Thursday, May 24, 2018


We all knew this day would come. It had to come to this once the terrible legal war began all those years ago. The fight between the two rival dioceses in South Carolina has made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. It took more than five and a half years, longer than the Civil War. On June 7, the nine justices of the court in Washington D.C., are scheduled to meet and decide whether to accept the case from South Carolina. If so, we can expect to know their decision on Monday morning, June 11. 

The decision is a binary choice of enormous consequence. On one hand, if four of the nine justices agree to accept the appeal, the court will put a hearing of the case on its docket for the session of October 2018-June 2019. After the hearing, the court will issue a decision by majority vote of the justices. The decision will be final. On the other hand, if there is no agreement among four or more justices to accept the case on June 7, the petition for review is denied and the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling of August 2, 2017, stands permanently as the law. So, on the morning of June 11, listen for the distant sounds in Charleston. If it's the first hand, the metaphorical champagne corks will fly on Coming Street. If the result is the second hand, listen for the same sounds on Wentworth Street. A great deal rests on the Supreme Court conference of June 7. No one should underestimate the importance of what is arriving soon.

At this point, it is useful to review two topics: the background of the matter before SCOTUS, and the issues confronting the justices.

I must remind my readers that I am an ordinary non-attorney layman and these thoughts are my own. I do not speak for anyone else.

BACKGROUND, August 2, 2017 to May 22, 2018


On August 2, 2017, the SCSC issued a decision on the case. It had heard oral arguments on September 23, 2015. The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the church diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) had appealed the circuit court decision of Feb. 3, 2015 to the state high court. The circuit court decision had gone entirely in favor of the independent diocese, the Diocese of South Carolina (DSC).

In summary, the SCSC recognized the TEC/TECSC trust control over 28 of the 36 parishes in question and Camp St. Christopher, the diocesan camp. It left 8 entities outside of the trust (6 parishes in DSC and 1 parish, St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant, in the Anglican Church in North America's Diocese of the Carolinas). In essence, this returned control over the 28 parishes to the Episcopal Church bishop. As for the question of ownership of the pre-schism diocese, the SCSC left that for eventual resolution in the federal court.

On May 8, 2018, TECSC lawyers filed a motion in circuit court for enactment of the SCSC decision. 


On September 1, 2017, DSC lawyers filed for rehearing in the SCSC. They asked that Justice Kaye Hearn's opinion be vacated (removed) and that she be recused from the case. If this should happen, the SCSC decision would fall to a 2-2 tie. That would have left the circuit court decision of Feb. 3, 2015, as the standing order. 

That was followed by two and a half months in which Hearn was the center of attention. DSC carried out a strong campaign to discredit her judicially on the grounds of premeditated bias while TECSC defended her robustly.

On Nov. 17, SCSC responded to DSC's Sept. 1 petitions. The justices denied a rehearing by a vote of 2-2 (Hearn abstained). They also unanimously rejected DSC's request for her recusal.

DSC's tactics against Hearn may well have backfired. In its decision of Nov. 17, Justices Toal and Kittredge, both of whom had sided with DSC on Aug. 2, chastised DSC for its harsh treatment of Hearn. The solid unification of the SCSC around one of its justices may have contributed to failure of DSC's request for rehearing.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court undoubtedly are well aware of the events in SC after the Aug. 2 decision. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is well-known as a intrepid defender of equal rights for women. There are two other women on the court. One can only imagine their reaction to Hearn's treatment in SC. One should bear in mind that Hearn had not been the key of the Aug. 2 decision. The majority opinion was written by Justice Pleicones. The swing vote determining the outcome was Chief Justice Beatty. Yet, DSC's criticisms after Aug. 2 had focused on Hearn. I cannot imagine this would be lost on the women justices, RBG, Sotomayor, and Kagan.


On February 9, 2018, DSC filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, that is, for the court to accept the appeal of the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. 

The petition argued that Jones v. Wolf (1979) allowed a neutral principles approach to resolving property disputes between religious groups. DSC said the SCSC had followed a "hybrid" approach, partially deferring to the national church and partly following neutrality, and had erred by failing to adhere to a strict neutral principles path. It also said the Church had not set up a "legally cognizable" trust under SC law (Jones held that a national church could set up a trust without undue burden and impose it locally as long as it was in some "legally cognizable" form). Finally, DSC asked SCOTUS to clarify the relationship between a trust of a church and neutral principles, that is, exactly how courts were to treat trust claims of a national church in view of neutral principles. So, essentially, the point of DSC's petition was to get SCOTUS to revisit the Jones decision and clarify parameters of neutral principles as regarding churches. A strict application of neutral principles would work in favor of local churches.

DSC's petition was supported by two Amici Curiae (Friends of the Court) briefs. One came from a group of eighteen law professors specializing in First Amendment issues. The other was from the Falls Anglican Church, in Virginia, and the American Anglican Council. These basically reiterated the DSC petition calling for local rights.

On May 7, 2018, TEC/TECSC filed its response brief in SCOTUS  arguing primarily that the SCSC case had been adjudicated and decided entirely on state laws, particularly on corporations and property. Thus, there was no issue appropriate for the U.S. Supreme Court. There was no federal law involved and no constitutional issue. As for the trust, four of the five justices of SCSC had ruled that TEC had met the minimum burden of making a trust that was "legally cognizable." Thus, there was little disagreement in SC on the issue of the trust and its relation to neutral principles. TEC/TECSC asked SCOTUS to deny the appeal as essentially irrelevant or inappropriate.

May 15, 2018. DSC filed its rebuttal to TEC/TECSC's May 7 brief. It argued again that SCSC had not followed strict neutral principles and that it was necessary for SCOTUS to clear up the confusion around the country about how courts were to apply neutral principles. Once again, DSC clarified what it saw as the fundamental issue at stake:  Whether the Jones neutral approach allows courts to recognize a trust in favor of a national church even if that trust does not strictly adhere to state law. In other words, what does "legally cognizable" really mean?

It was interesting to note in its May 15 rebuttal that after all this time DSC continued to focus its criticism on Justice Hearn. In the paper, the lawyers named her, critically, a total of 25 times, more than all the other justices combined (Pleicones=8, Beatty=5, Kittredge=3, Toal=1). So, the not-so-subtle campaign against Hearn goes on, something I doubt the SCOTUS justices will miss.

June 7. The justices in conference will discuss another case involving churches, trusts, and neutral rights, the Eden Prairie Presbyterian (Minnesota) issue. We do not know whether the consideration of the two cases together was coincidental or planned. While on the surface, the MN and SC cases appear to be similar, they are really quite different in background. In the Eden matter, a local church left the presbytery and took the property with them. The local and appeals courts agreed with the local party (find the appeals court decision here ). The Minnesota supreme court refused to review the decision. The presbytery appeal to SCOTUS. In reading over the appeals court decision, it appears there were two major points that determined the outcome: the Presbyterian Book of Order was not clear enough about the terms of the trust, and the local church had joined the presbytery under an explicit provision that it could revise its articles of incorporation at will. Therefore, the presbytery's arguments that the church was hierarchical and had set up a legally cognizable trust carried little weight in court. 

