South Carolina Releases Correspondence Relating to Josephine Hicks, Church Attorney

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (make sure to see all three documents and their dates).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina

Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:53 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. c.r.seitz wrote:

Hicks and Matthews now both removed.

October 13, 1:01 pm | [comment link]
2. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Hicks and Matthews now both removed

That was quick.  Perhaps the Presiding Bishop has sensed that she has received their written voluntary notice of renunciation of office?

They fix the Canons, they appoint their own stooges, and still KJS, Beers and Goodwin Proctor screw it up.  I await with anticipation +Henderson’s further note in The Living Church explaining his way out of this one.

October 13, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
3. c.r.seitz wrote:

Henderson appears in a longish article from today’s The State. Now urging calm, etc.

One supposes he did not anticipate +SC would release the materials.

October 13, 1:24 pm | [comment link]
4. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

What a bunch of stinkers.
John 3:20 - Let the sun shine in.
Prayers for +Mark and South Carolina.

October 13, 1:28 pm | [comment link]
5. okifan18 wrote:

So this process and the canons have a basic procedure which wasn’t even followed and when there was a question asked which made that plain they took the people off the list?

How could those in authority make this basic a mistake?

And is this removal action supposed to cover it up?

What a dog’s breakfast is being made here.

October 13, 1:39 pm | [comment link]
6. Sherri2 wrote:

It’s not a mistake. It’s whatever they think they can get away with until someone calls them on it.

October 13, 2:18 pm | [comment link]
7. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Sherri2 (#6),

Perhaps.  I wouldn’t put anything past the corrupt and untrustworthy administration of TEC. 

But I also remember the rather cynical principle that orthodox blogger Mary Ailes (alias “Babyblue”) loves to cite, the HHHB or Hammerstein Hierarchy of Human Behavior.  That general law hypothesizes that when things get really badly messed up, it’s most often due to stupidity or laziness, not deliberate malice or intentional evil. 

Despite what I myself wrote about this whole scandalous fiasco yesterday, I will assume, for charity’s sake, that it was mainly incompetence at work here.

But if so, it’s another sign that TEC is being run (and destroyed) by fools.

David Handy+

October 13, 2:27 pm | [comment link]
8. Blue Cat Man wrote:

Agreed, Sherri. NO mistake was made. It is obvious that they thought NO ONE would catch them at this. So often those who make these sort of mistakes don’t understand that others will catch them in their “mistake”. That is exactly what our diocesan Chancellor did- realized the inconsistency and made it obvious to those who should have known better. I bet there was a lot of swearing at 815 when Mr. Logan’s letter arrived (hopefully via certified receipt requested mail).  I realize it was sent via e-mail but also sent via mail.  Anyway, when people start doing this sort of stupidity you can be sure that their downfall is near.  Any one for yelling timber??

October 13, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
9. Blue Cat Man wrote:

Drat, did it again. I think instead of being one flesh we need one SF/T19 identity. Sigh. me again.
SC Blu Cat Lady.

October 13, 2:31 pm | [comment link]
10. AnglicanFirst wrote:

This evidence when added to the obviously politically motivated actions being taken against Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina would provide valid grounds for impeachment—-if there were a process for impeachment in the governance of The Episcopal Church.

October 13, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
11. c.r.seitz wrote:

Are people now required to bring Title IV complaints against this kind of thing?

October 13, 2:54 pm | [comment link]
12. profpk wrote:

South Carolina Secedes Again

The Diocese of South Carolina was one of the founding members of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
It can never be expelled from the voluntary assocation of dioceses
That made up what is now called The Episcopal Church.

The Diocese of South Carolina in its recent convention
Proclaimed refusal to abide by the canons and constitution
Of The Episcopal Church because it contained new provisions
That violated scriptural and traditional authority.

Under the new rules, the diocesan bishop of South Carolina
Is being charged with “abandonment of communion,”
Which is an offense used previously to describe clergy
Who wander off to other denominations.

A Greek drama now begins to unfold.
The genesis was the election of a bishop
Who unashamedly upholds orthodox theology
And thus was resisted by most of his fellow bishops.

