Thursday, April 29, 2021


It is only a matter of hours before the Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina choose their next bishop-elect. After nearly a year and a half of preparation, the time of decision is finally at hand. Two hundred and thirty six years of history are looking down on the people of the diocese (341 if one wants to go back to the first Anglican church in SC). Will they choose the first woman bishop, the first African American, the first openly gay, or none of the above? This election will be a first in many ways: the first in a schism, first in a pandemic, first by entirely electronic means, first without an assembly. All of this is a lot to process.   

The election convention is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. EDT, on Saturday, May 1, 2021. For the participants, it will be on Zoom. For everyone else, it will be live streamed on YouTube.  

I will open a commentary page on this blog before the convention commences and provide a running account as the election unfolds while I watch the YouTube feed. I expect to start my remarks on this blog within the hour before the convention begins.

Here are some final thoughts, as we count down the last hours:

---I am sure everyone would agree that the diocese has been blessed with five outstanding nominees. Any one of them would make a good bishop. The people of the diocese should be profoundly grateful that these fine people offered to captain their ship through the perilous seas ahead. I for one do not think this stellar slate is a random accident of history.

---My sense at this point (admittedly with little empirical data) is that no one has a lock on the election. However, there has been a great deal of interest in the two women nominees.

---The search process itself has helped the people of the diocese sort out their own thoughts about where the diocese has been, where it is now, and where it will go moving forward. The diocese itself is better off having gone through the process of a search. The search was not just for a bishop, it was for the soul of the diocese.

---The logistics of a "virtual" election are problematical. The Laity Order will vote by local church. A parish has four delegates while a mission has two. Each delegation will have to stay in close and continuous contact with each other as the voting proceeds because they have to vote by consensus within the delegation. If a delegation splits 50/50, they nullify their church's vote.


---For election, there must be a majority in the Clergy Order and the Laity Order at the same time. If there is no concurrent majority, the voting continues to the next ballot. In every bishop's election I have studied, the final winner led the vote in at least one of the orders on the First Ballot. 

Therefore, when the vote on the First Ballot is announced, note the top vote-getter in each of the two orders. If there is not a concurrent majority for one nominee, the voting will proceed to a Second Ballot.  In all probability, one of the nominees who led the voting in one (or the one who led in both orders) on the First Ballot will wind up winning the election. I do not know of a bishop's election in which a dark horse candidate came from behind to overtake one or both of the top vote-getters of the First Ballot.

---If the orders split on the top vote-getter (Clergy give A the most votes while Laity give B the most votes), coming to a consensus may be difficult. Only one can win. A split would mean one of two things would have to happen. Either one order would have to bow to the other to arrive at a consensus majority, or a third candidate would have to arise and overtake the top vote-getter in each order to secure a concurrent majority (again, I do not know of any case in which a third candidate won). The danger here is lingering hard feelings. This is why it is best not to go into the voting too set on one nominee to the exclusion of all others.

---Also, on the First Ballot, note the relative positions of the two women candidates in relation to the three men. If the two women come in first and second places on one or both orders and there is space between them and the three men, this will indicate a consensus among the voters, or at least a strong leaning, to elect a woman as bishop. It would be a clear signal that one of the women, most likely the one who is the top vote-getter, will have a strong chance of winning the election, perhaps on the next ballot.  


---Also, one should note the lowest two vote-getters on the First Ballot in each order. Sometimes, seeing that they will not win, the bottom one or two candidates will withdraw from the race as the balloting proceeds. Regardless, votes will shift from the bottom two to the top two. The delegates who leave the bottom contestants will have to decide where to shift their votes.

---It is impossible at this point to know what effect the low numbers of possible votes will mean to the outcome. If all of the certified clergy participate, there will be only 34 votes in the Clergy Order. This means a candidate must get at least 18 votes to win in that order. If all of the eligible local churches participate, there will be only 19.5 lay votes. This means 10 or more votes will be necessary to carry the Laity Order. With so few possible votes, even a slight shift will be more significant than if the election involved greater numbers.

Finally, one cannot overemphasize the importance of this election. In all probability it will set the direction of the Diocese of South Carolina for many years to come. Now, the choice of the new bishop is in the hands of the good people of the diocese. These people are my heroes. Knowing the difference between right and wrong, they took the hard road only because it was the right thing to do. They gave up of themselves so that others might be given full life in the church. Now, at this historic moment of decision, we should all rest confident in the good judgment of the people of the Diocese of South Carolina.

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, St. Stephen SC, 1760's.

(A personal footnote. My goal on this blog in the run-up to the election was to provide information and raise issues which the people of the diocese could use to reach their own conclusions. As I told my students for decades, I am not here to tell you what to think; I am here to tell you how to think. The decision on the bishop of SC is not mine to make. It belongs to the people of the Diocese of South Carolina. I have tried very hard to remain neutral on this blog and to avoid personal commentary on the individual candidates. My fondest wish is that on election day, everyone makes his or her most informed and thoughtful choice.)

Sunday, April 25, 2021


The Diocese of South Carolina has gone through fourteen bishop's elections in its 236-year history. It is about to hold its fifteenth. This one will be unique. Nothing like it has ever happened in the long and eventful history of the diocese. What makes it the one-of-a-kind? Two factors:  1-it is the only election to be held in the midst of a schism; 2-it is the only election to be held in the midst of a pandemic. This means the election will be held under highly unusual circumstances with highly unusual challenges. There has never been a "virtual," i.e. all electronic, election convention in the diocese. 

In my view, there are three major factors that should be borne in mind as the diocese proceeds to and through the impending bishop's election:

1-The diocese must maintain unity. 

There are five nominees at hand. All appear to be well-qualified and attractive. Surely, any one of them would make an effective bishop. My guess is that each one has a set of followers right now, people who are sure the one they have selected is the best. This is perfectly understandable. No doubt the partisans are in great hope their favorite will win. In reality, four of the five will not win. This means in all probability there will be numerous disappointed people in the diocese once the dust settles. The last thing the Diocese of South Carolina needs now is dissension, division, and recrimination. The life of the diocese is tenuous and precarious. This election must not add to the danger of the hour.

Before the election convention adjourns, both the diocesan leadership and the bishop-elect should do what they can to assuage hurt feelings and bring the diocese together in amity and harmony. In face of all of its dire challenges, it is absolutely imperative the diocese remain well-united going into the future.

2. The diocese must adhere strictly to the established rules of procedure.

The best way to keep unity is to guarantee that each nominee is treated with equal respect and opportunity. The diocesan authorities must not be in a position of being accused of favoritism to any one nominee. When the election is underway, the same must apply. Each nominee and his or her voters must be treated with the utmost of honor. Then, when all is said and done, there will be no chance of criticism of the process. One should bear in mind that if there is a suspicion of election irregularity, ten percent of the delegates can file an official complaint with the national church that will require an official investigation of the election. No one should want that in any circumstance, least of all in the present state of the diocese. What an embarrassment that would be.

