Friday, March 30, 2018


Today is Good Friday 2018. It certainly was not a good Friday to the people who witnessed the gruesome execution of the young charismatic preacher/teacher/prophet/healer who in just three years had stirred up so much affection and hatred in his homeland and irked the Roman authorities who did not like anyone to disturb law and order. In fact, they purposefully reserved the highly visible penalty of crucifixion for themselves. It was meant to be a lesson for all. Little did Jesus' faithful few followers know at that point the glorious aftermath that would come from that most terrible day. Easter is right around the corner, the happiest day in the year. The life-death-resurrection of Jesus Christ was the greatest event in the history of the world. Salvation came for all. Life defeated death. The light banished the darkness. So, it is indeed a good Friday after all.

Here in Jacksonville, Alabama, Holy Week goes on just as it does all around the world. People are preparing for a great Easter which in this neck of the woods means churches packed with people and fragrant Easter lilies, Easter egg hunts galore to work off the sugar highs induced by overindulgent grandparents' Easter baskets, eat-until-you-drop feasts of the best cooking in the world, and new clothes. It also means a lot of heartache this year. The destruction of the March 19th storms is still all around us. It is too sad to post many pictures of the town as it looks today. Besides, the local newspaper provides enough heartbreaking pictures, at this link . 

I will provide one picture. Merrill Hall is the home of the college of business at Jacksonville State University, the most architecturally interesting structure on campus. It is 1960's modern with a stunning domed rotunda and several wings. In the storms, the dome collapsed, most of the windows shattered, roofs peeled off, and at least one of the wings (on the left) was gutted. I do not know the condition of the interior since no one is allowed in the building, but photos in the newspaper show the inside in shambles. Here it is today after a week's clean-up:

Since it housed the business departments, this building had a great deal of electronic equipment such as computers, no doubt much of which was ruined. In all, 23 buildings were damaged at J.S.U. including several that lost their roofs exposing the interiors to water. In the town of Jacksonville, 42 houses were destroyed, 146 heavily damaged, and 371 left with minor damages. It is astonishing that no one was killed. One church, a pretty Baptist edifice, was completely destroyed and several others damaged including substantial harm to the Roman Catholic church. Regardless, the weary congregations are preparing to celebrate the greatest day of the year the best way they can. No weather can stop that.

Meanwhile spring goes on in my garden. At the risk of seeming insensitive to the destruction fickle nature has caused all around me, I will share with you some of the beauty in my garden this week. I like to end the week on an uplifting note. As it does every year at this time, the "snowball" bush steals the show in my garden. I have it planted along the central lawn in full sun. The sight of this awesome and magnificent shrub commands everyone's attention.

Japanese Snowball (Viburnum plicatum "Sterile'). The plant tag said it would grow to 10 feet. This one is about 15 feet high and wide. Although the well-named snowball bushes are common across the south, I have never seen one as large; and I have never seen one with so many blooms. And, I have no idea why it is so happy here. I neglect it most of the time. There are countless hundreds of pure white flower pods.

Among the other flowering plants now showing, the Lady Bank's rose bush is still in full bloom:

The grass in the lower part is Japanese Silver Grass. The small tree on left is Grancy Greybeard. The tall evergreens in the background are Japanese Cedars. 

My best regards to all of you on this Good Friday. I am off to St. Luke's Church at noon thanking God it was spared from the storms. It is a somber day here in more ways than one. However, we know that in all ways the darkness will give way to a new day, in Jacksonville AL, and everywhere else. Evil doers cannot stop goodness just as the worst of nature cannot vanquish the human spirit. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


On March 27, the U.S. Supreme Court granted TEC/TECSC's request for an extension of time to submit their response to DSC's February 9 petition for cert. The deadline had been set for March 29, but on March 23, the TEC lawyers asked for a month extension, to April 30, 2018.

On March 27, SCOTUS responded:  "Motion to extend the time to file a response is granted and the time is extended to and including April 30, 2018 for all respondents."

SCOTUS usually ends its annual session by early July and begins the next on the first Monday in October. It is reasonable to assume the justices will take up DSC's petition and TEC/TECSC's response, plus any amici briefs, in the months of May and June. They will decide whether to grant or deny cert. If they deny, the matter before SCOTUS ends and the SC supreme court decision stands as the law. If they grant the petition, I would assume it will be put on the docket for the court session of 2018-19.

The U.S. Supreme Court website gives the details of the case at this link .

Monday, March 26, 2018


On March 23, 2018, the lawyers representing the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina formally requested the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension of their deadline for submitting a response to DSC's appeal to the court. The new asking date is April 30, 2018. The court had set the date of March 29 for a response from the Church side.

The lawyers also announced they have learned that one or more "amici" are preparing briefs in support of the DSC petition. Amici are "friends" of one side who submit supporting arguments and documents although they are not parties of the case. TEC is asking for extra time to prepare a response to the DSC amici presuming their papers will appear soon. The letter asks a deadline of April 30 for all respondents.

Find the lawyer's request to SCOTUS here . 

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Want to know the truth about the schism? Want to know the differences between the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church? Simple. The truth is readily available in my book, A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. It is available on Amazon and other Internet outlets. It is the result of four years' research and writing in which I consulted 2,500 sources, 900 of which are cited in 2,200 footnotes. The book contains 300,000 words. This is as close as anyone can get to the whole truth about why the DSC voted to split off from the Episcopal Church and the differences between the post-schism DSC and TEC. As the 29 parishes prepare to return to the Episcopal Church, I highly recommend that every communicant read it. You need to know what happened and why it happened. If you do not want to buy a copy, get your local public library to order it, or borrow a copy from someone. Read it!

