South Carolina Standing Committee Responds to Letter of Province IV Bishops

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note that the letter to which this letter below responds may be found there--KSH).

Third, this diocese grows weary of the constant interference in its internal affairs that continues to disrupt our mission. First, there was the non-canonical intrusion by the Presiding Bishop’s office hiring counsel for the episcopal church in this diocese to investigate our parishes, then there was the

assertion by a subcommittee of the executive council that our constitutional and canonical amendments duly considered and passed were somehow not effective, then there were charges brought against our bishop now correctly recognized by the Disciplinary Board of Bishops for what they were at the outset - without merit. Yet, within less than two weeks of that decision, we have yet another attempt without canonical or constitutional support to inject others into the internal affairs of this autonomous diocese.

So, let us be clear. We will not use the coercive force of threatened litigation over property to impose a false and destructive unity upon this Diocese. We cannot sanction the compromise of a full gospel proclamation that is undermined by actions such as the communion of the un-baptized. We cannot sanction the undermining of Christian marriage by the practice of same sex marriage or blessings. In such matters of the internal governance of this Diocese, out of the great depths of our love and concern for our people, we will continue to assert the autonomy that is historically and constitutionally ours and we will do so consistent with our belief that God alone dictates our future.

Bp. Lawrence has communicated to us his intent to meet with you and other attending Province IV bishops next week in the spirit of collegiality invoked in your letter. Given all we have said above, we are concerned about your motives and have expressed these concerns to Bp. Lawrence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History

48 Comments
Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:33 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. okifan18 wrote:

A good, strong letter to leaders who should have known that there were many better avenues available to them to express concerns, and also many more appropriate ways to inquire about them.

December 12, 1:53 pm | [comment link]
2. Cennydd13 wrote:

I think this letter says very clearly that the people of the Diocese of South Carolina will not tolerate any interference in their affairs, and they will act strictly in accordance with their constitution and canons, come what may.  Quite frankly, I think they are telling the bishops of Province IV…..and the rest of TEC…..to mind their own business and stay out of South Carolina affairs.

December 12, 2:05 pm | [comment link]
3. evan miller wrote:

Bravo to the Standing Committee!

December 12, 2:13 pm | [comment link]
4. paradoxymoron wrote:

. . in the spirit of collegiality invoked in your letter

I do wish he wouldn’t dignify them with a meeting, but the word, “invoked,” rather than, “expressed,” is a nice statement of their hypocrisy.

December 12, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
5. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

“May the God of peace sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit be kept safe and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Thess. 5:23”

Kudos for that one… grin 

“Bp. Lawrence has communicated to us his intent to meet with you and other attending Province IV bishops next week in the spirit of collegiality invoked in your letter”. 

Bp. Lawrence is a better man than me; I don’t see the point.

December 12, 2:36 pm | [comment link]
6. GBob wrote:

So, let us be clear. We will not use the coercive force of threatened litigation over property to impose a false and destructive unity upon this Diocese. We cannot sanction the compromise of a full gospel proclamation that is undermined by actions such as the communion of the un-baptized. We cannot sanction the undermining of Christian marriage by the practice of same sex marriage or blessings. In such matters of the internal governance of this Diocese, out of the great depths of our love and concern for our people, we will continue to assert the autonomy that is historically and constitutionally ours and we will do so consistent with our belief that God alone dictates our future.

A very well-crafted statement that clearly and succinctly explains the motivation for the quitclaim and the core of the larger issues with TEC.  Bravo!

December 12, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
7. jamesw wrote:

Well written by the Standing Committee.  Do the TEC hacks they must constantly respond to not realize how small, petty and churlish they appear?

December 12, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
8. Michael+ wrote:

Well written and with a godly spirit.  Bravo South Carolina Standing Committee, bravo.

December 12, 3:23 pm | [comment link]
9. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Alleluia! Bravo! To the members of the diocesan Standing Committee.  OK Let there be no misunderstanding what the Standing Committee desires…. Palmetto logs are very tough and can withstand quite a bit of “canon” fire- LOL!!  I bet my fellow SC buddies will get the double entendre- if not I will explain later.

