Bishop Lawrence’s Declaration of Removal as Given to Some Priests in the Diocese of S.C.

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* South Carolina

18 Comments
Posted October 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Cennydd13 wrote:

I think this is friendlier than what they could expect from Schori.

October 29, 8:05 pm | [comment link]
2. Ad Orientem wrote:

Were they deposed for heresy?  There is no indication of the offense.

October 29, 9:47 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Since I seem to recall a certain amount of sneering when the Pittsburgh TEC Diocese did much the same thing, I would invite you to compare Bishop Lawrence’s action with the following:

[If you] wish to be “released from the obligations of the Ministerial office [as a Priest or Deacon in the Episcopal Church] and deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred at Ordination [in the Episcopal Church]” and you do not instruct us to the contrary in writing, we will notify the Recorder of Ordinations to remove you from the list of clergy licensed to exercise ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. However, we prefer that you notify us in writing of your request for this release, or send us a copy of your “transfer” documentation for our records. This does not affect your ordination, which you may register with whatever entity you choose.

See here for the whole thing.

Now obviously the difference is that many readers trust Mark Lawrence, but for the life of me I don’t see much substantive difference between the two. I note that apparently the option of a letter of transfer (which many insisted Pittsburgh should have done) was not offered in South Carolina.

Catholic and Reformed

October 29, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
4. Ian+ wrote:

Folks, all he’s done is make official what has already happened. Those priests seceded from TEC, and Bp L is making formal notification. He hasn’t charged them with abandonment of ministry or otherwise painted them in a bad light. And he hasn’t stripped them of their holy orders (no one can do that). It’s just the standard way, and wording, of doing things.

October 29, 10:06 pm | [comment link]
5. montanan wrote:

Forgive my not understanding the full circumstances.  I gather they left for AMiA.  If that is correct, there seems to me a huge difference between the TEC Pittsburgh episode and this, Jeremy.  They are not “released from the obligations of the Ministerial office and deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred at Ordination” as was the intention in the Pittsburgh case.  And while it might have been better to transfer letters dimissory, they would have to request that - and I don’t know the circumstances of whether they did that or not - does someone else?

October 29, 10:17 pm | [comment link]
6. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Dennis,

I would agree with you, were it not for the parenthetical qualifiers that certain members of the Standing Committee - I suspect - had inserted into that formula.

My point is that Mark Lawrence acted to conform the clergy situation in South Carolina with where the various clergy actually are (provincially speaking). Now there are those in Pittsburgh - including one who was not terribly happy with my second stint as a dual convention deputy (making “angry little speeches” on Title IV, no less) - for whom what took place was deposition pure and simple. Not so, I think for others.

Just my opinion, of course smile

October 29, 10:55 pm | [comment link]
7. Creighton+ wrote:

Folks, if you want a good explanation on what this is read Mr. Haley’s piece on his blog “the Anglican Curmudgeon”.

First, these are priests who have left the EC for the Anglican Church in North America or the Anglican Mission.
Second there is no charge of Abandonment of the Communion….no inhibition or deposition.  They are still priests.
Three, they are transferred to their new jurisdiction without any prejudice.  They retains their Holy Orders in the Anglican Communion.

As Mr. Haley notes this is the example Bishops should use in the EC.  This is the right and godly way to do this.

October 30, 10:50 am | [comment link]
8. BMR+ wrote:

Whatever the vocabulary, the action of Bishop Lawrence conforms exactly to the same Title III canon that was applied in Pittsburgh.  Clergy removed from the ministry by this canon but accorded in-good-standing status in another “Church in communion with this Church” continue to be recognized as ordained ministers and, in accordance with the necessary canonical provisions, could function within the Episcopal Church or be returned to active status without the complicated restoration process required in the context of a Title IV deposition.  In fact, here in Pittsburgh it has already happened that one priest removed from status under the Title III canon, has been returned to active status.  All it took was a letter to the bishop from the priest, and then a letter from the bishop to the Recorder of Ordinations and the Church Pension Fund.

Bruce Robison

October 30, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Since I seem to recall a certain amount of sneering when the Pittsburgh TEC Diocese did much the same thing . . . “

Right, because as any sane person can see, a diocese giving letters dimissory to transfer clergy to another province in the Anglican Communion and announcing a clergyperson’s departure from TEC is “much the same thing” as abusing Canon III.9.8, pretending as if one has received the written renunciation of orders of a hundred priests, including that of two dead priests, and announcing that they are “deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred in Ordination . . . . “

But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, it was all “much the same thing” as any other play I have attended.