Ever since the South Carolina Supreme Court denied DSC's appeal for rehearing, on Nov. 17, 2017, the DSC leaders have been busy preparing to remove communicants from the 29 parishes that almost certainly will return to control of the Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina. They held a meeting in December in which they disseminated a secret plan to the diocesan clergy and lay leaders. The plan outlined a process for removing congregations from their buildings. Just recently, Bishop Lawrence addressed the diocesan convention about going out. There are two large parishes in particular that the DSC leaders seem to be focusing on now: St. Michael's and St. Philip's, of Charleston, the great historic downtown churches where no doubt many members will remain with their ancestral buildings, cemeteries, endowments, and furnishings. DSC leaders are apparently trying their hardest to take out as many communicants from these two churches as possible. Word is that St. Michael's has already arranged to move people to a Methodist church down the street. It is almost certain that a considerable number of the faithful in these parishes will not leave the buildings. They will return to TEC.

First St. Michael's. This month, the Revs. Kendall Harmon and Al Zadig conducted a three week campaign of criticism of the Episcopal Church for the benefit of the St. Michaelites. It was entitled, "Why the Battle? Different God and Gospel?" The announcement of this has already been taken down from the online edition of "The Messenger," the St. Michael's newsletter, but can still be found on the Issuu online edition. The blurb for the "course" advertised it "will help you understand the theological divide that exists between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America...So, this is not about politics and sexuality, it is about our core beliefs, theology and discipleship." As it turned out, it was indeed all about politics and sexuality. On Mar. 14, Zadig and Harmon advertised a talk, "Is Our Gender Really Up for Grabs?" It does not take much imagine the answer. On Mar. 21, Harmon posted a talk on "Can We Redefine Marriage?" Once again, I think we can guess his answer.

Now we move to St. Philip's. Harmon and Bishop Lawrence will be presenting a campaign called "Basic Christian Theology" in seven weeks, five at St. Philip's and two back at St. Michael's. It will begin on April 4. They promise a study of a book by Bruce Milne called Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief. I have not read this book, but the reviews reveal it to be a highly evangelistic (Calvinist) theological primer apparently close to fundamentalism. As we have already seen, the DSC leaders have moved their diocese into a fundamentalist-leaning sect as exemplified in the Marriage Task Force dictates of 2015 that forced the diocese into a narrow fundamentalist framework far from the mainstream of traditional Anglicanism. This featured a literal interpretation of the Bible, authoritarianism, intolerance, exclusively vertical theology, and homophobia.

The schism happened five a half years ago, yet here we are with the DSC leaders still trying to rationalize the schism. Although homosexuality was the direct cause of the schism, DSC leaders have been trying ever since the schism to convince their people it was all about theology, that is, that the Episcopal Church no longer believed in "the uniqueness of Jesus Christ" while DSC and ACNA did. Interesting that they kept the TEC Book of Common Prayer for their services. Any assertion that the Episcopal Church has abandoned Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world is outrageously shameful nonsense. TEC certainly has not changed its theology and any implication it has is just wrong.

In time, and I suspect sooner rather than later, St. Michael's and St. Philip's will return to their ancestral home in the Episcopal Church. We so not know, cannot know, at this point how many people will stay and how many will leave the properties. So, only time will tell how effective the DSC campaign of propaganda against the Episcopal Church at St. Michael's and St. Philip's this spring will be. I for one will be praying for the communicants of these old parishes as they struggle to discern their true identities. They have been put, are still being put, in a very difficult position.  

So, everyone should "Know the Truth," indeed. The truth about the schism in South Carolina is readily available to anyone who wants to know it. 

(P.S. I did not have the heart to post pictures of my garden this Friday. However, my local newspaper The Anniston Star is supposed to feature it in Sunday's edition. It seemed insensitive to me to revel in the beauty of nature when my town lies devastated by the ugly side of nature. I drove around town today for the first time since the tornado and was shocked at the ruin even though I could not see the side streets. They are still blocked off. The destruction was overwhelming, much worse than I had thought. Please pray for the people of Jacksonville AL. Palm Sunday will go on tomorrow as usual. Even the worst of times cannot suppress the hope of Easter.)

UPDATE. March 25, a.m.:
Today's edition of The Anniston Star has a full page spread on my garden. One can find the same in the online version at this link . Meanwhile, the newspaper is reporting that some 2,000 volunteers, and perhaps that many chainsaws have arrived in Jacksonville to help in the clean up. This is humankind at its best, doing God's work. God is here, with every volunteer, and every chainsaw. God was also with us in church today as Palm Sunday went on as it has in our building every year since 1856.

Monday, March 19, 2018


March 19. 11:00 p.m.
Many of you readers know that I live in Jacksonville, Alabama, where I am professor emeritus at Jacksonville State University. You  may see on the news that violent thunderstorms struck the town and campus tonight at about 9:15. They included at least one tornado. I want to assure everyone that my family, my house, and my garden all avoided damage.

The twister, and accompanying high winds, tore across the campus leaving significant damage to important buildings, such as the coliseum that holds several thousand people, uprooting ancient trees, and knocking down power lines. Some apartments, houses, churches and stores are heavily damaged. The campus is just north of the town center. We do not know yet the full extent of the damage. Fortunately the 9,000 students were away on Spring Break.

There has been a good deal of property damage on the campus and the north side of town and injuries although as of yet no deaths announced. Rescues are going on now. I ask for your prayers for the injured.

