Friday, August 3, 2018


Stop number two on Mark Lawrence's Last Hurrah tour was yesterday, August 2, at St. Jude's of Walterboro. Interesting that he should choose this place rather than the more populous areas of the deanery as Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Beaufort. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that St. Jude's, while in DSC, is about evenly divided between pro-DSC and pro-TEC parties and has shown lukewarm, at best, support for some of the controversial measures of DSC since the schism.

I have received two reports on the session and expect more soon. Here is what I can piece together as of now:

---80-100 people attended (half as many as in Sumter). About half were communicants of St. Jude's. Of those, the pr-DSC and pro-TEC parties were evenly divided. About half of the crowd came from Bluffton, Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Johns Island. There were numerous TEC members or pro-TEC people in attendance.

---Lawrence's talk was essentially the same as in Sumter. He spent a great deal of time giving his viewpoint of how the situation got to where it was. Again, the victimization theme was woven throughout. The schism and the litigation since were all faults of TEC. He was quite effective at raising sympathy for himself as in his reference to the federal case: "they seek to take every dime of my stipend received during my time as your bishop." (This is not true.)

---Again, Lawrence presented the contradictory themes of the unsettled litigation on the properties and evacuation of the properties. Sheets of paper were passed out with DSC's description of the litigation (DSC's FAQs). 

---Perhaps the most memorable quote of the evening came when Lawrence said that people have "fallen in love with the church, not the Lord of the church. Therefore, the church is an idol." That shocking statement made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

One astute person then arose and asked why all the legal fight for the churches if they were only idols. Lawrence then went into a typically long circuitous description of how people should use the church as a base to save souls.

---Some of the question showed lack of information and understanding of the situation. One person asked if the financial accounts as endowments would be included when the buildings return to TEC (yes, the whole parish returns).

CONCLUSION. It is clear now why the ongoing contradiction being promoted by DSC: property disposition unsettled and litigation ongoing v. prepare to vacate the buildings. The first part is to keep people contributing to the legal funds. Recall that all the DSC parishes are having to pay double legal fees, for the parochial lawyer(s) and the diocesan lawyer(s). Obviously, if people believe the litigation is over, they will stop contributing to the legal funds. At the same time, DSC knows it has lost the 29 parishes and is desperate to remove as many communicants from the local churches to keep ongoing DSC churches in exile. This is the only way DSC can continue as a viable institutional entity. At the moment it has only six parishes. So, these two factors explain the contradiction in DSC's present policies. The person who asked why fight for the buildings if they were idols hit on the essence of the glaring contradiction.

Perhaps the most telling question of all was when a person, probably a vestry member, asked Lawrence what the vestry should be doing now. He said find money to pay lawyers. Indeed.

As I opined before, Lawrence's whirlwind tour is to bond the faithful to himself and the diocese, that is, to sway people from leaving to return to TEC. His whole theme is us v. them. We are the good guys and they are not.

So, once again, it is not really what Lawrence is saying as much as how he is saying it. He is making a strong emotional appeal for people to stick together and follow him. 

Lawrence's road show continues next Tuesday when he stops at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in downtown Charleston, August 7, 6:30 p.m. (I am asking for volunteers to go and take notes and share with us. My email address is given above. Believe me, people want to know what is going on. 1,500 people have accessed this blog's report on the Sumter event of July 31.)