majority decision. It is is no way unclear; and I do not see how Judge Dickson, or anyone else, could reasonably see this sentence as unclear.

Toal went on to list specifically the three orders of the Court as 1), 2) and 3). Read what these say. Toal is as plain as anyone could be. The wording here is crucial. It is not an opinion. It is a statement of fact as to the majority decisions of the Court: the 8 local church organizations that did not accede to the Dennis Canon keep their titles; the 28 parishes that did accede to the Dennis Canon are under trust control of the Episcopal Church which under the trust has become the title holder; and Camp St. Christopher is held by the trustees of the Church diocese. I simply do not see how anyone can read these three points and say the SCSC decision is not clear. In fact, it could not be any clearer. The majority ruled explicitly. Just because the majorities are different on the three items, this in no way invalidates or clouds any of the results. So, the idea that five different opinions did not result in a clear cut majority ruling by the Court is easily shown to be nonsense. There are three findings, and all three are by 3-2 majority.

I am not a lawyer, but if I could make my plea to Judge Dickson it would be to reread the last two pages of the SCSC decision. They clear up this entire case.

Be sure to read Steve Skardon's excellent analysis of Monday's hearing. Find it here . It is the best summary of the hearing available online.

FEDERAL COURT. As far as I know, nothing has happened on the federal scene lately. Judge Richard Gergel, of the U.S. District Court, in Charleston, has scheduled a trial in March of 2019. I can only assume the two sets of lawyers are in the "discovery" phase gathering all their materials in preparation.

One should recall that, technically, mediation is still open between the two sides. There were three sessions of mediation from October 2017 to January of 2018. As far as we know, these resulted in nothing. However, mediation is still open and it is possible sessions may resume. Since the meetings are private, the public may not be aware of them at the time. The original idea of the mediation was to settle all of the legal issues between the two sides. It is still possible this could happen although I see no sign of it. Given the history of this case, I really do not expect a compromise settlement. I expect this war will stay in the courts until the last shot is fired.

Speaking of end, the question I get most frequently is, How much longer? When will this end? Well, God only knows. I certainly do not know. I do know people all around are exhausted and disappointed, and hurt. The pain is all too evident on both sides. The schism has been a highly emotional event. Everyone involved has been on a wild roller coaster ride up and down and around. Every emotion that comes with this is valid. I say embrace them. Clasp the hurt, disappointment, fear, suspicion, even anger. It is unhealthy to deny these and try to ignore them. They will come out one way or another. Better to own them and let them out. Cry if you have to. Pound the table. Rage at the wall. If you have a garden, as I, go out and pull weeds if nothing else. Go to the golf course and play the 18 holes. Read a good escapist book (I like John Grisham). You can think of some good therapy. We would do well to let out our feelings in constructive ways.

Besides, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Just look at all the blessings we have in life. Look around you. They are everywhere. Personally, I am blessed beyond measure. I have a wonderful wife of 52 years who learned long ago how to cope with me. I have beautiful twin daughters whom I love dearly, and a son-in-law of whom I am proud. I have a teenage granddaughter for whom I would not trade gold (typical teenager---glued to her phone). I have irreplaceable brothers and a sister, a nice home, and a beautiful garden. I have a great church family. I was able to have my dream career. I could go on. What about you? Look around and count your blessings. Be thankful.

If you are feeling a little down this holiday, you are not alone. A lot of people feel stress at these times of the year, especially people who live alone. Holidays can be hard. My suggestion is to do something for someone else. It does not have to be elaborate. It could be small and simple. Bake a pan of cookies and take them to your next door neighbor, or to the local fire or police department. Believe me, fire and police personnel have big appetites. Rake the leaves in your neighbor's yard. Call a friend on the phone just to say hello. Put your mind to it. Doing for others is also doing for ourselves.

Remember there are two great commandments, love God and love neighbor. The operative word is love. If we follow that, we cannot fail.

The schism will be over one day. We cannot know when. We cannot know how. When it is over we must be able to say we did the right thing and for the right reasons. I happen to think the Episcopal Church is in the right. It has fought the good fight for human rights for seventy years now. People who had been persecuted, neglected, marginalized have found freedom, equality, and inclusion in the loving arms of the Church. 

It just so happened that one of the few breaking points in this movement came in eastern South Carolina. The leaders of the Episcopal Church there resolved to leave the Church rather than accept the extension of equality for and inclusion of homosexual people. They willingly chose to break this part of Christ's body. I do not question their motives. They thought they were doing the right thing. I happen to disagree with what they did. I think their choices of policies and procedures were all wrong. And, I think the outcomes of those bad choices are evident all around in the ruins of the old diocese. The schism has been a tragedy and disaster in so many ways for both sides. What was meant to be a great construction turned out to be a great destruction. Everyone lost (except the lawyers). Look at the stats: DSC has lost nearly half its communicants and a third of its budget in the decade of Bishop Mark Lawrence. Is this what the people of the diocese wanted when they elected Lawrence, twice, in 2006-07? I don't think so.

This is not a perfect world. It is made up of imperfect people but is overseen by a perfect divine force. This is our first and last consolation, and for that we must give the greatest thanks of all. Our last refrain is, and should always be, Thanks be to God!