Given the milieu of the schism, there must be not be even a whiff of illegitimacy around the new bishop. In the first place, this would raise issues of hypocrisy. One should not accuse others of breaking rules then turn around and break rules oneself. Moreover, when the federal court finally awards the pre-schism diocese to the Church side (highly likely) and the state court awards the 29 parishes and the Camp to the Church diocese (likely), there must not be a question about the validity of the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina who will assume authority over the entities in question.

3. An unprecedented "virtual" election convention will require some adaptation of traditional procedures. These should be done with unity and adherence to the rules in mind. 

If there is no decision on the First Ballot, the convention managers should allow abundant time for local churches to arrive at whatever changes they wish to make in their voting on the Second Ballot. The same between all subsequent ballots. Perhaps an hour between ballots should be allotted. At the end of the hour, the managers could call for a vote unless one or more delegations request more time on which the managers could allot an additional thirty minutes. This election is much too important to be rushed. 

Given the constraints of a "virtual" election convention, communication could be a problem among the voting sets. Steve Skardon has discussed this issue well in his latest blog piece. Find it here  . 

Voting in the Clergy Order will not necessarily be a problem. The vote there is one person/one vote. However, voting in the Laity Order could present some awkward and challenging circumstances. Voting there is by local church. A parish gets one vote and may have as many as four delegates while a mission gets one-half vote and may have as many as two delegates. Each local delegation will have a chairperson who will convey the local delegation's vote to the election convention officials. Each delegation must make a majority choice among themselves in order to have their vote counted. If a delegation is split 50/50, its vote will be not counted. Since a local church's vote represents the whole local church, the members of the congregation should have some way to communicate with their delegates if there is more than one ballot. Even more importantly, the local church delegates must communicate with each other as the ballots unfold. Ideally, the whole congregation, including delegates, should congregate for the duration of the election. If not in person, the parishioners need some way to talk with their delegates, perhaps by Zoom or conference call. Likewise, if the local delegates cannot meet in person, they must be able to talk with each other readily as the voting proceeds. The typical voting pattern on multiple ballots is for votes to move from the lower candidates to the leading ones. Local churches must be able to decide how their votes might shift from one nominee to another. This is why there should be a lengthy pause, as an hour, between ballots. The local delegations must be afforded plenty of time to arrive at their decisions. 

As the Diocese of South Carolina moves toward choosing its XV bishop, it has a great and rich heritage from which to draw. As the fateful hour of decision approaches, it is helpful to go back and recall some of that great foundation. The models for this convention are the two greatest bishops of South Carolina in the Twentieth Century. William Guerry (bp. 1908-1928) gave his life in an attempt to right some of the wrongs of racial injustice in the diocese. He set the model for diocesan work in human rights from then on. His witness still speaks to the diocese loudly and clearly all these years later.

Gray Temple (bp. 1961-1982) set the standard of excellence for the diocese to follow indefinitely into the future. In a tumultuous era, he fought for unity, faithfulness to the Episcopal Church, and equality for and inclusion of African Americans and women in the diocese while guiding the diocese in unprecedented growth and development. His astonishing list of accomplishments is too long to give here. Whatever healthy life the diocese has today is in large measure the legacy of this moral giant. He remains the larger than life shepherd still beckoning to his sheep today.  He should be the patron saint of the election convention next Saturday and his icon should hang in a place of honor. His spirit will certainly be there as it is indelibly embedded in the diocese he loved so well. And so, I will close this blog piece with his most memorable words of wisdom. He told the diocesan convention on September 16, 1977:

I say to you that this new movement [against women's ordination] is wrong because it is schismatic and divides the Body. Anyone who joins this movement is leaving The Church and starting a new one, whatever language is used to define the action. I cannot believe this is the will of God, who wills unity not division; love not separation; obedience and not self-gratification.

The Rt. Rev. Gray Temple.

May the Diocese of South Carolina move forward faithfully and confidently in the train of Guerry, Temple, and the countless other saints who served God while comprising the Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina lo these many years. Given the daunting crises of the hour, the new bishop will have an exceedingly hard task and can only succeed with the enveloping love and support of all the people of the diocese. Whomever the people decide to choose next Saturday ultimately must be the choice of everyone. 

Friday, April 23, 2021


One week from tomorrow, on Saturday, May 1, 2021, the Diocese of South Carolina will select its candidate to be the XV bishop of the diocese. We have to say "candidate" or "bishop-elect" because he or she will have to be approved by a majority of the bishops and the standing committees in the Episcopal Church before he or she can be ordained and consecrated as XV. The consents have to be given within 120 days of the election. Although there have been provisional bishops, there has not been a diocesan bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina since Bishop Mark Lawrence left the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina on October 15, 2012. He and his followers formed a new religious organization now known as the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, although it is not in the Anglican Communion. The Diocese of South Carolina has gone eight and a half years without a "regular" bishop. Thus, the election on the 1st will be a monumental milestone on the road to recovery after the schism of 2012. With this in mind, it is time for all eyes in the diocese to turn to the process of choosing the new bishop. It is time for a lot of thought and prayer as the hour of decision draws near.

All the information one needs to know about the election convention is available on the diocesan website. Find it here  . There is an excellent list of Questions and Answers that should give one what one needs to know about the process. 

The election is up to the clergy and laypeople of the diocese. The voting will be in two orders, Clergy Order and Laity Order. There must be a concurrent majority of votes in both orders to secure an election. The Q and A mentioned above provides the official list (made on Apr. 22) of the certified clergy and lay delegates to the election convention. Find the list here . There are 34 clergy in the Clergy Order and 12 parishes and 15 missions in the Laity Order (the worshiping group in Cheraw is on the list, but it is not a mission). This would mean possibly as many as 34 votes in Clergy and 19.5 votes in Laity. 

Since gender is a factor in the election for the first time in the long history of the diocese, it is interesting to note the numbers of men and women in the two orders. Among the Clergy, I count 8 women and 26 men. In the Laity Order, I count 45 women and 36 men delegates. Men outnumber women in the clergy; and women outnumber men in the laity. Make out of that what you wish in terms of voting.

Speaking of gender, there is a great deal of interest in the two women candidates in the race, Calhoun Walpole, Archdeacon of the Diocese of South Carolina, and Ruth Woodliff-Stanley. I have been tracking the "Views" of the separate Interviews with the five nominees conducted by Elsa McDowell, and posted on Youtube on April 7. While I think we should not make too much of these numbers, they still show us relative public interest in the nominees. As of this morning here are the numbers of Views and percentages (Apr. 7-23):

Calhoun Walpole   454 (22.3%)

Ruth Woodliff-Stanley   440 (21.6%)

Terence Lee   403 (19.8%)

Geoffrey Hoare   384 (18.8%)

Kevin Johnson   352 (17.3%)

What to make of these figures? The two women nominees are clearly of most interest. Together they have drawn nearly half of all of the 2,033 Views. There is quite a gap between them and the three male contestants. Walpole has led consistently in the numbers race since the Interviews were posted on the 7th. This is true even though she started out as the best-known nominee having served for years as Archdeacon of the diocese and sub-dean at Grace Church Cathedral.