In SCSC, a majority of justices had declared that TEC was hierarchical while four of the five justices had agreed that TEC had set up a legally cognizable trust (one of the four, Kittredge, went on to say that the local parishes had the right to revoke their accession to the trust). The court claimed it had followed neutral principles.


Here is what I see as the issues facing the SCOTUS justices:

DSC is asking the court to clarify neutral rights specifically on whether a national church has to adhere strictly to local laws in order to set up a trust. If SCOTUS should rule in that regard, DSC would win the fight.

TEC/TECSC is asking the court to dismiss the appeal on grounds that there is no federal or constitutional issue involved and therefore DSC's petititon is inappropriate.  

Further thoughts.
Everyone knows that the fight in SC is about homosexuality. The Episcopal Church side has granted full equality and rights for non-celibate homosexuals. It sees homosexual activity as morally neutral. The DSC side views homosexual behavior as sinful. It insists sexual relations must remain in the bounds of heterosexual marriage. It has institutionalized discrimination against non-celibate homosexual persons. The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are well aware of this, no doubt.

What impact will this have on the court? There is no way to know. Of course, the court will insist it is all a matter of following the law. 

One should recall that it was this court (except Gorsuch who replaced Scalia) that ruled in favor of homosexual marriage in 2015. That was a 5-4 decision. One can only wonder if the 4 "no" votes will want to revisit the issue in another guise. It only takes 4 to accept an appeal. Of course, that means that in the subsequent decision, the 5 "yes" votes could reaffirm their support for equal rights for homosexuals. So, even though the legal issues at stake are not about homosexuality, the fight between the two sides really is about homosexuality. SCOTUS will be aware of this. I am not sure that 4 "no" votes would want to revisit this issue.

So, where does all of this leave us? No one knows. No one can know. Still, odds are that SCOTUS will deny DSC's petition. In my view, the stronger case is that the issue in SC was settled by state courts entirely under state laws. SCOTUS does not deal in state law unless it conflicts with federal law or impacts on the Constitution, which I do not see here.

One more thought. If SCOTUS should accept the appeal, the Church side should not panic. Accepting an appeal is not the same as agreeing with the appeal. It may well be that the court wants to clarify and strengthen something favorable to the national church. An eventual decision of the U.S. Supreme Court could be good for the national church side, just as it could be good for the independent side. We must not jump to conclusions if SCOTUS says yes on June 7.

We are all exhausted by this unseemly war. Let us pray that closure comes sooner rather than later. Above all, let us strive to be worthy of the name we bear.


7:00 p.m. Addendum.

A prayer from Bishop Mark Lawrence, May 24, 2018:

Almighty God, Judge and Redeemer of the world, send upon all courts of justice, and especially the Supreme Court of the United States and its justices, a spirit of wisdom, understanding, and discernment; grant that they may rightly and impartially interpret and administer the law; through him who shall come to be our Judge, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Yesterday, May 22, gave us the news that the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled the church case for a decision in conference on June 7 with public announcement of the decision likely to come on Monday, June 11. However, that was not the only legal news of the day.

There was also a development in the (state) circuit court.

On May 14, Judge Edgar Dickson, of the circuit court of Dorchester County, set a date for a hearing on two motions: 1-TEC/TECSC's motion to dismiss DSC's Complaint of Nov. 19, 2017. That Complaint had demanded payments under the Betterments Statute.  2-DSC's motion for complex case designation, of Dec. 27, 2017. The date for the hearing on the two motions was set at May 30, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

On yesterday, May 22, DSC lawyers petitioned, and TEC/TECSC lawyers agreed, to postpone the May 30 hearing. The judge agreed with the request. A new date will be chosen by the court at some future time.

Thus, we are not likely to have a decision from the circuit court before we get an answer from the U.S. Supreme Court which should be announced on June 11. 

The circuit court also has the highly important motion of TEC/TECSC of May 8 for repossession of the properties named in the SC supreme court decision of Aug. 2, 2017. There has been no movement on this yet. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Today, the U.S. Supreme Court set June 7 as the date for a decision on the church case. The justices will meet in conference on that date and decide whether to grant cert, that is, whether to accept or deny the appeal. If the justices decide at that time (sometimes they postpone a decision), we can expect the court to announce the decision on the following Monday, June 11, 9:30-10:00 a.m.

Four of the nine justices must agree to grant cert in order for the court to accept the appeal. 

I will return soon with more commentary on the matter before the high court. (I have been on vacation for a week and am just returning.) 

Find the official announcement of the distribution for conference at the SCOTUS website here .

Sunday, May 13, 2018


Both dioceses have now issued sets of Frequently Asked Questions. These are handy summaries of their views of the schism, positions at the present, and aims for the future. They are mainly publicity moves to spread their messages among the faithful at home and the world at large. The independent Diocese of South Carolina's list of thirteen questions and answers was last updated on Feb. 15, 2018. It may be found on the DSC website here . The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (the Church diocese) posted a list of 15 questions and answers on its website on May 2, 2018. Find it here .

These FAQs have taken on new importance in light of the ongoing moves in the litigation between the two dioceses. Last week, TECSC moved decisively toward repossession of the 29 parishes and the Camp that the South Carolina Supreme Court recognized as under trust control of TEC and TECSC in its decision of last August 2. The Church petitioned the circuit court to effectuate the SCSC decision. As I see it, the circuit court has no choice but to carry out the decision of the state high court. However, circuit court Judge Dickson may wait to make any order until the U.S. Supreme Court responds to DSC's request for review of the SCSC decision. That should appear in the next seven weeks. Odds are that SCOTUS will deny DSC's petition. If so, the SCSC decision will stand as the final word and the circuit court will have to order its enactment. Thus, there is a strong probability now that the Episcopal Church will repossess the 29 parishes and the Camp in the near future. This means that the 13,000 communicants in these parishes will soon have big decisions to make. 

The DSC leaders have put out strong signals that they know the game is up, that they have failed in their ill-conceived attempt to leave the Episcopal Church with the property in hand. They tried and failed to defy the laws of the Church. Last November, just two days after the SCSC denied DSC's petition for rehearing, DSC filed a new lawsuit in the circuit court claiming payments from the Church side under the "Betterments Statute." The suit gave de facto recognition that the properties belonged to the Church side. Moreover, in early December, the DSC leaders held a private meeting with parish leaders and issued a plan guiding the parishes on how to move communicants out of the buildings into new meeting sites. Then, in March and April, the Revs. Al Zadig and Kendall Harmon conducted a teaching campaign in St. Michael's. The set of presentations demonized the Episcopal Church and tried to present the faithful with a binary choice of true or false religion. The obvious point was that people should prepare to leave the buildings in order to stay with DSC and right religion. This was recorded and sent to the DSC parishes so that they can present it to their communicants. Now, Bishop Lawrence, Harmon and Zadig are conducting another campaign, under the guise of "theology," in St. Philip's and St. Michael's. The DSC stalled the enactment of the SCSC decision for nine months but time is almost up. We will probably have word from SCOTUS by the end of next month. If SCOTUS denies, DSC will be out of delaying maneuvers. The 29 parishes will be handed over, finally, to control of TEC and TECSC. The 29 will function as Episcopal churches again.