December 12, 4:45 pm | [comment link]
10. Undergroundpewster wrote:

Strongly and Godly worded.

December 12, 4:55 pm | [comment link]
11. trimom wrote:

OUCH!! Man, that’s going to leave a mark!

December 12, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
12. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Actually,no! That is what is so funny! if you get it…..

December 12, 5:28 pm | [comment link]
13. trimom wrote:

@#12- I wasn’t commenting on #10, I was commenting on the letter itself thinking that it was so forceful that Clifton Daniel might have some bruising after that slap in the face. I say, “You go get ‘em, SC!!”

December 12, 5:34 pm | [comment link]
14. SC blu cat lady wrote:

#13 AHHHH! Thanks for the clarification!! You think that smarts…..........

December 12, 5:49 pm | [comment link]
15. trimom wrote:

#14- I so need a “like” button for your comment!!

December 12, 5:54 pm | [comment link]
16. David Hein wrote:

“I do wish he wouldn’t dignify them with a meeting”

I know. But the alternative is worse: looking pusillanimous in the short run and providing evidence of lack of collegiality in the long run. He’s got to go and meet with them.

December 12, 6:27 pm | [comment link]
17. Cennydd13 wrote:

I think things are about to become “very interesting” at 815 Second Avenue, and I won’t be surprised if somebody there tries to turn up the heat a bit.  It’ll be interesting indeed to see what spin they’ll put on this.

December 12, 6:30 pm | [comment link]
18. SC blu cat lady wrote:

This was sent via our e-newsletter to many in the Diocese. I doubt anyone would be offended if we asked our friends and supporters outside the diocese to please keep this meeting in your prayers. The letter mentioned is the one in this post. bold is my emphasis and not in the original letter from The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis.

Dear Friends,
On Friday of last week, the Standing Committee made its response to the Dec. 5th letter from Bp. Clifton Daniel, acting as Vice-President of Province IV. The attached letter summarizes the unanimous belief of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina regarding the issues raised by Bp. Daniel’s letter. It is asked that the people and parishes of the Diocese keep the scheduled Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 14th) meeting of Bp. Lawrence with the representative Province IV bishops in your prayers.
In Christ’s service,

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
Canon to the Ordinary

December 12, 6:32 pm | [comment link]
19. David Hein wrote:

“I won’t be surprised if somebody there tries to turn up the heat a bit.”

TEC would be better off simmering down and trying to be truly inclusive/comprehensive.

December 12, 6:33 pm | [comment link]
20. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Absolutely agreed, David.

December 12, 6:46 pm | [comment link]
21. Ralph wrote:

The letter is direct, strong, and well-written. I don’t see it as being threatening, although the letter from Bp Daniel certainly came across that way.

If I dare read between the lines, perhaps any TEC cleric who would attempt to interfere with DioSC internal affairs might find himself the subject of canonical charges.

It’s good to know that the SC of SC are unified. An 815, or other, attack might try to split them and destabilize the diocese. +Mark is already under fire from some ultra-conservative and liberal factions in the diocese.

But, given SC history, an 815 attack (from Yankee carpetbaggers or Southern bishops acting as their agents) might well be unifying. Those canon balls might well bounce off the palmettos, once again.

December 12, 8:27 pm | [comment link]
22. Already left wrote:

I do hope he will be taking someone else with him.

December 12, 8:27 pm | [comment link]
23. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Good on them.

December 12, 10:17 pm | [comment link]
24. tjmcmahon wrote:

22- I don’t think we need to fear for Bishop Lawrence’s safety.
Perhaps we should pray that he is successful in converting some of his HoB colleagues and they return to the Church from the wasteland they are currently wandering.  Satan has enough paving stones as it is.

