The Diocese of South Carolina Responds to the Announcement of a January TEC Meeting

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Following the announcement that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church plans a trip to Charleston for a January 25-26 convention of those wishing to re-associate with the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina released the following statements:

“They are certainly free to gather and meet, but they are not free to assume our identity. The Diocese of South Carolina has disassociated from the Episcopal Church, we’ve not ceased to exist. We continue to be the Diocese of South Carolina – also known, legally as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which I remain the Bishop. We are eager to get on with the ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world! I suggest that the Steering Committee of this new group will want to do the same. A good first step for them would be to select a new name or choose another Diocese with which to associate.”

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
XIV Bishop, Diocese of South Carolina

“I would like to make a point of clarification for those who think we became a new entity upon our disassociation. A brief history lesson seems in order. We were founded in 1785 (prior to the founding of the Episcopal Church). We were incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. We did not become a new entity upon our disassociation. A new entity will need to be created by those who choose to leave the Diocese and re-associate with the Episcopal Church.”
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of South Carolina

“They insist on what others must do yet there is no written standard to support them, and at the same time they run roughshod over their own constitution and canons. They have created a tails we win, heads you lose world where the rules are adjusted according to their desired outcomes--no wonder we dissociated from a community like that.”
The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon
Canon Theologian, Diocese of South Carolina

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

Posted December 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ralph wrote:

It is very gracious of +Mark to state, “They are certainly free to gather and meet,” because the PB’s visit, without an invitation from the Ordinary, is a border crossing. The meeting itself is of course unofficial, and any action taken in the meeting is meaningless. (Of course, they can drown their sorrows at the Pantheon afterwards.)

But, in the Honey Badger world of the TEC leadership, those things don’t matter.

Perhaps commenters here might offer suitable names for the new diocese in formation to consider. For starters, “The Episcopal Diocese of Folly Beach” has a nice ring to it.

Don’t let da boo hag ride ya, South Carolina!

December 10, 8:30 pm | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

If Bishop Schori presides at a worship service in a church still associated with the Diocese of South Carolina without license from Bishop Lawrence she will be in violation of canon law in that diocese and of her own canons.  If the parish where the meeting is to be held disassociates from its current diocese then it can do what it wants and have Schori act as a bishop there.  I presume there has been no time for any of the parishes to formally disassociate, and anyhow if they did they would wreck the charade they’re running about being the Diocese, which they are not.  Pretending doesn’t make it so.

December 10, 8:37 pm | [comment link]
3. Milton Finch wrote:

All of the quotes and statements from our Bishop Lawrence down set the precedence from which the court will take the argument.  The fake group comes…they use anything like the Diocese of South Carolina’s rightful, lawful name, and they are breaking the law from the start.  It won’t be hard to prove who is right and who is trying to steal.  Our Diocese has taken many steps to get where we are now, and every action made to protect the Diocese’ integrity, has been masterful.  I am deeply grateful for that.  Wonderful, watchful lawyers on the original side of things.

December 10, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
4. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Well, a challenge to be sure, to be able to name such a coterie, but I should like to propose Episcopal Diocese of Pretenses & Folly.  One shouldn’t offend the beach!

December 10, 11:07 pm | [comment link]
5. Milton Finch wrote:

Bishop Lawrence’s statement provides authority.  The Reverend Lewis’ statement provides the reality of the matter before the Court’s eye.  Father Harmon’s statement provides the process that TEc has used to steal what is not its to steal.  Brilliant.  Anyone can see it…especially a court of law!

December 10, 11:12 pm | [comment link]
6. Milton Finch wrote:

The Reverend Lewis’ statement provides the “chronilogical” reality of the matter before the Court’s eye.  Better said and understood statement.

December 10, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
7. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

Ai question for Mr. Harmon: Because so many citizens and so many in the media across the country simply don’t understand most all the intricacies—especially the legally-related ones—involved in this situation, I’m concerned that some important misconceptions will be fostered unless the Diocese acts in some pretty easily understood, affirmative ways to assert some matters before the public eye. Specifically, it’s clear, legally, that “disassociation” and “abandonment” constitute technical “terms of art,” necessitating analysis to determine the true significance of what has happened—and may happen—with regard to any actions taken by the “Special Convention”, and this point is not fully appreciated by the public at large and the media.

Therefore, I recommend that the Diocese and each parish in the Diocese which supports affiliation with the existing Diocese attempt to provide notice to the Presiding Bishop (and other officials of the denomination) that each such parish and the Diocese has the right to send an individual or individuals to any meeting which purports to affect the Diocese, that such parish and the Diocese intends to attend any such meeting and to exercise the rights to which they are entitled under law with regard to any and every proposal relevant to the Diocese which may be presented. Obviously, since parishes wishing to remain associated with the Diocese constitute a majority of parishes in the Diocese, they, along with the Diocese, should certainly be able, in any proceeding that comports with legal requirements concerning Diocesan affairs, to prevail with regard to any actions that would affect the legal rights of the Diocese and its parishes. Further, should there be any assertion by the denomination of a purported parliamentary or canonical basis (or bases) that would restrain the loyal parishes in the assertion of their rights, such would constitute an important matter of record and an important item for the public at large to carefully note with regard to fairness and treatment of members of the same denomination.

Although I believe in “surrendering my cloak” when when particular opposing force clearly exists, I do not believe that Christians have any responsibility for doing so merely because another person or entity has resorted to, or attempted to resort to, compulsion.

December 11, 12:14 am | [comment link]
8. Milton Finch wrote:

Compulsion of what, Triangle?