October 30, 8:54 pm | [comment link]
10. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Were letters dimissory given?

I saw no reference to that effect, which is why I made the point. I would have much preferred the letters dimissory approach, to be honest, but if even Bishop Lawrence feels that it can’t be done then it’s unfair to indict Pittsburgh for not doing so.

October 30, 9:14 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:

Well, JB, I’d assume so, since neither of the two inapplicable TEC canons appear to have been used.

But we’ll see, I guess.

But even without the transfer of clergy to another Province, comparing the two acts as similar is ludicrous.

October 30, 10:54 pm | [comment link]
12. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Well I’ve become rather accustomed to the ludicrous in the absurdities that we witness daily and on all sides of the aisle.

October 31, 12:01 am | [comment link]
13. Sarah wrote:

Well, certainly people may choose to add to the pile of ludicrosities by making such a comparison—to each his own, I suppose.

Perhaps it is a matter of deciding to “live into” the ludicrousness.

October 31, 8:25 am | [comment link]
14. montanan wrote:

Jeremy - I see your point, though I still disagree.  Cleanest would have been letters dimissory; I know neither if they were given or were requested.  However, I believe you’re pointing out the reaction to the episode in Pittsburgh was huge (as it was from “the other side”) and reaction to this one is small (as it is “on our side”).  In my view, the issue of removing status as a priest in the Church makes for a great differentiation between the Pittsburgh one and this.

October 31, 11:43 pm | [comment link]
15. BMR+ wrote:

There is no such thing in the canons as Letters Dimissory for a member of the clergy who is leaving the Episcopal Church to serve in the ordained ministry of another Church in Communion with this Church. 

If there were such a provision, I believe we would have made use of it in Pittsburgh.  Bishops may approve temporary service outside the Episcopal Church, but that approval must be renewed annually, and the member of the clergy remains in-good-standing in the Episcopal Church. 

Here in Pittsburgh, anyway, none of the clergy who had “realigned” to the Southern Cone indicated that they wished to receive such a temporary appointment while remaining in-good-standing in the Episcopal Church.  The whole point of realignment was that they didn’t want to be in the Episcopal Church anymore. 

The Title III process does not effect laicization.  Restoration to the ministry of the Episcopal Church, should that be desired, is a simple administrative action.  And if those removed under Title III are in good standing in another Church in Communion with this Church, their ministries and status are addressed in the canons without any special impediment.  A priest in Pittsburgh, having been removed under III.9,  who is canonically resident and in good standing in the Southern Cone, may, for example, function in an Episcopal Church parish under the same administrative provisions as those that would cover a vacationing Church of England priest visiting in the area. 

(I believe that the canonical situation would be different for clergy who may be recognized as in-good-standing in another Church in Communion with this Church but who have been deposed from the ministry of this Church under Title IV.)

It is clear in any case from the use of the phrase “causes which do not affect the moral character” that the SC “removal” is in fact under the authority of III.9, even though the canon is not cited specifically. 

Bruce Robison

November 1, 8:16 am | [comment link]
16. Sarah wrote:

RE: “There is no such thing in the canons as Letters Dimissory for a member of the clergy who is leaving the Episcopal Church to serve in the ordained ministry of another Church in Communion with this Church.”

Right—not “in the canons” of TEC that’s true.  But clergy have been released from TEC and sent on to other provinces with Letters Dimissory for decades now. 

And I’m unsure of what you mean by “and the member of the clergy remains in-good-standing in the Episcopal Church.”

Maybe “in-good-standing” but obviously they’re not “in the Episcopal Church” for they are in Rwanda, or Uganda, or whatever.

Unless you’re saying that even as they are clergy in Rwanda, they remain within TEC too?  ???

RE: “It is clear in any case from the use of the phrase “causes which do not affect the moral character” that the SC “removal” is in fact under the authority of III.9, even though the canon is not cited specifically.”

No, not really “clear” at all by the inclusion of that clause.  They might have included that clause for any number of other non-canonical reasons. 

Could be that they did it all “under the authority” [an interesting way of putting it] of III.9—but I’d have to learn that from SC directly.

November 1, 12:58 pm | [comment link]
17. Kendall Harmon wrote:

The Saint Andrew’s Mount pleasant clergy did not leave for the AMIA in response to #5.

November 1, 1:02 pm | [comment link]
18. montanan wrote:

Revs. Bruce and Kendall - thank you for your clarifications.  I will quiet my fingers on the keyboard, as it is clear I fail to understand key aspects of what occurred - maybe both here and in Pittsburgh.  smile

November 1, 11:01 pm | [comment link]
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