Presiding Bishop accepts Mark Lawrence’s renunciation

Posted Dec 5, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Citing Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the Constitutions and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and following thorough discussion with the Council of Advice, with their advice and consent, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on November 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church.

The Presiding Bishop made the announcement December 5. The Presiding Bishop informed Lawrence by phone, email and mail on December 5.  Following that, the House of Bishops was notified.

According to the documents, Lawrence “is therefore removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations.  This action is taken for causes that do not affect his moral character.”

The renunciation is effective immediately on December 5.

The renunciation was consented to by the members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, who are the presidents or vice presidents of the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church:  Bishops Stephen Lane of Maine (Province I), Lawrence Provenzano of Long Island (Province II), Neff Powell of Southwestern Virginia (Province III), Dabney Smith of Southwest Florida (Province IV); Wayne Smith of Missouri (Province V), Rob O’Neill of Colorado (Province VI), Larry Benfield of Arkansas (Province VII), James Mathes of San Diego (Province VIII) and Francisco Duque of Colombia (Province IX).  Also members of the Council of Advice are Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas, vice president of the House of Bishops and Bishop Clay Matthews of the Office of Pastoral Development. Note: Bishop Dabney Smith was not present at the meeting because of illness.

November 17 address

On November 17, Lawrence presented an address in which he publicly proclaimed the disassociation of the diocese from the Episcopal Church: “We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago.”  He also said: “We have moved on. With the Standing Committee’s resolution of disassociation the fact is accomplished: legally and canonically.”

Facts leading up to the renunciation
Pastoral outreach to Lawrence had been ongoing for a period of several years, including up to the time he announced his intentions.

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori along with members of her staff took steps to work with Lawrence.  In addition, repeated attempts by the Bishops of Province IV and notably Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina were made to discuss the situation with Lawrence and to offer help in achieving a resolution.

On September 18, 2012, the House of Bishops Disciplinary Board signed a “Certificate of Abandonment of the Episcopal Church and Statement of the Acts or Declarations Which Show Such Abandonment” in the case of the Bishop of South Carolina.

The House of Bishops Disciplinary Board was created by General Convention (Canon IV.5(1) and 17(2)), is separate from the Office of the Presiding Bishop, and is composed of 10 bishops, four lay persons, and four clergy elected by General Convention  from throughout the Church.

In its “certificate,” the Disciplinary Board announced that it had “reviewed complaints from twelve adult communicants in good standing resident in the Diocese of South Carolina and two priests canonically resident in that Diocese…”  Thus, the Title IV actions were initiated by members of the Diocese of South Carolina, not the Presiding Bishop.

The Disciplinary Board recited three “Acts” by the bishop to show such abandonment:

  • First, resolutions came before the diocesan convention in 2010 proposing, among other things, to amend the diocesan Constitution to qualify the diocese’s accession to the Constitution of the Church and to remove any provision acceding to the canons of the Church, as well as proposals to amend the diocesan Canons to remove all references to the canons of the Church.  The Disciplinary Board found:

“The failure of Bishop Lawrence to rule these resolutions out of order or otherwise to dissent from their adoption, and in fact his endorsement of these resolutions in his address to the 219th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina violated his ordination vows to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church’ and to ‘guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church,’ as well as his duty to ‘well and faithfully perform the duties of [his] office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church,’ constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

·         Second, in October 2011, Bishop Lawrence, as President of the diocese’s nonprofit corporation, filed amendments to the corporate charter deleting all references to the Church and obedience to its Constitution and canons.  The Disciplinary Board found:

            “Bishop Lawrence’s action in signing, executing, and filing of the Articles of Amendment altering the stated purpose of the nonprofit corporation known as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina violated his ordination vows to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church’ and to ‘guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church,’ as well as his duty to ‘well and faithfully perform the duties of [his] office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church,’ constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

·         Third, in November 2011, Bishop Lawrence either signed or directed others to sign, “quitclaim deeds to every parish of the Diocese of South Carolina disclaiming any interest in the real estate held by or for the benefit of each parish.”  The Disciplinary Board found:

            “Bishop Lawrence’s action in directing the issuance of these quitclaim deeds in an effort to impair the trust interest of The Episcopal Church and of the Diocese of South Carolina in the affected real estate, and in personally executing such quitclaim deeds, violated his ordination vows to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church’ and to ‘guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church,’ as well as his duties to ‘safeguard the property and funds of the Church’ and to ‘well and faithfully perform the duties of [his] office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church,’ constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

The Disciplinary Board therefore “request[ed] that the Presiding Bishop record this Certificate and Statement and take such further action concerning Bishop Mark J. Lawrence as may be required by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”  The Canons, however, required the Presiding Bishop to restrict the ministry of Lawrence immediately.

On Monday, October 15, the Presiding Bishop notified Lawrence by telephone that the Disciplinary Board had certified to her that he had engaged in conduct “constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

The Presiding Bishop in the same conversation notified him that shortly before she placed that telephone call she had in writing “placed a restriction on the exercise of ministry of Bishop Lawrence ‘until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon.’”  She explained that the document also stated that “[d]uring the period of such restriction, ‘the Bishop shall not perform any Episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.’”