To my knowledge, St Luke's Church, at the town square, an 1856 architectural treasure designed by Richard Upjohn, was not damaged. We will know for sure at first light.

I live about two miles south of the campus. As far as I know there was no wind damage in my area. We did not even lose electricity. My wife and I huddled in our central hallway for an hour as weather sirens blared non-stop outside.

UPDATE. Mar. 20, 8 a.m.     Morning light reveals extensive property damage in Jacksonville including the university. Many campus buildings, houses, churches, stores heavily damaged or destroyed. Reports of injuries but no deaths. Countless trees and power lines down. Some streets closed. Authorities asking everyone to stay inside while first responders and clean-up crews do the necessary work unhindered. Most of town without electricity. Water supply running low. Many work crews arriving from as far away as Birmingham.

One or two tornadoes reported with wind as high as 165 mph. The twisters touched down around 9 p.m. just north of us. My family, house and garden untouched (except for frayed nerves).

Apparently St. Luke's Church, just off the town square, was undamaged but have not received first-hand report yet.

For news reports see this link .

UPDATE. Mar. 20, 8:45 a.m.     Delighted to relay first-hand report that St. Luke's Church buildings sustained no damage at all. Thanks be to God!


The next event in the litigation between the two dioceses is to be The Episcopal Church/The Episcopal Church in South Carolina's response to the Diocese of South Carolina's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, due March 29, Thursday of next week. TEC/TECSC had originally chosen to forego a response, presumably on the belief that the court would easily deny DSC's appeal. However, the court requested a written response from TEC/TECSC and gave a due date of Mar. 29.

While we are awaiting the response, I thought it would be a good time to review, at least briefly, the status of the litigation between DSC and TEC/TECSC.

There are three active avenues of litigation at present, the U.S. Supreme Court, the circuit court, and the federal court. Let take them one at a time.


On Feb. 9, 2018, DSC filed an appeal to SCOTUS. This is what TEC/TECSC must respond to by Mar. 29.

DSC is asking SCOTUS to review the South Carolina supreme court decision of August 2, 2017 that recognized 29 of 36 parishes, and Camp St. Christopher, as under trust control of TEC/TECSC. DSC is claiming that SCSC did not strictly adhere to the neutral principles guideline and that only SCOTUS can clarify how lower courts must handle neutral principles. What DSC wishes, of course, is for SCOTUS to overturn the SCSC decision.

One should recall that on Sept. 1, 2017, DSC petitioned SCSC for a rehearing, for Justice Hearn to recuse herself, and for her part of the Aug. 2 decision to be "vacated" (removed). On Nov. 17, 2017, SCSC denied the rehearing by 2-2 vote and Hearn's recusal unanimously.

What next?
After TEC/TECSC's response, the  clerks of SCOTUS will prepare reviews of the case and circulate them among the justices who will meet and vote on whether to grant "cert," that is, to accept the appeal from DSC. Four of the nine justices must agree. The vote usually comes several weeks after the papers are submitted. If the vote fails, the matter ends for good. The SCSC decision stands as the law. If the justices grant cert, they will hold a hearing in the grand courtroom of the Supreme Court building and then decide the issue by majority vote.

I think chances are very slim that SCOTUS will take the case, for several reasons. In the first place, the DSC lawyers' entire argument in the circuit and state supreme courts was on state law (corporate and property law). SCOTUS is not concerned with state law except as it may impact on important constitutional issues. The constitutional issue involved here is the First Amendment. It strictly forbids the civic state from interfering in a religious institution. Thus SCOTUS tends to be hesitant to get involved in church cases. Indeed, it has turned down one after another of the Episcopal Church cases sent to it over the past several years.


On Nov. 19, 2017, just after SCSC denied DSC's rehearing, DSC filed a new lawsuit in the circuit court of Dorchester County, the same court that had handled the trial of July 2014. This time, however, the case was given to Judge Edgar Dickson.

DSC claimed that TEC/TECSC owed money payments to DSC under the "Betterments Statute." This holds that people who occupy property in the mistaken belief they own the property, are due, from the owner, payment for the improvements they made on the property. DSC asked for a jury trial.

TEC/TECSC then asked the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds of untimeliness (filed too late), and the fact that the parish itself is the legal owner of the property. TEC/TECSC are not the deed holders but merely the trust beneficiaries. Besides, the law says that only a Defendant can bring a case under Betterments, not the Plaintiff, which is what DSC was.

There has been not a word from this court in three months. What is going on there is anyone's guess.

My best guess is that the court will hold a hearing then dismiss the suit.


This is now the center of action in the litigation. This is where the whole business is to be settled.

This is the case vonRosenberg v. Lawrence that TECSC originally filed in March of 2013. The suit claimed that Lawrence was in violation of the Lanham Act, a federal act that protects federally registered trademarks such as those of the Episcopal Church. vonR asked the court to declare himself to be the rightful bishop of the Episcopal diocese and to stop Lawrence from pretending to be the Episcopal bishop. In other words, this suit asked the court to recognize the Church diocese as the legal heir of the pre-schism diocese.

(The SCSC did not address this issue for resolution. It decided only on the parish properties. The second big issue, the legal rights of the old diocese, they left to be settled by the federal court. In the meantime, circuit court judge Goodstein's Injunction of January 2013 recognizing DSC as the legal diocese, remains in place.)

Judge C. Weston Houck handled this case but refused to process it choosing to defer to the ongoing circuit court proceeding. When Houck died last July, he was replaced by Judge Richard Gergel.