As I see it, the point of the DSC's FAQs is to sway all the communicants possible to leave the buildings and form DSC congregations elsewhere. Since the issue of the property ownership has been all but finally settled, I can see no other point of their FAQs as far as the 29 parishes go. 

The point of the TECSC FAQs is the opposite, to sway as many communicants of the 29 parishes as possible to remain with the buildings as the Episcopal Church returns.

Since the aims of the FAQs are opposite, it is not surprising that they vary widely in attitude, tone, and content. The DSC FAQs are obsessed with denunciation of the Episcopal Church. They name TEC 34 times, all in derogatory terms. Trying to make their case as strongly as possible, the answers are replete with incorrect, partially correct, and misleading statements. The whole document reeks of desperation. 

TECSC's FAQs, on the other hand, are all positive. They barely mention the other side, referring to the "disaffiliated" party only 3 times. It is a guide for the 13,000 in the 29 parishes on what to expect when the time comes for the actual repossession of the buildings. The time will come, I expect within the next six months.

There is another set of "FAQs," my own compilation of major questions and answers about the schism's past, present, and future. I originally posted these as 14 entries on this blog between January 5 and February 1, 2018. In light of the recent moves toward the return of the 29 parishes, it is useful to revisit these. I will re-post them here following the present item. The more information the 13,000 have, the better. I do to remind readers, however, that I speak only for myself.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Part I

(First posted on Jan. 5, 2018)
Today I am beginning a series of blog posts anticipating the inevitable settlement between the two parties of the schism in South Carolina. This is Part I.

The end of the legal war is in sight. The basic decision of the dispute between the two dioceses has been made. On August 2, 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court awarded 29 of the 36 parishes in question plus Camp St. Christopher to the Episcopal Church diocese. The breakaway diocese has given tacit recognition of this in its Complaint filed in the circuit court of Dorchester County on November 19, 2017. The new suit and the appeal to SCOTUS are DSC delaying tactics that will not change the determination that has already been made about the property. The federal case is ongoing. Chances are the Church side will win a big victory there too. Thus, it is only a matter of time before the following parishes return to control of the Episcopal Church bishop:

All Saints, Florence

Christ/St. Paul's, Yonges Island

Church of the Cross, Bluffton

Holy Comforter, Sumter

Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg

Holy Trinity, Charleston

St. Luke's, Hilton Head

St. Matthew's, Ft. Motte

St. Bartholomew's, Hartsville

St. David's, Cheraw

St. James, Charleston (James Island)

St. Paul's, Bennettsville

Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston

Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island

Church of the Epiphany, Eutawville

Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston (West Ashley)

Church of the Cross, Sullivans Island

Church of the Resurrection, Surfside

St. Philip's, Charleston

St. Michael's, Charleston

St. Jude's, Walterboro

St. Helena's, Beaufort

St. Paul's, Summerville

Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach

Trinity Church, Pinopolis

Trinity Church, Edisto Island

Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant

St. John's, Charleston (Johns Island)

Old St. Andrew's, Charleston (West Ashley)

These 29 parishes have 13,000 communicants. These people now have to prepare to make some dramatic choices. They can stay with the buildings and return to the Episcopal Church, or they can leave the buildings.

What I would like to do in the next few blog posts is to help you in the 13,000 consider your choices using the most informed and reasonable methods. I know many of you read this blog; and I take this seriously. Your decisions are certainly your own. I am not trying to tell you what to do. I expect that some of you will return to the Episcopal Church while others leave to form new congregations elsewhere. I am urging you, however, for your own sake, to gather all the information you can about what happened in the schism to make the best decisions you can for your own future. You should make your own choices and not rely simply on what others tell you. 

On gathering information, you should start by reading my book, A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. It is available on Amazon and other sources (Google it). If you do not want to buy a copy, I suggest you go down to your local public library and ask the librarian to order a copy for the library and let you know when it is ready to be checked out. The book is extensive, detailed, balanced, and documented in 2,200 footnotes. It has been out for five months and not one person has publicly disputed a word of it. It will give you a wealth of information about what really happened in the schism, probably all you need to know.

Deciphering the truth about the events leading up to, during, and following the schism is not easy. It takes work. It takes an open and honest mind. All along the way, the leaders of the diocese made certain bold assertions that were effectively conveyed to the faithful by a robust and effective diocesan public relations machine. Only one side was allowed publicity. The diocese now provides a litany of its main claims on its website as "FAQs About the Legal Issues in the Diocese of South Carolina." Find it here . This is an appropriate starting place to get at the truth of what has happened. Here are the main assertions put forth by the DSC leadership:


---The Diocese of South Carolina existed before the Episcopal Church; DSC voluntarily joined TEC and could leave TEC at will; sovereignty rests in DSC, not in TEC.

---TEC abandoned the basic truths of Christianity and the Bible; TEC dropped the doctrine of the uniqueness of Christ and has no single theology; TEC now sees truth as plural.

---TEC wanted to take over DSC to flip it from true religion ("orthodoxy") to secular humanism.

---DSC had every right to regard Episcopal Church laws as it wished; DSC was sovereign and could nullify, disregard, or discard laws of the Church at will. TEC was not hierarchical.


---The issue of homosexuality did not cause the schism. It was all about "theology."

---Homosexuality is sinful, and TEC is heretical for supporting it.

---In 2012, TEC tried to remove Mark Lawrence as bishop of DSC, and this is why DSC was forced to disassociate from TEC.

---The Presiding Bishop mistreated Bishop Lawrence and did so while he was trying to make peace with the Church.

---Bishop Lawrence did not abandon TEC.

---Bishop Lawrence has never renounced his Holy Orders in TEC.

---TEC attacked the diocese as it tried to remove Lawrence.

---The schism was overwhelmingly popular.


---Nothing changed in the schism. DSC went on as before.

---DSC filed the lawasuit to protect the diocese and parishes from an assault of TEC.

---DSC refused TEC's offer of a compromise settlement in June of 2015 because no one in authority in TEC supported it.

---The Church diocese's bishop, Skip Adams, is likely to sell off the parish properties to Muslims.

---The SCSC decision of Aug. 2 would transfer ownership of the 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher to TEC.

---DSC is part of the Anglican Communion; in joining the Anglican Church in North America, DSC joined a province in the Anglican Communion; the majority of Anglicans in the world support ACNA and DSC.

These are the major assertions put forth by the DSC leadership and, no doubt, still believed by the rank-and-file of the diocese.

Are these assertions truthful? How much truth and how much fiction is there in these claims? This is what the good people of DSC should be asking themselves.

