Wednesday, March 31, 2021




OUR ORIGINAL SIN



As perhaps you, I watched last evening's PBS American Experience program on the blinding of Isaac Woodard. I knew what was coming. I had read Gergel's book. Still, after seeing all those images, I did not sleep much last night. Today, my head feels like the morning after. As I tossed and turned, my mind raced through thousands of memories of youth that I thought I had suppressed. You see, I was born in 1943 and grew up in the Jim Crow south of the 1940s and 50s. Every day of my life, I witnessed the effects of segregation and discrimination although, as a white person, I could not have known the worst of it all. 

When I observe what is going on in America these days, it makes me wonder whether anything has changed since the ghastly racist crime against Woodard in 1946. Are we less racist now than we were then? Last year, a white policeman in Minneapolis knelt on the neck of a black man for nine minutes until the man was dead. Unlike the Woodard case, the law officer did this in broad daylight knowing he was being recorded. Moreover, just a few weeks ago, on 6 January, a white supremacist mob invaded the U.S. Capitol to overturn a legal and legitimate election that had voted out a president who had stoked racial animosities. And, what about the voting restrictions passed in Georgia and pending in the legislatures of 42 other states? These laws are being passed to keep racial minorities from having equal political power. Too, what about the alarming escalation of vicious public attacks on Asian Americans? Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans of Asian descent have been brutally assaulted on the streets of American cities in the last year. I am sure you could add other examples of the evil of racism all around us.

As a progressive and lifetime student of history, I want so much to believe we are making progress on race. And, we are in important ways. Jim Crow is dead, at least officially. Overt racism is now socially unacceptable. The rights that African Americans have nowadays are light years ahead of what they had in the 1950s. However, deep down, racial discrimination still inhabits he hearts of too many of our fellow countrymen and women. After 500 years of deeply institutionalized racism in America, it is going to take a long and hard effort to get rid of it. But we must. Prejudice and discrimination based on race is both anti-Christian and anti-democratic. If President Truman and Judge Waring did it after the Woodard incident, we can do it now. To achieve a truly moral and democratic society we must overcome our original sin however hard that may be and however long it may take. Looking at America today, we would have to agree we have a long way to go, but I refuse to believe that we cannot get there because I know what has been accomplished in my lifetime.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021




FORMER BISHOP WILLIAM LOVE LOSES LOVE FOR THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH



Perhaps to no one's surprise, the Rt. Rev. William Love, the former bishop of the Diocese of Albany is leaving the Episcopal Church. He says he is heading to the Anglican Church in North America, a new denomination not in the Anglican Communion. It was created in 2009 in order to exclude open and non-celibate homosexuals from the church and women from positions of authority in the church. The ACNA was formed as part of the counter-revolutionary reaction in the culture war of contemporary America in opposition to the democratically-aligned and human rights oriented Episcopal Church.

One will recall that Love had defied the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church's resolution requiring the availability of same-sex marriage in every diocese. In defiance of this, Love refused to allow same-sex marriages in his diocese. On Oct. 2, 2020, a disciplinary panel judged that Love had violated church law. Bishop Love then announced he would resign as bishop on February 1, 2021. Subsequently, he asked the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, for a release and removal from the ministry of the Episcopal Church. Curry granted this on March 29, 2021. Love said it would be effective on 2 April. The Diocese of Albany has no bishop now; the Standing Committee is the authority (as in the Diocese of SC at present).

Interesting that Love did not try to take the Albany diocese out of the Episcopal Church. It would be fascinating to know why he passed on this. Progressive Episcopalians, while they will disagree with his resistance to social reform in the church, should have a certain respect for Love. In the first place, he did not try a schism. In the second place, he adhered to the church rules for leaving the church. He requested, and received, a formal release and removal from the Presiding Bishop. 

This is a stark contrast to what happened in South Carolina. There, the bishop declared, on Oct. 15, 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina to be disassociated from the Episcopal Church (the federal court subsequently ruled that the DSC did not leave the Episcopal Church). This split the old diocese; and the schismatics started a still-ongoing and very expensive and bitter legal war. Too, Lawrence did not ask for a release and removal. Instead, after he declared publicly his abandonment of the Episcopal Church at the diocesan convention on Nov. 17, 2012, the Presiding Bishop issued to Lawrence a formal Release and Removal on Dec. 5, 2012. One cannot know, but can wonder whether the disastrous experience in South Carolina influenced Love's choices.


Find the Episcopal News Service's article about this here .

The statement of the Presiding Bishop is found here .

  




NOTES,  30 MARCH 2021



Welcome, blog reader, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. It is time for our weekly check on the crises we have been following for over a year now.


PANDEMIC. According to our usual source, Worldometers, the numbers for last week (March 22-29) were mixed. There were signs of a new surge in the pandemic in the world and in America, but numbers looked much better in our southeastern states.

In the world, new cases jumped from 3,468,200 in the week of Mar. 15-22 to 3,916,780 last week, Mar. 22-29. Deaths also increased, from 62,708 (Mar. 15-22) to 68,491 (Mar. 22-29). While the United States remains the epicenter of the pandemic, some other countries as Brazil and the European states are seeing alarming upsurges in new cases and deaths. Some have resorted to new lockdowns.

In America, new cases increased last week over the earlier week, from 440,117 to 441,029. The U.S. is now reporting 30,962, 803 cases of COVID-19. As new cases arose last week, deaths declined, from 8,080 in the earlier week to 7,212 last week (Mar. 22-29). This means that a thousand Americans are dying every day in this plague. The total U.S. dead is now 562,526.

Fortunately, our southeastern states are showing mitigation. New cases in South Carolina fell from 8,161 (Mar. 15-22) to 7,617 (Mar. 22-29). SC is now reporting a total of 549,199 cases. Deaths in SC also declined, from 132 in the earlier week to 115 last week. SC is now listed 9,122 dead of COVID-19. As the state, Charleston County is also showing signs of improvement. New cases there fell from 685 (Mar. 15-22) to 507 (Mar. 22-29). The county is now reporting a total of 40,436 cases. Last week, the county reported 3 deaths, down from the 9 of the earlier week. In all, 478 residents of Charleston County have died of the coronavirus. 

Alabama is showing the same hopeful trend. It reported a drastic drop in new cases, from 7,787, in the earlier week, to 2,931 last week. AL is now listing 514,391 cases. Deaths in the state also fell, from 109 (Mar. 15-22) to 90 last week. Even so, AL is reporting 10,526 deaths from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, vaccinations in the U.S. are accelerating. As of 29 March, 52,614,231 Americans have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. This is moving up on 20% of the population. It is still too soon to know if the uptick in new cases in America is a new surge or a temporary blip. Many experts are worrying aloud that the growing disregard of precautions among the public will lead to a new rise in cases/deaths. We shall see.