Besides McDowell's Interviews, there are also on Youtube the Candidate Conversations of April 12, 13, 14. These run about two hours each and involve all of the nominees. This is another way to get to know them. However, these Conversations have turned out to be far less popular than the Interviews, and I am sure we all know why: long, repetitious, not very revelatory. If you have six hours to kill, you could watch the Conversations, but, as for myself, once was enough. With that kind of time on your hands, I would recommend Wagner's opera cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen," at 15 hours. It is far more exciting. As of this morning, Conversation Number 1 listed 474 Views, Conversation Number 2 had 297 Views, and Conversation Number 3 cited 253 Views. Do you see a pattern here? My point is that the Interviews tell us more about public interest in the individual nominees than the Conversations do.

(The Ride of the Valkyries, from Der Ring...)

The election may be decided on the first go around of voting. The last two bishop's elections in the Diocese were settled on the First Ballot. Bishops Salmon and Lawrence pulled majorities in both Orders right away. What if no one gets a majority in both orders on the First Ballot? In all of the bishop's elections with which I am familiar, the person who led in the voting on the First Ballot went on to win the election even if it required more than one following ballot. I am not familiar with any case in which a dark horse candidate came from behind to win.

Let us take the example of the Presiding Bishop's election in the General Convention of 2006. There were seven candidates:  Katharine Jefferts-Schori, Henry Parsley, J. Neil Alexander, Edwin F. Gulick, Francisco Duque-Gomez, Stacy F. Sauls, and Charles E. Jenkins. The First Ballot in the House of Bishops:

Jefferts-Schori        44

Parsley                     36

Alexander                26

Jenkins                     29

Sauls                         20

Duque-Gomez         18

Gulick                      15

Jefferts-Schori came in first place and Parsley came in second place. Then there was a gap between them and the rest of the field that ran in a fairly narrow range (26-15 votes). 

The Second Ballot:

Jefferts-Schori       49

Parsley                    49

Alexander               26

Jenkins                    30

Sauls                       17

Duque-Gomez        10

Gulick                      7

Thus, on the Second Ballot there was great movement away from the bottom two candidates toward the top two. Parsley gained 13 new votes to tie Jefferts-Schori who gained 5 new votes. At this point it was entirely clear the race was between Jeffeets-Schori (identified as a "liberal") and Parsley (identified as a "moderate"). After the Second Ballot there was a stampede away from the bottom five candidates toward the top two. The question was: Which of the top two to choose? The top two were tied.

On the Third Ballot, Jefferts-Schori scored 68 wile Parsley got 63. All of the lower five lost votes. It was clear from this there was a stronger movement from the bottom candidates toward J-S than toward Parsley. On the Fourth Ballot, J-S jumped far up to 88 votes while Parsley rose to 79. Finally, on the Fifth Ballot, J-S won 95 votes to Parsley's 82. This gave her the majority in the House of Bishops. In sum, Jefferts-Schori was the top vote-getter on the First Ballot. She wound up winning although it took four more rounds to finish it. After the House of Bishops' vote, the election went to the House of Deputies which overwhelmingly approved the Bishops' decision.

The election on the 1st will be up to two groups, the clergy and the laity of the Diocese of South Carolina. I suggest both of these do their homework. This is a monumental decision which is going to be highly consequential in church life for years to come. Study the résumés of the nominees, review McDowell's Interviews, talk to one's peers about what is important to your church life. Lay people should find out who their delegates are and share their views with them. The parish and mission delegates will be voting for the entire local church (lay voting is by church, not individual).

The Election Convention on the 1st will be on Zoom and live-streamed on Youtube starting at 9 a.m. According to the certified list, there are 34 clergy eligible to vote. This would mean 18 will be required for a majority in that Order. There are 12 parishes and 15 missions listed. This would total 19.5 votes, of which 10 votes would be necessary for a majority. Of course, majorities would depend on the numbers of clergy and churches participating in the election.

The people of the Diocese of South Carolina are now focusing on a great decision before them. These are people for whom I have no bound of admiration. They are heroes who took the hard way because it was the right way. They stood for the equal rights of all of God's children even at great cost to themselves. They refused to be vanquished by the Pharisees. I would trust my life to these good people and the church should do the same. They have shown right judgment so far. I am certain they will again when the fateful hour arrives in eight days.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

NOTES,  20 APRIL 2021

Greetings, blog reader, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. It is time to check in on the crises we have been following for over a year. This time, we will look at the pandemic and the state of the schism. I think we can set aside the political issues for now.

PANDEMIC. COVID-19 continues to spread apace in the world, according to our usual source, Worldometers. Already this month, there have been 15,000,000 new cases in the world. Deaths are around 200,000. As of April 19, over 3,000,000 (3,034,587) people have died in the plague. The death rate has climbed in the month of April, from 70,000 in the first week of April to 83,300 last week (Apr. 12-19). There is a new surge of cases and deaths in the world now in the spring.

There are signs that a surge may be happening in the United States too. So far this month, the U.S. has added 1.5m new cases. About 20,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus this month. The U.S. death total now stands at 581,061. 

The plague continues to spread in South Carolina. The state added app. 20,000 new cases this month, to a total of 569,279. Meanwhile, the death rate has declined. Last week (Apr. 12-19), SC reported 60 deaths from covid, for a total of 9,336. Charleston County added 533 new cases last week, for a total of 42,004. The rate of spread held steady at about 1% a week. 

Alabama, on the other hand, showed worsening numbers. New cases there jumped from 2,090 (Apr. 5-12) to 3,502 (Apr. 12-19). AL is now reporting a total of 522,401 cases. The death rate is also rising in the state. Last week, 78 people died of covid, up from the 75 of the previous week, and the 74 of the week before that. AL is now reporting a total of 10,790 deaths from COVID-19.

The anti-covid vaccines are now available to everyone over the age of 16. Unfortunately, there is a good deal of hesitancy in our southeastern states. In all of the U.S., app. 25% of the people have been fully vaccinated. In SC, the number is 23%, in AL 19%. 

SCHISM. Nothing new to report on the litigation. We are awaiting word from the South Carolina Supreme Court. The justices will either set a time for a hearing on the case or issue a written decision. The last brief was submitted to the court on 4 March; and there has been no word from the court since then. 

Right now, all eyes in the Diocese of South Carolina are focused on the upcoming bishop's election, on Saturday, 1 May (11 days from now).

As I said in my last blog post, I am following the "Views" of the five interviews by Elsa McDowell, that were posted on Youtube on April 7. The numbers of views of each interview suggest relative interest among the public in the various ones of the five nominees. Here is the standing as of this morning (9 a.m., 20 Apr.):

Callie Walpole   445

Ruth Woodliff-Stanley   425

Terence Lee  391

Geoffrey Hoare   370

Kevin Johnson   337

This suggests the most public interest is with the two women candidates. The other three have clearly less interest.

It is also enlightening to look at the numbers since the start of the Walkabouts/Conversations on the morning of Monday, April 12. Here are the numbers of Views since a.m. Apr. 12:

Lee   169

Woodliff-Stanley   169

Walpole   144

Hoare   124

Johnson   111

This shows a surging interest in Lee, the only African-American contestant, and Woodliff-Stanley, one of the two female nominees. Hoare and Johnson seem to be drawing significantly less interest. 