They refused to approve him at first, on a technicality,
But were eventually forced to consecrate him
As a duly elected and qualified bishop who was
Overwhelmingly supported by his constituents.

So the attack on the bishop is really an attack
Upon the some 25,000 worshipers in his flock.
A small remnant of dissenters were induced by
The national church to bring charges against him.

At this juncture, four dioceses have left TEC to
Become part of the Anglican Church in North America.
Five dioceses remain in TEC but decline to
Install the innovations dreamed up its leaders.

South Carolina is the first to openly rebel
Against these practices by passing resolutions
In their diocesan conventions which specifically
Spell out their refusal to accept the new canons.

Inasmuch as ecclesiastical differences in a denomination
Can never be adjudged by a secular court,
The opponents were forced to resort to an
Ad hominem attack on the bishop in a church court.

Imagine the publicity this kangaroo court will engender!
The media will love to cover this dispute.
Whatever the outcome, the bishop can simply ignore it
And go on leading his flock in the direction they choose.

October 13, 2:56 pm | [comment link]
13. Sherri2 wrote:

I think the point is that South Carolina has *not* “seceded.” TEC is attempting to thrust it out.

October 13, 3:16 pm | [comment link]
14. billqs wrote:

Here’s a link to the article in The State:

October 13, 3:19 pm | [comment link]
15. profpk wrote:

True, Sherri2, just a little poetic license.

October 13, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
16. Milton Finch wrote:

I did enjoy it, profpk.

October 13, 3:41 pm | [comment link]
17. Dick Mitchell wrote:

This is absurd.  In a sensitive case such as this one, you would expect that a judicial tribunal would do all in its power to appear both competent and impartial—and this one has failed completely.

The easy path would be for Ms. Hicks to gracefully withdraw and make clear to all that she will have no further involvement in this case, in any capacity.  The honest choice would be for the entire Board, including Bishop Henderson, to resign and be replaced.  All its members are tainted by this mess, and even if Bishop Lawrence is exonerated, the work of this board will have little credibility.

October 13, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
18. Karen B. wrote:

Cross-posted from Stand Firm, where I was actively commenting yesterday on the matter of Josephine Hicks…
The thread where I just left this comment is here:

The thread where a number of us were commenting yesterday on the make up of the disciplinary roster is here:

As I think most SF readers know, I had posted [at Lent & Beyond] a list of members of the Disciplinary Board on October 6, working from the ENS article.  I had never ever even seen the roster page until yesterday, when Curmudgeon, Chancellor, David Handy and others started telling me the list we had published at Lent & Beyond was incomplete.

So, as of about 11:00 a.m. or noon Eastern yesterday (October 12) when I clicked on Curmudgeon’s link with the roster, Josephine Hicks’ name, and Bp. Clayton Matthews name were still listed.

See my comment here:

Hicks’ name was apparently removed in the next 6 or 7 hours, because later in the day, Chancellor went back to the same link and found the roster had changed.  See his comment here:

Gee… do you think someone in TEC reads Stand Firm or T19, or the Curmudgeon?  It would appear so!

So, sometime between about Noon Eastern daylight time yesterday and 7 p.m. Eastern daylight time yesterday the online roster was changed.  Things that make one go “HMMMMMM…...”

October 13, 4:24 pm | [comment link]
19. Militaris Artifex wrote:

5. okifan18,

Your closing sentence in the cited comment is an insult to the breakfasts of dogs—even those which are poorly prepared from mediocre ingredients.


Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

October 13, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
20. RalphM wrote:

No one should be surpprised when TEC does not follow their own canons.  Most authoritarian regimes develop constitutional schemes to ligitimize their authority.  The goal is not to have a governing document, but rather to cite the document as granting power.

October 13, 4:45 pm | [comment link]
21. wildfire wrote:

Douglas Leblanc at TLC has posted an interview with Bishop Henderson that clarifies this matter.

October 13, 4:51 pm | [comment link]
22. Sherri2 wrote:

I wouldn’t exactly say it “clarifies” it.

