Saturday, June 30, 2018


Many of my readers send me emails, and I appreciate every one of them (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Today I received one that states very well the thoughts and feelings of a lot of people caught in the terrible schism. It is so outstanding that I wanted to share it with you which is what I am doing now with the permission of the author. I could not have stated this as well, so here it is:

Dear Ron: 

I am sure you saw this letter to the editor in yesterday's Charleston paper, outlining the putatively insurmountable theological differences between Episcopalians and Lawrencian "Anglicans." Sigh. It appears that nothing coming from that quarter is genuinely thoughtful---this letter, like its predecessors, consists largely of either direct quotations or wretched paraphrase of the DSC website's FAQ's.

One of the things that is most striking, and most dismaying, is how much they continue to make of Katharine Jefferts Schori's 2006 "putting God in an awfully small box" statement. Someone really needs to call them on this, on the following grounds:

1) The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church does not have anything even remotely akin to papal infallibility (neither does the pope, of course, except in very specifically and narrowly defined circumstances, but that's another matter). Episcopalians are not, nor have they ever been, obliged to agree with or "believe" everything that comes out of the PB's mouth. When KJS made this statement, 12 years ago, some Episcopalians enthusiastically agreed, others were appalled; others thought it was an interesting and valid perspective but not one entirely in line with their own beliefs. All three of those responses, and no doubt, many others, would still be found among Episcopalians today. So the idea that a single statement, made by a single presiding Bishop, 12 years ago, defines the Church more than what we all say and do at every celebration of the Eucharist, is simply ludicrous.

2) Katharine Jefferts Schori is no longer the Presiding Bishop. What real sense does it make to insist on defining the church by way of a single statement by someone who is no longer in office while maintaining what appears to be an absolute silence vis-à-vis any and all statements made by Michael Curry, the current Presiding Bishop? What does he have to say about Jesus? And why do they never quote any of those statements?

3) If they truly believe that Episcopalians do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, how do they explain the fact that the Creed is recited at every Eucharist? And the Gospel read? And what about the language in the prayer of consecration? And, for that matter, the language throughout the BCP, which is after all the book that both they and we have been using all along? Perhaps they should be encouraged to attend a service at one of "our" churches, to see what the liturgical practices are and what language is being used and then decide if they honestly believe that we no longer believe in Jesus Christ. Among many others, a particularly compelling example might be Solemn High Mass at the Church of the Holy Communion, where it is vividly, abundantly and explicitly made clear that the celebration is not only only of the divinity of Jesus Christ, but in fact of his Real Presence in the sacrament. Do they actually believe that the people who show up faithfully for that celebration every Sunday morning do not fully ascribe to the divinity of Jesus Christ? If not, on what is their skepticism based---a statement by Katharine Jefferts Schori 12 years ago? Really?

I suppose it it neither healthy nor productive to engage in an ongoing tit-for-tat exchange with them in the local paper, but it does seem to me that someone needs to point out some of the above, in an attempt to set the record a bit straighter. If you know anyone who might be so inclined, please let him/her know that he/she is more than welcome to borrow any of the ideas or language above.

P.S. There is so much bad faith of course in all of this. They don't actually believe that we don't actually believe in Jesus Christ. They are using that falsehood as a smokescreen, as a means of avoiding the embarrassing admission that their primary "theological" motivation is homophobia. And misogyny as well---the treatment KJS receives at their hands is directly comparable to that endured by everyone from Marie Antoinette to Eleanor Roosevelt to Hillary Clinton.

I say Bravo! Bravo! to this writer. I would add only one thing---Marie Antoinette to Eleanor Roosevelt to Hillary Clinton to Kaye Hearn.

If you too would like to share your thoughts and feelings about the schism in South Carolina, please send them to me by email. I will get your permission before quoting and allow you to remain anonymous if you wish.

I continue to be amazed by the number of people who read this blog. About 1,000 people access it every day. In the month of June, this blog received 40,000 hits. I encourage everyone to add your voices in this difficult time. It will be good for all of us. Send me your thoughts and, if appropriate, I will post them, always with your agreement.

Unfortunately, I cannot allow open comments following my blog posts, as some blogs do, because I am not able to monitor the site 24/7.

Send remarks to:

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the Letters to This Editor on the blog are the letter author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the blog owner. This applies to all of the Letters to This Editor to appear on this blog.

Friday, June 29, 2018


The reconciliation of the fractured grand old diocese of South Carolina is underway. The Church diocese, presently called the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, has legally regained 29 of the 36 parishes that had purported to leave the Episcopal Church in 2012. This was the point of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. It is just a matter of time before the circuit court enforces the supreme court decision. 

TECSC has announced the first public steps in the restoration process for those 29 parishes, three open encounters in the Low Country. They are to be informal conversations among the people in the 29 parishes and the clergy and laity of the local Episcopal churches. They are open events and everyone is invited to attend. Find the official announcement of the three encounters here . 

There are 13,000 communicants in the 29 parishes in question. For years before the schism, in the schism itself, and ever since the 2012 break, these people have been given a one-sided picture of the schism in a massive public relations campaign. This huge misinformation tsunami worked well. Unfortunately, most of it was untrue, partially true, or misconstrued. Example: the FAQs presently appearing on the DSC website. The people of DSC were fed a highly distorted line of the events happening around them. Now is a chance for them to see the picture from the "other side" so to speak. As Bishop Adams said in the announcement "'We want to listen well and respond to their questions in order to offer a clear picture of how people can remain in their churches as part of The Episcopal Church.'"

The DSC cleverly created in the minds of their people a binary choice: us or them, the right side or the wrong. They are now telling their people you can stay in the buildings and return to false religion or you can leave the buildings and keep true religion. They are saying the Episcopal Church no longer believes in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and no longer follows the Bible. These are outrageous untruths but they are what DSC would have people believe. The three open conversations coming up will be a good opportunity for people to know the truth. You can stay in you buildings and keep your religion. It is not a Manichean choice of God or Satan.

The three encounters are:

1-. CONWAY. Monday, July 16, 6:00-7:30 p.m. At the Conway Senior Center, 1519 Mill Pond Road.

2-CHARLESTON. Tuesday, July 17, 6:00-7:30 p.m. At the Citadel Alumni Affairs Banquet Hall, 69 Hagood Avenue.

3-BLUFFTON. Wednesday, July 18, 6:00-7:30 p.m. At the Rotary Community Center, Oscar Frazier Park, 7 Recreation Court.

These are open and informal events. Everyone is invited to attend. There will be no speeches, lectures or the like. There will be only leisurely individual conversations scattered around individual tables. There will be plenty of opportunity for people to ask questions and share experiences in a neutral environment. No one will be pressured or asked to commit to anything. Everyone will be respected equally. 