As I said earlier, we should not make too much of the View numbers since it represents only the number of times viewers have clicked onto the interview. This does not necessarily translate into votes. All the numbers suggest is relative interest among the five nominees. With that said, I do think the numbers show there is a popular feeling to elect a woman as bishop.

It is also important to note the small numbers of votes in the election. There are roughly around 40 clergy. As for the Order of the Laity, there are 12 parishes, 1 vote each, and 18 missions, 1/2 vote each. This is a total of 21 votes in the lay order. Since there are so few votes in each order, each clergyperson and each local church will have far more power than in years past when the numbers were much greater.

Looking at the recent bishop's elections of which I am familiar, there are two patterns. In one, there is a highly popular nominee who wins on the first ballot. This happened with bishops Salmon and Lawrence. There was no contest. In the other, the nominees are closer together and no one wins a majority in either house on the first ballot. This happened in 1980 when Fitz Allison lead in both orders but lacked a majority in either. Nothing changed much in six ballots. More laity were for Allison than clergy. Finally, enough clergy agreed to follow the lead of the laity and changed their votes to give Allison a bare majority in the Clergy Order while he got a more comfortable majority in the Laity Order. In that case, the clergy followed (reluctantly) the lead of the laity.

The same sort of thing happened in the recent election in Alabama. There, the two women candidates were in the lead on the first ballot but without a majority in either house. The shift on the second ballot was mostly among the clergy who moved more than half of their votes from the two men to the leading woman candidate, Glenda Curry. The laity also gave her a majority, but with less movement. As with Allison, what made that difference was that the clergy followed the lead of the laity and threw their support behind the leading vote-getter.

It seems to me, in the limited information I have, that no one of the five at hand has a lock on this election. If this is true, it would indicate no one is likely to win on the first ballot. If the voting follows the "Views" of the interviews, the two women nominees will lead on the voting on the first ballot. In that case, the movement from the bottom candidates is likely to go to whomever is the top vote-getter on the first ballot. This is what happened with Allison in 1980 and Curry in 2020.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying a beautiful springtime and I hope you are too. Did we ever need it more? After a year and plus of covid and all its ugly and awful effects, we are all yearning for a return to normality. The changing seasons remind us that there is a regular order to the universe that will not be disrupted by a microbe so small it is barely discernible, however vicious it might be.

So, I invite you to take a brief break and sit with me in my garden and take in the beauty all around us. I have wonderful and abundant birds in my garden. You will hear mockingbirds singing.


Even though I am a democratic republican and student of the French Revolution, I do think we should all extend our warmest wishes to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on her 95th birthday tomorrow, 21 April. After all, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the mother of our own Episcopal Church. In South Carolina, the Church of England was the established church from 1706 to 1785 when the remaining churches banded together to form the SC state association of Episcopal churches.

Saturday, April 17, 2021



In political races, we are always inundated with tracking polls that follow every slight move in the candidates' relative popularity in the expectation that this will indicate which ones will win their contests. Of course, opinion polls are often unreliable, most famously in 2016 when almost all of them predicted Clinton would win.

There are no public opinion polls in the run-up to the May 1st bishop's election in the Diocese of South Carolina. However, there is a sort of poll one may track that does throw some light on the relative strength of the five nominees as we approach the election. Elsa McDowell conducted interviews with each of the five and posted them on Youtube on April 7. They run between 19 and 30 minutes each. In them, the nominees were asked the same questions in the hopes their answers would help the people of the diocese get better acquainted with the five. Three of the five had no background with the diocese. Of the two who had connections, one had lived outside of the diocese for many years and so was not well known. On each interview, the current number of "Views" is given on the Youtube page. A View is registered each time a person clicks onto the particular interview. These View numbers indicate the relative public interest in the candidates and show how this interest is changing as time goes by. This is the best metric we have to give some indication of the relative strength of the five nominees in the horse race heading toward the finish line on the First of May.


Numbers of "Views":

Walpole. Apr. 8-113; Apr. 12-301; Apr. 14-374; Apr. 17-413.

Woodliff-Stanley. Apr. 8-83; Apr. 12-256; Apr. 14-344; Apr. 17-378.

Lee. Apr. 8-76; Apr. 12-222; Apr. 14-303; Apr. 17-353.

Hoare. Apr. 8-61; Apr. 12-246; Apr. 14-311; Apr. 17-340.

Johnson. Apr. 8-61; Apr. 12-226; Apr. 14-276; Apr. 17-308.

The first point is that the relative positions of the five have remained nearly the same. On April 8, one day after the interviews aired, the ranking of the Views was:

1-Walpole (113)

2-Woodliff-Stanley (83)

3-Lee (76)

4-5-Hoare (61)

4-5-Johnson (61)

On the most recent check (noon Apr. 17), the ranking was:

1-Walpole (413)

2-Woodliff-Stanley (378)

3-Lee (353)

4-Hoare (340)

5-Johnson (308)

Conclusions for the numbers above:

---There has been the most interest in Walpole all along. She has remained consistently in first place in the "Views." From Apr. 8 to 17, she collected the most Views, 300.

---Woodliff-Stanley has remained in second place. From Apr. 8 to 17, W-S collected the second-most Views, 295.

---Behind the two women, there has been the most interest in Terrence Lee, an African American. He has consistently held third place, not far behind W-S. From Apr. 8 to 17, his interview had 277 views.

---Less interest has been seen in Hoare and the least in Johnson. However, Hoard saw a significant surge in interest overall. From Apr. 8 to 17, he climbed from 61 to 340 Views, but this still left him in fourth place. Johnson had the least interest, moving from 61 to 308 and leaving him in fifth place.

What effect might the Walkabouts/Conversations of April 12-14 have had on sparking interest in the various nominees?

We can trace the Views from the early morning of April 12, before the Walkabouts, to noon today, the 17th.

The biggest surge in Views from the start of the Walkabouts on the 12th to today is with Lee who went from 222 to 353, a rise of 131, or 59%. Since the 12th, there has been more interest in the interview of Lee than any other nominee. The second highest surge was with Woodliff-Stanley, who moved from 256 to 378 Views, a rise of 122, or 48%. The third was Walpole, at 112 new Views, followed by Hoare at 94 and Johnson at 82. This suggests that Terrence Lee may have been the biggest winner of the Walkabouts/Conversations marathon. At least he has won the race in the Views of McDowell's five interviews since then.

As interesting as these numbers are, we must emphasize a big word of caution here. These figures tell us only the number of people clicking on each of the interviews. All this shows indisputably is interest. This is not necessarily an indication of how the viewers will vote. What it does show is the relative interest the viewers have in the five nominees; and I think that is worthwhile to consider.

Here is my take-away from the data of the Views of the McDowell interviews first posted on Apr. 7:

---Callie Walpole is consistently the subject of most public interest. This is true even though she is by far the best-known nominee among the people of the diocese having been Archdeacon for years.

---The two women candidates, Walpole and Woodliff-Stanley, are consistently in first and second place in Views. This suggests significant public interest in electing a bishop who is a woman.