The Presiding Bishop received a telephone call from Lawrence on Wednesday, October 17, in which she understood him to say he could not keep an agreement that the two had made on October 15 to hold the Board’s “Certificate” and the restriction on ministry in confidence until after an upcoming meeting.  She understood him to explain that the Chancellor of the Diocese had concluded that under the Diocese’s rules, the disciplinary action against Lawrence had triggered a change in the status of the Diocese to the effect of its having “disassociated” from the Episcopal Church.

On the same day, an announcement on the diocesan website stated that the “leadership” of the Diocese “had in place resolutions which would become effective upon any action by TEC [i.e., Church].”  The statement continued:  “As a result of TEC’s attack against our Bishop, the Diocese of South Carolina is disassociated from TEC, that is, its accession to the TEC Constitution and its membership in TEC have been withdrawn.”

More information is available on the Perspectives page here:

Pastoral Letter

In her November 15 Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina, the Presiding Bishop clarified “a number of issues which I understand are being discussed.” Among them:

“1)  While some leaders have expressed a desire to leave The Episcopal Church, the Diocese has not left.  It cannot, by its own action….The decisions “announced” by leaders in South Carolina appear to be unilateral responses to anxiety about decisions made by General Convention and/or the actions of the Disciplinary Board concerning Bishop Lawrence.

“The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina continues to be a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, even if a number of its leaders have departed.  If it becomes fully evident that those former leaders have, indeed, fully severed their ties with The Episcopal Church, new leaders will be elected and installed by action of a Diocesan Convention recognized by the wider Episcopal Church, in accordance with our Constitution and Canons.

“3)  Bishop Lawrence was charged by several members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina with having “abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church” by making or condoning actions which repudiate the polity (violate the canons or rules) of The Episcopal Church.  These actions have to do with formally attempting to separate the Diocese of South Carolina, its congregations, and their property from the wider Episcopal Church without its consent.  The Diocese of South Carolina is a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, and that status cannot be altered without the action of General Convention.

“The disciplinary processes of this Church carefully considered the matters with which Bishop Lawrence was charged, and the Disciplinary Board found that he had indeed repudiated the polity of this Church.”

The Presiding Bishop’s complete letter is here:


Comments (83)

  1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    In fact, Lawrence renounced all ties to the Episcopal Church immediately after his suspension by the PB on Oct. 15. I attended a meeting on Oct. 28 where he loudly exclaimed “I am no longer an Episcopalian” and proceeded on to conduct Confirmation. He gleefully thumbed his nose at the PB and the Episcopal Church. The events of the illegal convention of Nov. 17 speak for themselves. The PB did not put Lawrence out of TEC. He put himself out. Now the real Episcopal diocese of South Carolina can move along with its reorganization and get a priovisional bishop. This was a painful but necessary move.

    1. Milton Finch says:

      Wrong. Read the following comments for the truth.

  2. John Snedeker says:

    We are well rid of ms. Schori here in the Diocese of South Carolina.

  3. Milton Finch says:

    She can’t do anything to Bishop Lawrence. He and The Diocese of South Carolina have already withdrawn from TEC so she can say she did something, but she is basically shadow boxing. She can set up a pretend diocese in South Carolina, but she would be breaking canons to do it. The pretend group have already broken South Carolina state law in using the Diocesan seal illegally. Will she be held accountable for blatantly breaking canons and South Carolina law? We will see one way or the other. Keep wasting millions of dollars left by saints that would never agree to give to the institution you have become! Keep beheading saints. It looks real good!

    1. Milton Finch says:

      One reaps what one sows.

    2. Tom Crowe says:

      Wow, these break-away folks are pretty vicious and nasty; not good examples of being a “Christian”!! It’s probably best that they start their own church, based on hate, rather than stay in the Episcopal Church.

      The Anglican Church in North America is so full of hate, good bye +Bill Thompson and all of you haters!!

  4. Milton Finch says:

    Show us all the signed paperwork by Bishop Lawrence whereby Bishop Lawrence, on his own accord, renounced his orders. If you cannot do that, then something is awfully fishy and unacceptable about this story.

  5. Perry Brannen says:

    This is the party line and it omits the active role the PB had in undermining the authority of the bishop within his own diocese. For the rest of the story go to :

  6. Carol McRee says:

    Mr. Caldwell, I was at that meeting. Bishop Lawrence said no such thing. You must have misheard what he actually said which was “I am an Episcopalian too”. Please get your facts correct!

    Alas, it is the same old,same old- too little, too late. How can you renounce someone’s orders when they have already moved on? Isn’t that like firing someone after they have moved on to a new job??Fortunately, most of the WWAC does not recognize these egregious and illegal actions against Bishop Lawrence. Thanks be to God for Bishop Lawrence and our leadership in the Diocese of South Carolina!