On Aug. 30, 2017, Gergel ordered a mediation between the two sides and placed a stay on the federal case in the meantime. The mediation went on from Oct. of 2017 to Jan. of 2018 and failed to reach agreement. TEC/TECSC proposed a protocol for the Church side to meet with the 29 parishes to discuss settlement. Apparently, DSC rejected TEC/TECSC's proposal. Gergel then lifted the stay on Feb. 14, 2018 and the case is now ongoing.

On Feb. 20, 2018, Lawrence filed a motion for dismissal of part of the charges against him. On Mar. 7, 2018, Gergel denied the  motion.

On Mar. 1, TEC/TECSC filed motions virtually to consolidate the whole of the litigation into the federal suit. They asked that the Board of Trustees and the parishes in question be included as parties.

At present, we are awaiting Gergel's response to TEC/TECSC's petitions of Mar. 1.

We can expect a period of several  months of "Discovery." That is the time the lawyers do their homework to prepare for the trial. The trial will be held afterwards, my guess before the end of this year.

Odds are in favor of TEC/TECSC. Federal courts historically favor the national church as a hierarchical institution. Besides, in this particular case, the decisions and opinions of the state supreme court, in favor of TEC/TECSC, are bound to influence Gergel.

In sum, there are three avenues of the litigation at this moment. They are separate but still related. They will be disposed as individual cases.

In my view, DSC's appeal to SCOTUS and suit in the circuit court are weak and most likely to fail.

It looks as if the federal court will indeed finally settle the legal issues between the two sides. 

In the meantime, there are clear signs that DSC has already accepted the loss of the 29 parishes. First and foremost, DSC's suit of Nov. 19, 2017, in the circuit court implicitly recognized TEC/TECSC's rights over the 29 properties. The DSC leadership has been underway since last December on preparing people to move out of their church homes. Bishop Lawrence's address to the diocesan convention earlier this month dripped with the theme of "going out." It appears to me that DSC leaders are doing everything they can to keep people away from TEC and to create churches in exile in order to keep their failed experiment afloat.

One of the two big issues at stake, local property, has been settled for TEC/TECSC, in my opinion, for good. The other big issue, the rights and assets of the pre-schism diocese will be resolved by the federal court. The end is in sight. 

Friday, March 16, 2018


It is Friday and that means garden pictures. I am constantly amazed at how popular my garden posts are (over 424 hits on last Friday's) and am delighted to share my botanical garden with all of you. We are fortunate to live in the South. It is a gardener's paradise: lots of sun, short and mild winters, plenteous rainfall (usually), and fertile soil, if a bit acidic. I live midway between Atlanta and Birmingham on the line of zones 7b and 8a but try to choose plants comfortable in 7b. I am able to have some tropicals and some northern plants. For instance, I have two dwarf apple trees near a palm tree. One could not do that far south or north of here.

We continue to enjoy a beautiful springtime across the South. However, it is March and that means fluctuations between warm and cold with some rough weather thrown in. Right now, the stars of the garden are the flowering fruit trees. Let us go out and walk around the garden today:  

 Lady Bank's Rose (Rosa banksiae). Perhaps "Lutea." It seems that every garden wall in Charleston is decorated with Lady Bank's rose and for good reason. This one is not on a support. I have trained it to be a bush and that means pruning the long whips that grow out. This is the yellow form. There is also a white version.

"Adams" Crabapple Tree (Malus 'Adams'). "Adams" is a very good cultivar of crabapple. It has a profusion of dark pink flowers.

The smaller side of the garden. Large tree is elm. Slim evergreens are Italian Cypress. Tall evergreens are Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria). The small sprawling tree on the right is a Corkscrew Willow. Its branches are weirdly contorted.

Yoshino Flowering Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis). The same Japanese cherry that famously grows along the tidal basin in Washington D.C. and in Macon, GA. There is nothing more elegant and beautiful at this time of the year.

An archway trellis on the small side of the garden. Boxwoods flank the trellis. Yellow shrubs on left are Francis Mason Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora 'Francis Mason'). I keep them pruned.

Carolina Cherry Laurel "Cherry Ruffles" (Prunus caroliniana 'Cherry Ruffles'). These shrubs grow large, to 20' and, make a good screen. The leaves are "ruffled." It is in full bloom now.

I hope you have enjoyed this little walk about and I hope you are making the most of this glorious season we are blessed to have. The beauty and comfort of God's grand creation helps us put everything else into perspective. I think we all need that now as much as ever. I know I do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Bishop Lawrence has told his people, we are going out. That was the theme of his address to the annual meeting of the Diocese of South Carolina, on March 10, 2018. The printed copy of the speech is given here . This link also provides the audio version.

The tone, as well as the message of this bishop's address, varies markedly from all of his earlier annual remarks to the convention. This one has an air of resignation, even sorrow, and a sound of defeat, at what has happened and what is to come. The overall theme is leaving home but it is masked in the imagery of the sower going out to sow seed that will grow and flourish. The sower has to "go out" to do this. Lawrence used the term "going out" or some variation of it twenty-one times in his address. The other themes woven in are change, decline, growth, and the uncertainty of the future, all highly relevant points of the day, but none hopeful or uplifting. One can easily envision a cloud of despair over last week's diocesan convention.