SCHISM. Nothing new to report. We are still waiting on the South Carolina Supreme Court to respond to the Episcopal diocese's appeal of Judge Dickson's order. All of the briefs have been submitted to the court.

Meanwhile, the two dioceses are moving along on selecting new bishops. In the Episcopal diocese, the next step will be the walkabouts on April 12-14. The candidates will answer questions and provide more information about themselves in the morning sessions. This will be "virtual" on Zoom and on Youtube. The election will be on May 1, 2021.


Even in times of trouble, life goes on and the rhythms of nature continue uninterrupted. It should be a comfort to everyone to know that there is a universe much greater than ourselves that continues on with order and meaning. Here, the Japanese Snowball (Viburnum plicatum) is the spectacular star of my garden as it is every year in early spring. Although snowball bushes are common in the south, I have not seen one as large as this. Nor do I know the reason why since I routinely neglect it. Perhaps that is what it likes best--to be left alone to enjoy the sun and its happy environment. I think there may be a message in there somewhere.


As always, I think it is important that we remember why we are here. These are our days. This is the time that was given to us; and this week of all weeks should make us reflect on the triumph of life over death. Peace.

  

Monday, March 29, 2021




CHURCH MEMBERSHIP COLLAPSING IN AMERICA



A new Gallup Poll reveals that membership in religious institutions in America is collapsing. Find an article about the study here . Particularly since the year 2000, numbers have fallen off a cliff. Now, fewer than half (47%) of Americans claim church (or synagogue or mosque) membership. This is a decline of 20 points in the last 20 years. This is age-related with younger people less likely to be church-related.

The reasons for the desertion of the churches remains a point of speculation. The poll offered no suggestions. 

As both dioceses affected by the schism in South Carolina search for new bishops, they should also search for ways in which they can stem the tide of falling church membership (actually, while the ADSC is in serious and relentless decline in membership, the EDSC is up 20% since the schism). The candidates for bishop in both cases might be considering ways in which the dioceses can go beyond their own internal problems, urgent that they are, and address what may be the biggest problem of all, the survival of the dioceses as viable institutions in society. The new Gallup poll should set off alarm bells in every church, including those in South Carolina.   

Thursday, March 25, 2021

 



GROWTH AND DECLINE IN SOUTH CAROLINA



The issue of the growth and decline in the schismatic dioceses and parishes has been raised anew in the recent article by Jeremy Bonner and David Goodhaw in The Living Church magazine, "The Growth and Decline of the Anglican Church in North America." Find the article here . 

While strangely omitting South Carolina, the authors point out that all of the other four dioceses that voted to leave the Episcopal Church (Pitt, Quincy, San Joaquin, Ft. Worth) have lost members since their schisms. They speculate that this is probably because the parishes involved were already on a downward trajectory in membership before the schisms. 

This prompts us to reexamine the statistics of South Carolina. Is it true that the parishes and missions of the Diocese of South Carolina that voted to leave TEC were already losing members before the schisms? Let us go back to the official parochial reports.

First, let us consider the numbers of communicants for the coollective 50 parishes and missions in SC that went along with the schism of 2012. Here are their numbers:

2005---17,981

2008---19,338

2011---21,993

2014---16,361

2015---15,556

2016---13,877

2018---12,126

2019---11,457

Right away, we see that there was a steady upward trajectory before the schism. 2011 was the last full year before the schism of October 2012. We see that from 2005 to 2011, communicant numbers in the 50 local churches that went along with the schism increased by 4,012, or 22%. Now, notice what happened after the schism of 2012. The new diocese lost communicants steadily every year. In fact, between 2011 and 2019, the new diocese lost 10,049 communicants, or -47% (these figures do not include the local churches that remained in the Episcopal diocese). In other words, the churches that make up the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina today collectively have slightly more than half as many communicants as they had before the schism of 2012.

Now, let us look at the communicant numbers of large parishes that were among the 50 local churches that voted to leave TEC:


ST. HELENA'S, Beaufort

2005---1,200

2011---1,737

2014---964

2019---827

Thus, before the schism, from 2005 to 2011, St. Helena's gained 537 communicants, or 45%. After the schism of 2012, it lost 910 communicants, or -52%.

 

ST. MICHAEL'S, Charleston

2005---1,349

2011---1,847

2014---1,015

2019---926

Thus, St. Michael's gained 498 communicants between 2005 and 2011, or 37%. After the schism, it lost 921 communicants, or -50%.


ST. PHILIP'S, Charleston

2005---1,289

2011---2,677

2014---2,135

2019---1,370

Thus, St. Philip's gained 1,388 communicants from 2005 to 2011. It was the largest parish in the diocese on the eve of the schism. After the break, it lost 1,307 communicants, or -49%.


HOLY CROSS, Sullivans Island

2005---936

2011---2,540

2014---1,000

2019---1,271

Holy Cross gained 1,604 communicants (171%) in the few years before the schism. Since the break, it has lost 1,269 communicants, or -50%.


OLD ST. ANDREW'S, Charleston

2005---567

2011---962

2014---509

2019---406

OSA gained 395 communicants from 2005 to 2011. In the aftermath of the schism, it dropped 556, or -58%.


PRINCE GEORGE WINYAH, Georgetown

2005---329

2011---450

2014---625

2019---451

Thus, in the few years before the schism, Prince George gained 121 communicants, or 37%. As of the last figure, in 2019, it was back to its pre-schism level.


CHURCH OF THE CROSS, Bluffton

2005---1,260

2011---1,701

2014---1,520

2019---1,631

Church of the Cross gained 441 communicants from 2005 to 2011. Since the schism, it has remained relatively stable.


"Communicant" is the most useful category for considering church membership. It refers to a person who receives communion at least once a year. "Members" and "Baptized members" are not useful figures as they count everyone ever associated with the church regardless of attendance. For instance, the ADSC listed 20,195 "Baptized Members" in 2019 and 11,457 "Confirmed Communicants." One of these numbers is far off base, and it is most likely the former. Churches usually do not have nearly twice as many baptized members as communicants. It is safe to assume the real membership of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina at around 12,000. This would make it about half the size of the pre-schism diocese when Mark Lawrence became bishop in 2008.

In conclusion, the collection of the 50 local churches in South Carolina that purportedly broke from the Episcopal Church in 2012 had enjoyed a rapid growth in membership during the years before the schism of 2012. This was certainly true of all the big parishes of the low country. After the schism, most of the large parishes fell into a downward spiral in communicant numbers. Seven years after the schism of 2012, some large churches as St. Helena's, St. Michael's, St. Philip's, and Holy Cross reported about half of their pre-schism communicant numbers. In short, numerous major parishes that went along with the schism had enjoyed booming membership before the schism and collapsing numbers after the schism. This is from the official statistics published by the dioceses.

