South Carolina Diocese Releases Statement Regarding Disassociation from the Episcopal Church

Posted by Kendall Harmon



The Episcopal Church (TEC) has made an attack against our Bishop and Diocese, in the midst of efforts for a negotiated settlement, which has fundamentally changed our common life. You may have heard or read about this over the last week but it is vital today that we all understand what has occurred and what it means as clearly as possible.


For many years the diocese of South Carolina has opposed the primary theological direction of the national Episcopal Church (TEC). As TEC leadership has moved away from the claim of Jesus’ uniqueness, the authority of Holy Scripture, the meaning of marriage and the nature of what it means to be human, we have had to be more steadfast in our defense of these truths, and more vocal and strong in our opposition to TEC’s disavowal of them.

In the past few years this conflict has escalated to the point where in 2011 charges were brought against Bishop Lawrence (and later voted down in Committee), and where the 2012 General Convention placed an unbiblical doctrine of humanity into the Canons of the Church. The doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC were all fundamentally changed in a fashion most of our clergy cannot and will not comply with. Bishop Lawrence and a majority of our deputation left the Convention before it concluded as a result.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsTEC Polity & Canons* By Kendall* South Carolina

16 Comments
Posted October 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Ad Orientem wrote:

Prayers for all concerned.

October 20, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
2. Jill Woodliff wrote:

I am staggered by the colossal stupidity.  Only in a context of long-standing corporate sin could 33 people (the complainants and the disciplinary board of bishops) alienate a vibrant, growing diocese of 28,000. 
Based on his past actions, I expect no help from Rowan Williams.  However, if I were Rowan Williams, I would go to heroic lengths to keep this diocese, or any other alienated diocese, within the Communion.  My first gesture would be to invite them to become extra-provinical to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
However, I am not the Archbishop of Canterbury.

October 21, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
3. Ralph wrote:

#1, we’ve seen it previously. The other departing dioceses could have been kept on board, as well. But, it’s the nature of liberals to be blinded by their need to push their agendas. Fr Munday called my attention to an article in Psychology Today, by Jerry Prinz, “Conservatives and liberals reside in different moral worlds” (April 3, 2008 ). This has helped me understand their colossal stupidity. A quote from the article, “One answer is that liberals and conservatives each make the same false assumption about the other side: they assume that their opponents share the same basic moral values.” The two groups don’t.

October 22, 8:27 am | [comment link]
4. Sarah wrote:

RE: “The other departing dioceses could have been kept on board, as well.”

I think I disagree.  The other four dioceses were leaving over [for three of them] WO first, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh simply wasn’t going to stay in a grossly heretical church, full-stop.

But the Diocese of SC was committed to remaining even in a grossly heretical church and loudly proclaiming the Gospel and its differences from our current leaders.

They just were never going to be allowed to do that—so 815 moved to annihilate them.

But SC is a very different diocese in its commitments from the four who left a number of years ago.

October 22, 8:46 am | [comment link]
5. Jill Woodliff wrote:

To their credit, the primates had commissioned a means to keep the alienated dioceses within the Communion—the Pastoral Council in the Dar es Salaam communique.  The House of Bishops of TEC determined that the primates’ pastoral scheme would be “injurious to The Episcopal Church.”
I say that the lack of the primates’ pastoral scheme is what has been injurious.  TEC is like a patient undergoing a series of amputations over time, the church losing dioceses like the patient losing body parts.

October 22, 8:59 am | [comment link]
6. Jill Woodliff wrote:

Could the Pastoral Council be resurrected at this late date?  Could the HoB acknowledge that they had erred in refusing the Council and these lost dioceses be restored to the Anglican Communion?  Jesus taught us to discern by looking at the fruit. 
Sadly, I see no discernment of the obvious.