  7. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    Mr. Finch, “He and the Diocese of South Carolina have already withdrawn from TEC…” proves the charge that Lawrence renounced his orders along with all other ties to TEC. It is not possible for a person to be outside of the Episcopal Church and have orders in the Episcopal Church. That is precisely the Presiding Bishop’s point.

    1. Milton Finch says:

      Caldwell, how does one, not being there, renounce anything after the fact that the Diocese of South Carolina nor Bishop Lawrence take part in anything TEC? In other words, Caldwell, he is not there to renounce his ministerial orders. She says he is. She is hitting violently at something that is not there. Where is his signed paperwork, by him, recounting his ministerial orders? Caldwell, there are none, so what she did fails the canons. She breaks the canons to the institution to which she belongs.

    2. Milton Finch says:

      ‘Citing Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the Constitutions and Canons of The Episcopal Church’

      Sec. 7. Renunciation of the Ordained Ministry

      (a) If any Bishop of this Church shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the declaration and request so made.

  8. Chuck Till says:

    In 10 years, the Diocese of South Carolina will have been reconstituted by TEC just as the other schismatic dioceses were. The Rev. Lawernce will be ministering to some kind of self-styled Anglican diocese, just as other schismatic bishops do. He will have a flock, at least to start with, but over time it will diminish just as we have seen elsewhere.

    1. Milton Finch says:

      Mr. Till,
      I beg to differ! The flock you speak of is a world wide Anglican Communion. The side that respects and is in communion with Bishop Lawrence is MUCH larger than the side that is in communion with Schori. Bishop Lawrence’s diocese has been growing while TEC has been shrinking. The Diocese of South Carolina will continue, maybe even absorbing many congregations from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina!

      1. Milton Finch says:

        Mr. Till,

        One more thing. The General Synod in England refused to remove the Diocese of South Carolina under Bishop Lawrence. They may remain in communion with the See of Canterbury even if ACNA isn’t fully recognized! So far, it remains thus!

      2. Paul Garrett says:

        What is this “Worldwide Anglican Communion” to which you refer? Do you mean those former Primates and Bishops who in the act of crossing Provincial and Diocesan lines to claim authority where they have none and thus have placed themselves outside of the Anglican Communion due to their infidelity to their vows taken at ordination and consecration? Or do you mean the Historic Anglican Communion which is over seen by the Archbishop of Canterbury who does not recognize schismatic former clergy, bishops and dioceses – such as Lawrence and his followers – as constituent members of the Anglican Communion?

    2. William Kolb says:

      Helpful comment. Thank you Mr. Till.

  9. Lawrence L. Graham says:

    The intent of Canon Law is very clear in this matter. The former bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina has, by his statements and actions, openly and persistently violated his sacred vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church, and to safeguard its unity. He has been given more than one opportunity to recant and return to the Church. He has not done so. As a result, the Presiding Bishop has quite rightly and properly carried out her duties as prescribed by the Canons. The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina will continue and the Episcopal Church will get along quite nicely without him.

    1. Bryan Hunter says:

      Mr Graham, you write that Bishop Lawrence has “openly and persistently violated his sacred vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church, and to safeguard its unity.” I suggest you read the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith along with the doctrine outlined in the Book of Common Prayer and its supporting rubrics. Then read the Holy Scriptures. Then read the historical canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church. This should give you a fairly respectable overview of what constitutes the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Church. With all that firmly in mind, study the positions of Mark Lawrence concerning doctrine, church polity, and worship, then contrast them with the incoherent peregrinations of the revisionists in TEC concerning doctrine, discipline, and worship. Then come back and tell us all, truthfully, who has abandoned the faith and who has striven, at great personal cost, to defend it. I offer this suggestion with all sincerity. “If you know the Truth, the Truth shall set you free.”

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        Mr. Hunter, you should be aware that the 39 Articles are a historic document according to the 1979 BCP and while informative are not the final or even most persuasive word on the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. In fact, one might note that given the Oxford Movement and the presence of Anglo-Catholic communities in the Episcopal Church, a number of the most “traditional” parishes may arguably be running afoul of the 39 Articles, heaven forfend!

        I am quite familiar with the 1979 BCP and its rubrics, as well as Holy Scripture, and as for the historical canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church, I suppose I should ask how far back should we go and where do you arbitrarily draw the line to support your contentions?

        Perhaps it is only me, but I find the desire to become more Reformed and less latitudinarian in ecclesiology to be both offensive and wrong-headed in the extreme for no better reasons than your own. Mr. Lawrence and those who follow him into being heirarchical Southern Baptists are welcome to do so…but putting a stumbling block before the blind by continuing to call one’s self a member of a church you have walked away from is a sin.

  10. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    Ms. McRee: I kept copious notes of that meeting and “I am no longer an Episcopalian” is a direct quote. Lawrence made it clear to everyone that he had moved on beyond the Episcopal Church.