The theory that the schismatic churches' loss of membership after their schisms was the continuation of a long term downward trajectory is not true of the churches of South Carolina. Their drastic loss of membership was strictly a phenomenon of their schisms.  




NOTES,  25 MARCH 2021



Greetings, blog reader, on March 25, 2021. It is time for our weekly check-in on the crises we have been following on this blog for a year. We must not let the weariness of a year of covid detract us from the rest of what is going on in our lives.


PANDEMIC. Last week we were encouraged that the data showed marked improvement in the trajectories of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the numbers are more troublesome. Perhaps our optimism of last week was a bit premature. The plague of the coronavirus still rages all around us.

Some figures for last week (March 15-22) improved and some worsened from the previous week (March 8-15). On the world stage, both new cases and deaths increased last week (15-22) over the earlier week (8-15). According to our usual source, Worldometers, in the world, there were 3,468,200 new cases in the week of 15-22, a rise of 2.8%. In the previous week, there had been 2,962,410 new cases, a rise of 2.5%. Death tolls also increased, from 59,631 (8-15) to 62,708 (15-22). As of now, 2,729,172 people have died of covid. Let this sink in. 

The United States, still the epicenter of the plague as it has been all along, is reporting concerning new data. Last week (15-22), new cases jumped to 440,117 from the 384,585 of the earlier week. However, deaths declined from 9,393 (8-15) to 8,080 (15-22). The daily death rate in the U.S. is now slightly over 1,000 (at the first of February, it was over 3,000/day). 

Our southeastern states are also showing worrying signs of new surges in the pandemic. South Carolina reported rises in both new cases and deaths. Last week (15-22), SC listed 8,161 new cases, up from the 7,556 of the earlier week. As for deaths, SC reported 132 last week, up from the 121 of the preceding week. The death toll in SC is now 9,007. We should take a moment and reflect on the lives lost.

As SC, Charleston County is also showing up-ticks. Last week (15-22), the county reported 685 new cases, up from the 520 of the previous week. In all, the county is listing 39,929 cases. As for deaths, the county reported 9 last week, up from the 6 of the earlier week. In all, 475 residents of Charleston County have died of covid. We should take a moment and reflect on this too.

As SC, Alabama is reporting a rise in new cases. Last wek (15-22), the state reported 7,787 new cases, up drastically from the 3,854 of the earlier week (8-15). However, deaths declined, to 109 for last week, down from the 178 of the previous week. Anyway, 10,436 Alabamians have died in this plague. Let's take another moment to remember the lives lost.

The winter surge of the pandemic, November-February, has definitely declined. Nevertheless, there are indications of a plateau or increase in cases and deaths in the last couple of weeks. It is still too soon to say if this is a new surge or just a slight blip in a longer range decline. The best news is the movement in vaccinations. As of now, about 15% of Americans have received full vaccinations, either the double or the single versions. About twice that number have had one of the double shots. The vaccinations are moving along apace. The worrisome news is that many places in the U.S. have rolled back or removed their public restrictions. Some critics say these are premature and will lead to increased spread/deaths. Time will tell.


SCHISM.

Litigation. Nothing new to report. We are waiting on the South Carolina Supreme Court to respond. The Episcopal diocese of SC is appealing to the SCSC asking the court to enforce its Aug. 2, 2017 decision that recognized Episcopal ownership of 29 of the 36 parishes in question plus the Camp. The EDSC submitted its brief; the Anglican diocese of SC responded; and the EDSC has replied to the response. This ends the papers. There will not be any more written responses/replies. 

To boil it all down, the EDSC is asking the court to order the circuit court to implement the SCSC decision returning the parishes and the Camp. The Anglican side is asking the court to recognize Judge Dickson's order that awarded all to the new diocese. In a nutshell, the SCSC is to decide who owns the properties, the Episcopal diocese or the new diocese. As I understand it, the SCSC may hold a hearing and then issue a written decision, or it may go straight to a written decision. Since there are two new justices on the SCSC, it would make sense for them to call for a hearing in order the these new justices to ask questions and familiarize themselves with the case, which, as everyone knows is exceedingly detailed and complicated.

I still say, as I have said all along, it is unimaginable that a state supreme court would fail to uphold its own final decision that is the law. It is mind boggling to think they would allow a circuit judge to overthrow a final supreme court decision and substitute a diametrically opposed decision of his own in place of the high court's. But then, the bigger picture here is the culture war and this is the overriding factor that may determine the ultimate outcome of this case. This happened in Texas where the conservative state supreme court ignored a mountain of careful reasoning from all the lower courts to rule on a technicality in order to hand the properties over to the (highly) conservative side in the dispute. My point is that common sense and reason do not always prevail in the supposedly impartial courts, particularly the state courts in states that are historically deeply socially and culturally conservative. No state has been more historically conservative than South Carolina.

Bishop search. Interesting that both the Episcopal and the new dioceses are conducting bishop searches at the same time. This does afford us an opportunity to see the differences between these two parties again. 

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is farther along in the process. It has selected five candidates, two white men, one African American man, and two white women. This reflects the diversity, equality and inclusion that are hallmarks of the contemporary Episcopal Church. On April 12-14, the diocese will hold "Candidate Conversations" in which the five candidates will have opportunities to answer questions and discuss various topics. It will be via Zoom but will also be available on the diocesan Youtube page, linked from Facebook. Find more details here . 

The election of the XV bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina will be held on May 1. It too will be "virtual" and available on Facebook/Youtube. Consult the diocesan website. After the election, the nominee will be offered to all the dioceses of the Episcopal Church. They will have 120 days to respond positively or negatively. The consent requires a simple majority of the bishops and standing committees of the Church. (One will recall that Mark Lawrence did not receive a majority on the first try in 2007 whereupon he issued a letter to the standing committees saying it was his "intent" to stay in the Episcopal Church; this won him consent on the second try. This time there is no question of whether the candidate will remain in the Episcopal Church.)

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is just starting its process of choosing a new bishop. It is looking for a bishop coadjutor who will eventually replace Bishop Lawrence as the diocesan. It is now accepting nominations. Find more details here . According to its schedule, it will publish a list of nominees on August 1, 2021, hold walkabouts on Sept. 11, and elect a new candidate on Oct. 16. We can expect all old white men to be their slate of candidates. There certainly will be neither a woman among them nor an openly gay man. In this new denomination (ACNA), women must subject themselves to the authority of men and gays must accept the labels of sin and disorder. (As I keep saying, this schism is all about the culture war in contemporary America, indeed in the world.)