Although gone were the all too familiar military metaphors of past speeches, Lawrence could not let the Episcopal Church go unscathed. He said the Episcopal Church had the parishes of DSC in its "crosshairs," implying the Church was aiming to shoot them:  "The Episcopal Church ["our former denomination" in the oral version] is an attempt to bring every congregation of the diocese (and even those outside the diocese) into their crosshairs." A moment later, he said, "When the Disrupter [Episcopal Church?] comes, he puts you in the crosshairs." He was also fond of the word "persecution," using it six times, clearly implying TEC. Several times, he used the imagery of early Christians being forced out of their homes.

Lawrence made only one direct remark about people leaving the 29 parishes when he said, "Then there is the related question, such as 'If we should lose, who will stay with the building and who will not?'" He said he was not going to lose his "resolve" and suggested his listeners do the same, implying they should leave the buildings.

Signaling defeat, Lawrence said, "With just a few exceptions, as far as I can tell, most of us are not going out as sowers sowing the seeds of the gospel. The growth statistics just do not bear it out." True! As I have pointed out in detail in three recent posts, active membership in DSC has fallen off a cliff since the schism, down 35%. In fact, the Diocese of South Carolina has lost almost half its active membership in the decade of Lawrence. The imagery of sowing seed for growth is an irony not to be missed.

So, who is to blame for the failure? He put the blame on himself and his followers. True again. 

In fact, Lawrence had at least three opportunities to settle his differences with TEC peacefully. After Oct. 3, 2012, the Presiding Bishop tried three times to get in-person meetings with Lawrence to work out a solution in private, Oct. 11, 13, and 22. Lawrence backed out of every one. The second chance was in June of 2015 when the Church offered to release the 36 parishes from their trust obligations to the Episcopal Church. This was to be in exchange for the legal entity of the old diocese. If Lawrence had accepted this, the parishes would be independent today and the outright owners of their properties. The third opportunity was the mediation of October 2017-January 2018. It was a failure, but is still technically open.

There are two major issues in the litigation between the two dioceses. One is control of the parishes. That has been settled by the state supreme court which declared that TEC and its diocese had trust control over 29 parishes. The other issue will be settled by the federal court. It is which one is entitled to the legal entity of the pre-schism diocese. Odds are strong in favor of TEC. In spite of desperate appeals, it is clear DSC is on the brink of legal disaster.

Lawrence ended his speech of sadness on a lament, St. Brendan's Prayer. It is all about leaving home and facing the wild dangers of the open sea:

"Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?...
O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?/O Christ, will You help me with the wild waves?"

And so, the experiment of the schism has failed and the stark reality is finally settling in on the leadership and people of the Diocese of South Carolina. The DSC leaders told their people they could defy the laws of their Church and leave with the body of the diocese and with the local church properties. They assured the people they had every right to do this. In fact, they have been proven wrong, terribly wrong. After squandering millions of dollars of the people's money, they failed in the high court of the state. The SC supreme court ruled that the 29 parishes remain under the Episcopal Church, along with Camp St. Christopher. Chances are the federal court is about to recognize the Church diocese as the true heir of the old diocese.

Where does DSC go from here? The leaders gave the people no clear picture. They are "going out" but where? The "seeds" they planted failed to sprout. Now they face no harvest, only brokenness and loss. In spite of all of the DSC leaders' demonization of the Episcopal Church, we know that at least some of the communicants who were misled are not "going out" from their church families and homes.

Monday, March 12, 2018


On Mar. 6, I posted "New Membership Statistics..." and on Mar. 10-11, "A Closer Look at DSC's Membership Statistics." These were studies of the communicant mumbers listed by the 50 parishes and missions that adhered to Bp Lawrence in the schism of 2012. The point of the posts was to discern membership trends in these churches as related to the schism.

In case one may want the specific data for each DSC church, I am providing the figures for 2005, 2008 (the year Lawrence arrived), 2011 (the last full year before the schism), and 2016 (four years after the schism). Then, the 2005-2016 change by number and percentage. Thus, parishioners can see exactly how their parishes fared in this 11 year period around the schism.

ST. HELENA'S, Beaufort,     2005-1,200;   2008-1,541;   2011-1,737;   2016-880.  -330, -27%.

CHURCH OF THE CROSS, Bluffton,     2005-1,260;   2008-1,481;   2011-1,701;   2016-1,790.   +530, +42%.

ST. LUKE'S, Hilton Head,     2005-862;   2008-1,016;   2011-951;   2016-581.   -281, -33%.

HOLY TRINITY, Grahamville,     2005-146;   2008-160;   2011-98;   2016-97.   -49, -34%.

ST. JUDE'S, Walterboro,     2005-216;   2008-222;   2011-200;   2016-221.   +21, +10.

CATHEDRAL, ST. LUKE AND ST. PAUL, Charleston,     2005-316;   2008-329;   2011-305;   2016-220.   -96, -32%.

ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, Charleston,     2011-39;   2016-53.   

ST. MICHAEL'S, Charleston,     2005-1,349;   2008-1,542;   2011-1,847;   2016-915.   -434, -37%.

ST. PHILIP'S, Charleston,     2005-1,289;   2008-2,419;   2011-2,677;   2016-1,069.   -220, -17%.

CHRIST CHURCH, Mt. Pleasant,     2005-925;   2008-1,117;   2011-935;   2016-328.   -597, -65%.

HOLY CROSS, Sullivans Island,     2005-936;   2008-1,564;   2011-2,540;   2016-900.   -36, -4%.

HOLY TRINITY, Charleston,     2005-129;   2008-81;   2011-96;   2016-103.   -26, -20%.

OLD SAINT ANDREW'S, Charleston,     2005-567;   2008-634;   2011-962;   2016-446.   -121, -21%.

ST. ANDREW'S MISSION, Charleston,     2011-38;   2016-55.