    1. Milton Finch says:

      Strange, Caldwell, as you state you are from Georgia, your immense interest in a diocese not your own! I recollect quite well that a Bishop in the Anglican will always be of the Episcopal reality. You may better be served by a recorder instead of trusting your pen frantically being used while trying to listen. I doubt if you were there, though, being as it takes a delegate or minister from the diocese to be an invited member of that convention.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        Ah yes, the South Carolinian propensity or separating the sheep from the goats…or the slaves from their…

  11. Julian Malakar says:

    Whatever happened with TEC and Diocese of SC is matter of concerning a new innovation of doctrinal change beyond scope of biblical truth. Both TEC and Diocese of SC officially acknowledge that the Holy Bible is word of God and none of them have any conflict with faith and worshiping of Holy Triune God. So where is the problem that resulted in such a drastic action among brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ? Dioceses of SC’s fault is that they followed footsteps of TEC’s forefather, loving our God with all our heart, mind and soul as our Lord Christ instructed in the Holy Bible (Matt. 22:37) and believe God’s words whole heartedly as promised “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8).

    What a tragic end of long lived love story among brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ that ends up even removal of Bishop Lawrence’s Ordained Ministry and deprival of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations. What a new innovation that brings in few, but push out many! Is this called inclusive and justice for all?

    1. Joseph F Foster says:

      She can interdict Bishop Lawrence’s exercise of priestly and episcopal ministries in The Episcopal Church. She cannot revoke his orders of bishop and priest.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        She can inhibit him from performing the offices of those orders in the Episcopal Church…true?

    2. Marc Kivel says:

      Julian, a few thoughts:

      The Lawrencians will tell you that they whole-heartedly believe that their are simply standing up for the true faith once given to the apostles and rescuing all of us “sinners” in ECUSA from our ignorance and innovation. I offer the thought that a reading of church history and the various “principles” and “faith” of the Lawrencians suggests they are simply a reassertion of the Reformed/Evangelical/Reactionary traditions of Christianity which have been going in and out of favor since Augustine of Hippo. Now if they simply wanted to engage in their own ecclesiology within the national church, there’d be none of the upset. But being Donatists – folks who cannot be associated with such “evil, God forsaken sinners” as ECUSA and its leadership – particularly inasmuch as the Presiding Bishop is a WOMAN! (God forbid) – why they under Mr. Lawrence’s leadership have decided to take the property of ECUSA and use secular courts to enforce Mr. Lawrence’s ecclesiology…how very, very Roman…..

  12. Don Caron says:

    This just makes me sad.

  13. The Rev'd Donald Andrew Lowery says:

    While I make no claim to the gift of prophecy, I am going to make some predictions about the future of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. I think Bishop Lawrence has made a major miscalculation and I will give my reasoning in the form of some predictions.

    What I predict will happen is this. The Episcopal Church (TEC), which has very deep pockets, will sue claiming ownership of all Diocesan assets and all properties of all parishes that claim to have withdrawn. The Quit Claim deeds will be challenged as an act that was illegal from the start and therefore null and void. If the State Courts allow the quit claims to stand, TEC has the resources to sue each parish individually, while not all the parishes will have the resources to defend against the suits and thus some may be forced to surrender to overwhelming legal force. The State Courts may just rule in favor of Bishop Lawrence but TEC will appeal to the
    Federal courts. Bishop Schori and TEC has NEVER lost in Federal Courts. So, TEC will eventually, and it may take a decade or more, reclaim all the property of the seccessionists.

    My momma’s people have lived in South Carolina since the 1750’s. South Carolinians may be fond of Jesus, but they worship the buildings where their ancestors held forth before them. Faced with expulsion from their buildings or following Bp. Mark into thewiilderness, I predict most will opt to stay in their buildings and it will be Mr. Lawrence who finds himself with a much diminished flock. He has made a major miscalculation and there will be a price to be paid. He would have been better off, and the church better served, if he had remained in TEC and continued to defend his position as one valid within Anglicanism. It seems the experience of 1861 – 1865 taught the church no enduring lessons.

    Blessings to all in the fight ahead, “Fight the Good Fight with all they Might,”
    The Rev’d Donald Lowery
    Rector, the Church of the Holy Innocents, Henderson, NC

    1. Lawrence L. Graham says:

      Fr. Lowery and All:

      It will likely come down to this: Who does the Episcopal Church recognize as the rightful bishop of the diocese? That will be the new provisional bishop, of course. In the end, the courts will have to hand the diocesan property over to him or her. Then it becomes a matter of who that bishop recognizes as the rightful rector and trustees of the various parishes.

      Civil courts have limited discretion when it comes to deciding the ownership of church property. They are bound to recognize and enforce whatever the “highest judiciary” of a hierarchical Church decides.

      The sad part is that it will take several years and mountains of money to resolve the mess that the former bishop created. But, as you say, TEC will prevail in the end.

      Larry Graham in Atlanta

      1. Margaret Mattox says:

        I see you two are putting a whole lot of trust in princes and horses (or is it lawyers and deep pockets?).