Once ADSC chooses a new candidate for bishop coadjutor, he is not sent to the bishops and standing committees for approval. No, he is sent only to the ACNA House of Bishops which must vote at least 2/3 approval. This means that a third plus one of the bishops of ACNA can reject any candidate. As opposed to the democracy of the Episcopal Church, the ACNA is a purposefully anti-democratic institution where power rests overwhelmingly in the hands of a mini-pope (archbishop) and fewer than two dozen bishops (there are 50-something bishops in the ACNA College of Bishops) who hold the power of veto. This authoritarian system guarantees a rigidly conservative culture in ACNA, as evidenced in the archbishop's recent scathing rebuke of a slightly pro-homosexual letter.


So, what is the status of crisis today? The political crisis has greatly declined so that we may put it aside. On the whole, the pandemic is improving although the pace is frustratingly slow and uneven. Still, it seems that the fever has broken, so to speak, and better times are ahead. I wish we could say the same for the schism. After eight and a half years, we are all beyond exhaustion. We long only for justice and closure. Unfortunately, as with the pandemic, the pace is maddeningly slow and uneven. 

As always, we did not ask for these crises (except for the two dozen people who made the schism in SC). These situations presented themselves to us as is. And, here we are trying to cope with them while wishing they would all go away. Meanwhile, these are our days. This is the time that was allotted to us. We are here for the living of this hour. At least we are all in this together at this moment in our lives. No one is alone. Peace. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

 



NOTES,  15 MARCH 2021



It is Monday, March 15, 2021, and time to check in on the crises we have been following for a year now.


PANDEMIC. There are clear signs of improvement but they are uneven. According to our usual source, Worldometers, new cases in the world actually bumped up a bit last week, from 2.7m (Mar. 1-8) to 2.9m (Mar. 8-15). However, deaths were down, from 62,358 in the previous week to 59,631 last week. As of now, 2,666,464 people in the world have died of COVID-19. 

In the United States, numbers showed a dramatic improvement. New cases dropped from 441,707 (Mar. 1-8) to 384,555 (Mar. 8-15). Deaths dropped from 12,063 to 9,393. As of now, 547,234 Americans have died of the virus. The daily death toll continues to run over 1,000. 

As the nation, our local southeastern states are showing improvement. In South Carolina, new cases fell from 9,042 (Mar. 1-8) to 7,556 (Mar. 8-15). Even so, 533,421 South Carolinians have contracted the coronavirus. This is 10% of the population (about the national average). Deaths also dropped significantly, from 224 (Mar. 1-8) to 121 (Mar. 8-15). As of now, 8,875 residents of SC have died in the plague.

Charleston County is also showing mitigation. New cases declined from 590 the prior week to 520 last week. In all, 39,244 county residents have had the virus, app. 10% of the population. As for deaths, the county listed 6 last week, down from the 8 of the earlier week. The total death figure is now 466.

As SC, Alabama is also reporting dramatic decline in cases and deaths from COVID-19. Last week (Mar. 8-15), the state listed 3,854 new cases, down from the 6,567 of the previous week. In all, 503,673 Alabamians have had the virus, about 10% of the population. Deaths fell too, from 220 the previous week to 178 last week. AL's total dead in the plague is now 10,327.

Vaccinations are being administered in record numbers across America. In all, some 11% of the population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The vaccine does not prevent contracting the virus but will greatly lessen the effects of the coronavirus on the body. 

The president has said that he expects all Americans to have access to the vaccine by May 1. Experts are telling us, if all goes well and people cooperate, life should get back to what will pass for normality in the summer of this year. After a year of abnormality, to say the least, the idea of normality once again is most reassuring.


LITIGATION. Nothing new to report this week. My guess is that the next shoe to drop will be the Anglican Diocese of SC's reply to the Episcopal Diocese's reply of Mar. 4. Perhaps after that, the SC Supreme Court will proceed to a decision on the church case. After that, the federal appeals court will render its decision. These two should bring at least the beginning of closure to the eight and a half years of legal warfare. The Anglican side has deftly employed a deny and delay strategy for years but they are running out of options. The end of the road is near. 


POLITICAL CRISIS. I think we can move the political crisis in America to the back burner. The attempted coup d'├ętat failed and many of the perpetrators are being rounded up. Problems still abound, but the new governing majority in Washington has brought in a stability and competence we have not had in years. The democratic revolution has greatly diminished the reactionary counter-revolution.  


Following a relatively mild winter, a warm and early spring has suddenly appeared, at least in my area of the south. It seems as if every plant in my garden has burst forth in new life with a vengeance. It is almost as if Mother Nature is trying to make amends for the beastly horror she visited on humankind last year. If so, she has a lot of makeup to do after more than two million people died from one of her cruelest creations, the coronavirus. At any rate, I have been working a great deal in my garden in the last few weeks, to mutual benefit. Here are some scenes of my garden in the last few days.



Windmill Palm (Trachyoarpus fortunei) is my favorite tree form of palm. I have several in my garden as accent pieces. This type of palm tree fits into the home yard/garden better than the larger, standard Sabal palmetto. Cold hardy and easy to grow. Stalks produce an abundance of seeds to the birds delight. This one is about 15 feet tall and may eventually reach 20 feet. The big green shrub on left if Chindo Viburnum. The white blooms on right are on the Paperbush.





While Bradford Pear trees should be avoided in the home yard/garden, other kinds of pear trees are suitable. This is Cleveland Select Pear tree (Pyrus calleryana 'Cleveland Select'). It grows upright and is covered with small white flowers in early spring.





Spring Bouquet Viburnum (Viburnum tinus 'Spring Bouquet') is an east to grow evergreen shrub for the home garden reaching about 6 feet. It is covered with aromatic blooms in early spring.





My favorite bush form of palm is Sabal minor, but this, Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), is also an excellent, care free, choice for the garden. It is the most cold hardy of all the palms. Although it is slow growing, to about 6 feet, it presents an elegant accent in the garden.





Looking down a walk path on the smaller part of the garden facing the central lawn. Loropetalum is the purplish shrub on left. Windmill palm is on right.



From the lawn, looking back to the walk path. Carolina jasmine and climbing rose occupy the trellis. Boxwoods stand at sides. The tall evergreens in distance are Japanese Cedars (Cryptomeria).



Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles). This one has a most unusual coral color.  


Another care free, easy to grow, early blooming shrub is Pearl Bush 'The Bride' (Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride'). In early spring, it is covered with pure white flowers similar to azalea.