Considering the history of the schism and the DSC talking points about it, we may proceed to consider the main points of contention between the two sides. To help all of us, including the 13,000, get at the truth, I am proposing to address the following questions in forthcoming posts:













An honest, full and reasonable consideration of these questions will help you in the DSC faithful decide your best course of action as the parishes return to Episcopal Church control.

We will begin considering these questions in the near future. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Part II

(First posted on Jan. 7, 2018).
In my blog post of January 5, I offered a list of questions to be considered as a way of helping people reach a truthful understanding of what happened in the schism. I will begin addressing these today by looking at the first: 


For more detail on this, I am listing the page numbers from my book, A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. I urge all of you to consult the book both for a more extensive explanation and for the documentary sources.

For a long time before, during and after the schism, a common fear spread through the diocese that I called the victimization theme. This was the charge, or at least strong suspicion, that Bishop Lawrence was deliberately mistreated by the Episcopal Church leadership. The assertion is still being made in DSC that TEC was trying to flip the diocese from "orthodox" to liberal. Numerous witnesses testified on the stand in the circuit court trial that Bishop Lawrence had been badly treated by the Church leadership. In my four years of research on the schism, I found no evidence to support this commonly held victimization allegation.

Having studied the documents, the following is my understanding of the answer to the question at hand.

We need to consider several factors.

In the first place, on January 26, 2008, Mark Lawrence made a written and oral oath to obey the discipline of the Episcopal Church. This was the condition for his consecration as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Once having taken the oath, he was honor bound to follow it.

The discipline that Lawrence promised to obey is found in the laws of the Church called "canons." Title IV of the canons dealt with rules for bishops and other clergy (p. 306).

A reform of Title IV led to the creation of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in 2011. It was composed of 18 persons from across the Episcopal Church. It was required to investigate charges presented to it by church people against bishops.

(There may have been a widely held suspicion in DSC that the Title IV reform was deliberately made to get rid of Lawrence. I found no evidence to support this belief.)

In May of 2011, a group of communicants of DSC sent to the DBB, a presentment against Bishop Lawrence (p. 312-321). Under the canons, the DBB was required to consider the charges and evidence. There were 12 charges and 63 pages of material.

It is important to note that the charges against Lawrence came from ordinary members of the diocese, not from the DBB, not from the Episcopal Church leadership, and not from the Presiding Bishop.

The chair of DBB, bishop Dorsey Henderson, notified Lawrence of the investigation. The news produced a raging political war in the church. The ultra conservatives came out all guns blazing against the DBB and particularly against the presiding bishop. The DBB thus had to conduct its work under fierce onslaught from the ultra conservatives' public relations machine.

It was generally assumed that a move against Lawrence would lead to the fifth diocesan vote to withdraw from TEC (four dioceses had voted to leave TEC in 2007-08). In fact, at the time in 2011 and in secret, the DSC standing committee met with Lawrence and the lawyers and adopted a resolution to do just that.

The main charges against Lawrence in 2011 were his roles in the diocesan conventions that declared DSC's virtual independence from TEC in 2009 and 2010. In several conventions, DSC had voted to remove itself from all but the constitution of TEC. 

After much consideration, the DBB decided to exercise caution and declare that the charges were not strong enough to warrant a certification that Lawrence had abandoned the Episcopal Church. Many people in the national church went out of their way to try to please the unhappy bishop and diocese. However, canons did not preclude new investigations in the future. Lawrence could be charged again and everyone knew it.

Sure enough, the year 2012 brought a second investigation of Lawrence (p. 354-361). This was prompted by his issuance of quit claim deeds to the parishes in November of 2011, just days before the DBB ended its first investigation. The quit claim deeds could not be used in the first investigation because they came too late.

As the first, the second investigation originated with ordinary communicants of DSC, a group of 24 from across the diocese. Once they presented their charges and evidence, the DBB was required to consider the matter of whether Bishop Lawrence should be charged with abandonment of the Episcopal Church.

The second investigation was much more serious than the first because it involved Lawrence's flagrant disregard of the Dennis Canon. TEC had adopted this in 1979. DSC had officially adopted it from 1987 to 2010 (the convention vote to revoke it in 2010 is of dubious legality). The Dennis Canon said that all local property, even with deed, was under trust control of both the Episcopal Church and the diocese. Under the Dennis Canon, a bishop had no right to surrender the church trusteeship and only dubious right to give up the diocesan part of the trusteeship. Lawrence had acted in disregard of a cardinal law of the church. The church could hardly ignore this.

The diocesan leadership claimed that they could not follow the Dennis Canon because SC law did not recognize its validity, as per the state supreme court's All Saints decision of September 2009. However, documents showed they were already disregarding the Dennis Canon before that (as in the St. Andrew's, of Mt. Pleasant, property transfer of May 2009).

Although the second DBB investigation was private, everyone knew Lawrence could be investigated again and perhaps widely assumed he would be, in view of the explosive issuance of the quit claim deeds. Although there was no evidence that they were aware of the second DBB investigation in 2012, the DSC leaders moved apace to prepare for separation from TEC. They staged a dramatic break in the general convention of July 2012. On August 21, the leadership met in an ultra-secret session to plan action. I think it is safe to assume, although under the secrecy there was no documentary evidence, that this was the time the two dozen or so diocesan leaders actually planned out the schism. On Sept. 21, the standing committee asked Bishop Lawrence for his guidance on how to separate the diocese from TEC. On Oct. 2, Lawrence delivered a secret 16-page letter to the standing committee giving them his opinion that they had the power to disaffiliate the diocese from TEC. That day, the committee secretly passed a resolution removing the diocese from TEC if anyone in the church took "any action of any kind" against the bishop. This was to remain secret until Oct. 17. It was a hidden trap unknown outside of the diocesan leadership. It would provide the post-event rationale for the schism. (p. 347-353)

Also meeting in private, the DBB voted, on Sept. 21, that Lawrence had abandoned TEC. The official certification was sent to the Presiding Bishop who received it on October 10.

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori certainly wanted to avoid a fifth diocesan vote of secession. She tried to get a quiet, private, and quick resolution of the crisis at hand. She met with Lawrence and Bishop Waldo, of Upper SC, on Oct. 3. Lawrence did not tell the other two of the standing committee resolution of the day before. Jefferts Schori could not tell the other two about the DBB finding since she had not received it (she got it on Oct. 10).