You 13,000 communicants:
Here is your chance to discover the truth of what has happened to your parishes, or at the very least to get a picture different than the one you have been given. The fact that DSC does not want you to know is that you can stay in your buildings and keep your religion.

One more point. The direct cause of the schism was the issue of homosexuality. The Episcopal Church adopted prayer book blessings of same-sex couples and then same-sex marriage. However, the Church also provided the local option. No lay or clergy person is required to support these. Indeed, no diocese is required to have these. All the church requires is that everyone respect the rights of others to have these. You can stay in the Episcopal Church and reject the reforms for homosexuals. Plenty of Episcopalians have and they have every right to do that. Do not believe the line that if you stay in the Episcopal Church you have to accept gay marriage. This is not true.

People of the 29 parishes, go to your local encounters and find out how you can stay in your beloved church homes and keep you faith in God. Do not fall for the myth DSC is pushing on you now that the parishes will not return to the Episcopal Church. The 29 parishes will return to the Episcopal Church sooner rather than later. It is a fact of the law.

(Of course, if you really want to know the schism in exhaustive [some might say exhausting] detail, read my book:  A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. At 546 pages and 300,000 words it will be all you need to know and then some. Get it on Amazon for as little as $10. For a long time it has been running in the top 50 books on the Episcopal Church in Kindle; at the moment #15.)

Thursday, June 28, 2018


On June 23, 2018, the Charleston Post and Courier published a letter to the editor from the wardens of St. Philip's (Penn Hagood), St. Michael's (Heidi Ravenel), and St. Luke and St. Paul (Todd Lant). Unfortunately, the wardens are wrong on many levels and just as disappointing. They have failed in their duty to represent the best interest of the people of their parishes.

Much of what the wardens said in their letter is flatly untrue. Much of it is simply wishful thinking. All of it is misinformed.

The point of the letter was to promote in the public mind the diocese's talking point that the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of Aug. 2, 2017, was no decision, has no validity, and cannot be enforced. Therefore, the DSC will go on as before with the 29 parishes in question. The Episcopal Church will not regain the buildings. This is all wrong.

The three wardens wrote:

Among the five separate opinions, promulgated after two years of wrangling, there is no majority legal opinion.

WRONG. On the last two pages of the decision, former chief justice Toal laid out precisely and concisely the four majority opinions of the court.

1-the 8 parishes that are not under TEC trust control.
2-the 28 parishes that are under TEC trust control.
3-Camp St. Christopher is under control of TEC/TECSC.
4-the control of the entity of the pre-schism diocese will be settled by the federal court.

These were the majority decisions of the court. They could not have been any clearer. The wardens would be wise to reread the SCSC decision, or last least the last two pages in which Toal very neatly explained the majority decisions.

The wardens' assertion that "there is no majority legal opinion" is ridiculous on its face.

The conflicts of interpretation among the five opinions are significant.

How the justices arrived at their conclusions does not matter at this point. Their reasoning is not the issue. The issue is what opinion they produced. As I have shown in my last few blog pieces, there was 80% agreement among the justices that the Dennis Canon had gone into effect in SC. Moreover, there was unanimous opinion that 28 parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon and 8 had not. The judges' reasonings behind their conclusions are irrelevant at this point. It is the majority opinion that matters. It is the law.

One key example illustrates this well. In the deciding opinion on the parish property issue, Chief Justice Don Beatty said only parishes that acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon created a trust. None of our parishes signed such a document.

WRONG. As I said, all five justices, including Toal who really agreed with the DSC lawyers on property and corporate rights, said that 28 of the 36 parishes in question had in fact acceded to the Dennis Canon. They all referred to documents they had in hand. There was absolutely no doubt in the minds of all five justices that the 28 parishes had adhered to the Dennis Canon. Surely the three wardens would not want to insult the judges of the state's highest court by calling them liars.

What the ruling says is that no congregation should lose their property.

WRONG. That is most definitely not what the ruling says. As we have seen, the court very clearly said that 28 parishes are under control of the Episcopal Church. What I suspect is a word game with "should lose." This is a conditional term suggesting opinion. Our opinions about the decision are irrelevant now. The SCSC decision is the law of the land.

This is one of the many difficulties that must still be settled by a state court.

WRONG. The only thing left to be settled by a state court is precisely how the SCSC decision is to be carried out. The decision itself is final. It is law. It cannot be ignored, altered, or challenged. Everyone knows how our court system works. The DSC side, however, can throw up temporary roadblocks; and that is exactly what they are trying to do here.

Altogether, the three wardens are only parroting what they have been told by the diocesan authorities. I suspect they have not read the SCSC decision. They are simply repeating the FAQs issued by the diocesan office. This is disappointing but not surprising given the history of this schism.

Wardens are the lay authorities of the parish. It is their responsibility to take care of the parish, in the interest of the parishioners. It is not their job to obey blindly the will of the clergy. They represent the parish, not the clergy of the diocese.

These three wardens should recognize by this point how the parishes have been misused by the small group of conspirators who made the schism in SC. They forced on the parishes a commitment to the schism, bound them in the lawsuits against TEC, left them with double lawyer bills, and misled them to believe they would achieve great things in litigation. The result has been the exact opposite. The DSC leaders even turned down a generous offer from TEC to give the parishes independence and the property. After all this, one would think the wardens would get the message of how the DSC leadership had misled and misused the parishes. 

Memo to the three wardens:

All three of your parishes are now, as they have been, under the trust control of the Episcopal Church. This is the legal reality. They are in fact parishes of the Episcopal Church in the eyes of the law. The high court of SC has confirmed this in no uncertain terms. It is just a matter of time before the Episcopal Church bishop regains control of these parishes. If you really want to serve your people, you should recognize the reality of this, tell your people the truth of what has happened in the courts, and prepare them for the inevitable. If you and they wish to leave the buildings of the Episcopal Church, that is your right. But, it is not your right to say who controls the buildings, and you are are not serving your people well by misinforming them now. I urge you to read the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. You owe it to yourselves. Mostly, you owe it to your people. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


The question of the day:  Did the 28 parishes accede to the Dennis Canon?

The Diocese of South Carolina is now claiming that no parish acceded to the Dennis Canon and, therefore, no parish will lose its property. This has become the major talking point making the rounds in the Lawrence diocese, such as the three wardens letter to the editor last Sunday. DSC is promoting the idea among its faithful that the DSC will keep control of the property and the Episcopal Church will not be returning.