ST. JAMES'S, Charleston,     2005-621;   2008-579;   2011-612;   2016-500.   -121, -21%.

GOOD SHEPHERD, Charleston,     2005-261;   2008-242;   2011-302;   2016-245.   -16, -6%.

TRINITY, Edisto,     2005-220;   2008-164;   2011-183;   2016-157.   -63, -28%.

ST. JAMES'S, Goose Creek,     2011-12;   2016-15.

OUR SAVIOUR, Johns Island,     2005-370;   2008-139;   2011-195;   2016-170.   -200, -54%.

ST. JOHN'S, Johns Island,     2005-611;   2008-663;   2011-566;   2016-654.   +43, +7%.

ST. PAUL'S, Summerville,     2005-1,018;   2008-609;   2011-773;   2016-538.   -480, -47%.

CHRIST/ST. PAUL'S, Yonges Island,     2005-355;   2008-395;   2011-330;   2016-260.   -95, -27%.

ST. PAUL'S, Bennettsville,     2005-63;   2008-74;   2011-61;   2016-65.   +2, +3%.

ST. DAVID'S, Cheraw,     2005-110;   2008-150;   2011-113;   2016-34.   -76, -69%.

ST. MATTHEW'S, Darlington,     2005-235;   2008-117;   2011-139;   2016-148.   -87, -37%.

ST. BARNABAS, Dillon,     2005-46;   2011-47;   2011-47;   2016-37.   -9, -20%.

ALL SAINTS, Florence,     2005-310;   2008-195;   2011-144;   2016-130.   -180, -58%.

CHRIST CHURCH, Florence,     2005-37;   2008-29;   2011-49;   2016-2.   -35, -94%.

ST. JOHN'S, Florence,     2005-461;   2008-503;   2011-453;   2016-423.   -38, -8%.

ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S, Hartsville,     2005-170;   2008-160;   2011-160;   2016-135.   -35, -21%.

ADVENT, Marion,     2011-27;   2016-16.

HOLY COMFORTER, Sumter,     2005-639;   2008-679;   2011-525;   2016-283.   -356, -56%.

HOLY CROSS, Stateburg,     2005-118;   2008-151;   2011-177;   2016-94.   -24, -20%.

ST. PAUL'S, Conway,     2005-332;   2008-270;   2011-270;   2016-202.   -130, -39%.

PRINCE GEORGE WINYAH, Georgetown,     2005-332;   2008-380;   2011-450;   2016-645.   +316, +96%.

TRINITY, Myrtle Beach,     2005-622;   2008-584;   2011-595;   2016-284.   -338, -54%.

RESURRECTION, Surfside,     2005-685;   2008-569;   2011-282;   2016-287.   -398, -58%.

HOLY APOSTLES, Barnwell,     2005-66;   2008- -;   2011-91;   2016-95.   +29; +44%.

EPIPHANY, Eutawville,     2005-140;   2008-151;   2011-75;   2016-85.   -55, -39%.

ST. MATTHEW'S, Ft. Motte,     2005-81;   2008-78;   2011-71;   2016-94.   +13, +16%.

REDEEMER, Orangeburg,     2005-346;   2008-321;   2011-265;   2016-183.   -163, -47%.

ST. PAUL'S, Orangeburg,     2005-81;   2008-35;   2011-19-;   2016-17.   -64, -79%.

REDEEMER, Pineville,     2005-82;   2008-80;   2011-82;   2016-78.   -4, -5%.

TRINITY, Pinopolis,     2005-273;   2008-187;   2011-184;   2016-159.   -114, -42%.

ST. MATTHIAS, Summerton,     2005-104;   2008-125;   2011-128;   2016-144.   +40, +38.


The local churches that reported 2005-2016 showed 33 with loss of communicants and 8 with gains.

8 parishes and missions showed losses over 50%; and most of these reported the greatest loss after the schism:   St. Paul's, Orangeburg; St. David's, Cheraw; Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant; Resurrection, Surfside; All Saints, Florence; Trinity, Myrtle Beach, Our Saviour, Johns Island; Holy Comforter, Sumter.

Conclusion --- most DSC churches showed gains in membership for the several years before the schism. Most showed sharp drops in membership after the schism. On the whole, the decade around the schism of 2012 has seen a depression among the numbers of communicants of most of the 50 local churches that went along with the schism. Moreover, the data show a clear downward trend in the DSC churches.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

(with Addendum, Mar. 11)

On Mar. 8, I added a post, "New Membership Statistics from the Diocese of South Carolina." This included the newly released figures of the year 2016. I have gone over the numbers in detail again in hopes of getting a more precise view of the impact of the schism on the membership of the secessionist diocese. 50 of the 71 parishes and missions of the old diocese went along with the break from the Episcopal Church. Many of these churches held parish votes to decide whether to go along. The majority of the local churches adhered to Bp Lawrence. Often the votes were lopsided. That would leave one thinking the break had been popular. 

We now have the detailed local church statistics from before the schism of 2012 and 4 years after the schism. What pattern can be discerned about shifts in membership in the diocese? What might these numbers suggest about the future?

The statistics from the year 2011 tell us much about the state of the old diocese in the last full year before the schism. We will use this year as our measure of the diocese before the schism. We now have the parochial statistics for the year 2016, 4 full years after the schism. First, I will provide the numbers for each of the (45) local churches that reported in 2011 and 2016. These numbers came from the official journal of the diocesan convention, 2012 (find here , pp. 129-31) and 2017 (find here , pp. 149-52). We will use the figures as they were provided.