October 13, 4:55 pm | [comment link]
23. Canon King wrote:

It might be satisfying to think that there is something fishy here. However, if one looks at the first list, there is one too many persons with terms expiring in 2015. There should be nine for each class. Thus, it would seem, this is a simple clerical error and not a nefarious plot.

October 13, 6:10 pm | [comment link]
24. RobSturdy wrote:

Canon King,
The two options before us are that the Disciplinary Committee is either devious or incompetent.  I suppose charity dictates that they be viewed as simply incompetent.  One would expect that a process initiated with the potential outcome of the deposition of a Bishop would be better looked after than it has been.  I have the sneaking suspicion that the Episcopal Church doesn’t understand its own canonical process.

October 13, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
25. Jim the Puritan wrote:

“Hola, senor!  We are Federales, you know, the mounted police.”

“If you’re the police, where are your badges?”

October 13, 9:02 pm | [comment link]
26. Ralph wrote:

#24, perhaps a false dichotomy. Not necessarily an either-or.

Incompetent and devious? Incompetently devious?

In any case, the TEC vine continues to bear fruit.

October 13, 10:13 pm | [comment link]
27. Jackie Keenan wrote:

I think the major problem with TEC is its failure to dialogue, and that problem exists at the highest levels of the church.  My understanding is that the PB has never spoken directly to Bishop Lawrence about this disagreement.  The failure to dialogue at the highest levels of the church does not surprise me.  I spent five years trying to have a dialogue regarding the church’s claim that homosexuality is a matter of creation.  Instead, I ran into evasiveness and dishonesty and learned that people high in the Communion were being deceived as well. 
Yours in Christ,  Jacqueline Jenkins Keenan

Slightly edited by elf.

October 13, 11:09 pm | [comment link]
28. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Jackie, Actually the Presiding Bishop has indeed talked to Bishop Lawrence but it as been years. Also, the Presiding Bishop was invited to come to the diocese for a discussion with the clergy of the diocese about the theological differences.  There is actual you tube video of that event. Quite interesting. I would have to try and find it but I remember when it happened. The questions which that discussion was centered upon were created by members of the clergy of the diocese.  I don’t remember the names.

October 14, 9:16 am | [comment link]
29. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

“I spent five years trying to have a dialogue regarding the church’s claim that homosexuality is a matter of creation.”

Yeah, “dialogue” isn’t their thing.  Regarding their “creation” argument, it’s amazing how quickly they clam up when a question is asked about their perceived “blessedness” of transgender—another case where I guess they believe God was “wrong” and don’t want to admit it. Makes you wonder what reeks more, the elitism or the bungling.

October 14, 9:59 am | [comment link]
30. Brian from T19 wrote:

I don’t see what the issue is here.  From the posts it appears that there are 2 options being put forward: 1. malfeasance on the part of the Disciplinary Board or 2. gross incompetence, so severe that it requires the removal of the Board?  Has anyone considered mistake or that Ms. Hicks has removed herself in order to act as attorney?  Either is a possibility and actually far more probable.  Either way, the letters from the Chancellor are simply legal “brinksmanship” to avoid answering the questions being put to the Diocese.  Keep in mind that no char5ges have been filed.  This is an investigation and the Chancellor (and those hen represents) have apparently decided to delay any direct answers.  What is to be gained by doing this?

Here is a link to The Lead which summarizes the investigation and reactions.  It is obviously one-sided, but does raise interesting questions.

October 14, 10:01 am | [comment link]
31. Jackie Keenan wrote:

#28 I meant that she has historically avoided talking directly to Bishop Lawrence about her concerns with the course the Diocese of South Carolina has taken.  I remember that she had other bishops call Bishop Lawrence, and one of them said that he was going to miss Bishop Lawrence’s voice.  Bishop Lawrence said, “This is my my voice.”  So the Presiding Bishop should have spoken with Bishop Lawrence from the beginning about her concerns.  For her to ignore his more recent attempts to speak to her directly indicates her inability to act as a thinking person in stressful situations.  If you want to see another example, read her reply to me in “Where’s the Science? A Conversation with the Presiding Bishop.”  When I wrote to her, I expected either no reply or a reasoned answer.  She is obviously someone who does not think very clearly in stressful situations.  She later had Neva Rae Fox tell me that she thought that my letter, which was copied to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ephraim Radner and the editor of Touchstone was privileged communication.  It is really important for leaders to continue to think and discuss in difficult situations.  She seems incapable of doing either.