In last week's "Frequently Asked Questions," ( find it here ) the DSC spokesman wrote this:

As just one example, the deciding vote (Justice Beatty) said only parishes that "acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon" created a trust. No parish acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon. On that basis, what that ruling actually says is that no congregation should lose their property.

As we saw in yesterday's blog piece, the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 was explicit on which of the 36 parishes in the suit were to be returned to Episcopal Church control and which were not. The basis of that decision was whether or not the individual parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon.

The Episcopal Church adopted the Dennis Canon in 1979. The Diocese of South Carolina explicitly adhered to the Canon in 1987. In 2010, a diocesan convention voted to revoke DSC's accession to all of the canons of the Episcopal Church. The legality of this is at least debatable. Thus, even DSC leaders agree the DSC adhered to the Dennis Canon from 1987 to 2010.

As we have seen, all five justices agreed on which ones of the 36 parishes were on the list to be returned to TEC and which were not to be returned. Former chief justice Jean Toal spelled this out in footnote 49, on page 52. She did this even though she disagreed that the Dennis Canon was effective in the state. Thus, there was unanimous agreement among the five justices of which parishes were still under TEC control and which were not.

Looking at the justices individually, we can see this unanimity.

PLEICONES. Justice Costa Pleicones was of the opinion that the Dennis Canon automatically went into effect in the state as part of the structure of an hierarchical institution. He would have put all 36 parishes under the Canon, and, therefore, still under TEC control:

I would therefore reverse the circuit court's order to the extent it declined to accept TEC's recognition of the Associated Dioceses [TECSC] as the true Lower Diocese of South Carolina (p. 20).

HEARN. Justice Kaye Hearne agreed with Pleicones and added more explanation.

Thus, I join the lead opinion [Pleicones] in departing from 'All Saints' to the extent it held that the Dennis Canon and subsequent acquiescence by individual parishes were insufficient to establish a trust in favor of the National Church (p. 28).

Hearn pointed out that there was documentation at hand for the 28 (29) parishes:

I fear the dissent mischaracterizes the National Church's argument regarding the twenty-nine parishes with documentation reaffirming their allegiance to the National Church (p. 30).

That the National Church could locate twenty-nine reaffirmations made after the enactment of the Dennis Canon simply serves to point out the magnitude of the trial court's inexplicable error in finding no express trust was ever created by any of the parishes (p. 31).

BEATTY. Chief Justice Donald Beatty said he found that 28 parishes had expressly acceded to the Dennis Canon:

I would find those parishes that did not expressly accede to the Dennis Canon should retain ownership of the disputed real and personal property (p. 36).

Yet, TEC argues that the parishes' accession to the Dennis Canon created the trust. Assuming that each parish acceded in writing, I would agree. In my view, the Dennis Canon had no effect until, acceded to in writing by the individual parishes.

Thus, in contrast to the majority, I would find the parishes that did not expressly accede to the Dennis Canon cannot be divested of their property. Because there was no writing purporting to create a trust and they took no other legal action to transfer ownership of their property, I believe these parishes merely promised allegiance to the hierarchical national church. Without more, this promise cannot deprive them of their ownership rights in their property. However, I agree with the majority as to the disposition of the remaining [28] parishes because their express accession to the Dennis Canon was sufficient to create an irrevocable trust (pp. 37-38).

Toal confirmed Beatty's position in her summary of the decision on the last page:

Chief Justice Beatty would do so because he believes all but eight of the plaintiffs acceded to the Dennis Canon in a manner recognizable under South Carolina's trust law (p. 77).

KITTREDGE. Justice John Kittredge argued that the Dennis Canon did become effective in South Carolina and that 28 of the parishes acceded to it. However, he parted from the majority by declaring that the parishes had the right, and legally exercised that right, to revoke their accessions to the Dennis Canon. The important point here is that Kittredge agreed with Pleicones, Hearn, and Beatty that 28 parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon:

I join Justice Toal's opinion, save for Part II. C. I's conclusion that no trusts were created as to the twenty-eight churches that acceded to the 1979 Dennis Canon (f.n. 31, p. 34).

I conclude that a trust was created in favor of the national church over the property of the twenty-eight local churches that acceded in writing to the 1979 Dennis Canon (p. 42).

I turn now to the eight churches that never acceded to the 1979 Dennis Canon (p. 44).

TOAL. Former chief justice Jean Toal was the lone dissenting vote against the effectiveness of the Dennis Canon in South Carolina. Toal had written the 2009 All Saints decision that followed a very strict interpretation of the state laws and found that the local parish held ownership of the property, under state property laws, as opposed to control of the diocese, and had legally separated from the diocese under state corporation laws. In the Aug. 2 decision, Toal continued on this train. She wrote a long and impassioned defense of the All Saints decision, which had been heavily criticized in Pleincones' lead opinion. She insisted still that state property and corporate laws defended the local parties' rights to independence and property. So, it was somewhat ironic that it was she alone who enumerated the eight parishes that the court found to be outside of TEC trust control (p. 52). So, even Toal recognized that the court had found explicitly the parishes which had acceded to the Canon and those which had not. This made the agreement on the list unanimous.

So, back to the question at hand, Did the 28 parishes accede to the Dennis Canon?
Evidently, the Church lawyers provided the supreme court justices with ample documentation showing the accession to the Dennis Canon among the 28 parishes and admitted to the court that the remaining 8 parishes had not acceded to the Canon. Obviously, the weight of this documentation was strong enough to convince the justices. So, the effective answer is, Yes.

At the same time, apparently, the DSC lawyers did not address this issue. We know they did not raise it in the oral arguments before the court on Sept. 23, 2015. Nor did they mention the accession issue in their Sept. 1, 2017 petition to the court for a rehearing. At that time they placed all their chips on one single bet---Justice Hearn. They risked all that they could overturn the decision by raising a major campaign to remove Hearn's opinion, force her off the case, and have her replaced by a more friendly new justice. It was a breath-taking colossal gamble. It failed spectacularly. It had the exact opposite effect because it made the court rally to Hearn's defense, and quite possibly destroyed DSC's chance of a rehearing. Along the long road of litigation the DSC lawyers made many mistakes, but this was arguably the most costly.

Even in DSC's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of Feb. 9, 2018, the accession issue was missing. There the DSC lawyers wagered all on enforcement of "neutral principles." This ploy too was a major failure as SCOTUS did not even consider it as an important case.

In conclusion, I would raise two points about the issue of the day.

1-The TEC lawyers presented highly convincing evidence to the state supreme court proving the 28 parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon. Four of the five justices accepted this very clearly as shown in the wording of their opinions. Even the fifth, Toal, accepted, indeed publicized, the list of the 28 and 8. There was absolutely no disagreement on which parishes were in which group.