I sense that important times are ahead, and they may not be far off. First, the pandemic seems to be on the down slope with the hope of life returning to "normal" in a few months. Second, it is reasonable to expect the SC Supreme Court to rule soon on the church case. Whatever the outcome, this should bring at least the beginning of closure to the long, bitter, and exhausting litigation between the two sets of former friends. I expect the federal court to follow suit soon thereafter. Third, both the Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of SC are moving resolutely to choosing and installing new bishops. This will be a turning point for both dioceses and should set the course that each will take for some time to come. After eight and a half years of schism and the scandalous legal war, I am convinced the good church people of South Carolina caught in this schism only want resolution, peace and harmony. Gentle and mannerly people that they are, they want to get over the unpleasantness pressed on them and get on with their lives the best way they can. I suspect there is good reason to keep that hope alive. Whatever happens, we must remember we were all created for the living of this hour. This is the time that was allotted to us and with faith, strength, and courage we will see it through, together. Peace.  



Friday, March 12, 2021




NOTES,  12 MARCH 2021



Greetings, blog reader. It is Friday, March 12, 2021. 

We have passed the one year mark since the WHO proclaimed COVID-19 to be a pandemic. It has been a terrible and deadly plague unlike any since the great flu pandemic of 1918-19. According to Worldometers, 2,640,119 people in the world have died of the disease. Of these, 543,457 were in the United States. This means that before it is over,  this pandemic will probably surpass the mortality of the last great pandemic of a century ago. We should take a moment and remember the lives lost.

In the midst of everything else, let us remember that the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is seeking a new bishop, the first diocesan since the schism of 2012. The Anglican Diocese of SC is also seeking a new bishop, first as coadjutor then to become the II diocesan, after Mark Lawrence's retirement. 

The EDSC has settled on five candidates. Information about them, and the search, is available on the diocesan website. The diocese is requesting questions for the candidates to be submitted by 20 March. The "walk-abouts" (conversations with the candidates) will be held, virtually, on 12-14 April; and the election will be held, virtually, on 1 May.


As for questions for the candidates, here are a few topics and questions that pop in my mind right off. I am sure you could add some to these:


---This is not just another diocese looking for another bishop. This job is probably the most difficult one in all of the Episcopal Church. The schism of 2012 split the old diocese. Since then, there has been a bitter, and expensive, legal war between the two sides. The two great issues are not finally resolved: ownership of the local properties, and ownership of the old diocese. This is a unique, and uniquely difficult, situation.

What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this particular position?


---The background, events, and aftermath of the schism of 2012 were highly detailed and complicated. Caldwell's history of the schism, at 500 pages and 300,000 words really only covers a fraction of what happened. A bishop to lead a diocese into the future would have to know what happened in the past. 

How well do you think you know, understand, and appreciate the history of the schism in SC? How have you prepared yourself to comprehend the schism?


---There are two issues before the courts. The SC supreme court is about to decide the fate of the local properties. The federal court has before it the ownership of the pre-schism diocese. Although odds are that the Episcopal diocese will prevail, it is possible that it will not. 

If it does prevail, there will be a tremendous amount of work to do to restore the brokenness of the properties and the diocese. What do you think would be the main challenges in healing that brokenness? How would you go about meeting those challenges?

If it does not prevail, there will be a let down among the Episcopalians who have endured so much for so long. What do you think would be the main challenges in guiding the diocese in that circumstance? How would you go about meeting those challenges?


---The direct cause of the schism was the issue of homosexuality. The Episcopal Church moved to full equality for and inclusion of open homosexuals in the life of the church. The schismatics viewed homosexual acts as sinful and refused to go along with the Church reforms. They barred same-sex marriage in their diocese while the Episcopal Church officially allowed same-sex marriage. As recent events have shown, the issue of homosexuality is still a crucial one in the Anglican world. So, a couple of questions on this topic:

How would you invite and encourage homosexuals to become parts of the diocese and how would you protect their rights?

If the Episcopal diocese wins the court fights, there might be people in the returning parishes who oppose the pro-homosexual policies. How would you minister to them?


---Another issue of contention between the two sides is the role of women in the church. The breakaways joined a denomination that does not allow women to be bishops. The Episcopal Church, of course, has given women equality and inclusion. Yet, the Diocese of South Carolina is far below the national average of women clergy. Nationally about a third of clergy are female.

How would you encourage and facilitate more women in the ranks of the deacons and priests of the diocese?


---Last year, in the covid relief acts passed by Congress, churches were allowed to get "loans" (grants) from the government. This was tax-payer money. Many churches applied for and received these funds. The Catholic Church received more than a billion dollars in this tax-payer money. Many Episcopal dioceses and parishes also collected payments under the program. 

What is you position on churches taking tax-payer money?


---Racism is an historic problem in South Carolina and it remains so. The massacre at Mother Emanuel was just the most recent example of this. The Diocese of SC has been part of the problem. It was the last diocese in the entire Episcopal Church to integrate. As with gays and women, blacks have long been victims of discrimination.

How would you address the problem of racism; and how would you encourage and recruit more African American clergy in the diocese?


---Some Episcopalians outside of Charleston think the diocese is too Charleston-centric. Actually, it is true that more than half of the laity live in the Charleston metro area. However, there is a large diocese outside of Charleston running from Georgia to North Carolina. 

How would you encourage and promote church life in the non-Charleston part of the diocese?


What questions would you add to these?


Going back to the year of the pandemic, we all found our ways to cope with the changes and losses all around us. One way we coped was by keeping as much as possible to our old habits and routines of life. For me, my garden helped a lot. And, now that spring is here, I am working in my garden with a vengeance. It looks better than it has in a long time. Here are some plants blooming now:


Early spring is the season of the bulbs. There are countless varieties of daffodils. This is a particularly attractive form.



Most camellias are fading out now. I am always sad to see them go. Kramer's Supreme is one of the best choices with it profusion of large bright red flowers.  



Flowering Quince, 'Texas Scarlet.' This one is still small and will only get to 2-3 feet. Unfortunately, it is struggling against the juniper ground cover. 



Carolina Jasmine is something of a weed in South Carolina as it seems to grow everywhere in the woods. It is a very vigorous grower. I have this one on a trellis and have to fight it to keep it under control, but I do not mind because of the flowers and the aroma in early spring.



Daffodil "King Alfred." Bright yellow color goes well with forsythia, as the one in the distance.



Bradford Pear is a most beautiful tree in early spring. This one is not in my garden, and for good reason. Of all plants NOT to put in your garden or yard, Bradford Pear is #1. This tree is in a park. What is wrong with Bradford Pears? Invasive, short-lived, given to pests, foul odor in bloom, and weak branching making it susceptible to storm damage. That's enough.