After the Oct. 3 meeting, Lawrence refused to see the presiding bishop again. She asked to meet on Oct. 11. He refused (a funeral was the excuse). She asked him to meet her in Atlanta on Oct. 13. He refused. She asked to see him on Oct. 22. He knew the Oct. 2 resolution would kick in if she acted against him; and he kept it from her for the time being. (p. 360-362)

On receipt of the certification from the DBB on Oct. 10, Jefferts Schori had to inform Lawrence soon about this. Since he refused to see her in person, she called him on the telephone at noon on Monday, Oct. 15. She informed Lawrence that under the canons, he was now restricted from exercising ministry until the matter was resolved. She asked Lawrence to keep this private (so that they could discuss it in person at their scheduled meeting on Oct. 22). She wanted to resolve the issue quietly. Restriction meant just that. It was not a removal from office. In the view of the Church, Lawrence remained the bishop of the diocese, albeit it under restriction. (p. 362-365) 

Immediately afterwards on the 15th, Lawrence called his lawyers and the standing committee. They all agreed that TEC had taken "any action of any kind" against Lawrence and that the secret Oct. 2 resolution had gone into effect and that DSC had disaffiliated from TEC as of noon Oct. 15. To them, it did not matter that Lawrence was only restricted and not removed or deposed as the bishop. Lawrence ignored the restriction and went ahead with his ministerial duties. If the diocese had left the Episcopal Church, he obviously had too as the bishop of the diocese.

Thus, by his actions, Lawrence removed himself from the Episcopal Church on Oct. 15 as he ignored his consecration oath by refusing the discipline of the Episcopal Church.

On Oct. 17, Lawrence informed the presiding bishop, and the world, that the diocese had separated from the Episcopal Church and he would continue on as the bishop. This meant he too had left the Church. So much for restriction. So much for consecration vows.

Under the canons, Lawrence had two ways he could have removed the restriction and restored himself as the Episcopal Church bishop:

 1-Within 60 days he could submit a letter to the presiding bishop explaining himself. She would then have the option of removing the restriction and restoring him to full authority. 

2-He could await the next meeting of the House of Bishops (March 2013) and plead his case there. The bishops would vote by majority whether to exonerate him or depose him.

(It should be recalled that the DBB was akin to a grand jury. It could investigate and recommend charges, but could not prosecute anyone. If it certified abandonment, the charge would be handed over to the presiding bishop and the House of Bishops for action. The DBB itself could not take any action to punish anyone. Thus, DBB had no power to remove any bishop from office.)

Lawrence rejected both of these as he proclaimed the diocese, with himself as the bishop, had left the Church and was no longer subject to TEC rules. There was plenty of evidence that the Church leaders tried to appease Lawrence and keep the diocese in TEC. It was seven weeks after the self-proclaimed disaffiliation that the presiding bishop finally accepted that Lawrence had left the Episcopal Church. This came only after his public declaration of secession in the special convention of November 17. On Dec. 5, Jefferts Schori granted to Lawrence a formal Release and Removal. He offhandedly dismissed it as "superfluous."

Short answer to the question above:

Mark Lawrence removed himself as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church reluctantly accepted this seven weeks later.

It is not true to say that the Episcopal Church tried to remove Bishop Lawrence from the Diocese of South Carolina. 

In the next post, we will take up the second question, Did the Episcopal Church attack the Diocese of South Carolina?

Part III

(First posted on Jan. 9, 2018).
This is the third in a series of blog posts, "Toward a Resolution" of the schism in South Carolina. Part I appeared on January 5, Part II on January 7. In this series of posts, we are examining controversial claims that have been made about the causes, events, and aftermath of the schism as a way of finding the truth about what happened in the schism. This part looks at the second question:


At the time of the schism, in October of 2012, and for several months thereafter, the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina promoted a grave charge, that the Episcopal Church attacked the DSC. The implication of this sweeping assertion was that the motivation for this attack was an attempt of the church to expunge true religion ("orthodoxy") from the diocese. This was one of the most serious allegations the DSC leaders made against the Episcopal Church.

As I have detailed in my book, Bishop Lawrence spent a great deal of time and effort bonding with the diocese after his consecration in 2008. This worked remarkably well. Soon, he was routinely using the word "we" to describe his relationship with the diocese. This bonding reached a crescendo in 2012 when the DSC leadership seemingly did all they could to unite the diocese as they consciously moved toward the schism. They knew they had the support of the majority of communicants but they did not know, could not have known, just how large and strong the majority would be. Although the DSC leadership planned and carried out the schism alone, they knew a diocesan convention would have to revise the diocesan constitution and canons to remove all references to TEC. Thus, claiming and holding diocesan support and unity was of utmost importance. Then, after the convention made the necessary canonical changes, there was the lawsuit to consider. The DSC leaders brought in 35 of the parishes as parties in their lawsuit against TEC in January of 2013. At the time of the schism and immediately thereafter, the DSC leadership made an all-out effort to unite the diocese behind the schism and did so by spreading the declaration that TEC had attacked the diocese.

[Evidence showed that the tactic paid off. Of the 71 local churches, 49 voted to approve the schism. 35 of the parishes joined in the lawsuit. Today, more than half of the people of the old diocese (app. 56%) remain in DSC.]

The DSC leaders suddenly announced the schism to the world on Oct. 17, 2012. As they did, they launched a no-holds-barred public relations campaign to unite the diocese by depicting it as the passively innocent victim of aggressively malevolent forces from off. Their first press release screamed the headline, "Episcopal Church Takes Action Against the Bishop and Diocese of SC." Find it here . "We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God's providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop...These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina." 

Two days later, on Oct. 19, DSC blasted out another major press release: "Episcopal Church Abandons Bishop and Diocese." Find it here . "An Assault on the Diocese. These actions, however, are not just an attack upon Bishop Lawrence. They also represent an assault on the Diocese and its congregations. Two of the three actions that the Episcopal Church claims prove his abandonment are in fact actions of the Diocesan Convention. These were actions of the entire Diocese, all its parishes and missions, expressing together in duly elected convention what they needed to remain in the communion of this denomination. In effect, the Episcopal Church has said it does not care what the parishioners of this Diocese, who are its sole supporters, have to say about their own future. The final action for which the Episcopal Church claims Bishop Lawrence was found guilty was for confirming, by the release of the quit claim deeds, that out congregations own their own property."

[The DBB investigated Lawrence for what he had done. The diocese was not the issue before the DBB.]

A few days later, on Oct. 25, DSC released another major public relations initiative called "Frequently Asked Questions about the Assault on the Diocese of South Carolina." Find it here . This has morphed into "FAQs About the Legal Issues in the Diocese of South Carolina." Find it here . The latter is the current posting summarizing the talking points being advanced by DSC. Having unified most of the old diocese and bound the parishes into the lawsuits, DSC leaders are currently downplaying the notion of an assault on the diocese. The latest FAQs have only a passing reference to this: "If the Bishop can be charged with abandoning the communion of the Church, for these actions, so can the diocese."

Back to the original question of whether TEC attacked DSC.

In the first place, there is no way in the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church that the church could "attack" a diocese. By acceding to the TEC constitution and canons, a diocese accepts the authority of the church. The sovereignty of the whole is implicit in the entirety of the church structure. That is why we have constitutions. TEC has a unitary institutional system where sovereignty rests in the entire body, not in individual parts. 

As for dioceses, the church laws primarily deal with how they are to be admitted and released from the Church. 