2-This is a moot question because the court has ruled very clearly on the disposition of the 36 parishes in the suit. The SCSC decision of Aug. 2 2017 is the law of the land. Disagreements and opinions about it now are irrelevant. It does not matter what criticisms DSC may raise about the decision. 

As I have said repeatedly on this blog, I do not think this controversy over the SCSC decision is really about the decision. It is about preparing 13,000 communicants in 29 parishes to vacate the buildings and continue on as DSC congregations meeting elsewhere. Thus the campaign of disinformation against the SCSC decision is part of a long-range strategy for the future. As part of this, DSC will throw up every obstacle possible to delay the inevitable. I feel certain we are in for much more along the lines that we are seeing now. That is the nature of the problem we are now dealing with and have been dealing with for longer than any of us wants to remember.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


The major dispute between the two warring dioceses right now is the meaning of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. Therefore, it is useful at this point to revisit that decision and examine what it does and does not say. 

First a brief summary of events about the decision. On Aug. 2, 2017, the SCSC issued the ruling. On Sept. 1, the Diocese of South Carolina appealed to SCSC for a rehearing. The SCSC denied a rehearing on Nov. 17. On Feb. 9, 2018, the DSC petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, that is, for SCOTUS to review the SCSC decision. On June 7, 2018, SCOTUS denied DSC's petition. This left the SCSC decision as the law to be enforced. SCSC remitted the decision to the court of origin, the circuit court of Dorchester County, for enactment.

For a long time now, DSC has carried out a robust public relations campaign to invalidate and de-legitimize the SCSC decision. This has included educational courses, letters to the editor, blogs, media, press releases, sermons, talks, and the like. The central message of this massive campaign is that the SCSC decision was hopelessly divided, confused and ultimately "unenforceable." The charge of DSC is that since the SCSC really made no decision, the status quo ante-decision remains in effect indefinitely. Thus, DSC gets to keep all that it had. The Episcopal Church gets nothing.

It is essential then that we revisit the SCSC decision. Is DSC correct that it is too divided to be coherent and is therefore unenforceable?

The decision is freely available on the Internet. Find it here . 

First, it lists the 36 parishes involved as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Episcopal Church.

Then, it says the court reversed in part and affirmed in part (the circuit court decision of Feb. 3, 2015 that was on appeal). So, the question is, What did the SCSC reverse and what did it affirm?

Owing to the size, complexity, and importance of this case, the five justices felt it important to write individual opinions. The lead (majority) opinion was by Justice Costa Pleicones, pp. 3-20. Justice Kaye Hearn's decision is pp. 21-35; Chief Justice Donald Beatty, pp. 36-38; Justice John Kittredge, pp. 39-47; and former chief justice Jean Toal, pp. 48-77. Unfortunately, the decision does not present page numbers.

Presenting five opinions does not necessarily mean lack of a majority opinion. In fact, there are several decisions, all made by majority votes. They are well summarized by Toal on the last two pages. We need not go any farther in looking for what the decision says. The whole 77-page paper is reduced to two last pages. Toal wrote:

 As I stated at the outset, this is unfortunately a difficult case leading us to five different, strongly-held opinions. Because we all write separately, my summary of my understanding of the Court's holdings is as follows. A majority of the Court---consisting of Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Kittredge, and me---agree that "Pearson" and "All Saints" (and their progeny) remain good law in this state, and that in secular church disputes, our state courts should apply neutral principles of law to resolve the case.

This means the court followed neutral principles in making its decision.

Thus, the result reached on title is:  1)with regard to the eight church organizations which did not accede to the Dennis Canon, Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Kittredge, and I would hold that title remains in the eight plaintiff church organizations;

This means the court ruled that the eight parishes listed are outside of the trust control of the Episcopal Church.

2) with regard to the twenty-eight church organizations which acceded to the Dennis Canon, a majority consisting of Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Hearn, and Acting Justice Pleicones would hold that a trust in favor of the national church is imposed on the property and therefore, title is in the national church;

This means the court ruled that the 28 parishes listed remain under trust control of the Episcopal Church.

and 3)with regard to Camp St. Christopher, Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Hearn, and Acting Justice Pleicones would hold title is in the trustee corporation for the benefit of the associated diocese [TECSC], whereas Justice Kittredge and I would hold that the trustee corporation holds title for the benefit of the disassociated diocese.

This means the court ruled that Camp St. Christopher is held by the Episcopal Church diocese.

As to the second issue on appeal, involving the plaintiffs' claims for service mark infringement, Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Kittredge, and I would find the marks are validly registered under state law, but leave the ultimate resolution of the parties' conflicting claims to the pending federal case.

This means the court affirmed the circuit court decision leaving the legal entity of the pre-schism diocese with the disassociated diocese (DSC). However, the court recognized that this issue would ultimately be decided by the federal court (the U.S. District Court in Charleston). 

Thus, to summarize, the SCSC overturned the lower court's decision on the properties of the 28 parishes and the Camp and affirmed the lower court's decision on the ownership of the old diocese. This is not a conflicted, indiscernible, or unenforceable decision, quite the contrary.

The SC supreme court issued four very clear, simple decisions:

1-the 8 parishes remain outside Episcopal Church control;

2-the 28 parishes remain under Episcopal Church control;

3-Camp St. Christopher is under control of the Episcopal Church diocese;

4-the ownership of the pre-schism diocese remains with DSC pending the outcome of the federal court case.

The SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017, could not be any plainer. There is no confusion, contradiction, or conflict. The majority decisions are obvious, unavoidable and certainly enforceable. 

The SCSC has remitted its decision to the circuit court of Dorchester County to be enforced. The Church diocese has asked the judge there, Edgar Dickson, to appoint a Special Master to oversee the enforcement of property transfers. We are awaiting the judge's response.

Before we leave this topic, it is important to go back over the five justices' views of the Dennis Canon and the disposal of the 36 plaintiff parishes. How much agreement was there among the justices on these points?

On the Dennis Canon, four of the five justices agreed that the Dennis Canon went into effect in South Carolina. Pleicones, Hearn, Kittredge, and Beatty all agreed on that. Only Toal refused. Thus, on the crucial issue of the Dennis Canon, there was 80% agreement. Kittredge, however, refused to join the majority because he reasoned that the parishes that acceded to the Canon had the right to revoke their accession, and they did in the schism. Pleicones, Hearn, and Beatty all agreed that the parishes did not have the right to revoke their accession. This resulted in the majority decision in favor of TEC. There was nothing unclear about that.