December 12, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
25. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Hey Ralph! #21. Glad you got the double entendre! I am beginning to learn the history of this state.  One liberal blogger, Steve Skardon of SC Episcopalians, described the letter from the diocesan Standing Committee as follows:

Hostile, paranoid tone in letter to Bishop Daniel reflects delusional nature of Diocesan leadership.

The Diocese of South Carolina continued its sputtering defense of itself from imagined attacks by the Episcopal Church over the weekend.  This time it’s the Standing Committee attempting to disrupt yet another sane and responsible attempt by the Episcopal Church to figure out what the Diocese wants.

Mr. Skardon, it is you and your liberal loonies who are hostile, paranoid, and delusional.

December 13, 12:41 am | [comment link]
26. SC blu cat lady wrote:

#24, TJ, I think that is one reason Canon Jim Lewis wrote the letter asking for prayer. Pray for Bishop Lawrence and especially the other bishops that they may all come to the same understanding of the Gospel.

December 13, 12:44 am | [comment link]
27. the roman wrote:

Bishop Lawrence will remain faithful to his word not to lead the Diocese of South Carolina out of TEC..they’ll be evicted first. A burr under 815’s saddle. God Bless the Diocese of South Carolina and their Bishop for their continuing witness to the Truth.

December 13, 9:57 am | [comment link]
28. Fradgan wrote:

Somewhere in NYC, the Presiding Bishop is demanding an accounting for the missing strawberries.

December 13, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
29. Mark Baddeley wrote:

This is a classy letter, a model of how to respond in this situation - tone, content, all excellent. It gives the Bishop the strongest possible hand going into the meeting - everything hard that needed to be said has been said by someone else, and someone else with some authority to speak to the matter. It also shows up the original letter for the sleazy thing it was - not by trying to show it up, just by setting the bar higher and meeting it. Great work SC.

December 13, 4:14 pm | [comment link]
30. tjmcmahon wrote:

#28- Now, there is an apt film (or play) reference.  That would also explain that sound of clacking ball bearings that people working at 815 complain about.
And as long as we are referencing Bogart movies, perhaps Bishop Lawrence will break up the Province IV bishop’s rendition of “All Hail the Power of Schori’s name” by having the band strike up “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”

December 13, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
31. Karen B. wrote:

Great letter!
I’m praying for Bishop Mark Lawrence today as he meets with the Province 4 bishops.

December 14, 8:20 am | [comment link]
32. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Yes, prayers for +Mark Lawrence and the diocese of South Carolina, and against the schemes of the Prince of this world.

December 14, 11:50 am | [comment link]
33. clarin wrote:

I have read (on this site?) that Tobias Haller has been leading the charge against Bishop Lawrence on some blogs. Is this correct? Apologies if not true.

December 14, 7:57 pm | [comment link]
34. TSH+ wrote:

@clarin (33) Apologies accepted. Although I have had rather strong and sometimes sharply expressed disagreement with Bishop Lawrence’s understanding of the Dennis Canon (mostly in the rather distant past), and find some of his actions to be poorly chosen, in particular the recent decision on the quit-claims, I was glad to hear of the null finding on the charge of abandonment. I continue to hope for the best, for him, for South Carolina, and for the Church. (I served on a committee with him prior to his elevation—to which I consented, by the way—and my primary criticism has been of what I regard as a tendency to the over-dramatic. Hardly actionable, and I have to say I’ve been known to chew scenery myself.)

BTW I’m also on record as firmly opposing the use of the abandonment canon in circumstances other than those for which it is intended, and think it has been abused and misapplied in the past.

Yrs, Tobias

December 15, 7:18 pm | [comment link]
35. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#34 Tobias Haller

I refer to your comment in response to clarin #33 and also in response to your comment addressed to me #91 on this thread

I make sure of my facts before I write:

1. Last year on the HOBD listserve on Wed, 15 Sep 2010 you stated on a thread entitled “Diocese of South Carolina proposed resolutions”:

In this case, the opposite of “accede” is “secede.” The attempted privileging of the diocesan documents over those of the Episcopal Church is irregular, and if it should lead to violation of the Canons, actionable under Title IV.