We have been through a hard time, and there is more to come. Nevertheless, there is plenty of reason to know that things are getting better. In the midst all the suffering and loss, life goes on. Spring is bringing new life in all its radiant beauty. Who could not be lifted up with the new season? Peace. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021




EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF SC SUBMITS REPLY BRIEF TO SC SUPREME COURT



On 4 March 2021, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina delivered its reply brief to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

This is in the case where the EDSC is appealing circuit court Judge Edgar Dickson's order of June 19, 2020 that found all in favor of the secessionists. The EDSC filed its initial brief (arguments) in the case to the SCSC on November 12, 2020, essentially holding that the SCSC had settled the case in its August 2, 2017 ruling and had sent its decision down to the circuit court on Remittitur to be implemented. The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina submitted its initial brief to the SCSC on February 12, 2021, arguing that the SCSC decision was not conclusive and was open to interpretation as was properly done by the circuit court. In  short, EDSC asked the SCSC to overturn Dickson while ADSC asked the SCSC to uphold the Dickson order. If the SCSC upholds Dickson, the ADSC will gain the properties in question (29 parishes and the Camp). If the SCSC overturns Dickson, the EDSC will hold ownership of the properties. So the basic question at hand is: Who owns the properties, the Episcopal Church or the breakaways?

The EDSC's "Initial Reply Brief of Appellants" is a concise (15 p.) and precise summary of the overriding points it has made all along since the SCSC ruled in 2017. It is written very clearly and directly, without a burden of verbose legalese. This testifies to what the Church side holds as an open and shut case of indisputable jurisprudence.


These are the main points of EDSC's reply brief that I see:


---The SCSC's reconsideration of its own decision is inappropriate.

There is no legal basis or authority for this Court to ignore its previous decision and to reconsider this matter anew, just as there was no legal basis or authority for the Circuit Court to do so. (p.1)

Respondents' [ADSC] effort to have this Court reopen, reconsider, and reverse its prior holding in this case is contrary to law and this Court should reject it. (p. 3)


---The issue at hand has been settled by the SCSC, in 2017, in an unambiguous, majority decision.

The majority of this Court voted to reverse the Goodstein Order and found that the Respondent Parishes' property is held in trust for Appellants and that the Associated Diocese [EDSC] is the beneficiary of a trust with respect to all Diocesan Property. (p. 2)

As we set out in our primary brief, the result reached by this Court in 2017 is clear: A majority voted to reverse the Goodstein Order as to the property of the twenty-nine Respondent Parishes and the Diocesan Property. (p. 3)


---The majority decision of the SCSC is the law of the case. This law constrains all courts in SC.

The majority result constitutes the law of the case---the law of this case---and, under South Carolina law, binds the courts and parties in this action. (p. 3)

A three-Justice majority held that Appellants [EDSC] are entitled to the Parish Property of Respondents and the Diocesan Property, and that is the law of the case. (p. 4)


---The circuit court had no authority to alter the decision of the SCSC.

As to alleged factual findings in the Dickson Order, the Circuit Court on remittitur had no authority to make them. (p. 2)

The Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction or authority to find and resolve alleged ambiguities in the Supreme Court Ruling; Respondents received due process. (p. 14)


---The SCSC should reverse the Dickson Order and direct the circuit court to implement its decision of 2017.

Legal precedent and fundamental principles of judicial review require the Court to reject Respondents' arguments, reverse the Dickson Order, and remit this action to the Circuit Court to enforce the result this Court reached in 2017. (p. 4)


So, in essence the Episcopal side is saying the SCSC decision of 2017 is clear and means what it says. The Anglican party is saying the decision is ambiguous, inconclusive and open to interpretation by the lower court.

The essential question, then, is: Does the SCSC decision of 2017 mean what it says, or not?


At first glance, common sense says this is an open and shut case. The SCSC will reaffirm its 2017 decision and overturn Dickson. But, not so fast. There is much more here than meets the eye. In the first place, the SC Supreme Court of today is not the same as that of 2017. Two of the five justices then have retired (Toal and Pleicones) and replaced by new justices who had nothing to do with the earlier case. Moreover, one of the present five, Hearn, has recused herself from the case. This leaves four justices to decide the matter before them (unless the court brings in an acting justice to make five). If there are four votes, the Episcopal side needs to get three to overturn Dickson while the Anglican side needs only to get two to uphold Dickson (a two/two tie would leave Dickson in place). The two justices, of the present four, who participated in the 2017 decision are Beatty, the present chief justice, and Kittredge. Beatty voted for the Church side while Kittredge supported the breakaway side. Thus, in a four vote situation, everything will depend on the two new justices, and we can have no idea at the moment how they would lean. One wrinkle in all of this is that the breakaway side has focused on Beatty's part of the 2017 decision essentially holding that he supported a strict interpretation against the Dennis Canon in South Carolina. Actually, Beatty voted with the Church side to form the 3-2 majority. I cannot imagine he is happy with how the ADSC lawyers are portraying his published opinion. Nevertheless, the Church side has a heavier lift here, in that it has to get 3 of the 4 votes while the breakaways need get only 2.

As I have maintained all along, the fight in the Episcopal Church is part of the wider culture war in America, indeed, in the world (e.g. the recent brouhaha between the archbishops of Canterbury and Nigeria). The Episcopal Church embraces equality for and inclusion of homosexuals and women. The breakaway side condemns homosexuality and holds women to be inferior to men. 

What happens now in the SC Supreme Court will depend on how the justices ultimately interpret the matter before them, as jurisprudence or as the culture war. The recent case in Texas is a perfect example of the courts' dealings with the schisms. There, the local courts (circuit court and appeals court) followed jurisprudence and ruled very clearly and substantially in favor of the hierarchical Episcopal Church. However, the Texas Supreme Court, composed entirely of conservative justices elected state-wide, ignored all of the lower court voluminous reasonings and ruled in favor of the breakaways, on the technicality that a trust in Texas can be revoked unless the trust explicitly says it cannot be revoked. The Dennis Canon has no such provision, nor should it since the nature of a trust is a legal provision binding on the parties named in it. It appears to me as if the Texas supreme court was far more concerned that the breakaways should win than that the mountain of lower court jurisprudence should prevail. My conclusion is that the Texas supreme court saw this matter through the lens of the culture war. 

The situation in South Carolina is not at all the same as that of Texas. The essential difference is that the SC supreme court has already ruled on the case. They issued a majority decision that 29 parish properties belong to the Episcopal Church and the Camp belongs to the Episcopal diocese. If the SCSC now wants to reverse this and award the properties to the breakaway side, they would have to produce some compelling explanation to justify such a radical move. It is hard to imagine what kind of rationalizations the justices could come up with in order to allow a circuit court to overrule the state supreme court. It is equally hard to imagine the effects of such a thing on the whole system of law and jurisprudence in South Carolina. Chaos would result.