October 22, 9:14 am | [comment link]
7. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Jill,

I for one am delighted that you’ve allowed yourself the freedom to make some substantive comments on this thread, and not merely confined yourself to offering some appropriate prayers and called us all to pray earnestly (valuable as those tremendous services are).  Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

Alas, I think there is virtually no chance that the proposal the Primates came up with in Dar es Salaam could realistically be resurrected and implemented successfully.  The tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion has significantly widened since then.  The Global North liberal provinces were already determined not to go along with that doomed plan when it was first hatched in Tanzania, and it’s abundantly clear that they sure won’t go along with some renewed plan for it now, when they’ve rejected even the milder Covenant worked out since then.  The fact is, and I’m sure Sarah will agree with me at least about this, the fundamental reality is that we’re dealing with two mutually exclusive gospels and worldviews here that simply can’t and won’t co-exist peacefully.  The fact is, as the Master warned us, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  Or as I like to paraphrase it, “Oil and water just don’t mix.  Never have.  Never will.

There is actually more hope (though only a faint hope)  that if Justin Welby indeed becomes the new ABoC he might fulfill your optimistic wish of taking the DSC under his care as another extra-provincial diocese.  But would the ACC and the infamous Standing Committee of that notoriously dysfunctional and colonialistic body go along with such a bold move?  Frankly, I doubt it, and thus the fragmentation of the Communion would continue.

In the end, there is no avoiding the unpleasant reality that the old wineskins of the institutional structures of the Anglican Communion, as we have known it heretofore, are simply obsolete and can’t be salvaged.  New wineskins are required, at least when it comes to church polity at the macolevel, i.e., how provinces and dioceses relate to each other internationally.

That is one of the several reasons why I have steadfastly maintained for some five years now on blogs like this one, that mere “renewal” of Anglicanism wasn’t enough.  Nothing less than a full-scale Reformation will do.  Everything I’ve seen since Kendally began this blog just confirms my confidence about that.  That’s why I continue to find the moniker NRA appropariate, despite the fact that I don’t own a rifle.  I remain a fervent Advocate of the New Reformation.  As long as all readers understand that this New Reformation extends well beyond Anglicanism.  As the ongoing breakup of the ELCA and the PCUSA attest, we are still in the early stages of a massive, worldwide realignment of Christian groups along new theological and moral faultlines that bear little resemblance to the original Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, and have much more to do with the Culture War.

Or to sum it up in a nutshell, I think it’s high time that we gave up all pretense of saving “the Anglican Communion” as such.  It is doomed, fatally flawed, and beyond restoration as a polity structure.  But not so ANGLICANISM, which as a historic system of doctrine, liturgy, spirituality, and yes polity too (below the international level) remains as viable and worth preserving and promoting as ever.  That’s where I differ so profoundly from my bright friends at ACI or the Communion Partners network they theologically underwrite (and I went to seminary at Yale with Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz, although we were never close back then and we’ve drifted farther apart in the years since we all left Yale).

IOW, Forget saving the Anglican Communion.  Like TEC, it’s kaput, finished, teminally ill with Stage 4 theological and structural chaos.  Instead, it’s time to focus on what CAN and SHOULD be salvaged, which is ANGLICANISM.  Forget trying to save the old wineskins.  Let’s concentrate on saving the wine itself.

If I am exremely pessimistic about saving the current institutional form of the Communion, I remain very optimistic about the prospects for saving what really matters, Anglicanism, as an ism, as a distinct and unique synthesis of the Protestant and Catholic elements in Christianity, a true Protestant-Catholic hybrid that is exceedingly precious for that very reason.

Blow Taps for the Communion, as we’ve known it.  It’s as good as dead.  But that’s OK, for as Christians we believe in a God who glories in bringing new life out of death.  And the future of Anglicanism is brighter than ever.  I truly and ardently believe that the best days of Anglicanism are still to come.

Provocative and feisty as ever,
David Handy+

October 22, 11:37 am | [comment link]
8. Cennydd13 wrote:

Jill, TEC is suffering “The death of a thousand cuts,” and yet they are oblivious.  It’s like being told that you’ve got terminal cancer, and being in denial stage.  They’ve all of this before, and still they refuse to face facts.

