Anglican Communion Institute—Consumed By Litigation: TEC In South Carolina (Part One)

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is the first of two articles in which we will address issues arising in South Carolina. We consider below issues of good faith and canonical integrity. In particular:

--TEC’s actions in South Carolina raise troubling questions about the good faith of many church leaders in their dealing with Bishop Lawrence, including the Presiding Bishop, the Disciplinary Board, other TEC bishops
and some diocesan clergy.
--TEC’s position is canonically incoherent; either its actions in South Carolina are in open contempt of its own canons or it has undermined the basis on which it has spent millions of dollars on lawsuits.

In a second post later this week we will consider issues of ecclesiology and pastoral care. We are concerned that: TEC is acting contrary to basic principles of Anglican ecclesiology and ancient norms of the universal church; and it is subordinating the genuine pastoral needs of its members to further doubtful litigation goals.

But we begin with a detailed summary of facts that are not widely known outside South Carolina. It is important that these be placed in the record for the maintenance of public trust. This is neither light nor pleasant reading. Please bear with us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

Posted November 12, 2012 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Milton Finch wrote:

Wow.  Brilliant.  Thank you, ACI!

November 12, 11:18 am | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:

Well done.  But it ultimately comes down to force.  Legal force, not yet physical force, but force nevertheless.

November 12, 11:38 am | [comment link]
3. Cennydd13 wrote:

Yep, legal force is the power-that-be which is leading TEC, while Christian belief has been trashed and discredited.

November 12, 12:08 pm | [comment link]
4. Jill Woodliff wrote:

‘Consumed by litigation’ is an apt title.  Look at what has been devoured—trust, relationship, Christian witness, treasure.

November 12, 12:09 pm | [comment link]
5. Cennydd13 wrote:

They are totally meaningless where Jefferts Schori is concerned.  The only thing that matters is control of assets.

November 12, 12:45 pm | [comment link]
6. Paterricardus wrote:

We live in an age and culture obsessed with the usurpation of power. Why are we surprised that She-Who-Presumes-to-Call-Herself-Primate fancies herself to be an plenipotentiary archbishop? Christianity has little to do with this mess. John 11:35.

November 12, 3:11 pm | [comment link]
7. Katherine wrote:

The duplicitous nature of these proceedings should be a warning to any other priests and bishops remaining within TEC.  These uncanonical (even on TEC’s terms) actions mean that every single one is liable to be removed at any time without notice and without due process.  All it will take is for a select few to file secret charges.

November 12, 3:34 pm | [comment link]
8. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Katherine (#7),

You’re absolutely right.  Sad, but true.

I also agree completely with #1 and #2.  This is vintage ACI analysis: brilliant, cogent, and written with understated elegance (as noted in #1).  But in the end, Br. Michael (#2) is right that this may matter little, as ultimately the outcome all comes down to brute force (humanly speaking, of course).  It reminds me of the famous cynical quip that Stalin is reported to have made after being sternly condemned for his atrocities by the Pope.  The murderous Soviet dictator just scoffed and scornfully said, “How many divisions (of tanks and troops) does he have?

Since the noble ACI team has been so restrained in their devastating criticism of the reprehensible tactics utilized by the leaders of TEC and their liberal cronies and stooges within SC, I’ll venture a much more blunt assessment, as is my wonted style. 

I have no respect for the nefarious PB.  Zip.  Zilch.  None.  And if possible, I have even less respect for BOTH “DBB”‘s, David Booth Beers and the worthless Disciplinary Board for Bishops.  I hold them all in utter disdain and outright contempt.  In the name of Christ.

David Handy+

November 12, 4:07 pm | [comment link]
9. Cranmerian wrote:

Yes, and we were assured of how much more pastoral and fair and compassionate these new Title IV canons were supposed to be compared to the legalistic, draconian version that they replaced.  The followers of T19 and StandFirm and the Anglican Curmudgeon and the ACI knew better.  These changes were intended to do one thing, and one thing only - usurp more power for 815 and those in control.  They have now been used quite intentionally to silence and remove any dissenting voices within TEC.  This grand hoax of this big tent of inclusivity by the progressive majority continues to be shown for what it is - a sham.  Ms. Schori and her minions will have a great deal to explain to Almighty God when they meet Him face-to-face.  May God have mercy on them.

