Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Today is September 11, 2019. We all know what 9-11 means. Everyone who was alive on September 11, 2001, will never forget that day. At the time I was assistant head of the South Carolina Room of the Charleston County Library, on Calhoun Street, in downtown Charleston. What I recall now the most was the eerie quiet of the day. Few patrons aimlessly roamed the library as the staff congregated around the television in the lounge whispering words here and there. I left when the first tower collapsed. I moped about for hours until my wife joined me and we walked the few blocks to St. Luke and St. Paul, on Coming St., for a 5 p.m. service. As I recall, the dean, William McKeachie read the Great Litany with the large congregation assembled.

I will remember 9-11 today in my own quiet way. My local church is having a memorial service, and I know many other churches are offering the same. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on that day of madness, and the world changed in ways we are still trying to assess. I encourage you to keep in mind and heart the memory of that day eighteen years ago.  

This just happens to be the day I started this blog six years ago (no connection to 9-11-01). My goals then were to impart information about the ongoing schism in the old Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina and to keep people posted on my progress in compiling a scholarly history of the schism. I finished writing the book four years later. It was published in August of 2017. Not one word of that book has been disputed by anyone. All of the criticism has been stylistic. I would like to think that many years from now people will know in detail what happened in the schism.

I have spent a great deal of time and effort on maintaining this blog and have enjoyed doing so. In the six years, I have posted app. 550 entries (535 still up). In all, there have been over 658,000 "hits" on my blog, half of those coming in the last year and a half. My blog was slow to start, but when it caught on, hundreds of people began checked in on it every day. I believe they were looking for information and opinion on what was happening in the schism.

This is borne out by the numbers of hits blog entries received. Here are the 15 most popular entries, from most popular down:

1- Chronology. 13,576 hits.  This is a detailed time line of events of the schism. I try to keep this up-to-date. 

2- Cert Denied.  12,770 hits.  6-11-18.  On the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of cert to DSC's appeal of the SCSC decision.

3- The Beginning of the End.  7,218 hits.  8-26-17.  On the effects of the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017.

4- A Remarkable Bishop, A Remarkable Three and a Half Years.  5,490 hits.  9-1-16.  A tribute to Bishop Charles vonRosenberg.

5- Breaking News, SC Supreme Court Renders Decision.  3,091 hits.  8-2-17.

6- Sources.  2,517 hits.  A bibliography of the sources relevant to the history o the schism.

7- Spin Cycle.  2,119 hits.  8-1-18.  On Bishop Lawrence's Last Hurrah tour.

8- Post and Courier Confused.  1,827 hits.  My criticism of the P & C editorial on the schism.

9- Going Out.  1,714 hits.  On Bishop Lawrence's address to the diocesan convention.

10- The Confederacy and the Independent Diocese.  1,677 hits.  7-10-15.  On the historical parallels of the two.

11- Announcement of Chuck Murphy's death.  1,611 hits. 

12- The Latest Membership Statistics.  1,597 hits. 10-9-17.

13- My Letter to the Post and Courier.  1,522 hits.  11-20-17.

14- The Documents of the Episcopal Church's June 2015 Offer of Compromise Settlement.  1,395 hits.  8-17-18.  Documents disproving DSC's claims the offer was illegitimate.

15- Reality Setting In.  1,266 hits.  10-8-17.  On the effects of the SCSC decision.

The "Letters to this Editor" feature proved to be remarkably popular with blog readers. For these, the gold medal goes to the Rev. Rob Donehue, 2,793 hits (7-2-18). The silver goes to Wayne Helmly, 2,307 hits (9-10-18). The bronze goes to "anonymous," 1,213 (6-30-18). All of the letters were widely read. I always encourage people to send letters to the editor, and, if appropriate, I will post with or without name attached.

On several occasions, my blog entries became news themselves as they were picked up by national outlets. Early this year, this blog broke the news that St. Philip's Church, in Charleston, was billing the (Episcopal) Church Insurance Company of Vermont for coverage of legal expenses. Soon thereafter, the Episcopal Church diocese took legal action against CIC-V. We are now awaiting negotiations between the Church lawyers and CIC-V (postponed from last week). I cannot take the credit for discovering St. Philip's action. The tip came from a reader who simply read the church's annual report online and alerted me.