---Terrence Lee, the African American nominee among the five, has shown the biggest surge in interest since the start of the Walkabouts on the 12th. This suggests that Lee was the major beneficiary of the Walkabouts. We will have to keep track of this to see if this momentum can move him into competition with the women candidates. So far, Lee has remained consistently in third place.

---Hoare and Johnson have shown the least movement in interest since the start of the Walkabouts.

If you read my previous post, "Thoughts..." you know the recent bishop's election in Alabama had two nominees who were women, in a field of four. In that case, the First Ballot showed the two women ahead, and collectively with a majority. This showed that the will of the people was to have a bishop who was a female. With that, many voters moved from the bottom two candidates, seeing that their first choices had no real chance of winning, to the top two and most of those opted to go with the candidate leading in the votes. This gave Glenda Curry a majority victory in both Orders on the Second Ballot. It is possible the same sort of scenario could play out in South Carolina. If the two women come in first and second places on the First Ballot, but without a majority, there could very well be movement from the bottom two candidates to the top two. If the moving votes opt to go with the highest vote-getter, as they did in AL, this could mean the woman leading on the First Ballot would wind up the winner. As it looks now, no one is likely to win a majority on the First Ballot on 1 May. The question, then, will be where will the votes from the bottom candidates go?    

Make whatever you wish of these numbers. This is not a scientific study and may tell us nothing in the end; and I doubt we should make too much of the figures. On the other hand, these numbers do indicate the comparative interests of the people of the diocese of South Carolina in the nominees and may well give us a hint of how the horse race is progressing. After all, the bishop-designate will be chosen in an election. Quasi-democratic that it will be, it will still reflect the minds and hearts of the people of the Diocese of South Carolina, as it should. The Views of the five interviews may do the same.

Friday, April 16, 2021


Now that the Walkabouts/Conversations have passed, it is time to focus on the impending vote, on Saturday, 1 May. The people of the Diocese of South Carolina are facing a tough choice, not that this is anything new. However, this tough choice is a happy one because it will, in all likelihood, bring in the XV bishop of the diocese and the restoration of sorely needed episcopal leadership in a part of the Body of Christ that remains deeply wounded by years of schism and legal warfare. Everyone would agree it is time to get on with the Lord's work in the rebuilding of their beloved church in eastern South Carolina. It is time to enthrone a bishop.

Steve Skardon has said on his blog there is no clear front runner now, that is, no one has wrapped up the election; and I would agree with that from the limited amount that I know. It seems to me the choice of the new bishop is wide open. At least this is the sense I have after three days and many hours of interviews. It appeared to me as if no nominee struck out but that none hit the ball out of the park either.

Two groups of people will decide this election, the diocesan clergy and the laity. They will vote in separate sections with the clergy voting one person/one vote. The laity will vote by local church, not by person. There are 12 parishes and 18 missions. Each parish gets 1 vote and each mission gets 1/2 vote. This means a total of 21 votes in the Lay Order. A candidate will have to get at least 11 votes in the Lay order to win. Of course, he or she will have to get a concurrent majority in the Clergy Order. We do not know yet the exact number of clergy qualified to vote but it will amount to several dozen. The majority vote will be figured on the number of participants in the election convention.

Since the local church gets a solitary vote, it will be very important for the congregation to come to a consensus before the election. A 50/50 split in a parish or mission delegation would negate the church's vote in the election.

In a sense, all searches for bishops are the same. Each wants to find the candidate who is the best "fit" for the diocese. This means there are two separate categories to consider, the state of the diocese and the qualifications of the nominees. As for the state of the Diocese of South Carolina, everyone is painfully well aware of it. There is no need to belabor the point. The diocese is in a unique and uniquely difficult situation. It begs for uniquely qualified leadership. 

At the same time, there are many other layers of pressing needs at hand. Does the diocese think it essential to choose a woman? If so, there are two nominees from which to select. Or, do the people think it is most urgent to place an African American on the bishop's throne? If so, there is an excellent choice before them. Or, do the church people think it is most important to elect an openly gay person as bishop? If so, one of the five nominees fits the bill. Or, do the people want to have a bishop steeped in the history of the local diocese? If so, there is a nominee who has plenty of pluff mud between her toes. Or, on the other hand, do people want to go for the stellar education and experience of the "traditional candidate" older straight, white guy. No one could match Eton, Magdalene College of Cambridge, and Yale, plus years of big parish leadership. One point to consider about Geoffrey Hoare is age. He is 63 years old (b. Jan. 18, 1958). All bishops have to retire at age 72.

My point is that electing a bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina is a multi-faceted problem; and the voting will depend on how the people interpret their needs and how they see the various gifts the nominees would bring to fill those needs.

The Diocese of Alabama (the upper two-thirds of the state) recently elected a new bishop. Perhaps it would be instructive to review how the process went on there to get some idea of what might happen in South Carolina. First off, one must recognize a vast difference between the two dioceses. Alabama is a more "normal," or typical diocese with a great history of unity and growth. It has had relatively little in terms of dissension and division. This is in great part because the good people of Alabama had the wisdom to choose outstanding leaders, e.g. the great Henry Parsley.

In AL, the diocesan, "Kee" Sloan, called for election of a Bishop Coadjutor. The new bishop would become the diocesan upon Sloan's planned retirement at the end of the year 2020. The Search Committee wound up with four candidates, all with strong ties to Alabama. Two were presently rectors in the diocese. For the first time, two women were among the final slate of nominees. One was Glenda Curry, who had an impressive résumé, but at age 66 would be able to serve only a few years before the diocese would have to go through the long and arduous process of finding another bishop. The other was Allison Liles, a woman in her early 40's who was serving a "survivor" congregation in the diocese of Ft. Worth. She too had an impressive record, particularly in progressive causes. The two men were also attractive candidates. One was Aaron Raulerson, the rector of a mid-size parish in a mid-size town (Guntersville) in northern Alabama. He was well-regarded, popular, and obviously an effective pastor. The other man was Evan Garner, who had early ties to Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham but had moved on to Arkansas. He was a favorite among the "evangelicals" of the diocese. 

As in SC, the Walkabout was essentially a beauty contest with the nominees parading about in their best appearances. The questions, too, were all soft-ball lobs which anyone could answer in pleasing generalities. One interesting point was that when one nominee was answering a canned question, the other three were in a soundproof room. They were brought out one at a time to answer. This made the answers more interesting and avoided the "Groundhog Day" effect of repetition that was so tiresome this week. Too, following the prepared questions, the audience got to write questions on pieces of paper that were put in a bowl. Questions were drawn out and presented to a candidate who had to answer on the spot. Also more interesting. However, in the end, I doubt that the beauty pageant had any effect on the outcome of the voting. People had already made their rankings of choices.

The election convention was on January 18, 2020, at Advent in Birmingham (pre-covid, in person). As in SC, the voting was divided into Clergy Order and Laity Order. The two groups separated for the voting. However, in the lay order,  the vote was by individual delegate, not by local church. There were 140 clerical delegates present and 236 lay delegates. 