October 14, 10:01 am | [comment link]
32. RobSturdy wrote:


I would not want to compare my meager responsibilities with those of the disciplinary board.  Nevertheless, when “mistakes” of this magnitude are made in the organization I’m responsible for both myself and my staff are held accountable.  Mistakes of this magnitude and frequency would be considered by myself as incompetence.  I suppose that is a personal opinion.  What mistakes am I referring to?

(1) The Episcopal Cafe piece indicates that Bishop Lawrence misunderstood that “serious charges” had been made against him when in reality it was only a complaint.  The initial letter from Bishop Henderson used the words “serious charges,” rather than complaint.  Language which he later had to correct.  Either he misspoke in a highly sensitive matter, or he simply didn’t understand the process which he was in charge of.  Either way, if it were my staff I would consider it more than a mistake.
(2)  If Ms. Hicks removed herself from the board to act as church attorney, this would be considered a major conflict of interest and easily challenged in any secular court.  This would be more than a simple mistake, as it would have enormous consequences in the secular court.
(3)  Bishop Henderson indicates that Ms. Hicks never was on the disciplinary board.  The fact that she was at one point listed as a member and is now serving as church attorney, even if this was a mistake, means they should find another church attorney.  In a matter this sensitive, the disciplinary board should be bending over backward to be above reproach because everyone of these mistakes will have legal consequences if the Bishop is disciplined. 

Finally, why is holding the board accountable to their own canonical process “legal brinksmanship”?  Rules actually matter, especially in circumstances such as this. 

If this matter were executed in this fashion in the secular world you would lose your job.  I guess actually, if this matter were executed like this in my church, you’d lose your job.  Hence my charge of incompetence.

October 14, 11:02 am | [comment link]
33. Cennydd13 wrote:

3.  When they start urging calm, then you know for sure that something’s seriously wrong somewhere.

October 14, 11:29 am | [comment link]
34. Connecticutian wrote:

#30, I’m not a lawyer, but I think you’re off the mark.  If it were simply a matter of delay or avoidance, it would be easy to “lose” the letter, or defer it to a committee for follow up, or make any number of excuses.  But the response instead sought to force the Church Atty et al to clarify their position and standing.  It’s usually unwise to directly answer vague, speculative, or specious questions.  In this case, the Church Atty’s position and objectivity will be key issues, and the Canons under which TEC is operating is an important matter if DioSC might (and I speculate here) claim that it does not recognize the 2009 Title IV, since it may be “unconstitutional”.  If I don’t recognize your authority to ask, I don’t answer.

October 14, 12:19 pm | [comment link]
35. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Bravo, Rob+! Agreed. Cennydd, exactly! When someone starts urging calm, you can bet someone somewhere is paddling like crazy to hold things together to make the illusion of calmness seem real.

October 14, 12:20 pm | [comment link]
36. Brian from T19 wrote:

RobSturdy, I see what you are saying.  I am just not convinced of it being such a large issue.  What redress are we really suggesting?  Remove +Henderson?  There are a great many friendlier to TEC bishops than +Henderson.  Disqualify the Committee?  That is a great chance for ++Katharine to make suren friendly appointments are made, should she be so inclined.

Connecticutian, I agree it is not bad posturing for a lawsuit.  TEC is, of course, operating under its latest Constitutions and Canonjs.  Once the Chancellor refuses to acknowledge them, the battle is lost.

Perhaps the Chancellor seeks to win on integrity and public opinion.  A fine choice, but a pyrrhic victory.  If the Diocese assumes this is a lost cause, then their actions make more sense.