November 12, 4:13 pm | [comment link]
10. Cennydd13 wrote:

They’re more likely to shake hands with Satan when he meets them in the fiery pit.

November 12, 4:27 pm | [comment link]
11. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

To turn to anger is to allow Satan to enter in.

I have been thinking about all this.  It seems to me that more effectively we can all intensively pray for the diocese of South Carolina.  May I invite those who wish to quietly to pray, in a group if you can, some time each day this week.  I believe that is how God speaks to us, and He will show us what we can best do, and His angle on what at the end of the day is His church.

The article is the usual helpful model of clarity from the ACI, and I am rereading and thinking about that as well.

November 12, 4:34 pm | [comment link]
12. Undergroundpewster wrote:

The strategy of 815 is similar to its previous fights. 815 does not care if it fails as long as it inflicts sufficient pain to discourage others from following DSC’s strategy.

November 12, 4:37 pm | [comment link]
13. Paterricardus wrote:

Cennydd13 (#10), they don’t believe in Satan. However, I am reminded of the lady who accosted Ven. Fulton Sheen with the challenge, “Bishop Sheen, I’ll have you know that I don’t believe in Hell.” He replied, “That’s all right, madam, you will when you get there.”

November 12, 4:46 pm | [comment link]
14. Cennydd13 wrote:

How true this is…....and thank you!

November 12, 5:02 pm | [comment link]
15. Jill Woodliff wrote:

Some prayers for South Carolina can be found here.

November 12, 6:29 pm | [comment link]
16. drummie wrote:

“Is it too much to expect the same from Christians even when they are wrestling with disputes that go to the essence of Christian belief and practice?”  There is a problem with this question. It assumes that there are dealings here between two Christian bodies. Is TEC Christian? I would submit that the leadership and many of its members are NOT.

November 12, 6:59 pm | [comment link]
17. Cennydd13 wrote:

Yes, Drummie, they are most definitely NOT!

November 12, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
18. SC blu cat lady wrote:

I really like this article by the ACI. Well done! However, I will add a few little known facts.

1)The original meeting between +Waldo, +Lawrence, and their diocesan chancellors took place on August 27th.

2)There was no meeting between +Waldo, +Lawrence and the PB on Sept 6. That is the date Bishop Waldo is told by the PB’s secretary that they could meet with her the next day or in Oct (2nd or 3rd). Oct 3rd was confirmed as the date for the meeting.

3)The second meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday Oct. 11. Unfortunately, the funeral service of the recently deceased former Chancellor of the Diocese, Mr. E. N. “Nick” Zeigler, was on Oct. 11. THAT is the reason the second meeting was rescheduled for Oct 22. This info came directly from Bishop Lawrence and is also mentioned in the timeline on the diocese’s website.  FWIW, I was there at the service as were Bishops Lawrence and Waldo.

4)Bishop Lawrence made it clear that October dates had to be chosen as the PB’s vacation schedule and *saabatical* gave Lawrence and Waldo few other choices. So October it was.

Please see the timeline at the diocese of South Carolina’s website

November 12, 7:13 pm | [comment link]
19. Karen B. wrote:

Important article posted at the Rev. Steve Wood’s blog.

From all I’d read of and by Fr, Sanderson here on T19 over the years, I’m really really surprised that he and his parish are apparently staying with TEC.

November 12, 7:54 pm | [comment link]
20. Milton Finch wrote:

Karen B,
I believe you will see a good bit of this as time wears on.  Many are institutionalists, as Father Harmon wrote around 9 years ago.  They write, speak and preach the Gospel, but are willing to remain in something others would deem apostate.  The reasons are as many as a centipedes legs.  Family affiliation, heart felt yearnings for nostalgic memories,  pensions, just wanting to get by and finish out their tenure a nd be done with it.  It is a sad reality.  Think Patriots, Tories and those just wanting to get by while leaving the fight to the two combatants.  The fight, though, will take place on the front lawn of his congregation.

November 12, 8:15 pm | [comment link]
21. Katherine wrote:

Well, and if Fr. Sanderson and others like him think they can remain with TEC and keep their convictions for the long term, they are kidding themselves.  Bishop Lawrence tried to do that.  TEC threw him out.

November 12, 8:35 pm | [comment link]
22. Milton Finch wrote:

He might keep his convictions, but the families and children after him won’t.  You are right.  It will end with him.