        1. Marc Kivel says:

          More a case of putting trust in God’s justice over a shepherd who confuses himself with a prince…

  14. Emmetri Monica Beane says:

    I have only been an Episcopalian for 10 years so this may be a naive observation . . .

    Aren’t Diocese creations of the Episcopal church itself? Therefore, a Diocese cannot leave the Episcopal church. People can leave a Diocese. People can leave the Episcopal church but the Diocese remains. If this were not true, I could get a group of friends together tomorrow and create a Diocese and join the Episcopal church as a Diocese.

    1. Milton Finch says:

      No. The Diocese of South Carolina, along with six other Diocese predate TEC. They were the ones that got together, associated, and formed TEC. Diocese withdrew during the Civil War, and nothing happened. TEC did not try to reorganize those areas because they knew a Diocese already existed there that was not taking part in the TEC association. One, under any state organization, may choose who they want to affiliate with. Because of the heresies, polity, and morality of the TEC, South Carolina has decided not to affiliate with that organization anymore.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        Had the Confederacy ended up as an independent nation you might have found that TEC became two denominations – like the Southern Baptists vs. Northern Baptists. Having become part of TEC, South Carolina agreed to abide by its canons and constitutions. Which is why Mr. Lawrence became a bishop by virtue of his membership in a parish/diocese affiliated with TEC. The Church defines the Diocese, the Diocese selects its Bishop, the Bishop oversees the diocese in accordance with TEC canons and constitutions, not just when he feels like it….ask other bishops….

    2. David Thomas says:

      Yes, Emmetri, you are correct. Despite what the schismatic South Carolinians claim, they have agreed for years to conform to the Doctrine and Discipline of The Episcopal Church, which plainly says they can not just “pull out” and take church property along with them. The Denis canon has been around for years, and South Carolina never mumbled a word against it (until recent years).

      I do suppose (however) that a diocese would be permitted to dissolve, merge, or “leave”, but it would take an act of General Convention to approve. The leadership of South Carolina has chosen to leave the church en masse, and that is fine…..the problem is the fact that they are attempting to take church property with them as they leave. The leadership’s behavior proves they are little more than garden-variety theives.

  15. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    Ms. Beane: You are right, a diocese cannot leave the Episcopal Church. People can leave anytime they wish, but there is no provision in the church Constitution for a diocese to leave on its own as there is no provision in the U.S. Constitution for a state to secede from the union. What has happened in South Carolina is that most of the leadership, and communicants, have decided to leave the Episcopal Church. They can call themselves whatever they wish, but in fact by leaving the Episcopal Church they are no longer the Episcopal Church Diocese of South Carolina. The church diocese is being reorganized and will soon have a provisional bishop who will certainly take action to reclaim the properties that are presently being occupied by non-Episcopalians but under Episcopal Church law belong to the Episcopal diocese.

    1. Joseph F Foster says:

      I wouldn’t be too sure of their winning the property back in South Carolina courts.
      BTW, there is nothing in the US Constitution that says a State cannot secede from the Ubnited States. The Southern States would neverhave ratified the Constitution had they not assumed they could repeal their ratification.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        I’d suggest that the Civil War effectively made you point moot….

    2. Milton Finch says:

      Caldwell, you are completely mistaken and are providing false information on this matter. You will see the error of your ways after TEC has wasted another few million dollars and lost every bit of it trying to steal something that is not theirs and have thoroughly wasted the money given for mission. Hopefully, people will see that their money is going for litigation instead of mission.

    3. It seems to me specious to say that the “Diocese of South Carolina” pre-existed the Episcopal Church, since a diocese cannot exist without a bishop, and there was no CofE bishop resident in the colonies. Members from CT and PA sent men to England to be consecrated, but the CofE did not erect any separate diocese in America. It was the convening of representatives from several colonies that established the Protestant Episcopal Church in the US and constituted its several dioceses. It’s important to get the timeline straight. Yes, there were Anglicans in South Carolina before, during, and after the Revolution. No, there were no Episcopalians there until the church itself was constituted and created dioceses (with bishops).
      I lived in South Carolina for a number of years and taught at the University (but that was in the diocese of Upper South Carolina and I was not an Episcopalian then). I remember the local parish was in the process of seceding from the diocese over the issue of the ordination of women. It seems that SC folks just can’t get the yen to secede from something out of their hearts.

      1. Bryan Hunter says:

        Ms Mahoney, with all due respect, you are incorrect. The first state convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina was held on May 12, 1785. The Protestant Episcopal Church was not formed until four years later (the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the dioceses that formed the association). This is indisputable historical fact. There’s no getting around the fact that the Diocese of South Carolina predated TEC–there just isn’t. Might as well say the sky is red and sun is black. The men who established TEC also happened to be the men who founded the country under the Articles of Confederation. They were inherently leery of an hierarchical “national” church, which is why they patterned the Episcopal Church’s Constitution after the Articles (not the US Constitution). These founders intentionally established the church polity in America leaving diocesan sovereignty intact. TEC (in General Convention, which is why we have a Presiding Bishop, not an archbishop–he or she PRESIDES over General Convention, she was not intended to have metropolitan power) is an organization that is participated in at the free will and pleasure of each diocese. As such, each sovereign diocese should have the freedom to withdraw from association from TEC (as the dioceses in the Confederate States did unmolested in 1861), as long as it’s done in a way that is consistent with the canons and constitution of that diocese.