October 14, 2:26 pm | [comment link]
37. c.r.seitz wrote:

You have never clarified what you mean, #36, about pyrrhic victory.
I asked this previously, where you were using the language of parish and property.
Are you assuming that parish property in the Diocese of SC will be given to a national church, or its proxies? How might that happen?

October 14, 3:00 pm | [comment link]
38. SC blu cat lady wrote:

#34   Connecticutian wrote

In this case, the Church Atty’s position and objectivity will be key issues, and the Canons under which TEC is operating is an important matter if DioSC might (and I speculate here) claim that it does not recognize the 2009 Title IV, since it may be “unconstitutional”.  If I don’t recognize your authority to ask, I don’t answer.

Actually no need to speculate, the records of past diocesan conventions are on line. Go read them. 

1) The problem is that TEC believes what it wants to believe and asks that we just “swallow the party line”. When a group does not “swallow the party line”, then the consequences are severe.

2) Not just a problem in TEC either.  I have seen this same principle at work in other organizations.The outcome is not good for the overall organization.

October 14, 3:45 pm | [comment link]
39. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Apparently, Melinda Hicks’ law firm is now requiring her to withdraw from further involvement in this case.  According to a statement by Bishop Henderson:

“Ms. Hicks has withdrawn from all involvement in the Board’s investigation and/or consideration of the Bishop Lawrence matter because unanticipated circumstances have created the possibility of a conflict arising regarding fiduciary responsibilities for members of her law firm as matters develop. For reasons of professional responsibility, she is not at liberty to disclose any details concerning that possibility.” 

Full statement here:

October 14, 3:59 pm | [comment link]
40. Brian from T19 wrote:

Are you assuming that parish property in the Diocese of SC will be given to a national church, or its proxies? How might that happen?

No.  Property isn’t really an issue.  The issue is the removal from TEC of +Lawrence and possibly others.  That is the lost battle after the pyrrhic victory.

October 14, 4:21 pm | [comment link]
41. RobSturdy wrote:

Thanks for responding.  I wasn’t suggesting any action, merely pointing out that the implementation of this process has been haphazard at best.  With the most recent withdrawal of Ms. Hicks the board itself looks less competent by the day.  I suppose one final alternative (devious, incompetent?) is that the canons themselves are so impossibly difficult to make sense of that no one really knows what’s going on.  If this process ends with Bishop Lawrence being disciplined, TEC will look utterly foolish (well, more foolish than they look already).

October 14, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
42. Milton Finch wrote:

She has recused herself from the case according to
Living Church.

October 14, 4:33 pm | [comment link]
43. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Milton is right.  But wait til you read the howler of a statement from +Henderson, insisting on the professional ability and “impartiality” of Ms. Hicks.

The good bishop has the temerity and gall to state the following, publicly and for the record:

Any apprehension, implication, or suggestion that Ms. Hicks’ work would not be impartial is unfounded…

Heh.  Heh.  Heh.  Heh.  Oh, that’s just rich.

And he repeats the point for good measure.  “I retain full confidence3 in Ms. Hicks, not only in her objectivity (sic!) in her work, but in her proven professional ability.

Wow!  That’s unbelievable.  Literally.  It simply cannot be taken seriously and believed.  Just see the Curmudgeon’s fantastic lastest piece on why the Disciplinary Board apparently chose a lesbian, hardcore liberal actifvist like Ms. Hicks, who had already gone on record as stating most emphatically her opinion back in 2007 about the ability of dioceses to do what SC has done.

But if any of you readers do choose to take +Henderson at his word about Ms. Hiciks’ impartiality, I have a bridge in Florida I’d love to sell you.

David Handy+

October 14, 4:42 pm | [comment link]
44. c.r.seitz wrote:

#40 Thank you.
And let’s hope your view re: property is shared by TEC litigators.
Have you mis-written the following? Not sure what it means:
“That is the lost battle after the pyrrhic victory.”