November 12, 9:17 pm | [comment link]
23. wildfire wrote:

I am not sure if you mean to imply otherwise by your comment, but the ACI piece does not say that there was a meeting on Sept. 6.  What ACI says is:

The starting point is the agreement reached on September 6 among Bishop Lawrence, the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Waldo of Upper South Carolina to meet in New York on October 3....

It is important for everyone to realize that as of Sept. 6, a meeting was scheduled to try to resolve outstanding issues in a Christian manner.  The Disciplinary Board preempted and thereby killed these discussions two weeks later on Sept. 18.

The other points you raise are also true and entirely consistent with ACI’s description.

November 12, 10:29 pm | [comment link]
24. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Time for peace and prayer, there is deep spiritual warfare going on.

November 12, 10:54 pm | [comment link]
25. RalphM wrote:

TEC used the same pattern in VA.  Have ongoing “negotiations” while preparing the lawsuits.  TEC is a lawless organization; do not base any dealings on an assumption of good faith on their part.

November 12, 11:38 pm | [comment link]
26. Already Gone wrote:

Interestingly, the article on Holy Communion linked by Karen B also mentioned that the curate and some of the parishioners are leaving to form a Roman Catholic Anglican Ordinariate community, and that the church as a whole had considered, but rejected that path earlier.

November 13, 12:13 am | [comment link]
27. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Yes, 26. That information is also on Holy Communion’s website.

#23. Often an agreement implies that there was a meeting when what happened was that Bishop Waldo was told by the PB’s secretary of the PB’s vacation schedule and was given a choice of dates as to when they could meet with the PB. If you had taken the time to actually read the timeline given by the Diocese (which has been available for weeks now), you would know that my information comes directly from the timeline on the Diocese of SC’s website. I quote:

September 6, 2012: PB’s secretary tells Bp. Waldo that the PB can meet the next day or the 2nd or 3rd of October. October 3, 2012 is confirmed.

I am assuming that this was by phone as +Waldo had called and left a voice message on August 30th.  Notice that Bishop Waldo called the PB’s office to schedule the meeting not +Lawrence.  +Waldo offered to do that for Bishop Lawrence. That last statement came from Bishop Lawrence when he had a parish wide forum at the time of his visit to our parish. He wanted all of us to know that Bishop Waldo has been very kind and a friend to him (+Lawrence) throughout all this mess.

Also, please realize that the standing committee of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina just released a statement saying that they want the PB to back off from her impending legal clash with the Diocese of SC.

All, we need to be very careful in what is posted and from where we get our information. My info came from the timeline. I have not seen any other information that contradicts that.

November 13, 8:32 am | [comment link]
28. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Please note that the article (from the local paper and appearing in print this past Sunday) linked in comment #19 by Karen B. was but one of a slew of articles and items which have appeared in the past few days.  I am seeking to give some order to these items and posting them today.

November 13, 8:42 am | [comment link]
29. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

#27. Thank you for your concerns. I can assure you ACI is not watching this matter at a distance or getting information off internet news.

November 13, 10:53 am | [comment link]
30. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks to Pageantmaster (#11 & 24),

I welcome his gentle rebuke of my rather vitriolic #8, and his helpful reminder that since this is ultimately a matter of spiritual warfare, it must be waged with the right weapons against the real enemy.  So let me here strike a different tone.

It’s all too easy when times are stressful and feelings are intense to fall into the trap of treating our human foes as if they were the enemy.  They aren’t.  To cite the familiar language of Eph. 6, “we wrestle not with flesh and blood…” but rather with demonic powers that have duped our foes.  That classic passage implies that Satan’s chief weapon is deception and our greatest need is to resist his “deceitful wiles” which is why girding ourselves with the belt of truth is the first piece of the armor of God that we must put on.

So let me reframe my earlier remarks in #8.  The treacherous leaders of TEC, including the PB and her notorious chancellor, aren’t the enemy.  In many ways they are POW’s, prisoners of this terrible spiritual war, and hence deserving of compassion and needing rescue.  But the fact remains that they are utterly deceived by the Father of Lies, and have convinced themselves that they are serving the cause of justice and social progress, when in fact they are blindly acting in a most unjust, illiberal, and reprehensible manner.