October 22, 3:02 pm | [comment link]
9. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

Hi Fr Handy, Just FYI. My ordination training was at Virginia Seminary. I then did a PhD at Yale and also taught there subsequently.

October 23, 3:31 pm | [comment link]
10. MichaelA wrote:

Good comments everyone. 

We in this far corner of the world are remembering Dio SC and all who sail in her in our prayers.  Whatever happens, we can be sure that the darkness “rageth furiously” against the children of God.

October 24, 12:52 am | [comment link]
11. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Dr. Seitz (#9),

Thanks for clarifying the point for all readers.  I was actually aware of those facts about your academic background, but oversimplified matters in noting the Yale connection.  For the record, I’m also well aware that George Sumner was also a seminary student at Yale during those heady years in the early 1980’s, although I had no contact that I can remember with him.  And since I graduated from YDS in 1983, after Drs. Radner and Sumner, I unfortunately missed the opportunity to be there during Dr. Philip Turner’s tenure as dean of Berkeley Div. School at Yale.

I mention all of that, not because I enjoy namedropping or to claim some sort of significant relationship with all of you at ACI, who have served the orthodox cause within Anglicanism with such distinction, but I was seeking to illustrate two implicit or associated points which I’ll take this chance to make explict.

1.  I was contrasting my rather idiosyncratic views with the better known and far more representative views the ACI team has articulated and defended so well for years.  That is, I mentioned ACI because you guys are so well known and widely respected here.

2.  I was lamenting the fact that Yale Div. School, like TEC, has lurched far to the left since those golden days when the likes of Brevard Childs, Leander Keck, Luke Timothy Johnson, and Richard Hays served on its illustrious faculty.  Back then, YDS was truly liberal enough, in the sense of being open-minded enough to allow genuine freedom of discussion, that orthodox faculty and students were honored and tolerated.  Alas, not so today.

David Handy+

October 24, 11:56 am | [comment link]
12. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

My point was only to clarify that I did my ordination training at VTS, not YDS, which you stated in your comments. Nothing more. VTS ‘79 is now a long time ago.

October 24, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
13. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks again, Dr. Seitz (#12).

I’m sorry for introducing the confusion, and I’m glad you set the record straight.  Of course, I shouldn’t have called you and Dr. Radner “friends,” either.  We were barely acquaintances.

And if that sounds a bit odd to some readers, i.e., how fellow conservative Anglicans could spend time on the same liberal school campus while having little relationship, I’ll further explain that when I was at YDS I was already married, whereas you, Dr. Seitz, and Ephraim were single and living in a different part of campus.  Not to mention the fact that in those days, YDS was quite large, with about 450 students (not counting the doctoral students like yourself), of whom well over 100 were Episcopalians.  Plus, you guys were older than I was and so we hung out with different people.

But yes, I think we can agree that VTS in 1979, or YDS in the early 1980s, now seems like a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Which takes us back to the main point after this long detour off-topic, i.e., that religious institutions and movements, slow to change as they notoriously are, nonetheless aren’t static.  They are perpetually evolving and getting either better or worse.  Alas, in the case of TEC, or VTS or YDS, they have grown much worse, as the gangrene of heresy and immorality has progressed farther and farther.  OTOH, I firmly believe, however naive it may seem to many outside and inside Anglicanism, that the parting of the ways was both inevitable and indeed necessary, so that the true and false gospels and worldviews that have been contending for dominance in the Anglican Communion could be clearly distinguished and kept apart.  A firewall has had to be built, or a bulkhead established, to contain the intolerable heresy of theological and moral relativism and prevent it from infecting the whole of Anglicanism.

The great DSC has toiled mightily to put such a firewall or bulkhead in place, but TEC has now said, in effect, that no such firewalls are going to be permitted.  How inclusive of them!