The church actions around the schism dealt only with Bishop Lawrence personally, not with the diocese. Bishops and dioceses are not the same thing. Bishops come and go but dioceses remain. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops was just that, for bishops and only bishops. It had nothing to do with dioceses. The finding of the DBB was for Bishop Lawrence alone. The subsequent restriction was for Bishop Lawrence alone. His two possible choices for removal of restriction dealt with him alone. None of this had anything to do with the entity of the diocese of South Carolina.

The DSC leaders' unrestrained claim that the Episcopal Church assaulted the Diocese of South Carolina was completely without substance, evidence, and merit. It was entirely fictional.

The motivation for making the claim was to consolidate a committed majority of clergy and laity behind the DSC leadership (create an attacking enemy to make the people "circle the wagons").

Besides, it just did not make common sense that the Church would want to "attack" a diocese. Only recently four dioceses had voted to leave the church. 

Short answer:

The Episcopal Church did not attack the Diocese of South Carolina. It did try to discipline the bishop of the diocese for flagrant violation of the laws of the church. 

Part IV

(First posted on Jan. 11, 2018).
This is the fourth part of my series "Toward a Resolution" of the schism. In this collection of blog posts, we are looking at some of the important questions about the schism as we seek a truthful understanding of the church split in South Carolina. Today, we are considering the question:


This question is not as easy to answer as the first two. It raises a contentious issue that has been roundly debated by informed people. That said, let us try to arrive at a reasonable answer.

Other ways of asking this same question are:

---Is the Episcopal Church hierarchical? That is, does the church have tiers of superiority (top-down), or, is the church congregational (bottom-up)?

---Does sovereignty rest in the church as a whole, or in the individual parts. That is, does the General Convention rule over the dioceses, or, are the dioceses over the General Convention?

Before, during, and after the schism, the leaders of DSC claimed the diocese was sovereign, that is, having its own independent authority. They said the diocese existed before the Episcopal Church and never surrendered its sovereignty to the Church. Therefore, it could nullify church laws and resolutions at will and leave the Church when it pleased. They said DSC was created in 1785, TEC in 1789. 

[HISTORICAL NOTE. It is not true that DSC existed before TEC. In fact, TEC held its first general convention in 1784 and invited the churches of SC to organize a state convention. The next year, SC agreed and did so. In 1789, delegates from SC and eight other states adopted the church's Constitution and Canons for their states simply by signing them. Their signatures on the documents automatically joined SC to the larger church. The C and C did not have to be ratified by the states individually after the fact as the U.S. Constitution which did not go into effect until nine states approved it, and that took a year. It is not true to say that DSC never surrendered sovereignty to TEC. By signing the C and C in 1789, the delegates from SC recognized the right of the national Church to make laws equally applicable to all states (dioceses).](p. 5-9) 

DSC did withdraw from TEC in the Civil War. This, however, was made absolutely necessary by the conditions of war. It was not a desired or pre-planned occurrence. In no way was it meant to be a criticism of the national Church. As soon as the war was over, SC, and all the other Confederate dioceses, went right back into TEC as if nothing had happened. (p. 16)

DSC began voting to nullify TEC decisions in the wake of the Robinson affair of 2003. In 2009-2010, DSC declared its independence, discarded all attachment to TEC except accession to TEC's constitution, and resolved to withdraw from all church governing bodies it wished at will. To the DSC leaders, the schism of 2012 was simply another expression of this inherent power.

On the other hand, the TEC authorities maintained that dioceses could not enter, divide, or leave the church without canonical permission. Moreover, all clergy were required to give an oath of allegiance to the Episcopal Church and dioceses were required to adhere to the resolutions and canons passed by the General Convention.

A major cause of the contention on this question arose from two gaps in TEC's Constitutions and Canons. In the first, they had no provision regarding diocesan secession from the church. There was no explicit clause forbidding a diocese from leaving the church. Similarly, the U.S. Constitution did not have a provision barring a state from leaving the union (600,000 deaths settled that one). In the second place, the TEC C and C did not have a supremacy clause stating explicitly that acts of General Convention would take precedence over local decisions. The U.S. Constitution, on the other hand, did have a supremacy clause giving laws of the federal government superiority over the states. Partisans for local rights, as in South Carolina, often cited these two gaps in the TEC C and C in support of their claims to local sovereignty.

The nature of the Episcopal Church government has been argued energetically for many years now. In ways, the TEC Constitution and Canons were similar to the U. S. Consitution. In other ways, they were not. They were definitely not a carbon copy of the federal constitution even though some of the same men worked on both. Thus, we cannot say that the C and C were parallel to the federal constitution and must be interpreted the same. If they were structurally the same, it would certainly make things easier for all of us today.

The best description of the Episcopal Church government is in James Dator's book, Many Parts, One Body. (p. 12) This is the best scholarly examination and analysis of the church's institutional system. Dator held that the church was set up neither as a federation (as the federal government of 1789) nor as a confederation (as the Articles of Confederation government). It was, he said, a "unitary" system in which the parts automatically bonded as a union. Therefore, every power did not have to be spelled out. It was all implied in the nature of the union. Dioceses were expected to follow the will of the General Convention while they kept a great deal of local control. Dioceses existed only in context of the whole Church. Clergy were all oath bound to adhere to the union. Bishops could be empowered only by consent of consecrated bishops of the wider church.

Thus, the structure of the Episcopal Church was peculiar to the denomination. It was far from the authoritarian top-down model of, say, the Roman Catholic Church, and equally as far from the opposite localism of, say, the Baptist churches. No doubt, the Episcopal Church's unique structure has given the judges in the courts great challenges in arriving at reasonable decisions. 

There have been around one hundred court cases in the U.S. of parishes breaking away from dioceses and claiming the local property in violation of the Dennis Canon. Only one of these has been finally settled on the side of the local congregation, All Saints, Pawleys Island, SC; by state supreme court decision of Sept. 2009. All the rest have been settled in favor of the dioceses or are on appeal. The Episcopal Church has been overwhelmingly but not universally successful in civic courts. It was the principle of hierarchy that made this so.

[Judge Diane Goodstein's Feb. 3, 2015 decision in the (SC state) circuit court declared TEC to be congregational. It was ridiculed to death and discarded on Sept. 23, 2015, by the justices of the South Carolina supreme court. Not one justice defended it.]

All of the five cases of dioceses voting to leave TEC (2007-2012) have gone to court. Judges' decisions have been wide-ranging. Three cases have been finally settled. Two are still in court. Of the three settled, two went entirely to the Church side (Pittsburgh and San Joaquin); and the breakaways lost the property and the rights of the old diocese. One went to the breakaway side (Quincy) as the Illinois state courts held to a strict interpretation. The judges there said the Episcopal Church C and C did not prevent a diocese from leaving and did not explicitly give the General Convention power over the dioceses. Ft. Worth is pending in the state appeals court. South Carolina is still hung up in state court, although the state supreme court ruled (twice) largely in favor of the Episcopal Church. There is also a federal case pending in SC. It is likely the courts in SC will finally come down on the Church side. The preponderance of judicial opinion in the United States favors the Episcopal Church on the basis of hierarchy.

