Thursday, December 27, 2018

2nd Edition


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1. All Saints, Florence

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

3. Church of the Cross, Bluffton

4. Church of the Holy Comforter, Sumter

5. Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg

6. Holy Trinity, Charleston

7. St. Luke's, Hilton Head

8. St. Bartholomew's, Hartsville

9. St. David's, Cheraw

10. St. James, Charleston

11. St. Paul's, Bennettsville

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

13. Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island

14. Church of the Epiphany, Eutawville

15. Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston

16. Church of the Holy Cross, Stateburg

17. Church of the Resurrection, Surfside

18. St. Philip's, Charleston

19. St. Michael's, Charleston

20. St. Jude's, Walterboro

21. St. Helena's, Beaufort

22. St. Matthew's, Ft. Motte

23. St. Paul's, Summerville

24. Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach

25. Trinity Church, Edisto

26. Trinity Church, Pinopolis

27. Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant

28. St. John's, Johns Island

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


1. Christ the King, Waccamaw

2. St. Matthew's, Darlington

3. St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant

4. St. John's, Florence

5. St. Matthias, Summerton

6. St. Paul's, Conway

7. Prince George Winyah, Georgetown


---Barnwell,   Holy Apostles

---Blackville,   St. James

---Berkeley County,   Strawberry Chapel

---Charleston,   St. Alban's Chapel

---Charleston,   St. Andrew's Mission

---Charleston,   St. John's Mission

---Dillon,   St. Barnabas

---Florence,   Christ Church

---Goose Creek,   St. James

---Grahamville,   Holy Trinity

---Hagood,   Ascension

---Marion,   Church of the Advent

---Myrtle Beach,   Church by the Well

---North Myrtle Beach,   Grace

---Orangeburg,   St. Paul's

---Cane Bay,   St. Timothy's

---Walterboro,   Atonement

---Sullivans Island,   Church of the Holy Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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