On another occasion, this blog revealed that, in December of 2017, the independent Diocese of South Carolina circulated a private "Template" to local congregations guiding them on their relocations as the 29 parishes returned to TEC. Again, I cannot take credit for discovering this secret document. More than one reader alerted me to it.

On yet another occasion, Bishop Zavala, of Chile, visited the independent diocese in May of 2015 and indicated he had the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I contacted the office of the ABC about this and was informed that the ABC had not sanctioned Zavala's visit and remarks.

I get many emails from readers and I appreciate each and every one. This blog is really a community effort and would not be the same without incoming information from people all over the place, some from outside SC. Thank goodness for the several indispensable lawyers (not involved in the litigation) who very generously guide this layman on legal matters. I would be lost in the legal weeds without them.

Finally, here are some reflections on looking back over the six years of this blog. I ask myself today, what has impressed me the most about what has happened in the last six years, or how do I see things differently now than I did six years ago? 

--- Six years ago, I did not think the non-resolution of the schism would go on so long. The schism occurred seven year ago next month and yet it remains unresolved. There is no closure even after many millions of dollars have been spent on legal fees. 

--- I under-estimated the depth of the determination of the DSC leadership to fight the legal war to the last-ditch, bitter end. In Pittsburgh and San Joaquin, the secessionist officers honorably accepted the decisions of the state supreme courts and ended their legal wars. In both cases the state supreme courts refused to accept appeals of the lower courts that had ruled for TEC. In South Carolina, the state supreme court accepted the appeal and ruled in favor of TEC yet the breakaways refused to accept the supreme court decision. They insisted it did not say what it said. They are fighting its implementation now in circuit court.

The officers of DSC have had several opportunities to bring peaceful closure to the schism and have rejected every one. In June of 2015, TEC offered a very generous settlement of swapping diocese for the 36 parishes. DSC officers flatly refused the offer. There was a period of "mediation" from October of 2017 to January of 2018. It went absolutely nowhere as DSC rejected TEC's request for a protocol of visits to the 29 parishes. As far as anyone knows, DSC has rejected every offer of settlement while making no offer of its own.

One should bear in mind that the original goal of the reactionary "Anglican Realignment" movement in the 1990's was the destruction, or severe diminution, of the Episcopal Church because of its "liberal" policies. I think this helps us understand what has happened in South Carolina in the seven years and why DSC seems committed to a total war against the Episcopal Church.

--- I am disappointed in the courts. The circuit court of Judge Diane Goodstein rendered a decision so over-the-top that the state supreme court ridiculed it out of the room upon arrival. The circuit court of Judge Edgar Dickson has been sitting on the SCSC decision for twenty months. His assigned task was to implement the SCSC decision. He has not done so. Instead, he has ordered "mediation" which I, for one, see as inappropriate and redundant. 

The federal courts have been scarcely better. For years, Judge Weston Houck refused to proceed with the case before him even though the U.S. Appeals Court twice ordered adjudication. Judge Richard Gergel now has the case and has done nothing on it, at least that we know about, in the last eight months. Justice delayed is justice denied. 

--- My theory of the causes of the schism has been borne out by the events of the past six years. The schism was a counter-revolution against the TEC reforms of equality for and inclusion of homosexuals and women in the life of the church. In 2015, DSC institutionalized homophobia in its "Statement of Faith" which was required by oath across the board in the diocese. DSC also joined the Anglican Church in North America which, in addition to opposing human rights for homosexuals, excluded women from places of authority. ACNA is a strict patriarchy in which power rests with the all-male bishops. Since the schism, DSC has affirmed its commitment to homophobia and sexism.

--- Lastly, I have been most impressed by the devotion of the long-suffering Episcopalians of lower South Carolina. Thousands of them were forced out of their beloved church homes by the intolerant reactionaries. These intrepid people sought refuge wherever they could find it, bar-be-que restaurants, funeral homes, old schools, boat docks, borrowed churches, old offices, living rooms, you name it. Innocent victims of the schism, they refused to become victims of history. They refused to be vanquished. They refused to abandon human rights. They refused to give up the faith. They are my heroes of this story and I am greatly inspired by their courage and resolve. They must know that there will be resolution of the legal issues one day. In many cases, they will return to the churches that the state supreme court has said belong to them. There will be closure even if it is farther off than we first thought. It will happen. After all of this sad mess is over, they can look back in honor and say they fought the good fight for God, their fellow human beings, and the Episcopal Church.