On which parishes were in the 28 under TEC control and which were not under TEC control, there was unanimous agreement. In fact, Toal, the lone hold-out against TEC, listed the eight parishes to remain outside TEC control on pp. 52-53:

The defendants [TEC] do not reference any documentation of accession (and I have found none in the record) for the following plaintiff parishes: Christ the King, Waccamaw; St. Matthews Church, Darlington; St. Andrews Church--Mt. Pleasant Land Trust; St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Conway, the Episcopal Church of the Parish of Prince George Winyah, Georgetown; the Parish of St. Andrew, Mt. Pleasant; St. John's Episcopal Church of Florence; and St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Summerton.

Thus, the SCSC clearly listed the churches outside TEC control as Christ the King, Pawleys Island; St. Matthew's, Darlington; St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant; St. Paul's of Conway; Prince George Winyah, Georgetown; St. John's of Florence; and St. Matthias, Summerton.

Finally, what are we to conclude about DSC's present campaign to discredit the SCSC decision? What about DSC's charges that the ruling is conflicted, fractured, confused, contradictory, and unenforceable? A simple review of the decision itself belies all of this propaganda campaign against the decision. As we have just seen, the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 is anything but what DSC is saying. It is as plain and clear as imaginable and eminently eligible for enforcement which is just a matter of time.

Monday, June 25, 2018


The Diocese of South Carolina's reaction to the supreme court decisions is nothing more than a lot of smoke and mirrors. The diocesan leaders are trying to create the illusion that the Episcopal Church has not regained the 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher, or if they have regained them, DSC can defer any transfer indefinitely. The bottom line is the same: the parishes and Camp are "safe" for a very long time, perhaps forever. However, the DSC is also putting out another, contradictory, message: people in the 29 parishes should be preparing to vacate the buildings. This intentional confusion is encapsulated in the DSC's latest version of "Frequently Asked Questions" posted on their website. Find it here . 

Let us look at the FAQs and see what they tell us and what they do not tell us about the state of the DSC today. 

The first question is "What does the US Supreme Court denial mean?"
Answer: "Denial of our petitions is not a judgement on the merits of either case or their outcomes."

FACT:   Yes and no. SCOTUS denied DSC's petition without comment. In that sense it was not a judgment. However, by denying it, the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017, was left as the law of the land. That is a form of judgment. The SCSC decision is final. It cannot be appealed, ignored, or altered (except for possible clerical errors which the SCSC must correct). The SCSC decision is now Res judicata.

Next, "Is the litigation over?"
Answer, No.

FACT: This is true, it is not over because there are two avenues of litigation active, one in circuit court where DSC is suing TEC for "betterments," and one in federal court where TEC/TECSC bishops are suing the DSC bishop for rights to the entity of the old diocese. As for the issue of the properties, it is over.

However, the FAQs interpretation of this is false.
"As the Episcopal Church stated in their own brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, the five South Carolina State Supreme Court opinions are 'fractured,' to the degree of being virtually unenforceable as written."
This statement is flatly wrong. Find the Episcopal Church brief to SCOTUS, May 7, 2018, here . On p. 8, the Church lawyers called the SCSC decision "fractured," but then went on to describe how the majority ruled on each issue. TEC/TECSC lawyers have never said the SCSC ruling was "unenforceable" and never would say that. The decision was "fractured" in the sense it dealt with different issues, not that it was indecisive.

"Executing them [SCSC opinions], as TEC has now asked the Dorchester Court to do, will require interpreting what they mean both individually and collectively."

FACT:  The SCSC "remitted" its decision to the circuit court of Dorchester County for enactment, not for interpretation. The majority decision was clearly stated by all five justices of SCSC: 29 parishes and the Camp remain under trust control of the Episcopal Church. This does not need to be "interpreted." It is clear.

"It will also require the answer to a number of very complicated questions created by those conflicting opinions and the legal rationale (or lack thereof) for each opinion."

FACT: This is a nonsense statement. The majority of the SCSC ruled clearly. There was no "conflict." The properties must be returned to control of the Episcopal Church.

"As one example, the deciding vote (Justice Beatty) said only parishes that 'acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon' created a trust. No parish acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon."

FACT: Find the SCSC decision of August 2, 2017 here . Four of the five justices found that the 29 parishes had acceded to the Dennis Canon. All five of the justices agreed on which ones of the parishes (29) were on the list for TEC and which (7) were outside of the trust. This was a unanimous decision. There was absolutely no confusion about the central point of the ruling. Toal herself listed the parishes in footnote 49 even though she refused to join the opinion of the majority. Therefore, the justices were very clear that 29 parishes had in fact acceded to the Dennis Canon while seven had not.
Accession to the Dennis Canon was the crux of the matter before the court. The decision of the court was overwhelming and clear. 

If DSC had objected to the court's finding on this key issue, it could have raised it in its petition for a rehearing (Sept. 1, 2017). The petition that it submitted said nothing about this. Instead, DSC's entire appeal dealt with Justice Kaye Hearn. DSC tried to remove her part of the decision and to remove her from participating in the case. This ploy turned into a disaster for DSC as it had the opposite effect of forcing the court into defensive posture to protect its fellow maligned colleague. The court rejected a rehearing.

At this point, any charge that DSC might make about the decision is just opinion and irrelevant to the status of the SCSC ruling or its enforcement. It does not have the right to alter the opinion. The circuit judge does not have the right to alter the opinion. His responsibility is to enforce the decision.

This strange new criticism of Chief Justice Donald Beatty in the FAQs is the most puzzling part of DSCs present strategy. The all-out campaign against Hearn backfired fatally. Why would the DSC lawyers think a new attack on another justice, who just happens to be the present chief justice, Beatty would turn out differently? The wording of the FAQ about Beatty is very close to calling him a liar. I cannot see how DSC thinks this will advance their cause. Perhaps someone else can explain this. Then again, perhaps there is no explanation and it is all just madly flailing about.

"Why Continue litigation? The current ruling is unjust."

FACT: This is a matter of opinion which, at this point does not matter and is irrelevant to the issue at hand. The SCSC opinion stands as the law no matter what anyone may think about it.

"Gospel Proclamation is central."
"It is a certainty that we will not return to the denomination that rejected our adherence to the faith once received even if we are forced from our spiritual homes and required to rebuild."

FACT: Aha. Here we are at the point of the FAQs buried on the second page: prepare to vacate.

That brings us to the logical explanation of DSC's smoke and mirrors about litigation. I suspect the DSC leaders know the reality of the SCSC decision and that, at best, all they can do is delay enactment. The delay serves two purposes:
1-give time for parish leaders to find meeting places beyond,
2-build up demonization of the Episcopal Church so that, when the time comes, parishioners will blame TEC for the "unjust" loss of the buildings and join in the exodus. If my suspicion is true, this is a cynical and cruel tactic in a strategy that has already gone off the rails.