David Handy+

November 13, 11:12 am | [comment link]
31. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#Many thanks Rev Handy.  I would like to take the credit, but unfortunately I did not have your posts in mind when I commented; it was more a general sense which prompted me.  I hope you are not too disappointed - you remain of course a great and wise blessing to us, and I concur completely with the rest of your comment.

November 13, 11:35 am | [comment link]
32. Cennydd13 wrote:

“......a most unjust, illiberal, and reprehensible manner?”  Yes, certainly, but I’m afraid that I’m not as forgiving as you are, Fr Handy.  They are “prisoners” of their own volition…..they chose this for themselves and their followers, and they chose unwisely as far as we’re concerned…..but they think differently by choosing to follow the Father of Lies.  “Choose whom ye will follow?”  Yes, but they chose wrongly, and they will suffer for it in the end.  Should we pray for their salvation?  Of course, but what are their chances of being saved?  At this point, I’d say “slim to none.”

November 13, 2:53 pm | [comment link]
33. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Such a sad situation.  My heart goes out to all who are grieving over this.

November 13, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
34. "Peter in the pew" wrote:

All this energy focused properly on the Great Commission would bear much fruit. But how can the workers destined for the harvest field do their work if they are called away to do spiritual battle. There needs to be an organisation of labor so that the harvest may be brought in while at the same time the boundries fortified and the watch maintained. There is more coming that will make us all wonder what to do. If then, stop and repent your fear/lack of faith, anger and bitterness, the poison that eats away at your very flesh leaving you consumed and useless. Recite psalm 23 and remember, it has been worse than this at one time when Israel was occupied or even exiled. We aren’t really experiencing anything new but most of us are really coming face to face with a decision that our ancestors of faith have had to live and die with. As for me, I want to live in peace but I can’t ignore the great dangers we are in. Yes Paul is right when he distinguishes between the flesh and the spirit. I am so upset by the disengeuous manner in which people listened to the Bishop address his flock, one even hissed and spit like a ferrel kitten the whole time, (it was horrible) and so I struggle to be able to say “peace” when I know it’s akin to casting pearls. I am at a loss but I am grateful that +Lawrence didn’t bolt. A lesser man would have, and I knew then when we called him, he was the greater man, knowing he was entering the furnace. I pray he continues to receive insight from God through Christ and that His Holy spirit will grant all of us rest. God’s peace.

November 14, 1:08 am | [comment link]
35. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Returning to the theme of #1, thankiing and commending the ACI team for this latest contribution to clarifying the issues at stake and exposing the erroneous claims made by our foes on the left:  It’s worth pointing out for the record that the four ACI authors have again demonstrated real courage here.  After all, Dr. Philip Turner is himself already facing charges of having violated his ordination oath by having the gall to publicly oppose the new TEC pro-gay/universalist/relativist agenda.  Since the whole ACI team has entered the legal fray in Quincy and Ft. Worth, it’s entirely possible that the hotheads at 815 will choose to go after the other three men eventually as well (even the lawyer, Mark McCall, although it’s hard to imagine on what grounds they could get rid of a layman).

Courage is one of the cardinal virtures.  So is prudence (wisdom).  +Lawrence demonstrates them both in spades.  And so do the ACI team.  I just hope that the rest of the Communion Partner bishops and diocesan standing committees will now rise to the challenge and show equal wisdom and courage.  For the handwriting is clearly on the wall for all with eyes to see.  As Katherine pointed out above, the powers that be in TEC are obviously determined to purge the denomination of all siginficant resistance.  And in their rage and passion for what they falsely see as social justice, they are acting as if the ends justify the means, including any and all means necessary, no matter how unjust or ugly they might be.

Thanks be to God for the ACI, who have again put us all in their debt.

David Handy+

November 14, 3:37 pm | [comment link]
36. MichaelA wrote:

Prayers for the people and clergy of Diocese of South Carolina who remain faithful, that the Lord will uplift them and protect them. 

I agree that this period of persecution will have a limiting effect on evangelism and church-planting in Dio SC.  That is inevitable during times of persecution, but there always come a time when things are better (see Acts 9:31).

Peter in the Pews makes a good point that, to the extent possible, evangelism and church building should be quarantined from the legal battles so they can continue, and so that their fruit are untouchable by TEC.

November 14, 11:50 pm | [comment link]
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