First Ballot:

Glenda Curry:  60 clergy;  109 laity

Allison Liles:     39 clergy;  67 laity

Evan Garner:    23 clergy;  28 laity

Aaron Raulerson:  19 clergy;  47 laity

No one won a majority in either order on the First Ballot.  However, the two women together won a large majority in both orders and Curry was well ahead. This signaled loudly that the convention wanted a woman bishop. With this, many delegates who had voted for the two men began to move toward the women nominees. The question was which woman to choose, the older one with the longer record, or the younger one with the shorter record. At age 66, Curry could serve only six years.

Second Ballot:

Glenda Curry:  77 clergy;  127 laity

Allison Liles:     42 clergy;   63  laity

Evan Garner:    14 clergy;   17  laity

Aaron Raulerson:  8 clergy;  43 laity

Curry won a majority in both orders on the second ballot. She jumped from 60 clergy to 77 and from 109 laity to 127. Most of the people who abandoned the two men moved to Curry. 

Clearly, the people of the Diocese of Alabama decided it was most important to have the first female bishop in the history of the diocese and to choose this one even though she could have only a few years in office.

Looking around the various dioceses, even in the more traditional south, one can see this is the age of the woman bishop. If they can be elected in places like Alabama and West Tennessee, they can be elected anywhere. If this is the feeling now in South Carolina, there are two women nominees from which to choose.

However, as I have said, the situation in South Carolina is complicated by the many factors at hand. What the voters must sort out is the relative importance of these factors and then which nominee best fits the needs of the hour.

I suggest that in the next two weeks the people of the diocese of SC go back and study the résumés of the nominees, talk often with their fellow church people, and engage in a lot of thought and prayer.   

Wednesday, April 14, 2021


The Walkabouts/Conversations have ended. They were held on April 12, 13, and 14, with two hours of questions and answers in the mornings and several hours of informal discussions in the evening. The morning sessions were recorded and are available on Youtube. 

Each morning session had four questions with the five nominees taking turns answering each in a five-minute segment. The three days meant twelve questions in all. 

There was a good deal of up-beat, hopeful and inspiring talk and lots of repetition since, wisely, no one apparently wanted to be disagreeable on anything. (I was on a search committee once in which the candidate got into a heated argument with one of the committee members. End of interview and the candidacy.)

I watched only the three morning sessions on Youtube. I was not on Zoom and so did not see any of the breakout discussions. In the parts that I saw, there was only one bit of news. All the nominees agreed that there should be a Canon to the Ordinary. This came up in the third question on the first day that dealt with diocesan staff being overworked and underpaid (to which no one could disagree). A Canon to the Ordinary is a sort of assistant to the bishop who handles mostly administrative matters. At present, there is not one in the Diocese of South Carolina although there is an Archdeacon who is basically the liaison with the clergy. What was left out of this discussion was how to pay for both a bishop and a Canon to the Ordinary. The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina has both, at compensation packages totaling app. $400,000/yr. Surely, supporting a new full-time bishop and Canon to the Ordinary would be a huge challenge to the rather limited budget of the diocese. One should be interested to see how the diocese can manage all of this financially.

So, by this point, the people of the diocese have seen, or at least have had the opportunity to see, hours and hours of the five nominees talking about topics from A to Z. Now comes the hour of decision. Only one of the five can be chosen. The problem is, which one?

If you are expecting me to discuss these nominees personally on this blog, you will be disappointed. It would be inappropriate for me to talk about them individually. They are all fine people, and I am firmly convinced each would make a successful bishop for some fortunate diocese. 

The question is, Who is best for this particular diocese at this particular time? The Diocese of South Carolina is not just another diocese going through the routine motions of hiring another bishop. This is a most unusual circumstance. The diocese is the most serious aspect of the worst crisis to hit the Episcopal Church since the Civil War a century and a half ago. It has endured a terrible schism that was thirty years in the making only to have to endure eight and a half years, and counting, of bitter legal warfare made against it. The new bishop will take on the most challenging task in the entire Episcopal Church. All of this means that the people of the diocese should give this choice the most careful consideration possible. A great deal rests on the shoulders of the faithful volunteer who is chosen to lead the diocese into the future of who knows how long. 

So, I suggest that everyone in the diocese consider three things:  where the church has been, where it is now, and where you would like it to be in the near and distant future. By church I mean the local congregation and the collective diocese. Then, study the written résumés and the remarks of each of the five nominees carefully and decide which one of them best fits the unique situation at hand. Each one of them has much to offer, and each is different than the rest. I suggest, too, that the clergy talk this over with his or her parishioners as well as fellow clergy while the laity discuss it with their fellow congregants. Others may see something revelatory that you did not see. Besides, this is a collective decision.

It is most important that parishioners talk about the choice among themselves because of the structure of the voting in the election convention as laid out in the diocesan Constitution and Canons. A parish may have as many as four delegates to the convention while a mission may have as many as two. Each delegation will cast the vote for the local church with parishes given one vote each and missions 1/2 vote each. Thus, there should be a consensus among the local congregation since an evenly split delegation (e.g. two for one candidate and two for another) would presumably negate the parish's or mission's vote in the convention. 

The Diocese of South Carolina has come a long way and endured much. After a great deal of heartache, now is the time for rejoicing as the diocese moves to choose its first full-time bishop in eight and a half years. There are five wonderful people who have volunteered to serve. I, for one, do not think this stellar panel was just a random accident. 

The next stop on the road to the restoration of the great Diocese of South Carolina comes on Saturday, May 1, 2021. This means the good people of the diocese have sixteen days to make up their minds. It is a joyful, if hard, choice.  

Monday, April 12, 2021


The Walkabouts/Conversations in the search for the XV bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina begin today, 12 April 2021, and continue on the 13th and 14th. Find the details here .

According to the diocesan newsletter, the morning sessions will be available to the participants on Zoom and everyone else live on Youtube. They will also be recorded and posted on Youtube for later viewing. The morning session begins at 9:00 a.m. with Morning Prayer. From 10:00 to 12:00 the candidates will answer questions presented to them in a "Panel Discussion." At 12:00 p.m. there will be a Noonday Prayer. The informal evening sessions will be on Zoom but not on Youtube.

The question and answer period from 10 to 12 should be quite interesting since the five candidates will be answering questions that have been sent in from around the diocese.

I expect to return with comments after the three days of conversations. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to watch as much as one can of the morning sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It is highly probable that one of the five nominees will become the next bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Friday, April 9, 2021


The Diocese of South Carolina is blessed beyond measure to have five outstanding nominees for the XV bishop of the diocese. The Search Committee is to be commended for the work it has done in assembling this happy, if bewildering, panel. Selecting only one among them will be a hard choice since any one of them would make an excellent bishop.

The first point to celebrate is that this is the first truly diverse class of nominees in the 236 year history of the diocese. The five include two women, one African American man, and an openly gay man (the Rev. Kevin Johnson said in his video interview, at minute 12:30, "a gay man as bishop of South Carolina..."). They are the first women, the first African American, and the first openly homosexual person to be officially nominated for the office of bishop in the Diocese of South Carolina. That in itself is a colossal, if overdue, milestone. If a woman is elected and affirmed, she will be the first female bishop in the history of the diocese. If the African American is tapped, he would be the first bishop of color in the diocese. And, of course, if the gay man is chosen, he would be the first openly homosexual person to head the diocese. If nothing else, this diverse class of nominees is great cause for celebration. It was a long and exceedingly hard road to reach this point, even more reason to set off the fireworks.