October 14, 6:55 pm | [comment link]
45. Brian from T19 wrote:

#44 Well, a pyrrhic victory usually precedes the ultimate loss.  In this case, since I am not referencing property, I am referring to removal from TEC and thus (as it stands at this moment in time) removal from the Anglican Communion.  This would be a loss because of the Diocese desire to remain in TEC and the Anglican Communion.

On a side note, for anyone who has not read my past comments, I am entirely opposed to this action by TEC and hope that they drop it.

October 15, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
46. c.r.seitz wrote:

Removal from Anglican Communion? How odd. For all his shortcomings, I suspect +RDW would never suggest such a thing. He has a heart for the minority position.
But maybe TEC will come to its senses. It will begin to look odious in the eyes of the wider Communion, moreso than at present.

October 15, 6:09 pm | [comment link]
47. Brian from T19 wrote:

If deposed, the bishop would no longer be a member of TEC and therefore not a member of the Anglican Communion.  As we have seen in every single circumstance thus far.  Why would you imagine that ++Rowan would make an exception here?

October 15, 7:22 pm | [comment link]
48. c.r.seitz wrote:

Because the situation in TEC is a total and complete mess. He knows that much. A ‘deposition’ inside a maniefestly confused and internally conflicted polity will struggle for wider consensus.

But, why do you ask? Are you somehow concerned about +ML and the Diocese of SC?

I think they will fare quite well through all of this. There is a vast difference between deciding you can trap someone very local, and being able to pull it off through both time and space.

But I presume from your comments that your prayer is that TEC will realize they are on a genuine fool’s errand, and will back off. Good for you.

October 15, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
49. Chazaq wrote:

the situation in TEC is a total and complete mess.

No it isn’t. The situation in TEC is the successful result of a well-executed deliberate plan. The Episcopalians seek to drive people out of the church, and they are succeeding. The Episcopalians seek to depose orthodox catholic biblical bishops and they are succeeding. They will also successfully depose +Lawrence. The Episcopalians seek to take ownership of property and trust funds, and they are succeeding. In fact, according to the most recently released statistical report, the only thing the Episcopalians are growing is the size of the church’s financial investments. The Episcopalians seek to bless what God does not, and the Episcopalians are winning. The Episcopalians are a well-armed, well-funded machine that is working like clockwork in the relentless accomplishment of its goals. TEC is not a mess. It is as clean and precise as the edge of a scalpel.

October 15, 11:59 pm | [comment link]
50. Cennydd13 wrote:

Brian, you’re ignoring one very important thing here:  If Bishop Lawrence were deposed by TEC, he very likely would choose to come under the jurisdiction of another Anglican province…..even though PB Schori doesn’t recognize him.  It would be unfortunate for TEC if that province were in communion with them…..or even in impaired communion…..if that province continued to recognize him as a bishop of the Church, and TEC didn’t.  A bishop in ONE province of the Communion is a bishop of the ENTIRE communion, or was the last time I heard.

October 16, 11:34 am | [comment link]
51. billqs wrote:

#30 et. al- I consider the Chancellor’s reply to the now departed Ms. Hicks as a procedural move, rather than “brinksmanship”.  You are correct, I believe in your post 36 that the question of which canons are being used is the central issue in this case.

It’s obvious, even with mis-steps that TEC is operating under new Title IV.  It’s also obvious that SC does not recognize the new Title IV.  The $64,000 question them becomes is there a way to comply with the information requests from the Disciplinary Board without acknowledging by deed that the new Title IV canons apply, and that you are thereby defacto agreeing to operate under the canons in this case? 

Or do you standby and refuse to provide documents and then get certified with “abandonment” by the Disciplinary Board for refusing to provide documents as new Title IV from TEC’s view is part of the new C & C of TEC?

It’s a very tricky time for the Bishop of SC, his Chancellor, and the Standing Committee, and worthy of our prayers for justice for them.

October 17, 11:32 am | [comment link]
52. Cennydd13 wrote:

I pray that that justice will be beneficial for +Mark Lawrence and the people of his diocese.

October 19, 1:18 am | [comment link]
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