        1. Marc Kivel says:

          Bryan, I note that the Articles of Confederation ceased to govern the USA and the idea of sovereign dioceses outside of ECUSA is as fantastical as some folks continued belief that the South can secede again… once the PECUSA was formed including South Carolina, they took on themselves the obligations of all members which includes conformance to the ECUSA Canon and Constitution as currently in force….as for the spurious “withdrawl” of southern dioceses during the Civil War, I note that the National Church did not withdraw association with their southern counterparts no doubt because they believed (rightly so) the Southern states would quit rebelling and rejoin the Union….

  16. Laura Geisel says:

    I am amazed at the accusations, name-calling and hateful dialog I am reading here. No wonder non-Christians want nothing to do with so many of us. In my opinion, if individuals don’t like what is happening in the Episcopal church they should find another spiritual home and leave the church for those who continue to love it. There are certainly many, many options available in this country. Millions of dollars are being spent in the courts over the splits in TEC – millions of dollars that could be used to provide aid to those whom Jesus called us to help.

    1. Bryan Hunter says:

      Ms Geisel, you are absolutely correct. And you know who is instigating all those lawsuits? TEC under the leadership of the Presiding Bishop.

      South Carolina was perfectly content to remain in TEC (despite the doctrinal differences) and offer itself as an alternative, orthodox voice in contrast to the revisionist theology that permeates TEC. Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina went to great pains to remain in TEC. Yet even while Bishop Lawrence was making a last-ditch good-faith effort to maintain the status quo, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, presumably with the Presiding Bishop’s knowledge (although she will not confirm that she knew, she also refuses to deny that she knew) was voting to violate the spirit of the canon for abandonment in order to depose Mark Lawrence against the will and wishes of the vast majority of South Carolina Episcopalians who elected him and wished to retain him as their bishop. In short, the PB has made it abundantly clear that there is not a place for a theologically traditional and orthodox diocese within TEC (so much for tolerance). There’s no getting around that fact.

      I go to an historical church in the diocese (in fact, I serve on the vestry there). Many family’s at my home parish worship in the building that their families paid for to build and maintain over the course of almost 300 years. Yet you blithely suggest that those same people should just pull up stakes and go elsewhere to worship because they cannot fathom the doctrinal incoherence that folks like the presiding bishop, who are not from this diocese, have sought to foist on them over the past 25 years? Do you really suggest that these people–and their rector–do not have the fundamental right to worship according to their conscience in a place that their families built and in whose graveyards they are buried and which they have maintained with their own equity over the course of almost 300 years? What country are we living in? Somebody please remind me.

      1. Laura Geisel says:

        I have not been following the story in SC – I speak simply from my heart. Yes, you and others may have been supporting your specific church for 300+ years, but you are not the only ones who have done so. What about those in your parish who do not support your position but whose families have also been there for countless years? Therefore I do not believe you have the ‘right’ to take that parish with you because you no longer believe what TEC is embracing. And it seems to me we are supporting our parishes for future generations, not those of the past. I am no theologian but I do believe Christ called us to welcome everyone, those with whom we disagree and even those we don’t like. Please read James Graham’s post – and think about walking a mile in his shoes.

        1. Bryan Hunter says:

          Our parish is unanimous in its support for Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese. I am not aware of a single family or parishioner how has left over this mess. Charleston is a relatively small, close-knit community. Up until recently, we had a very easy system worked out in which the diocese consisted of a majority of orthodox parishes and a small number of more progressive parishes. That has been the situation on the ground for quite some time. Those of a more liberal theological bent have been well aware of which parishes were theologically conservative and those folks went elsewhere, and vice versa. I have read Mr Graham’s post, and I empathize with him. As Bishop Lawrence said in his address to the recent convention, at which I was present, “This has never been about who is welcome or not welcome in our church. It’s about what we shall tell them about Jesus Christ, his mercy, his grace and his truth–it is about what we shall tell them when they come and what we shall share when we go out.”