Removing the smoke and mirrors, it is clear that the property issue has been settled.

Sunday, June 24, 2018


It is Sunday, June 24. Some of you readers may be wondering if I have disappeared since I have not made a posting in a week. Some of my critics wish I would "shut the ---- up" as one recently suggested. I can assure friend and foe alike I am not about to shut up or close down this blog. Over 30,000 people have clicked onto this space in the last two weeks, so I must be doing something right. I have been away on vacation but am back now and ready to go.  

While I was away two astonishing developments occurred in the history of the schism which demand attention.

 One is a new set of "Frequently Asked Questions" issued by the Lawrence diocese and posted on their website. It is an all-out attempt to falsify and de-legitimize the South Carolina Supreme Court decision. This is part of a stepped-up no-holds-barred campaign to demonize the Episcopal Church in the minds of the 13,000 communicants in the 29 parishes that have been legally returned to control of the Episcopal Church. 

The second development comes from the GAFCON meeting last week. The group issued a statement of extortion against the Anglican Communion, particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

I will return soon with commentary on the two new remarkable issues at hand.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Bishop Lawrence issued a letter to the Diocese of South Carolina on June 14. It was just posted online yesterday, June 17, with an unexplained three day delay. Find it here .

(An aside on titles.
Mark J. Lawrence calls himself, and his followers call him, "bishop." Whether he officially holds Holy Orders as a bishop is at least doubtful. He left the Episcopal Church on Oct. 15, 2012, by discarding his ordination vow to obey the discipline of the Episcopal Church. He publicly announced his departure from TEC at the special convention of Nov. 17, 2012. Lawrence continued, and still continues, to claim that that he did not renounce the office of bishop. However, one cannot leave the Episcopal Church and take the authority conferred by the Church with him or herself. That would be like a cardinal of the RC church resigning from the church and continue going about claiming to be a cardinal. Nevertheless, as a courtesy, I will continue to refer to him as Bishop Lawrence since this is what he and his followers claim.

"Diocese of South Carolina." Recently the DSC moved to a new website and apparently removed every reference to being the Episcopal Diocese... or the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of... . I cannot find anywhere on the website a use of these words. It may be there and just hiding. So, the entity has taken to calling itself simply the Diocese of South Carolina. Perhaps this has to do with the federal lawsuit where the Episcopal Church bishop is suing Lawrence for calling himself the Episcopal bishop. If so, it is irrelevant since the suit goes back to the schism when the secessionists insisted they were the Episcopal diocese. They claimed they left the Episcopal Church and took the Episcopal church with them, an absurd claim.)

Now, back to the letter.

It continues the same talking points DSC set up on Monday right after the SCOTUS denial of cert.

Let's look at some of Lawrence's phrases:

---"The U.S. Supreme Court's denial is not an affirmation of the South Carolina Supreme Court's August 2 opinion..."

Wait a minute. SCOTUS's denial of cert meant that the SCSC decision is final and cannot be appealed or changed. If that is not at least tacit "affirmation," what would be?

---"It leaves us, however, back in the Dorchester County Court with a conflicted and fractured ruling."

In fact, the SCSC ruled 3-2 that 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher remain under the trust control of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church diocese. This is not "conflicted" or "fractured" except in the minds of people who do not like the decision. Yes, there were separate opinions of the five justices, but there was no question about the majority decision. Moreover, on the question of the effectiveness of the Dennis Canon in South Carolina, four of the five justices agreed that it went into effect. Only Jean Toal disagreed with everyone else.

Moreover, the SCSC remitted the decision to the Dorchester County circuit court for enforcement. TEC has gone to court to ask the judge for orders carrying out the SCSC decision including a Special Master to oversee the transfer of the properties. We are now awaiting a response from the judge.
DSC has a separate suit in the circuit court against TEC demanding money payments under the "Betterments Statute" but this has absolutely nothing to do with who controls the properties. Th e property issue has been resolved in the SCSC decision.

---"Quite simply, regardless of what you may have read or heard elsewhere, this case is not over."

He did not specify "case." Which case? The property issue of the 29 parishes and Camp is definitely over. The SCSC ruled they belong to the Episcopal Church. Perhaps he is referring to the two other cases that are active, the one in the circuit court about "Betterments" and the one in federal court where TEC is suing for possession of the entity of the pre-schism diocese. Those two cases are not over. But, neither of the cases has anything to do with the parish properties. The property issue is over. It is cruel of DSC leaders to lead people into believing DSC will keep the 29 local churches and TEC will not regain them. 

Otherwise, Lawrence's letter had a different tone than all of ones issued before Aug. 2, 2017. Those were much more confident, often referring to God's will. Interesting to note that Lawrence never mentions God's will in the June 14 letter. To my knowledge, DSC has not referred to God's will, at least in terms of litigation, since the SCSC decision.

From what I have heard about what happened in DSC churches yesterday, it seems the DSC clergy commonly believe the talking point that they will not lose the churches or if they do it will be so far off it won't matter. This is what they are spreading among their congregations. Of course, people may believe what they like. One can believe the moon is made of cheese, and a lot of people may agree with you. This does not matter. The truth matters. As the ancient Greeks taught us (e.g. Oedipus Rex), it is better to know the truth even if it hurts because truth leads to higher wisdom.

To be sure, Lawrence did not tell his people explicitly they would keep the buildings, but I think one could easily believe that from what he did say. This is the myth running about in DSC these days. It is regrettable.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


There is a common belief circulating in the Diocese of South Carolina. It is that the 29 parishes in question are not going back to the Episcopal Church or if they do it will be so many years off, so no one has to worry about it. The DSC leaders, some clergy, and allies spread the word all week that the supreme court decision means nothing. No doubt, many if not most of the 13,000 communicants in the 29 parishes believe this myth. This is a very serious issue and must not be left unaddressed.

Here are the talking points being promoted within DSC:

---the South Carolina Supreme Court decision did not make a decision on the property. It was "fractured."

---the SCSC decision cannot be enforced because it is too unclear. It is "unenforceable."

---the other litigation will keep a resolution of the property issue off for a very long time.

---DSC can and will go back to the circuit court and block any court enforcement of the SCSC decision.

All of this means the 29 parishes are "safe" from the Episcopal Church, at least for the foreseeable future.

In the first place, by this point it should be clear that the DSC leaders have little to no credibility. For many years before the schism and for all the while since, they have been proven wrong time and again. Why should anyone believe them now? After spending millions of dollars of the people's money, they have failed to deliver their promises to their long suffering faithful. Here are some of the incredible points:

---the Episcopal Church no longer believes in Jesus Christ or the Bible. This, apparently, is widely believed in the DSC. 
Fact:  The religion of the Episcopal Church is the same as it has been. What has changed is social policy.