I have watched all five of the interviews posted on Youtube. Find the link to them here . I strongly encourage everyone to watch all of them too, all the way through. They run between 19 and 30 minutes each. The "views" numbers show that one nominee has had far more attention than any of the rest. If this means that many people are only interested in one nominee, it would be unfortunate for them and unfair to the rest of the nominees. We should all be lost in admiration and gratitude to all of the five for volunteering to take on what is surely the most challenging job in the Episcopal Church at this moment. All of them deserve, and have earned, everyone's full attention and interest. The least one could do is to listen to what they have to say. There is much wisdom, hope, and inspiration in these "interviews." 

The Walkabouts/Conversations will be on Monday the 12th, Tuesday the 13th, and Wednesday the 14th. They will be conducted on Zoom, recorded, and posted on Youtube. I, for one, will be watching every minute, on Youtube, of the conversations with these wonderful people. I encourage everyone to keep an open mind and an open heart throughout these days. Give everyone of these fine people an equal chance to reveal to you what they have to offer to the diocese.

One trivial point. How to pronounce the word "schism"? Some people say SKIZ-em, while some say SIS-em. Both are acceptable, but the preferred pronunciation in the major dialects of English is the first, SKIZ-em.

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying this lovely springtime as much as I am. Here are a few scenes of my garden these days:

In the smaller part of the garden looking toward the central lawn and the larger part of the garden. The large tree is elm. The purple shrubs are loropetalum.

From the lawn looking toward the larger part of the garden. The walk path entrances are to the right and left of the picture. Walkways twine through this part of the garden. 

In places, I enjoy mixing shapes, textures, colors, and forms to give interest. Here dwarf bamboo grows by variegated yucca, juniper, and abelia between large crepe myrtles. 

This aromatic dianthus clump is irresistible.


Monday, April 5, 2021




The choosing of a bishop-elect for the Diocese of South Carolina is scheduled for Saturday, 1 May 2021. A "virtual" (online) meeting of the diocesan convention will name a bishop-elect. The last bishop's election in DSC was fourteen years ago. If the bishop-elect chosen on 1 May is confirmed by the national church, he or she will become the XV bishop of the diocese. South Carolina was one of the nine state associations that founded the Episcopal Church, in the United States, in 1789. It is represented by one of the nine crosses on the blue field of the church flag.

Since Bishop Mark Lawrence quit the Episcopal Church in 2012, there have been two provisional, or temporary, bishops of the Diocese of South Carolina, Charles vonRosenberg and "Skip" Adams, each of whom served for a few years. Both were retired diocesan bishops, one from Tennessee and one New York. Recently, another retired bishop, Henry Parsley, has been serving as a "visiting bishop" in DSC.

Choosing a new diocesan bishop is not a simple, quick, and easy process in the Episcopal Church and it is not meant to be so. Quite the opposite. It is a complicated, detailed, time-consuming exercise that typically takes one and a half to two years time. The present effort in South Carolina is no exception.

The rules and procedures for choosing a bishop are spelled out in detail in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and in the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of South Carolina. Both are freely available on the Internet. The national church sets the rules that all dioceses must honor. The local diocese explains the specific steps to be followed internally. Since the Episcopal Church is hierarchical, each diocese must conform to the constitution and laws of the national church. A diocese is not free to choose a bishop outside of established rules of the Episcopal Church.

A certain amount of the early work in choosing a new bishop in DSC has already been done, and done, as far as one can tell, as per the prescribed rules. Bishop "Skip" Adams, the second provisional, departed the diocese at the end of 2019. This left the Standing Committee as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, which it remains. On January 23, 2020, the Rev. Caleb Lee, chair of the Standing Committee, announced the beginning of a search process for the XV bishop of the diocese and the first since the schism of 2012. The Standing Committee set up a 16-member Search Committee, chaired by the Rev. Philip Linder. Owing to the covid pandemic, the search was suspended from April to August of 2020.

Upon recommendation of the Search Committee, the Standing Committee announced a slate of five nominees, the Revs.:

---Geoffrey M. St. John Hoare

---Kevin Allen Johnson

---Terence Alexander Lee

---Calhoun Walpole

---Ruth M. Woodliff-Stanley

The Walkabouts/Candidate Conversations are to occur next, on April 12, 13, and 14. The morning session, from 9 a.m. to noon, will be on Zoom and Youtube. This will be the formal question and answer part. The deadline for submitting questions has passed. In the evenings, there will be smaller discussions not covered on Youtube. Find more about the walk-abouts here .

Then, on May 1, 2021, the election convention will meet via Zoom and Youtube. A bishop's election convention must adhere to the particular and detailed rules laid out in the Diocese of South Carolina's Constitution and Canons. Find it here . Among the most important rules are the following: 

The election convention will meet and vote in two Orders, Clergy and Laity. There must be a majority vote at the same time in both houses. 

In the election of a Bishop, Bishop Coadjutor or Bishop Suffragan, the vote shall be by written or electronic ballot, and by Orders. A concurrent majority of both Orders is necessary to elect a Bishop. (VI. 7.2, p. 6)

The Standing Committee will place the names of the candidates formally into nomination. There can be no nomination from the floor.  

The Standing Committee will place in nomination the names of all persons whose names were submitted to it by the Search Committee and those who have fulfilled the petition requirements. Seconding speeches will be governed by the rules of order. No nominations from the floor will be permitted. (Canon I.9, p. 34).

In the Order of the Clergy, the vote is by individual clergyperson, one person one vote. 

In the Order of the Laity, the vote is by local church, not by person. The local churches of the convention are the parishes and the missions in union with the diocese. A parish may have as many as four delegates while a mission may have as many as two delegates to the election convention. Each parish is given one vote and each mission is given 1/2 vote. 

The following provisions shall govern voting in Convention.

On all questions before the Convention...If a separate vote by Orders is requested, the clergy shall vote individually and the lay delegates by churches (a majority from each parish having one vote and each mission having one-half vote). (IV.7.1, p. 5).

In each parish and mission, the delegation decides collectively how their local church will cast its vote. By my unofficial estimation, there are 13 parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina, 17 missions and 1 worshiping community. If so, according to the rules, this would mean a total of 21 1/2 votes in the Order of the Laity, 13 from parishes and 8 1/2 from missions. A majority of the 21 and 1/2 possible votes would be 11. This could come from any number of combinations, for instance: 11 parishes; 9 parishes and 4 missions; 3 parishes and 16 missions.

Sometimes elections in the Diocese of South Carolina have been decided on the first ballot, and sometimes only after many ballots. In the bishop's election convention of September 27, 1960, fourteen names were placed into nomination. Four ballots passed with no one gaining a majority. On the fifth ballot, the Rev. Gray Temple secured more than half of the vote in both Orders and became the bishop-elect.