Please let all note:  It’s not that I’m saying to our “progressive” foes in TEC, “Well, good riddance!  I shake off the dust from my sandals and leave you traitors to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.”  No, I’m filled more with grief and pain than anger and bitterness.  Hence my frequent allusion here on T19 to the famous lament of the future King David over King Saul’s death, “How are the mighty fallen!”  Despite my allusion above to the “Negro” Spiritual “Free at Last,” while I do indeed rejoice that +Lawrence and the DSC are set free at last from the futile task of trying to stay in TEC while remaining sufficiently differentiated, I do NOT rejoice over the obvious demise of TEC, which I long loved and served.

Nor for that matter am I rejoicing over the ever-increasing signs that the tear in the fabric of the Communion has passed the point of no return and is unrepairable (at least humanly speaking).  Despite how it may appear at first sight to some, I am not rejoicing over the fact that the old polity wineskins (again, especially at the macro or international level) have now been shown to be obsolete.  They served us well for a long time and I don’t despise them.  But I value the wine of Anglicanism as a unique Protestant-Catholic hybrid much more than the venerable institutional wineskins that have held and helped preserve that potent wine for so long.  And yes, for me personally, that includes ALL FOUR of the Instruments of Unity that were supposed to protect and promote the unity of worldwide Anglicanism, but instead have done just the opposite.  And yes, I do mean the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as the other three that +Rowan has effectively vitiated and manipulated in a scandalous and reprehensible way.  I can foresee a New Anglicanism that dispenses with any need for the ancient see in Kent that was founded some 1400 years ago.  Not a bad run, and much longer than any Lutheran or Reformed church body can claim.

But in the future, the Archbishops of Abuja, or Kampala, or Nairobi, or even Juba, will matter more than whoever sits on the stone throne of Augustine of Cantaur.  That day isn’t far off, and may be here sooner than even I imagine.

Let us recall that when the Master warned us not to try and patch rigid old wineskins that no longer were supple enough to contain fermenting new wine, he humorously noted the futile and misguided attempt to repair the one wineskins would result not only in the loss of the precious wine after the old wineskins inevitably burst under pressure, but that the old wineskins would be lost as well.

What I’m trying to say is that the institutional wineskins of the Anglican Communion (again, with the all-important qualification, as we have known it heretofore) need to be retired with honor, like the jersey and number of some star athlete like Michael Jordan’s #23 Bulls uniform.  Not thrown away like disposable trash, but retired with honor.  Because what really matters is Anglicanism itself.  We got along for centuries without a Lambeth Conference, or an ACC, or a Primates’ Meeting, and we can do so again.  We can even do without the Church of England being legally established as the state church or the CoE being the central hub of the worldwide Anglican family of churches.  We can do without English being the native tongue of most Anglicans.  We don’t have to be Anglophiles or Erastian to be Anglicans.  But we DO have to cling faithfully to the core verities: including the authentic gospel, the supreme authority of Holy Scripture as interpreted by the consensual teaching of the ancient Catholic fathers and as supplemented and partially corrected by the Protestant reformers (especially with regard to justification by faith), plus adhering genuinely to the classic ecumenical creeds, the classic sacramental system, and not least to the classic three-fold ordering of the Church in terms of bishops, priests, and deacons (especially the real kind, the permanent or vocational deacons).  We DO have to remain Prayerbook Christians, no matter which version of the classic 1662 BCP we prefer.  There may be other things that are essential and non-negotiable elements of authentic Anglicanism, that’s certainly debatable and will continue to be vigorously debated among us.

But my fundamental claim here on this thread is that Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion aren’t interchangeable, as we often used to suppose back in the old days when our orthodox brothers and sisters in the REC were presumed not to be really Anglican whereas notorious heretics like +Pike or +Song inside the Communion were regarded as in the fold and invited to Lambeth.  No, it is high time that we Anglicans learned to distinguish carefully and cautiously between authentic Anglicanism and its possible institutional incarnations, some of which are legitimate and some of which aren’t.