Common sense says that the Episcopal Church will win this. However, in the culture war, common sense does not always prevail.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021




NOTES,  9 MARCH 2021



Welcome, friend, on this early spring (actually late winter) day in early March. The people in my area are enjoying a glorious springtime, much needed at this point in our lives with so much darkness, death, and loss all around us. New birth is always refreshing, now more than ever after a year of the worst health crisis in a century. It is time to look in on the crises we have been following for the past year.


PANDEMIC. We are now reaching a full year since the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a worldwide pandemic. What a year it has been. Let us just take a moment to let some figures sink in. 117m people in the world have fallen sick with the coronavirus. 2.6m of them have died of it. In the United States, about 10% of the population have fallen ill with the virus. Over half a million Americans have died of the disease. This pandemic is on track to surpass the last great pandemic, the flu of 1918-19, and this is true in spite of modern medicines and now vaccines against the virus. We should all take a moment and reflect on the awful truth of the misery and death in our midst.

In spite of the reality of the year from Hell, at least in terms of public health, the pandemic is showing unmistakable signs of decline. All statistics show an easing of the spread and mortality of COVID-19 in the past few weeks. The best news is that we now have three vaccines that can at least minimize the effects of the coronavirus on the body.

According to our usual source, Worldometers, infections and deaths in the world are declining. Last week, March 1-8, new cases increased by 2.3%, an improvement over the 2.5% of the previous week (Feb. 22-Mar.1). As for deaths, there were 62,358 in the world last week, an increase of 2%, an improvement over the 3% of the earlier week. As of now, 2,606,833 people in the world have died of COVID-19. 

The U.S. is also showing clear signs of mitigation. Last week, the U.S. reported 441,707 new cases (2%), whereas the prior week had shown 489,942 new cases. Deaths also declined proportionally. Last week, the U.S. reported 12,063 deaths, down from the 14,645 of the earlier week. New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined dramatically in most of America.

Our local southeastern states more or less follow the national and worldwide trends. Last week, South Carolina listed 9,042 new cases, a dramatic improvement over the 12,674 of the previous week. SC is now reporting a total of 525,865 cases. As for deaths, the state listed 224 last week, up slightly from the 206 of the preceding week. SC has seen a total of 8,754 deaths.

Charleston County SC is also showing much-welcomed decline in the plague. Last week, the county reported 590 new cases, well below the 802 of the previous week. It also listed 8 deaths last week, a big improvement over the 15 of the earlier week. In all, 460 residents of Charleston County have died in this pandemic. Let us take a moment and reflect on this too.

Alabama is showing that new cases are up slightly but deaths are down significantly. Last week, AL reported 6,567 new cases, above the 6,409 of the earlier week. Some 10% of the state of AL has contracted the virus in the past year. Of those, 10,149 have died of it. Last week, AL saw 220 deaths, well below the 337 of the previous week.

As signs are showing an easing of the plague, many localities are rushing to remove protective measures. This is true even though only 18% of Americans have received even one of the vaccination shots. Some experts warn against reopening too soon lest we see a new spike in cases and deaths. We shall see. We are all experiencing pandemic fatigue but we must not lose our vigilance too soon.


LITIGATION. As far as I know, nothing new has happened on this front since out last check-in. My best guess is that the Episcopal diocese and the new diocese will submit reply briefs to the South Carolina Supreme Court. If so, I will report on them as I receive them. After that, the SCSC will move to a decision. The issue at hand is the Episcopal side's appeal of Judge Dickson's decision and request for implementation of the SCSC decision of 2017. This is the ball game, as they say. What the SCSC rules will in effect settle the long-running dispute between the Episcopal Church and the secessionists in SC. As with the pandemic, we should not let exhaustion cloud our view of the significance of this moment.


POLITICAL. It seems to me the mood of the country has changed dramatically in the past few weeks even in spite of the bitter partisanship still gripping the government. The new administration is working hard to restore the pre-Trump order, to the great relief of the majority of Americans, according to the opinion polls.

My two bits on the Meghan Markle story. I am weary of over-indulged, over-privileged, spoiled narcissistic "victims" complaining about how they were mistreated. Give me a break. How about discovering the timeless values of duty, honor, and selfless public service, as say, perfectly embodied in Queen Elizabeth II? Privilege has a cost. Markle knew very well what she was getting into by marrying into the royal family.

Markle made two main points in her recent interview. One was lack of caring among the royal family. As I said, she knew what was coming. The second was far more serious. She implied that the royal family was racist, and then refused to give any evidence to back this up. Markle grew up identifying as white and enjoying all the privileges that came with that. She joined a white sorority in college. She was welcomed with open arms by the royal family. If they were really racists, she would not be there, and she certainly would not have been so joyously embraced by them. The bothersome thing about playing the race card is that it diminishes the authentic problem of racism that is all around us. Racism is very much a part of our lives and it must be removed to achieve a truly moral and democratic society. Accusing the royal family of being racists, and without any evidence, is well, sad and counter-productive. It diminishes the accuser. It diminishes the serious issue. If Markel really wanted to fight against racism, she could have stayed in the royal family and made herself an ambassador to the Commonwealth of Nations, the vast majority of which is non-white. Now that would have diminished the real issue that she now decries. 

This whole business brings to mind another American divorcee who captivated another not-very-bright royal person not so long ago. He became so besotted with her that he gave up the throne. The two of them went off into lonely and bitter exile for the rest of their lives, estranged from the royal family. It did not end well for any of them. The best thing that came from that was that Britain was spared a pro-Nazi king at the worst possible moment when the survival of the nation was at stake. At this moment, it is difficult to see how the Harry-Meghan situation will turn out any better than did the Edward-Wallis debacle of the 1930's. It is all rather sad, really. There are no winners here.

Please do not get me wrong. As a democratic republican and old student of the French Revolution, I am definitely not a monarchist. Yet, I admire the way the British blended old monarchy with democracy to create a model constitutional, democratic monarchy. (The Church of England followed this same model of historic amagamation on of old form and new substance.) This gives a certain historical unity and stability to the nation while it moves ever more into new realms of human rights. This has worked well for Britain, and the monarchy remains overwhelmingly popular among the ordinary people. 


Finally, spring is here, at least in the south and I am reveling every minute of it. Did we ever need new life more? I am enjoying these lovely days working in my garden. It needs me and I need it. Around me now I see:



Baby's Breath Spirea (Spiraea arguta) is covered with countless tiny white flowers in very early spring. This one is full grown at 6 feet.