The next bishop's election, on May 17, 1980, found seventeen candidates on the ballot. This time, six ballots passed with no one gaining a majority of both Orders. Finally, on the Seventh Ballot, the Rev. Christopher FitzSimons Allison won the majority in both Orders. In that case, the hold-back was the Order of the Clergy which eventually, if somewhat reluctantly, gave 37 of its 71 votes to Allison while the parishes and mission gave 37 of their 51 and 1/2 votes to Allison. 

However, the next bishop's election, on September 9, 1989, was an open and shut case. The Rev. Edward Lloyd Salmon, Jr. swept the field right away. He was elected on the First Ballot with 61 clergy (48 needed) and 30 and 1/2 of the parishes and missions (29 and 1/2 needed).

Mark Lawrence's first election on September 16, 2006, was similar. 

Present were 106 clergy and 223 lay delegates representing 71 local churches...Of the 106 clergy, 54 were necessary. Parishes were given one vote each and missions one-half vote each. For the local churches, 28 votes were necessary for a majority. When the results were announced, 72 clergy and 42 1/2 churches voted for Lawrence, a landslide on the first ballot.  (Caldwell, History Schism SC, p. 169).

Up to the moment a bishop-elect is chosen by the convention, the diocesan rules and procedures dominate the matter. After that, the national church constitution and canons largely govern the process. 

If there is a question about the adherence of the election to the constitution and canons of the diocese, the TEC C and C provides a process for challenging the election. If ten percent of the delegates to the election convention file a formal complaint of irregularities with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church within ten days of the convention, the PB will direct the matter to a Church Court of Review for a report which will be sent to the officials of the diocese. This is found in the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons, III, 11, 8 (p. 167-168). Find it here .

So, for instance, if there are 100 official delegates to the election convention on 1 May, 10 of them could file a complaint leading to an investigation and report on the election by a panel of the national church. Even if the report should find no irregularity, the probe itself would leave a cloud of suspicion over the election and the legitimacy of the bishop-elect. If the report should find the bishop-elect had been chosen by unconstitutional means, this would throw the whole process into chaos and could very well lead to the failure of the bishop-elect to gain consents in the next step of the process.

The election of a person in the convention is the selection of a candidate for bishop, not of a bishop per se. The candidate named by the diocesan election convention cannot become a bishop until he or she has been approved both by a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction, of the Episcopal Church, and by a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Moreover, this must be done within 120 days after the notification of the diocesan election convention's selection.

The TEC C and C requires that the chair of the diocesan Standing Committee, or some other officer, immediately send notification of the selection of the bishop-elect to the Presiding Bishop and to all of the Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church. The PB will then notify the bishops of the Church. The diocesan Standing Committee will notify the other Standing Committees of the Church. If a majority of the Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church formally consent to the election, the evidence is sent to the Presiding Bishop. If a majority of bishops and Standing Committees consent to the diocese's selection, the PB will notify the diocesan Standing Committee that the process is concluded and the bishop-elect may proceed to ordination and consecration.

If a majority of the Standing Committees of all the Dioceses consents to the ordination of the Bishop-elect, the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop is elected shall then forward the evidence of the the Presiding Bishop. If the Presiding Bishop receives sufficient statements to indicate a majority of those Bishops consent to the ordination, the Presiding Bishop shall, without delay, notify the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop is elected and the Bishop-Elect of the consent. (TEC C and C, III.11.3, p. 164-65).

What happens if the majority of bishops and/or Standing Committees deny approval or fail to give consent within the 120 day window? The PB will declare the bishop's election to be null and void and call for another election.

In case a majority of all the Standing Committees of the Dioceses do not consent to the ordination of the Bishop-elect within one hundred and twenty days from the date of the notification of the election by the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop was elected, or in case a majority of all the Bishops exercising jurisdiction do not consent within one hundred and twenty days from the date of notification to them by the Presiding Bishop of the election, the Presiding Bishop shall declare the election null and void and shall give notice to the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop was elected and to the Bishop-elect. The Convention of the Diocese may then proceed to a new election. (TEC C and C, III. 11.8, p. 166-67).

This scenario actually happened in the Diocese of South Carolina in 2007. A majority of the bishops gave consent to the election of Mark Lawrence but the diocesan Standing Committees were slow to respond. In fact, many Committees issued denials of consent on suspicion of Lawrence's loyalty to the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop added three days to the 120 required making the deadline of consents as March 12, 2007. By that time, 56 Standing Committee consents had arrived, a bare majority. However, several dioceses had not followed the requirement that actual signatures be made on the official consent forms. Instead, they filed electronic forms which could not be considered official. On March 15, the PB notified the head of the DSC Standing Committee that the election was null and void. With this, the DSC held a second election after which Lawrence received a majority of the Standing Committee and bishops' consents allowing him to be ordained and consecrated bishop of the diocese in 2008.

By my count, there are 111 dioceses of the Episcopal Church today. This means that within 120 days of the election, the Standing Committees of at least 56 dioceses must submit the official forms of consent for the person chosen on May 1 to advance to the office of bishop, that is, assuming the majority of the bishops agree.

Once the consent process is completed, the diocese may proceed with the service of the ordination and consecration of the bishop-elect. The Presiding Bishop is to preside at this service unless he or she names another to lead. Mark Lawrence and his partisans pointedly objected to the presence of the Presiding Bishop at his service in 2008 which, instead, by her permission, was led by the bishop who was head of Province IV. One may safely assume the present Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, will be welcomed with open arms as the chief consecrator of DSC XV. Curry is a long and devoted pastor of the diocese.

In sum, the process of choosing a new bishop is laid out in detail in the published constitution and laws of both the national church and the local diocese. In order for the end product to be achieved satisfactorily, the established process must be followed faithfully by the specifics in which it is laid out. Enthroning a new diocesan bishop is not easy and it is not quick, but in the end the process serves the best interests of the diocese, the Episcopal Church, and the new bishop. 

The office of bishop is not just another rung on a clergyperson's ladder to retirement. No, it is a special position of sacred trust going back in unbroken succession nearly 2,000 years to Jesus Christ. In South Carolina, the new bishop will be the fifteenth in a line stretching back more than 200 years. This is why the process of choosing a new bishop now must be treated with the utmost measure of regulation, propriety, decorum and respect. When the process is over and the new bishop is finally seated, there must be not even a hint of a doubt about his or her legitimacy and authority.

The next bishop of South Carolina will inherit the most difficult job in all of the Episcopal Church. One of the great and founding dioceses of the Episcopal Church lies seriously wounded and bleeding, and still fighting for its life in the courts of the land. It has suffered a grievous attack by insurgents from within who refused to accept the Church's championship of human rights. On their way out, they tried to take the diocese, its assets, and the local properties with them, and, to that end, they declared legal war on the Episcopal Church. The intrepid Christians in eastern South Carolina who remained with the Episcopal Church have paid a price for doing the right thing, for defending the rights and inclusion of all of God's children in the church. The next bishop will face enormous challenges in binding the deep wounds and healing the brokenness of the past. Whoever becomes the XV bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina must have the full confidence and support of the whole church in order to succeed in this daunting mission. The Episcopal Church expects it. The diocese requires it. The new bishop deserves it.