This was, as you are aware, at a time when it subsequently became clear the Presiding Bishop’s office was assisting putting together an alleged case against Bishop Lawrence and the diocese of South Carolina, and your words speak for themselves as encouraging this.

2.  Following the dropping of charges against Bishop Lawrence, given the background of your call on 15th October 2010, then on 29th November 2011 on Episcopal Cafe you stated:

It is high time the church disciplinarians give up on attempt to apply the Abandonment Canon in cases where it doesn’t really apply, or circumstances other than those for which it was designed. There is a difference between disobedience and renunciation.
What needs to be looked at are Canon IV.4.1.c and g.
Posted by tobias haller November 29, 2011 10:59 AM

3. You further stated on Thinking Anglicans:

I think you are correct, Ron. The recent activity involving quit-claim will have to be dealt with de novo. However, I think it falls under a different category than abandonment, and if charged will take a different course.
Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 at 3:03pm GMT

So far from being a misstatement, according to your comments you have been calling for disciplinary action under the provisions of Title IV, both old and new, and most recently after the attempt under the abandonment canons failed.  You have been pushing for action against South Carolina and its bishop for over 12 months.

The animus you hold towards South Carolina is pretty clear, although like your Presiding Bishop, you don’t appear to want to be seen holding the smoking gun.  Why is that?

I read no “welcoming of the decision”, but advocating another route in the context.  It reads as more than “expressing an opinion about canon law” but reads as indeed a consistent expression of your “rage and fulmination” at the result of the abandonment process and at South Carolina and its bishop, and curiously at odds with your opposition to any discipline in the Anglican Covenant. 

Isn’t what you have written unworthy in the light of your claimed regard for Bishop Lawrence and perhaps hypocritical of you?

December 16, 12:13 am | [comment link]
36. c.r.seitz wrote:

TSH+
1. what are you arguing a quitclaim accomplished that was not already so via the SC Supreme Court decision?
2. what canon are you saying has been abrogated by this?
3. do you know how many Province 4 dioceses have no accession to the canons, but only to Constitution, as with SC?
I concur with #34 as well in his questions.

December 16, 10:43 am | [comment link]
37. TSH+ wrote:

I tried posting a longer response but it has disappeared. I’ll just say, PM, I don’t dispute the facts, but rather your interpretation of them. If I had intended to press a case, I would surely have said more than these three short comments over the space of more than a year. I regret that the brevity of the comments may have provided less context than necessary to clarify my intent, which was only to note where the canonical issue might lie, IF any canons were to be violated. I do not believe any have been violated to date, and the suggestions of “pressing a charge” or of animus towards Bishop Lawrence is misplaced.

December 16, 5:42 pm | [comment link]
38. TSH+ wrote:

Dr Seitz, my reply to you also went missing.
1) I’m not arguing anything, but observing that if someone were to bring a charge for violation of canons because of the quitclaim issue it would likely fall under the canons governing property, and would be a new situation, i.e., de novo. Only a trial would determine if a violation took place, and if so how and of what. However, and this is very important,
2) I do not know that any canon has been violated nor have I said that one has been. If by abrogation you mean claiming, effectively, “This law doesn’t apply to me,” I don’t think that is in itself a canonical offense, much as I may think it poor form. (I commend working to amend laws with which one disagrees). But abrogation is not the same as violation. (This is, in part, why I think the use of the Abandonment canon is wrong, as abrogation of a particular law is not a renunciation of the whole discipline of the church.)
3) No, but I think that a moot point since the Canons derive their authority from the Constitution, and the Constitution requires accession to both Constitution and Canons. I realize that there are diocesan constitutions that do not contain accession clauses in the form required.