I am using the number of "communicants." A communicant was one who attended church at least once a year. 

First, parish or mission, then number of communicants for 2011 and 2016, then change in number, and finally change by percentage. For instance, St. Helena's had 1,737 communicants in 2011, and 880 in 2016. That was a decline of 857 communicants, or down 49% from before the schism. Thus, St. Helena's lost about half its communicant number as a result of the schism.

St. Helena's, Beaufort     2011-1,737;  2016-880;  -857;  -49%

Church of the Cross, Bluffton     2011-1,701;  2016-1,790;  +89;  +1%

St. Luke's, Hilton Head     2011-951;  2016-581;  -370;  -39%

Holy Trinity, Grahamville     2011-98;  2016-97;  -1;  -1%

St. Jude's, Walterboro     2011-200;  2016-221;  +21;  +1%

Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston     2011-305;  2016-220;  -85;  -28%

St. John's Chapel, Charleston     2011-39;  2016-53;  +14;  +36%

St. Michael's, Charleston     2011-1,847;  2016-915;  -932;  -50%

St. Philip's, Charleston     2011-2,677;  2016-1,069;  -1,608;  -60%

Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant     2011-935;  2016-328;  -607;  -65%

Holy Cross, Sullivans Island     2011-2,540;  2016-900;  -1,640;  -65%

Holy Trinity, Charleston     2011-96;  2016-103;  +7;  +7%

Old Saint Andrew's     2011-962;  2016-446;  -516;  -54%

St. Andrew's Mission, West Ashley     2011-38;  2016-55;  +17;  +45%

St. James, James Island     2011-612;  2016-500;  -112;  -18%

Good Shepherd, Charleston     2011-302;  2016-245;  -57;  -19%

Trinity, Edisto     2011-183;  2016-157;  -26;  -14%

St. James, Goose Creek     2011-12;  2016-15;  +3;  +25

Our Saviour, Johns Island     2011-195;  2016-170;  -25;  -13%

St. John's, Johns Island     2011-566;  2016-654;  +88;  +16%

St. Paul's, Summerville     2011-773;  2016-538;  -235;  -30%

Christ/St. Paul's, Yonges Island     2011-330;  2016-260;  -70;  -21%

St. Paul's, Bennettsville     2011-61;  2016-65;  +4;  +7%

St. David's, Cheraw     2011-113;  2016-34;  -79;  -70%

St. Matthew's, Darlington     2011-139;  2016-148;  +9;  +6%

St. Barnabas, Dillon     2011-47; 2016-37;  -10;  -21%

All Saints, Florence     2011-144;  2016-130;  -14;  -10%

Christ Church, Florence     2011-49;  2016-2;  -47;  -96%

St. John's, Florence     2011-453;  2016-423;  -30;  -7%

St. Bartholomew's, Hartsville     2011-160;  2016-135;  -35;  -22%

Advent, Marion     2011-27;  2016-16;  -7;  -26%

Holy Comforter, Sumter     2011-525;  2016-283;  -242;  -46%

Holy Cross, Stateburg     2011-177;  2016-94;  -83;  -47%

St. Paul's, Conway     2011-270;  2016-202;  -68;  -25%

Prince George Winyah, Georgetown     2011-450;  2016-645;  +195;  +43%

Trinity, Myrtle Beach     2011-595;  2016-284;  -311;  -52%

Resurrection, Surfside     2011-282;  2016-287;  +5;  +2%

Holy Apostles, Barnwell     2011-91;  2016-95;  +4;  +4%

Epiphany, Eutawville     2011-75;  2016-85;  +10;  +13%

St. Matthew's, Ft. Motte     2011-71;  2016-94;  +23;  +32%

Redeemer, Orangeburg     2011-265;  2016-183;  -82;  -31%

St. Paul's, Orangeburg     2011-19;  2016-17;  -2; -11%

Redeemer, Pineville     2011-82;  2016-78;  -4;  -5%

Trinity, Pinopolis     2011-184;  2016-159;  -25;  -14%

St. Matthias, Summerton     2011-128;  2016-144;  +15;  +13


45 DSC parishes and mission reported in 2011 and 2016.

There were 30 losses and 15 gains. Thus, 2/3 of the local churches reported losses of members.

The biggest gainers by number:

  Prince George Winyah, +195

  Cross, Bluffton,  +89

  St. John's, Johns Island  +88

The biggest gainers by percentage:

  St. Andrew's Mission,  +45%

  St. John's Chapel,  +36%

  St. Matthew's, Ft. Motte,  +32

The biggest losers by numbers:

  Holy Cross, Sullivans Island,  -1,640

  St. Philip's, Charleston,  -1,608

  St. Michael's, Charleston,  -932

  St. Helena's, Beaufort,  -857

  Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant,  -607

  Old St. Andrew's,  -576

  St. Luke's, Hilton Head,  -370

  Trinity, Myrtle Beach,  -311

  Holy Comforter, Sumter,  -242

  St. Paul's, Summerville,  -235

The biggest losers by percentage:

  Churches that lost half or more of their communicants:

     St. David's, Cheraw,  -70%

     Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant,  -65%

     Holy Cross, Sullivans Island,  -65%

     St. Philip's, Charleston,  -60%

     Trinity, Myrtle Beach,  -52%

     St. Michael's, Charleston, -50%

  Other major declines:

     St. Helena's, Beaufort,  -49%

     Holy Cross, Stateburg,  -47%

     Holy Comforter, Sumter,  -46%

     Advent, Marion,  -41%

     St. Luke's, Hilton Head,  -39%


The total communicant number for the reporting DSC parishes and missions in the year before the schism was  21,506.