---TEC tried to kick out Bishop Lawrence and flip the diocese from "orthodox" to liberal. 
Fact:   Read my history of the schism.

---the DSC was an independent unit that did not have to obey the law of the Episcopal Church. 
Fact:   Proven wrong in the courts which ruled TEC to be hierarchical and its laws to be superior.

---the Dennis Canon was not applicable in South Carolina. 
Fact:   The SCSC ruled 4-1 that the Dennis Canon went into effect in SC.

---DSC would prevail in court under state corporation and property laws.
Fact:   DSC lost in the SCSC 3-2. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to touch it.

---TEC did not mean what it said in June of 2015 when it offered to give independence and property to the 29 parishes.
Fact:   It did indeed mean it. If DSC had accepted this, the 29 would be on their own today.

---DSC is in the Anglican Communion.
Fact:   The DSC and its parent, the Anglican Church in North America, are not in the Anglican Communion.

By this point, the DSC faithful should wonder whether their leadership should be believed. So many things the leaders told their followers were either not true or were seriously misconstrued. Yet, here we are and they are telling their people the SCSC decision does not say what it says.

I will try to clear up the present mis-beliefs briefly. Here are the facts:

---the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017 was a 3-2 decision recognizing the Episcopal Church control over 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher.

---the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case. This left the SCSC decision as the law of the land. It cannot be appealed, ignored, or altered. It is final.

---The SCSC decision is clear and final. The circuit court now has the responsibility of enforcing the decision. The court does not have the power to ignore or change the decision. DSC cannot block the circuit court from enforcing the SCSC decision.

---the other parts of litigation going on are irrelevant to the property issue. There are two avenues active. 1-in the circuit court, DSC has a suit demanding payments from TEC under the "Betterments Statute." Actually, under this, DSC recognizes that the property belongs to TEC. I expect this to be dismissed. 2-in the federal court, TEC is suing for legal possession of the entity of the pre-schism diocese (titles, rights, assets). Odds are strong TEC will prevail. Thus, no other piece of litigation going on has anything to do with the properties of the 29 parishes and Camp. That was settled in the SCSC decision.

I think two things are going on here to explain why DSC is spreading this astounding and cruel myth about the property. In the first place, the DSC leaders are in denial. This was their first response to the announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. Denial is the first stage of grief. So, they are telling their people that what happened really did not happen. Too, the DSC leaders have dug themselves into a hole and they do not know what to do except keep digging. The responses this week have been all over the place and incoherent. But, what choice do they have? If they admit the truth, they lose all credibility and influence among the faithful. Now we come down to the immediate problem.

I think the DSC leaders know they have lost the properties. They knew this last November when the SCSC refused to rehear the case. In December they issued a plan for the parishes to move congregations out of the buildings so they would continue as DSC churches elsewhere. This spring they conducted teaching (propaganda) missions to demonize TEC and spread this among the churches. So all they are doing now is buying themselves time to pursue the goal of keeping the diocese going through churches in exile. It seems to me they are trying to keep people from staying in the buildings when they are returned to the Episcopal Church bishop.

The fact is the property issue is settled. It is just a matter of time before the circuit court enforces the SCSC decision. TEC has asked for a Special Master to be chosen to oversee the process. Under the settled law of the land, the 29 parishes are Episcopal churches and have been all along. There is no longer a question of whether they are Episcopal churches or not. They are; and it will not be long before Episcopal priests will be at the altars. 

The DSC leaders are doing their followers a disservice by misleading them into believing they will keep their buildings at least for a very long time. This is just not true. 

The Church diocese has set up a structure for the reintegration of the 29 parishes into the Episcopal Church diocese. The clergy and laity of the parishes can reach out to the Church for guidance on how to make the inevitable reconciliation. Start by reading the Church Frequently Asked Questions here .

Message to the 13,000 communicants of the 29 parishes:

Do not believe it when you leaders tell you your churches are not going back to the Episcopal Church. They most definitely are, and sooner rather than later.

The 29 parishes are Episcopal churches. This is a fact. And that means they will be returning to control of the Episcopal Church bishop soon. You 13,000 communicants will have to choose whether to stay in the buildings or go out and follow the DSC leaders. The decision is up to you and no one should tell you what to do. 

Friday, June 15, 2018


June 15, 10:00 a.m.     
This was the most important week in the history of the schism since the schism itself, October 15, 2012. It is useful now to take a moment and reflect on what has happened in the last few days and what it may mean for the future. 

First, I have to get something off my chest so I can think straight(er). Our government must stop persecuting children! It is ripping babies to teenagers from their parents, by the thousands, and sending these traumatized children to concentration camps. This is happening in the United States of America! This is legal terrorism against the most innocent and defenseless people imaginable. It is worthy of the worst regimes of modern history. If we have descended so low that we are now torturing children then we have no right to claim our religion or our political heritage, or even out humanity. We are the barbarians. We fought wars to stop countries from doing this sort of thing, yet here we are. The Gestapo and SS would be proud. Then, when I heard Attorney General Sessions defending this by quoting St. Paul's letter to the Romans, I could not take it any more. If we American allow this to go on, we will have no right to call ourselves Christians or democratic republicans. This persecution of children is beyond despicable. It is barbaric. It has to stop. Now, I feel better.

Let's get back and look at this week once again. A great deal has happened. Let's try to put it all in perspective.

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court released its decision to deny cert to the appeal of the Diocese of South Carolina. DSC had asked SCOTUS to review the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. That decision had affirmed the Episcopal Church trust control over 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher. SCOTUS's denial of cert meant that the SCSC decision stands as the law. It cannot be appealed, ignored, or altered. 

The Church diocese is well under way in getting the SCSC decision carried out. The circuit court is responsible for enacting the decision. Last month, the Church diocese went to the court and asked for enactment of the supreme court decision. They called for the court to appoint a Special Master to oversee the transition of the properties in question back to the Episcopal Church. We are now awaiting the response of the circuit court judge, Edgar Dickson. Presumably, that will come soon.

Naturally, both dioceses reacted strongly to the SCOTUS denial of cert. On Tuesday, the Church diocese (TECSC) held a meeting of the diocesan lay leadership at Grace Church Cathedral. I was privileged to listen in. It was, of course, a time of appropriate rejoicing. It began with a "Te Deum" in church, the first of which was the hymn "The Church's One Foundation" (by schisms rent asunder). The bishop and the chancellor spoke and assured everyone of resolution and work toward a full reconciliation of the old diocese. The 29 parishes are to be reintegrated into the Church; and moves are well underway for this. Numerous laypeople and some clergy of the secessionist faction have contacted the Church diocese inquiring about the process of reunification. At this point, it is a matter of waiting for the circuit court to carry out the supreme court decision.