December 16, 7:42 pm | [comment link]
39. cseitz wrote:

TSH+

1. A quitclaim is not a deed/title transfer. It is an indication that no claim is possible and a public clarification of that. (I can issue a QCD that the Brooklyn Bridge is not mine). There seems to be a slow learning curve on this. I hope the Province 4 Bishops are now better informed, but I also concede it is not clear what their ultimate purpose is.
2. “I think it falls under a different category than abandonment, and if charged will take a different course.”—It now sounds like you are stating there has been no violation at all (“I do not believe any [canons] have been violated to date”).
3. “the Constitution requires accession to both Constitution and Canons”—if a Diocese decides that a canon is unconstitutional, it could not receive it, anymore than it could write diocesan canons that were unconstitutional. So, e.g., the Diocese of Dallas did not understand Title IV to be fully constitutional, so where there is any conflict, the Constitution is to be followed.

December 16, 8:02 pm | [comment link]
40. TSH+ wrote:

Dear Dr. Seitz,

1) I do know the difference between a deed and a quitclaim..

2) The “if” is crucial to understanding my original statement. Moreover, as you know, the bringing of a charge is not a conviction, but opens the process to see if a violation has in fact taken place. I do not share the allergy to church trials some of my liberal friends do (one of the many things with which I part company with them, by the way!) As painful as they may be, cases help to clarify muddy portions of the law, and it is the trial, not the charge, that determines whether a violation has taken place or not. (And note once again that I am not advocating even a charge, merely noting under which canons such a charge might be made. I do not in fact think such a charge should be brought, but I am not resident in SoCa and so have no dog in this hunt. As a firm believer in laissez-faire and diocesan rights (though not “sovereignty”!) I would not want to make intrusions into the internal affairs of another diocese, and have critiqued such moves from certain quarters. That is why this whole effort to paint me as some kind of raging anti South-Carolinian is so off the mark. Being painted as a monochromatic liberal, with all the assumptions that brings, is an unfortunate waste of time, and alienates one who could be a friend by painting him a foe.)

3) I don’t think it is within the competence of dioceses to make such a decision of effective “nullification.” That seems to me not a proper way to proceed. They are free, of course, to make such a statement, and the issue only comes to a head when there is an actual breach—thus my effort to distinguish abrogation from violation. I’ve not read—as I have heretofore had little interest in—the details of what SoCa believes to be unconstitutional in Title IV. (I have many a problem with Title IV myself, but that’s another issue.) As I say, I’m not overly concerned with the internal affairs of a diocese of which I am not a part. Could you briefly point me to the offensive portion(s) of Title IV? I may in fact agree with the SoCa position, and if so would join in the effort to amend it. As a deputy to the next Convention I have a voice at that table, and will be serving on the Canons legislative committee.

December 17, 1:02 pm | [comment link]
41. c.r.seitz wrote:

1) thanks. Good.
2) this cannot be directed to my comment as I made no reference to most of these matters (e.g., That is why this whole effort to paint me as some kind of raging anti South-Carolinian is so off the mark. Being painted as a monochromatic liberal, with all the assumptions that brings, is an unfortunate waste of time, and alienates one who could be a friend by painting him a foe.)
3) Of course a Diocese not only can but has a duty to uphold the Constitution. The alternative would be to develop a system with an Ecclesiastical Court (as in many Provinces) to determine when canons developed at GC are in fact unconstitutional. That TEC does not have this may in fact underscore the authority it assumed resided in the dioceses themselves. I suspect this is a neuralgic point in our present declining season. But for present purposes that is irrelevant. The Diocese has a duty not to receive canons which are unconstitutional.

December 17, 1:15 pm | [comment link]
42. TSH+ wrote:

Dear Dr. Seitz,
1) Excellent.
2) That was a parenthetical remark—hence the parentheses—in light of the larger conversation that first brought my attention to this thread. I hope I did address your primary concern.
3) As I say, if you would note what canon concerns you, I would be glad to lend a hand in getting it amended, and am actually in a position to do so. My experience of General Convention is that when a motion is supported by deputies from dioceses seen as coming from different positions it tends to promote adoption.
A peaceful Advent and glorious Christmastide to you and all.