          The Diocese of South Carolina is, not surprisingly, a predominantly conservative diocese theologically. Again. we have sought to coexist–however uncomfortably at times–within TEC, a church that pays much lip service to the concept of tolerance. Bishop Lawrence has gone to great lengths and taken great risk to try to hold this diocese together and to “keep all the horses in the barn” while we’ve witnessed TEC move further and further away from where we stand theologically. But–and this is the important point–the PB, by her actions and those of the various instruments (weapons, to be more precise) she chooses to wield, has made it perfectly clear that we–our presence, our voice, and our witness–is no longer welcomed in TEC. We had no desire to leave TEC. The TEC rattled its sabres and we did what we felt forced to do to protect our bishop, our diocese, and the parishes that have been entrusted to our care. We have a diocese of nearly 30 thousand parishioners. Would you have us all but a handful of us just walk away from our churches? That is the reality in the Diocese of South Carolina. My own parish has bucked the trend of TEC across the country and added 120 NEW parishioners to its roles SO FAR THIS YEAR. Let that sink in. The Gospel we are preaching is not alienating people, as you suggest. It is drawing them in. And I have witnessed it transform people’s lives in astounding ways.

          We have not acted flippantly or with glee, as some would suggest. My family helped import Anglicanism to this country when we arrived in Virginia in 1620. My family was instrumental in establishing TEC and many of its once-venerable institutions. I can count seven bishops–including one Presiding Bishop–among my ancestors. This has been a deep and vital part of my heritage (something very important–perhaps at times too important–for a Southerner). It is with great pain and deep sorrow that I leave a denomination I never thought I would feel forced to leave.

          While I empathize with Mr Graham, I invite you to do the same for me and countless others in the Diocese of South Carolina, as well as countless other orthodox Anglicans from other dioceses whose consciences lead them to make such a heart-rending choice. All we required was space to believe and worship as we had for generations, but TEC would not allow us such consideration.

          1. Laura Geisel says:

            Peace be with you.

      2. Thad Day says:

        I believe you were told that. Other orthodox diocese in the Episcopal Church are not having these problems. I feel Bishop Lawrence was perhaps sabotaged by radicals in his diocese who worked to make this happen. Sad day. Bishop Lawrence could have been a great witness to his tradition. Now sadly, he will be basically ignored, at best.

  17. John Harrington says:

    Following up on Mr. Finch’s comment, if you’ll look at the section on “the Church” in the catechism at the back of the Prayer Book, there’s not a word about the Episcopal Church. The Church is defined as the body of all baptized people worldwide. The bishop, according to the section on ministry, is obliged to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church.” Therefore, people cannot in principle, leave a diocese, but a diocese certainly can leave the Episcopal Church, or, more precisely, its bishop can and must refuse to adhere to any standards or canons emanating from General Convention that violate the discipline of the Church. For the presiding bishop to say that the canons passed by General Convention are the same thing as the discipline of the Church, and that disobeying any of them constitutes abandonment of the discipline of the Church, displays, it seems to me, an absolutely incredible failure to understand basic theological concepts.

    1. John Snedeker says:

      She’s pretty sketchy on theology in general.

  18. Carol McRee says:

    I was there too and only a few feet away from the Bishop as he talked to the parish. Sorry, you misheard. He never said what you claimed. Perhaps your “copious notes” came from somebody in the back of the room who may not heard correctly or more likely – did NOT want to hear correctly.

  19. James Simpson says:

    My guess is that the remaining ten or so churches in SC that will constitute the Diocese of SC as recognized by the TEC, have no financial ability to sustain the Diocese mission or grow the Diocese in SC. A better solution is for those few so called “Faithful” churches to join the Upper Diocese of SC. and move on with their faith journey. The reality is that Lawrence has the majority hand here in SC and no smoke, mirrors or slight of cannonical hand will change that.

    It is pointless to sustain a dialogue over how we in SC got here. It is much more important to face the reality that all sides have turned the page. That is a good thing!!!

  20. Carol McRee says:

    Mr. Caldwell, You are again spreading misinformation. The Name “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” is recognized under South Carolina law as a corporate entity that has as its bishop- Mark J. Lawrence. The group you are supporting is not even diocese as they have not organized as one and have not asked to be admitted to GC. That could happen in 2015. When they do, I suggest they take another name-perhpas – Diocese of Eastern South Carolina.

    1. David Yarbrough says:

      There are only about a dozen congregations in eastern South Carolina which intend to remain in TEC – not enough to support a diocese. Expect the division of SC into two dioceses to end and these few congregations to move to the Diocese of Upper South Carolina under Andrew Waldo and the name of the diocese to change appropriately.

      1. Milton Finch says:

        Mr. Yarbrough,
        I would say it may be less than what you have stated. The reason being is that there are some liberal rectors in that group of 12 parishes that have some very staunch supporters of Bishop Lawrence in their number. Once the word is out that the rector and not the congregation wants TEC over Bishop Lawrence, things will get much rougher on the rector, and not the Bishop.

      2. Bryan Hunter says:

        Mr Yarborough … which is exactly the compromise +Waldo and +Lawrence proposed to the PB. But she would have none of that. She was gunning for Mark Lawrence (and all the cookies), even if she had to cut off her own nose to spite her face to do it.