The Church diocese announced today that the Rev. William Coyne is the new Missioner for Returning Congregations. He will assist parishes and missions in the reintegration process. Find the announcement about this here . This is indicative of the Church diocese's commitment to a full and fair reconciliation of the old diocese. For another voice of reconciliation be sure to read the letter of the Rev. Chris Huff. Find it here . 

The independent diocese reeled from the news and flailed about all week seeking a  response. I wrote several blog pieces about this, so I will not repeat them here. In general, DSC reacted in defiance of the law. They claimed the SCSC decision was invalid and they would keep on fighting in court. The diocese held a meeting of clergy on Thursday. If DSC has issued a press release about this, I have not seen it. One might imagine it was more along the lines of denial and resistance. 

The big question now relates to the laity and clergy of the 29 Episcopal church that will be returned soon to the Episcopal Church bishop. DSC has been working since last December to organize an exodus from the buildings to keep congregations together under DSC. They issued a plan called a "Template" as a guide and held "teaching" missions in March, April, and May at St. Philip's and St. Michael's. These were recorded and distributed among the DSC parishes. The point of the missions was to demonize the Episcopal Church and pressure communicants to abandon their home buildings rather than return to an apostate church. 13,000 people are now caught in the middle between DSC's campaign and the coming reunification. We can expect the pressure to intensify over the next few months.

In spite of all its flailing about in desperation, DSC has to face the fact that the SCSC decision of August 2, 2017 is the law of the land. It will not be changed. The lower courts are required to enact supreme court decisions. It is just a matter of time before the circuit court orders enforcement of the supreme court's ruling. DSC's opinions about the decision now are irrelevant under the law. As I have said, I suspect DSC's attack tactic against the SCSC order is meant for local consumption. It is to de-legitimize the decision in the minds of the 13,000 so that they will stay with DSC.

One of the DSC allies even brought back the old smear against Justice Kaye Hearn. After all this time, after all that has happened, they just cannot let it go. Attacking Hearn is irrelevant to the matter now; but it is still unfortunate. However, it does bring up an interesting point about the history of the litigation, the role of women judges. 

It occurs to me that the legal war was essentially driven by the roles of three women, Diane Goodstein, Jean Toal, and Kaye Hearn. They were central to the outcome of the litigation. Goodstein was the circuit court judge who just seemed overwhelmed by the whole thing. She had the lawyers stop using the term Episcopal church because it was too confusing. The DSC lawyers dominated the whole circuit court trial and got from Goodstein a favorable decision, that, in retrospect, was far too much of a good thing. It was so over-the-top for DSC that it was ridiculed to death in the state supreme court. Not a single justice defended it. 

When the matter got to the state supreme court, the Chief Justice, Jean Toal, was the opposite of Goodstein. Toal completely controlled and dominated the entire hearing. She raked Runyan over the coals about the excesses of the circuit court trial and decision, even though she really agreed with him on the All Saints case which she had written herself. 

Kaye Hearn was (is) a justice on the SC supreme court who also happened to be a member of an Episcopal Church congregation. This was well-known. The DSC lawyers did not ask her to recuse herself. In the decision, which came out nearly two years after the hearing, she was one of the three justices to side with the Episcopal Church. She did not decide the outcome. The majority decision was written by Justice Pleicones. It was Chief Justice Beatty who cast the tie-breaking vote and gave the victory to TEC. Yet, after the decision came out on August 2, 2017, DSC started an all-out campaign against Hearn trying to remove her part of the decision and get her off the case in the future. This would have altered the outcome to give the victory to DSC. The state supreme court was repelled by this extraordinary smear campaign against one of their colleagues and united around Hearn. They denied a rehearing, refused to removed Hearn from the case, and then, to boot, publicly chastised the DSC lawyers for their treatment of Hearn. It was Toal, the other woman on the court who came to the strongest defense of Hearn. The attack on Hearn only hurt the DSC cause. Kaye Hearn, the steel magnolia, prevailed. So, I think it is interesting to note that the history of the litigation between DSC and TEC hinged on three women. The role that each played was crucial to the outcome. We can conclude that DSC did not do very well in its interaction with these women.

So, what now? Where do we stand at the end of this week? I doubt that much will change in the near future. The circuit court will certainly order the enactment of the supreme court decision and, presumably, under a Special Master. The reunification will be a very complicated process and will require a lot of time-consuming work trying to straighten out the affairs of each one of the 29 parishes. I expect this will take months and will be handled on an individual basis. 

Meanwhile we are waiting on other legal actions. In the circuit court the DSC is petitioning for "Betterments" payments. TECSC is aksing for dismissal, which I expect they will get. In the federal court, the judge, Richard Gergel, well known for efficiency, will be moving along toward a trial, I predict before the end of the year. This is to determine which side is entitled to inherit the entity of the old diocese (titles, legal rights, assets). Odds are strongly in favor of TECSC. 

Once the Special Master finishes the reintegration of the 29 parishes and the federal court resolves the issue of the diocese, matters should start to calm down. Of course, the losing side in the federal case can appeal to the U.S. Appeals Court in Richmond. What they do remains to be seen.

In the short run, the focus is on the return of the 29 parishes. Sooner rather than later the clergy and people of these churches will have to make their choices. My thoughts and prayers are with them in this difficult time.

What will happen to the secessionist faction in the future? Right now they have six parishes. If they lose in the federal court, they will relinquish all ownership of the pre-schism diocese. They will have to start from scratch in building a new diocese. This will be difficult, to say the least. The future for them does not look promising at this point, but I suppose they could go on as "the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina" even though they will not be part of the Anglican Communion.

Meanwhile, I am here trying to impart knowledge about what is going on in the schism. If you really want to know the history of the schism, my book about it is readily available. At 300,000 words it will be all you need to know. Critics say it is long, dense, and detailed. I agree. Get it at the Grace bookstore or order it from Amazon. On Kindle it is $10. It is also available in paperback and hardback.

I will go on with my blog. Apparently a lot of people read it. It has had 26,000 hits this week. I am glad people find it of use. As always, I encourage readers to email me with questions and comments. Countless ones did this week and I value every one. Every person is equally important to me. My address is above. 

The weekend is here. We all deserve a break. My one and only grandchild arrives tomorrow for a visit. I can hardly wait even though it means a trip to the Atlanta airport, my least favorite place in the world. I hope you too have a good weekend.