December 17, 3:38 pm | [comment link]
43. cseitz wrote:

TSH+
I take it that this indicates the principle is sound. A canon cannot be adopted by a Diocese if it is judged to be unconstitutional. Not only is there a distinction between accession to Constitution and a ‘accession to canons’, the former is what is probative.

In the case of Title IV, the Diocese of Dallas only received Title IV so far as it was constitutional. At issue is the authority given to the Presiding Bishop, as against the three senior bishops acting together, in the case of discipline of Bishops. So, e.g., when this did not achieve the wanted outcome in the former Title IV, the consequence was recourse to abandonment logic—which you indicate you disagree with.

December 17, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
44. TSH+ wrote:

Dr S., I am not sure I would say that nullification is a “sound” way to proceed. My preference is that if a canon is deemed unconstitutional it ought to be amended.

I’m afraid I’m not following the constitutional point at issue. I certainly agree that the misuse of the (former) canon regarding the three senior bishops (as well as, and I think more importantly, the determination of what constituted a majority of all bishops entitled to vote) was wrong, and actionable, and am surprised no one thought to bring a presentment against the PB. But that seems to me to be a wholly canonical issue.

I’m really trying to understand what specifically is at issue. I don’t see any authority given to the PB in the new Title IV that wasn’t in the old Title IV in the abandonment canon, at least that would raise a constitutional issue. I do see the removal of the “three senior bishops” and replacement with the Disciplinary Board but that is hardly constitutional either.

Are you referring to the substitution of Presiding Bishop for Bishop Diocesan as part of the effort to “equalize” the legal system when a Bishop is the subject of an accusation (IV.17)? That effort at legislative economy may indeed have been hasty (as was the opportunity for debate and adoption) and it may fail to take due cognizance of the differences between Bishops in relation to the PB and clergy in relation to their Diocesan. Hasty efforts at rationalization are not in the best interest of equity and ecclesiastical justice!

December 17, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
45. cseitz wrote:

“My preference is that if a canon is deemed unconstitutional it ought to be amended.”

At issue is: how is it deemed unconstitutional? In the case indicated, the Diocese refused to receive it. Did you have another proposal?

Let’s clarify this matter first.

December 17, 8:26 pm | [comment link]
47. TSH+ wrote:

Dr. S. Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading the paper; it is a bit dense for this time of the evening…

I’m less concerned, frankly, with the “deeming” of something being unconstitutional than with how it is rendered kosher or eliminated. This is, ultimately, like the moral issue of private conscience. An individual or a diocese can say they deem a law to be unconstitutional, but they do not have the ability to change the law.

At that point there are two courses open. One is to go to the assembly empowered to change it, and work to do so. I think the good R Hooker has much to say on this.

The only other, and more painful course, it seems to me given our lack of a standing Ecclesiastical Court on such matters (as you note), is boldly to violate the law and then face the court that will determine if the law is constitutional or not.

Thanks again for your time. A blessed Christmas.

December 17, 9:29 pm | [comment link]
48. cseitz wrote:

+TSH

I have no abiding concern about your personal predilections (‘I am less concerned…etc’). I mean no disrespect.

At issue is church order: public and accountable, in Christ our Lord. In the present polity of TEC, with its limitations and tacit understandings (no longer functioning) a Diocese has a duty to determine if a canon is to be received or not, is constitutional or not. That has transpired in Dallas, CFL, SC and elsewhere.

Why would anyone be concerned to ‘render something kosher’ unless kosher implies a standard. What is this? Constitution? That is what it is for Dallas and others. If not that, what?

Your last sentence makes, with respect, no sense. If there is no Ecclesiastical Court, there can be no ‘painful’ recourse to it (‘face the court’).

I hope the link will give you something more substantive to reflect on, in due course, when you have more energy, etc.

Merry Christmas to you as well.

December 17, 9:41 pm | [comment link]
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