        Here’s the thing nobody bothers to consider: many of the larger parish buildings in South Carolina are national historic landmarks dating from the 18th century. Being on the vestry of one of such church, I happen to know the astounding financial burden of simply opening the doors for a single Sunday Eucharist, much less maintaining such an edifice over the long haul. It’s no exaggeration to state that the utility bills alone for a year are enough to easily consume the entire annual budget for a small parish. Since these buildings are national landmarks, and Charleston (for example) is a very preservationist-minded city, what on earth–and how on earth–does the PB think she’s going to be able to afford to keep up a St Philip’s or a St Michael’s or a Cathedral Church of St Luke and St Paul? The board of architectural review and Historic Charleston sure aren’t going to approve of selling any of these churches so that they may be converted into condos or night clubs. Yet Historical Charleston will hold the PB’s feet over the fire–legally–to maintain these buildings in sound shape and good working condition.

        Of course this is purely hypothetical. The Supreme Court of South Carolina has spoken, and SCOTUS has already shown an unwillingness to get embroiled in church property cases. The PB is tilting at windmills, and the bogus “continuing” TEC diocese is as delusional as it is miniscule if it thinks it’s going to win these properties (and the diocese’s corporate identity) in court.

        The bottom line, though, just as Mark Lawrence has told each of the parishes under his care, “These buildings don’t belong to the parish. They don’t belong to any of us. They belong to God. He can dispose of them as he wills.” We are merely the stewards entrusted for a season to ensure that they are maintained to the Glory of God as sacred spaces where all may “worship the Lord in the beauty of his holiness.”

    2. Lawrence L. Graham says:

      Mr. Yarbrough,

      All Dioceses in the Episcopal Church are creatures of the General Convention, because that’s what the Church’s Canons say. As long as the Episcopal Church says there is a Diocese of South Carolina, there is one. If, as is the present case, the See is vacant, then it is up to the Episcopal Church to fill the vacancy. Once there is a new bishop in place, the civil courts are bound to recognize the rightful bishop as being whoever the Episcopal Church says it is.

      1. David Yarbrough says:

        The civil courts in South Carolina are NOT bound to recognize the interest of TEC and havve said as much.

  21. Milton Finch says:

    Where is the signed paperwork by Bishop Lawrence that the canon stated was there? If there is no signed letter of intent from Bishop Lawrence to renounce his ministerial orders directed and addressed to Schori, then Schori is fabricating evidence. People may call it something else, but she seems to be a fabricator of things less than truthful. Shame. Disgusting. Makes one sick.

    I remember a Dharma and Greg episode where Dharma got more sick by the moment as she tried to carry on something that was not of her own conscience. I find it strange that the elected woman that is presiding is not sick yet from what she has done to hundreds of godly men along the way. Maybe it is her nature and conscience to do such things. Spirit led, for sure. Which spirit, though?

  22. Carol McRee says:

    Ms. Beane,
    Alas, you need to read up on PECUSA/TECUSA history.When you do, you will find out that the Diocese of South Carolina predates the national church by 4 years. They also seceded during the Civil War. So yes, Dioceses can indeed leave. There is nothing in the C &C that says a diocese can not leave. They are, however, quite specific about dioceses are admitted to TEC and the rump/TEC dioceses of San Joquain, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy have not satisfied those requirements. Dioceses have and will continue to do so as long as TEC runs down the road to heresy. For accurate information about Dioceses and whether they can leave or not, I suggest

  23. Carol McRee says:

    All, Just to clarify the meeting on Oct. 28th followed by confirmation mentioned by Mr. Caldwell was a parish forum not a diocesan convention. I was there because I am a member of the parish. And you, Mr. Caldwell?

    1. Milton Finch says:

      Caldwell told me in a previous dispute that he was a member of a diocese in Georgia. He, if he is telling the truth to me, is not a member of the Diocese of South Carolina. He is of the reappraising, liberal slant.

  24. Fr. Fred Risard says:

    As one who knew Mark when he was here in San Joaquin before schism, I am sorely disappointed in him. However, I am not surprised that he left the Church. He had leaving the Church in his mind prior to being elected to S. Carolina. His statements of not leaving the Church, in order to be approved, were hollow and misleading. The trouble I have with all the schismatics only begins with their disagreeable nature. If they want to leave the Church, then leave. There is also the business of their being disingenuous with regard to taking the property, or for that matter schism. I remember at S Joaquin’s schism convention, former bishop of Pittsburg, Duncan, being asked publicly why he was claiming ownership of the property. His response, “If we did not claim the property, no one would take us seriously.” Is this departure from the Church over disagreement about doctrine and practice, or is about the property? I suppose, without the property the sheep will remain with them. But they will continue to use the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. Honesty is an important virtue. Too bad the Angricans don’t have any. Peace

    1. Bryan Hunter says:

      “Angrican,” Fr Risard? Hurling epithets is unbecoming any Christian, much less a priest.

      1. Fr. Fred Risard says:

        ‘Hurling epithets’? If that is the only disagreement you have with my post, I am pleased. Peace

  25. Milton Finch says:

    And if you let “end times” and “second coming” stop you, you have failed in your search for the truth! My gosh! Read it! It will prove that you have been right a little longer than you thought!

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