So, in view of all this wide difference of opinion, how can we possibly answer the question at hand? I am neither a constitutional expert nor a canonical law scholar. I can only go by the information I have and common sense. All I can tell you is what I think is reasonable to conclude. Here is what I think:

If one joins a group, he or she accepts the rules of the group. That is the condition of joining. Larger and more important groups have elaborate structures such as constitutions. These automatically bind the parts together under the agreed upon terms. In order to become part of the larger union, one has to surrender a certain amount of freedom and independence. A larger union is a commune in which the individual parts give up some share, at least small, in return for a greater good. The union is greater than the individual parts. 

The Episcopal Church's 1789 Constitution and Canons set up one large body to make the decisions for the whole but did not negate local freedom beyond that. The framers of the C and C tried to strike a balance between local rights and overall rule. They left a great deal implied and not specified in the C and C. Still, the nature of the C and C was one church and one decision-making body (of two houses) for the whole church. This set up a clear hierarchy in which the General Convention, a union composed of the individual parts, by consensus made the rules, regulations, and laws to be equally applied throughout the church. There was no provision, not even an implied one, for a local diocese to reject the decisions of the General Convention. The delegates from South Carolina understood this clearly as they signed the documents of union for the state in 1789.

No one summarized the relationship between the national Church and the dioceses better than did Bishop Gray Temple in his address to the SC diocesan convention in 1967:

The General Convention is to the Dioceses what Congress is to the State legislature. Each Diocese governs its own affairs through its annual convention, but only under over-all policy and law set by the General Convention.

Throughout the years, the great consensus of opinion among scholars and judges has been that the Episcopal Church is an hierarchical institution (e.g., the majority of the SC supreme court). The national church (embodied in the consensus will of the General Convention) is over the diocese. The diocese is over the parish. The entire system is overlain by the Church's agreed-upon rules given in the Constitution and Canons. Dioceses are not free to discard the rules any more than clergy are free to ignore their vows. 

Freedom of religion means that people are free to follow whatever religion they wish, as long as they are not violating the civil laws. The cardinal American principle of the separation of church and state means that religious institutions are free to govern themselves as they see fit. Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, civic courts are forbidden from interfering in the internal matters of a religious institution. 

Under the Episcopal Church structure, a diocese is a part of the larger system. It surrendered a share of independence when it entered the church. As akin to a contract, it is not free to revoke that on its own. People are free to leave the church as they wish but dioceses are not.

Shorter answer:

There is an overwhelming consensus of opinion among scholars and judges that the Episcopal Church is an hierarchical institution. Hierarchy means layers of increasing superiority. The top of this stack would be the General Convention. Individual parts of the church are subject to the decisions of the General Convention. The Church's Constitutions and Canons, adopted by the General Convention, provide for ways dioceses may enter, divide, and leave the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of South Carolina did not abide by these rules in 2012.

The Diocese of South Carolina did not have the right to violate the laws of the Episcopal Church. It did not have the right to withdraw from the Church on its own terms.

The clergy and laity of the old diocese of South Carolina were certainly free to leave the Episcopal Church at will. They were not free, however, to take the local institution of the Church diocese with them.

The South Carolina Supreme Court validated this on Aug. 2, 2017.

Shortest answer:

No, the Diocese of South Carolina did not have the right to withdraw from the Episcopal Church.

Part V

(First posted on Jan. 13, 2018).
On January 5, I started a series of blog posts called "Toward a Resolution" in which I posed a number of questions as a way of helping us find the truth about what happened in the schism. Today, I am taking up the fourth question at hand:


The DSC leaders claimed the break was a popular event supported by 80% of the members of the old diocese. On the other side, Church lawyers argued in court that the schism resulted from a conspiracy among a small group of diocesan leaders. Thus, the question: popular uprising or conspiracy of a cabal?

Let us begin with the claim of the 80%. There were 71 parishes and missions in the pre-schism diocese (p. 385). In the special convention of Nov. 17, 2012, 55 churches were represented. 16 did not attend. Of the 55 present, 49 participated in the voting and 6 abstained.Thus, 49 local churches voted to approve of the schism, 22 did not. This was a clear-cut majority but not the near unanimity the leaders claimed. To be sure, many of the parishes held after-the-schism votes and most supported the breakaway.

What about the diocesan membership statistics (p. 447-448)? What can they tell us about the popularity of the schism? Plenty. Of the 71 churches in the pre-schism diocese, 50 went along with the schism. The year before the schism, 2011, these 50 listed 21,993 communicants (active members). The year after the schism, 2013, these 50 claimed 17,999 communicants. Thus the 50 local churches that went along with the schism lost app. 4,000 members immediately. This was a drop of 18%. In 2014, the diocese listed 16,361 communicants. In 2015, the last year of statistics, the diocese claimed 15,556 active members. DSC has lost members steadily every year since the schism. In sum, the 50 churches in the schismatic diocese went from 21,993 communicants before the schism to 15,556 three years after the schism. That was a 29% drop in membership in just four years (the diocese has also lost app. a third of its budget). Overall, the diocese now stands at 56% of the size it had when Bishop Lawrence took office in 2008. Thus, in the ten years of Lawrence's episcopacy, DSC has lost nearly half its membership and a third of its budget. These statistics alone disprove any theory of the overwhelming popularity of the schism. They also lend discredit to any notion that the schism was an uprising of the masses. The trend of the membership is clearly away from the schism.

At the time of the schism, 21 of the 71 churches of the old diocese remained in the Episcopal Church. They counted 5,781 communicants. In 2014, the Church diocese listed 6,387 communicants, a rise of 10%. The next year they counted 6,706, a rise of 16% overall, 5% in one year. The following year, 2016, the Church diocese listed 7,053 communicants, an overall gain of 22% since the schism. While the schismatic diocese has lost members every year since the schism, the Church diocese has gained members every year. This is another point to discredit any claim of popular support for the schism. In fact, of all the 71 churches in the pre-schism diocese, the largest membership is now in Grace Church, the Episcopal Church cathedral in downtown Charleston. It is a refugee haven bulging at the seams. A few blocks away, the DSC cathedral, St. Luke and St. Paul, stands mostly empty.

Back to our question of popular uprising or conspiracy.

There is not room here to go into the detail I have put into my book on the history of the schism. I will give a brief chronological survey of outstanding events with page numbers for further reading. This is the best way in this limited space to reach an answer to the question at hand.

1. In the diocesan convention of March, 2001, a group of conservative clergy presented a resolution to have the diocese threaten to remove itself from TEC if the Church took any action favoring homosexuals (p. 83). Bishop Salmon and the Rev. Dow Sanderson spoke out against it. The convention voted to table (kill) the resolution. This was the first important sign of a rising movement for schism, and one being promoted by certain clergy. They were not the majority, not yet.

2. In the aftermath of the 2003 General Convention's approval of a non-celibate homosexual as a bishop, the diocese solidified an authoritarian power structure in which the Standing Committee became integral to the diocese's rising anti-TEC stance (p. 105). In time, the anti party came to monopolize the diocesan power structure. Everyone else was excluded.