The number in 2016, four years after the schism, was 13,877.

These DSC churches reported a loss of 7,629 communicants.

This is a decline of 35%.

In sum, DSC lost about a third of its members as a result of the schism.

A word of caution about these statistics. These were provided by the local churches themselves. There was no verification. A few were probably errors (Christ Church of Florence no doubt has more than 2 communicants; St John's of Johns Island reported as many communicants as baptized members). Nevertheless, the statistics give us a clear broad picture of the impact of the schism on the churches that followed Lawrence in the schism. Most importantly, they show trends.

Most of the major losses occurred in the Charleston metro area as to be expected. It is the population center of the diocese. 

As far as the future goes, there are several probabilities.

---If the DSC continues to lose members at this rate, it will cease to exist in the foreseeable future. Even if it continues on, it will face shrinking numbers, and income. If it does wind up with 6 parishes, its viability as an institutional entity will be in doubt.

---The popular support for the schism was not deep. Indeed, a third of the people in the schismatic churches bolted.

---The Episcopal Church diocese, in all likelihood will regain possession of the 29 parishes in question, I think probably by the end of this year. If handled well, many of the communicants in these churches will remain with the Episcopal Church although the DSC has been underway since last Dec. 1 with a plan to move members out into new communities beyond the walls. The statistics above suggest there is not a very wide or deep commitment to the schism left in the DSC.

---Considering that many parishes have suffered massive losses in membership (not to mention finances), rebuilding these will be a major challenge for the Episcopal Church after the return of the 29 parishes.


ADDENDUM, March 11:

After posting the above, I wondered if going back several years before the schism would help us get a clearer picture of membership changes in the DSC parishes. Therefore, I looked at the membership figures for 2005, 7 years before the schism and 6 years before the data given above, of 2011. I also studied the statistics for the year 2008, the point at which Bp Lawrence began his episcopacy. If we can see the trends over the years before the schism we would get a better overall picture of the impact of the schism on membership. For instance, if a parish had significant and consistent membership loss all the while, its decline after the schism may have been from long term factors unrelated to the schism, as population shifts.

Again, we are looking at only the reports from the 50 parishes and missions that adhered to Lawrence in the schism of 2012. Here are the totals of communicants they reported:

2005 - 17,981
2008 - 19,338
2011 - 21,506
2016 - 13,877

This tells us that overall the churches were gaining members steadily in the half-dozen years before the schism. Between 2005 and 2008, communicant numbers jumped 1,357, or up 7%. From 2008 to 2011, numbers rose by another 2,168, or 10%. Thus, for the 7 years before the schism, there was a healthy and steady rise in membership of the churches that followed Lawrence in the schism. Then, membership fell precipitously. 

It is most instructive to look at the major parishes that seemed to be most impacted by the schism.

St. Helena's of Beaufort lost nearly half its communicants after the schism. Before the schism, however, it was the opposite. From 1,200 communicants in 2005, it grew to 1,737 in 2011, an impressive gain in just 6 years. Therefore, we can reasonably conclude the schism was the factor of change there. (2005-1,200; 2016-880)

St. Michael's of Charleston was much the same. From 1,349 communicants in 2005, it rose to 1,847 in 2011, a 37% gain. However, after it schism it fell by half. Again, it seems that the schism was the turning point there as well. (2005-1,349; 2016-915)

St. Philip's of Charleston, had an eye-popping gain between 2005 and 2011 (if these figures can be believed) from 1,289 to 2,677. After the schism, it reported a 60% drop. It too, seemed to be greatly impacted by the schism. (2005-1,289; 2016-1,069)

Holy Cross of Sullivans Island reported a rise from 936 in 2005 to 2,540 in 2011. After the schism it reported a drop to 1,640 or -65%. (2005-936; 2016-900)

Old Saint Andrews showed the same yo-yo effect. From 567 in 2005, it spiked to 962 in 2011, then fell to 516 in 2016. 

The great majority of DSC churches showed declines in membership after the schism. There were a few that showed steady gains through the whole period, most notably Prince George Winyah of Georgetown, 329 in 2005, 380 in 2008, 450 in 2011, 645 in 2016. Church of the Cross in Bluffton: 1,260 in 2005, 1,481 in 2008, 1,701 in 2011, 1,790 in 2016. They were the exception to the rule.

Another measure that reveals a shift is the number of churches gaining and losing members by period. From 2005 to 2008, 22 gained while 18 lost. This began to shift in 2008, the year Lawrence arrived. Between 2008 and 2011, 19 churches lost members while 18 gained, even though the overall number climbed. As we have seen, the dramatic decline came after the schism.

If we consider the whole period of the 11 years between 2005 and 2011, 80% of local churches lost members while 20% gained. Overall, the churches reported significantly fewer people in 2016 (13,877) than nine years earlier, in 2005 (17,981).

In the 6 years before the schism, 2005-2011, the local churches that adhered to Lawrence in the schism gained an impressive number of 3,525. However, in the 5 years after that, these same churches lost 7,629 communicants, or more than twice as many as they had gained in the before the schism. As we have seen, the Lawrence churches reported 35% fewer communicants after the schism.

All of this adds up to clear empirical evidence that the schism had a serious negative effect on the membership of the majority of the parishes and missions that went along with the schism. Moreover, the effect was the worst on the large and famous historical parishes. In sum, the schism caused a dramatic loss of membership in the parishes and missions that went along with it.