But of course, that all takes us back to the Achilles Heel of Anglicanism, which I see rather differently than Dr. Turner of the ACI.  For in the end, IMHO, our real Achilles Heel is not just our theological vagueness and even incoherence on some crucial points that go all the way back to the Elizabethan Settlement, and the artful compromises found in the 1559 BCP and the 39 Articles of 1571.  No, bad as that is, the real problem is even worse.  And that problem is the gaping authority vacuum left at the very center of Anglicanism, even at its best as an ism.

That is to say, our ultimate Achilles Heel is that we simply have no final authority in Anglicanism that can settle prolonged and bitter disputes over fundamental matters of faith and practice.  For in the end, it always comes down to the authority issue:  Who gets to make the final decision that is binding on everyone who claims to be Anglican?  Alas, ever since the English monarch ceased to be the Supreme Governor of the CoE and hence over all Anglicans (a drastic if necessary change which effectively happened when England became a constitutional monarchy with the overthrow of James II and the ascent of William and Mary, Calvinistic Protestants that they were, to the throne under Parliamnet in 1689), we Anglicans have failed to come up with anything to take the place of the English monarch as a final arbiter for all things Anglican.  Mind you, I’m not a Royalist and I don’t bemoan the fact that Anglicanism is now liberated from the control of the English monarch.  Rather, what I lament and bewail is the plain fact that nothing has since been created to fill the authority vacuum left when royal control of Anglicanism ceased.  And the inevitable result has been the sheer theological chaos and institutional anarchy we now see on every side.  It is that chaos and anarchy that are killing us, and we have to put an end to that intolerable state before it brings about the death of Anglicanism itself, as well as the end of the Anglican Communion.

Nonetheless, I remain an eternal optimist.  The courage shown by +Lawrence and other fine leaders in the great DSC is only one of the many signs of hope that encourage me to remain confident that, as I asserted above, “The best is yet to come” for Anglicanism. 

And that’s precisely because the wheat is increasingly being separated from the tares and the chaff.  It turns out that this fateful separation doesn’t have to wait until the angels do it at the end of the age.  It’s happening how, if front of our stunned and uncomprehending eyes.  The all-important separation of the orthodox from the heretics, the upholders of the true gospel and biblical morality from its relativist perversions, the sheep from the goats, is happening right now, in a tentative way, of course, that is always subject to divine reversal at the Last Judgement.

David Handy+

October 24, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
14. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

P.S.  Before the Elves call attention to it and bar me from further comments here, let me apologize for rudely monopolizing this online discussion with three long comments in a row.  I repent, and will henceforth cease and desist with making further comments on this important thread.  The focus should stay on the brave stand of the DSC and the profound significance of the way it’s being kicked out of TEC.

David Handy+

October 25, 9:13 am | [comment link]
15. SC blu cat lady wrote:

David Handy+, You and Dr. Seitz can monopolize a T19 post any day and the rest of us should pay attention and read what both of you all write!  Please never regret sharing your information with the rest of us. Same goes for Dr. Seitz and his colleagues at the ACI. We need that information! What miniscule amount of info I know about Anglicanism as a communion would fit in one long essay. Alas, I agree that there is a problem with no central authority for us Anglicans. We are seeing the results of that currently. Although, it may have its upside, what we are seeing is the downside. And it is not pretty.

Yes, I agree it is very sad.  This decline of TEC has been a long and somewhat painful personal journey for me. I won’t bore anyone with that.

October 26, 1:03 pm | [comment link]
16. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

Thank you, SC Lady.
This is as good a place as any to remind T19 readers that the vast bulk of ACI’s work (legal depositions; amicus filings; work on Title IV; essays; consultation) is done pro bono. We welcome your financial support and would be very grateful for it. Simply go to anglicancommunioninstitute.com.
(We are ‘expert witness’ testimony in the Quincy case, where Dr Bruce Mullin will appear in his usual role as TEC ‘expert.’ We are given to understand he has earned in the six-digits for the billing of his time in the last years’ season of TEC recourse to secular courts.)

October 26, 2:41 pm | [comment link]
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