3. In 2004, Bishop Salmon and the Standing Committee set up a process of selecting a new bishop that guaranteed the choice of an anti-TEC candidate (p. 160). No nomination would be allowed outside of the search and standing committees. No nomination would be allowed from the floor. The search committee operated in secret. Its records are unknown today, if they still exist. The choice of the finalist candidates was made by a small group of conservatives, mostly clergy. No one else was allowed to be part of the process. Evidence was presented in the circuit court that the search committee deliberately selected only candidates who pledged to take the diocese out of TEC, property in hand. (In fact, all three of the finalist candidates left the Episcopal Church.)

4. After Lawrence's consecration, the diocesan leaders gave the bishop increasingly authoritarian power. The most important of these was absolute right to interpret the canons (p. 285). They rewarded Lawrence with numerous privileges, as virtually rent-free use of the million-dollar bishop's residence, lifetime employment at full salary, and a quarter-million-dollar annual compensation package.

5. In the run-up to the schism, there was no opportunity for diocesan "discernment" about whether to secede from TEC. Indeed, that subject was never openly discussed in the diocese before the schism.

This was not from want of opportunity. In fact, Bishop Lawrence called six diocesan conventions in the three years before the schism: March 12-13, 2009; Oct. 24, 2009; March 26, 2010; Oct. 15, 2010; Feb. 18-19, 2011; March 10, 2012. Whether or not to leave TEC was never on the agenda. The diocesan conventions were choreographed by the power structure.

There was one item on the agenda that did go to the heart of the matter that had inflamed the conservatives in the diocese. The direct cause of the schism was the issue of homosexuality. The Mar. 26, 2010, diocesan convention produced a proposed resolution called "The Rubric of Love," (p. 286). This was a meant for the diocese to show compassion for homosexuals. Near pandemonium broke out in the convention as confused delegates frantically tossed around this hot potato. Rather than chaos, the controlling powers quickly "tabled" the controversial proposed resolution. The next year the Rubric of Love was quietly brought again to be killed once and for all. Thus, the one and only time the diocese had an opportunity to discuss openly and honestly the critical issue of the day was summarily discarded by the diocesan leadership. So much for discernment.

6. After Bishop Lawrence's consecration, Jan. 2008, there arose clear signs the diocesan leadership was moving toward schism. In the March 2009 diocesan convention Craige Borrett and Kendall Harmon introduced a resolution to suspend (boycott) the General Convention of that year (p. 253). The convention voted it down. This was the last proposed resolution to be defeated in a DSC convention. It showed that the majority of the diocese was not quite ready and the anti-TEC party would have more work to do.

Part of this work happened soon thereafter in Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's visit in February of 2008. Here the diocesan leadership ambushed the unsuspecting PB, probably for the benefit of the clergy who were not quite on board yet for schism. It was "us" against "them." It worked.

7. The critical point in the build-up before the schism came in the diocesan conventions of 2009 and 2010 when the leadership introduced a list of resolutions in effect declaring independence from TEC. These sailed through easily with very little discussion or notice. By then, the anti-TEC elements had control of the diocese.

The question was asked at the time why the diocese did not go on to complete break (it kept accession to the Constitution of TEC). No convincing answer was offered. To this day we do not have an answer although one may suspect it had to do with the Episcopal Church retirement system that required 30 years' service for full retirement benefits. Lawrence was ordained deacon in August of 1980 and priest in July of 1981.

8. The year 2012 brought unmistakable evidence of a movement away from the Episcopal Church among the diocesan leadership. In the first half of the year, the bishop and the Standing Committee planned for the upcoming 2012 General Convention. It was commonly assumed the convention would approve of a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions. The diocesan actions in the convention were planned out in advance.

After the convention, the leadership acted decisively to consolidate on a heightened diocesan hostility to TEC. Lawrence sent out a letter to the diocese whipping up opposition to the convention's decisions.

On August 21 the leadership held an ultra-secret meeting and adopted a plan of action (p. 347). To this day the agreement is unknown outside of the leadership, but it is reasonable to assume this was the plan for schism that they promptly carried out.

On September 21, the Standing Committee secretly asked Bishop Lawrence for a definitive ruling on the diocesan right of secession from TEC (p. 350).

On Oct. 2, in a private meeting, Lawrence presented a letter to the Standing Committee advising them they could remove the diocese from TEC at will. The committee then adopted a resolution to "disaffiliate" the diocese from TEC if anyone at TEC took "any action of any kind" against Lawrence. They also resolved to call a special convention of the diocese 30 days after the break. No thought was given to a public discussion, let alone discernment, on whether to leave TEC or not. On the bishop's pronouncement, the Committee believed it had the right to separate the diocese from the Church. They would then present the diocese with the fact of the secession leaving all of the clergy and laity to choose whether to go along with the schism or stay with the Episcopal Church. The special convention would be called only to revise the canons of the diocese to remove references to the Church.

On Oct. 3, Lawrence met with Bishop Waldo and PB Jefferts Schori in NYC. He did not mention the Standing Committee's resolution of the day before.

Lawrence refused to meet with the PB again. She asked for meetings on Oct. 11 and Oct. 13. He knew he only had to wait for her to take any action for the Oct. 2 resolution to be automatically enacted. The PB did not know that.

On Oct. 15, the PB called Lawrence and placed a restriction on him temporarily suspending him from ministry in the Church. She asked for confidentiality pending their scheduled Oct. 22 meeting.

Lawrence ignored the restriction and the PB's request of confidentiality. He immediately called the chancellor and Standing Committee. They agreed the Oct. 2 resolution had gone into effect as of noon Oct. 15. They declared among themselves the schism to be an accomplished fact.

The next day, Oct. 16, Lawrence told the deans. The leadership assembled a vast public relations campaign to begin the next day.

On Oct. 17, Lawrence told a shocked PB of the schism (he later refused to see her again). The diocesan leadership told the clergy, laity and the rest of the world about the schism. They delivered it to the diocese as a fait accompli. Therefore, people could take it or leave it.

On Nov. 17, the special convention met and quickly approved what the leadership had done. The meeting was short as there was virtually no discussion.

It is also important to note that no other diocese in the entire southeastern United States supported or even defended South Carolina. No other diocese in the area even considered breaking away from the Episcopal Church. SC's closest ally in the region was the Diocese of Central Florida, but Bishop Howe made it plain he was not leaving TEC. DSC was the outlier. Why was this so? It certainly was not because the communicants in SC were different than the others. It was because the leadership was different.

Short answer:

There is not the slightest doubt that the schism in SC was the work of a relatively small group of diocesan leaders. The ordinary clergy and laity of the diocese had virtually no input into the decision to "disaffiliate." Conditioned by years of relentless hostility to the Episcopal Church, the majority of the communicants went along with their leaders' decision although the depth of popular committment was questionable.

This was a revolution from the top down.