Forsythia blooms in early spring covering itself with small bright yellow flowers before the leaves appear. Azalea is the most common early blooming shrub in the south, but, alas, it does not like my garden, for whatever reason. I have planted two dozen azalea bushes over the years and every one has died. Yet, I have only to ride around town to see masses blooming everywhere. So, I have given up on azalea and rely on other, happy, residents of my garden. Nothing beats Forsythia at this time of the year.


Fujino Pink Spirea (Spiraea thunbergii 'Fujino Pink') is another very early blooming deciduous shrub. This one is also full grown at 6 feet.


My best wishes to you, blog reader. We have been through a long, very long, terrible night. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is getting brighter. Although we are still in the tunnel, there is every reason to believe we will make it out, together. None of us wanted this darkness, but that was not our choice to make. We are here for the living of this hour. Peace. 









  

Saturday, March 6, 2021




ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY SLAMS ARCHBISHOP OF NIGERIA



Yesterday, March 5, 2021, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, released a statement condemning the recent homophobic letter of Henry Ndukuba, the Archbishop of Nigeria. Find Welby's statement here .

The ABC identified three sentences of Ndukuba's letter that were "unacceptable." 1-that homosexuality is a "deadly virus." 2-that homosexuality is "a Yeast that should be urgently and radically expunged and excised lest it affects the whole dough." 3-that "secular governments are adopting aggressive campaign for global homosexual culture."

The ABC then declared:

I completely disagree with and condemn this language. It is unacceptable. It dehumanizes those huan beings of whom the statement speaks.

I have written privately to His Grace The Archbishop to make clear that this language is incompatible with the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion (expressed most clearly, albeit in unsuitable language for today, in paragraphs c and d of resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998). This resolution both restated a traditional view of Christian marriage and was clear in its condemnation of homophobic actions and words. It affirmed that "all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ."

...

The mission of the church is the same in every culture and country: to demonstrate through its actions and words, that God's offer of unconditional love to every human being through Jesus Christ calls us to holiness and hope.


Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury


Find the background of this issue in my 2 March blog post, "The Anglican Church in North America and Identity."

The letter of Ndukuba to which the ABC refers is available here . It is a blistering attack on ACNA which he accuses of being favorable to homosexuals and homosexuality. Finally Ndukuba demanded that the ACNA bishops "condemn," "dissociate," "discipline" "the Gay activists in their midst."


Henry Ndukuba, Archbishop of Nigeria.


So, what is going on here between the archbishops of Canterbury and Nigeria? It is simply a new expression of the culture war between south and north. 

The war began in earnest in the 1990's when the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada began removing discrimination against homosexual persons and accepting and including homosexuals into the life of the church. The Anglican Communion divided into pro and anti homosexual camps. In 2008, the anti camp formed GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) led primarily by the anti-homosexual rights provinces of equatorial Africa where homophobia was historically and deeply ingrained in culture. GAFCON carried a great deal of weight in Anglicanism because the largest provinces outside of England are those of equatorial Africa (as Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya). The next year, 2009, GAFCON organized the Anglican Church in North America as its proxy in the U.S. Its purpose was to replace the pro-homosexual TEC with an anti-homosexual province in the Anglican Communion. The recent brouhaha between the ACNA bishops and the "Dear Gay Anglican" crowd provoked the angry response from Ndukuba of Feb. 26. It showed just how seriously the GAFCON contingent views even the slightest kindness to gay people.


I have a couple of observations on this contretemps:

1-This ends any suggestion that homosexuality is not the issue. For instance, the leaders of the schism in South Carolina always insisted their actions were about religion and not homosexuality. Nonsense. It is starkly clear that homosexuality was and still is the driving issue in the schisms and divisions in the Anglican world.

2-The Nigerian church leaders learned the lessons of colonialism well from their British rulers. They are practicing a new version of religious colonialism. The Anglican Church of Nigeria maintains two dioceses in the U.S. as well as supporting GAFCON. GAFCON created ACNA and now expects ACNA to obey the masters. Ndukuba very clearly expects ACNA to toe GAFCON's line of homophobia as a good colony should. Moreover, the GAFCON bishops made Foley Beach, head of ACNA, the chair of GAFCON. They expect him to toe the line as well as they made crystal clear.

ACNA calls itself a province (although it is not a province of anything). The Church of Nigeria calls itself a province (it is a province of the Anglican Communion). By what right does the head of one province demand obedience from a supposedly co-equal province? It is because GAFCON sees ACNA not as equal, but a colony.


Simply put, GAFCON is trying to do two things: 

1-make a new form of Anglicanism. Historically, Anglicanism has always been a non-dogmatic, non-confessional expression of Christianity, reformed in substance and catholic in form. The Church of England was created to unify the kingdom under a broad religion. It could not be too doctrinaire. GAFCON is now trying to make Anglicanism into a confessional religion, one that explicitly condemns homosexuality (under the guise of biblical authority). It is doing so to bolster the church in cultures that historically condemn homosexuality and criminalize homosexual behavior. Thus the attack on and attempt to replace gay friendly churches of the First World (North America and Europe). This is why Ndukuba is so upset now. Apparently, he believes the colonists have developed too much independence.

2-divide the Anglican Communion into two separate churches, one pro and one anti gays. GAFCON has created a shadow government in the Anglican Communion, one that perhaps will replace in importance the old structure of the AC. 


Another point of the letters from Nigeria and Canterbury is that the two archbishops have seized the leadership of the issue of homosexuality. The archbishop of Nigeria has made it clear in no uncertain terms what he wants and expects. He wants an Anglicanism that is explicitly against any equality for and inclusion of homosexual persons in the life of the church. The Archbishop of Canterbury has moved himself into leadership in opposition to this stance. He has made it equally clear that the traditional Anglican Communion is open to homosexuals.

Where all this goes from here remains to be seen. Obviously Foley Beach has folded as a good, obedient colonist would. What will the "Dear Gay Anglican" crowd do now to stand up for homosexuals? We shall see. 

The decennial Lambeth Conference is scheduled to meet next year. It will be fascinating to see what happens between now and then and what happens then when south and north meet face to face.

Meanwhile, all things old are new again. Homosexuality is the issue of the hour with which the church has to grapple. The people who made the schism in South Carolina thought they had solved the issue with their dogmatic and intolerant "Statement of Faith." They were wrong. The issue of homosexuality is alive and well in South Carolina, as even one of the leading clergymen in ADSC signed the "Dear Gay Anglicans" letter calling for acceptance of homosexual people. Meanwhile nearly half the laity of ADSC have said they were OK with allowing "non-celibate gays" into positions of leadership in he church. Apparently, there is a schism within a schism in South Carolina. The issue of homosexuality has not gone away. It will not go away now that the two most powerful archbishops in the Anglican world have thrown down the gauntlet.