December 11, 12:34 am | [comment link]
9. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Some parishes have already taken step to distance themselves from the Diocese. A way to remain affiliated with TEC has already been mentioned by Bishop Lawrence. IRRC, that involves writing a letter to the PB mentioning that the parish wishes to remain in TEC. However,  at least one parish has already changed their bylaws to no longer mention the Diocese of South Carolina. They still accede to the national church. Many TECcies will remain convinced that *they* are THE Diocese of South Carolina. Nothing else will be acceptable- not forming another diocese according to TEC canon law, nothing short of promoting confusion and discord is the desirable end.

December 11, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
10. SC blu cat lady wrote:

#7, NO ONE is compelling anyone to do anything. If individuals who are TEC loyalists wish to remain in their parish they may do so. NO ONE is forcing anyone to leave. If parishes want to remain loyal to TEC, they may do so. Bishop Lawrence is being as gracious as he can be given the situation.

December 11, 12:16 pm | [comment link]
11. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Ralph, I rather like Kevin Kallsen and George Conger’s (of Anglican TV) name for the TEC loyalists-  the “Artificial Ecclesiastical Entity of South Carolina”. AEESOC. LOL. reminds me of another fable- Aesop’s!!

December 11, 12:20 pm | [comment link]
12. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

A general comment, unrelated to those above.

All three summary responses highlighted by the diocese are marvelous, clear, and on point.  But I especially loved the ending of Kendall’s barbed comment:  “no wonder we dissociated from a community like that.” 

So true.

I’ll just add one thing.  Identity theft is a crime.  It’s not only a violation of one of the Big Ten Commandments (“Thou shalt not steal”), it’s literally a criminal action. 

David Handy+

December 11, 12:28 pm | [comment link]
13. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Hi David+,
Yep. We know it. The bishop knows it. One of the questions asked at a deanery meeting was just that- What steps does the Diocese plan on taking to get the TEC loyalists to stop using our name and seal? Actually it was worded as - Is the diocese going to send a “cease and desist” letter? Even if the diocese did via our Chancellor, there is pretty good chance that it would be ignored as their *plan* depends on their continuing the charade!

December 11, 12:39 pm | [comment link]
14. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

Milton Finch (#8)  and “SC Blue Cat Lady” (#‘9 and #10). Your comments completely misinterpreted the points raised in the first two paragraph of my earlier post (#7)! Please take some time to reread those paragraphs carefully. Clearly, the compulsion to which I referred is clearly the compulsion of the leadership of ECUSA in attempting to force a replacement diocese for the existing Diocese of South Carolina and the majority of its parishes, whose bishop has been, and is, Bishop Lawrence and who continues to serve that diocese.  Otherwise, I would not have suggest that the continuing Diocese take affirmative steps to oppose such compulsion on the part of ECUSA’s leadership.

December 11, 3:17 pm | [comment link]
15. Milton Finch wrote:

#14, Triangle,  I understood what you wrote.  The compulsion question was towards asking a fuller explanation which you gave when you stated the word.  Thank you for that.  I liked what you wrote.

December 11, 3:26 pm | [comment link]
16. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

Mr. Finch (#8) and SC Blue Cat Lady (#10): The most important language in the second paragraph of my earlier post is found in the phrases: “...affiliation with the EXISTING DIOCESE…” (in line two of the second paragraph), “...EACH SUCH PARISH AND THE DIOCESE…” (in line three of the second paragraph), and “...since parishes wishing to REMAIN ASSOCIATED with the diocese constitute a MAJORITY OF PARISHES in the Diocese [clearly referring to the existing diocese]...” (in lines 6 and 7 of the second paragraph). Your comments reflect an assumption that I’m in support of actions of ECUSA’s leaderhip re the Diocese of South Carolina, when, clearly, I’m not, as reflected by my proposal that the existing Diocese seek to affirmatively assert its legal rights by means other than resorting to litigation with regard to the Presiding Bishop’s upcoming “Special Convention.”

December 11, 3:46 pm | [comment link]
17. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

#15. Mr. Finch, Thank you for your clarification and I apologize for having stated that you assumed I supported ECUSA’s actions. I appreciate that you liked what I wrote since I believe that ECUSA has been allowed in the court of public opinion to get by with the obvious inconsistent mantra that entities can’t leave ECUSA, where the reality is that entities ARE allowed to leave IF, in the typical case, the leaving entity is subjected to infliction of TERMS that I believe a Christian religious body should simply not attempt to inflict on a fellow body.

December 11, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
18. Katherine wrote:

wmresearchtrianglenc, your suggestion sounds like a good one and I hope the Diocese will look at it carefully.  Certainly any meeting that purports to affect the Diocese should be attended by members of the Diocese, and since the large majority reject association with the General Convention organization which is misusing the diocesan identity, they could simply vote it down, as you say, to get the TEC manipulation and wrongful process on the record.

It is sad to know that here in North Carolina we cannot have recourse to the courts.  That has already been litigated and departing parishes, or even parishes which do not pay their assessments, will be taken over by TEC bishops.

December 11, 6:50 pm | [comment link]
19. MichaelA wrote:

Glad to see that Dio SC is standing up to the 815 bullies.  We are praying for you.

Your witness will be noted by many people, not least the unchurched who will thereby gain an understanding that christianity actually stands for something (they get the opposite impression from the liberals).  Your public witness will help to spread the gospel.

December 11, 8:09 pm | [comment link]
20. Ralph wrote:

#13, I think there does need to be some sort of a “cease and desist” letter.

Some years ago, I was involved in a non-profit corporation. Another group used our name, without our permission, to imply our endorsement of their services. At great expense, I sent the relevant info to our attorney, and called him to ask that he send a scorching lawyer letter.

He patiently advised that the first letter needed to come from me - polite, yet firm and clear. I wrote it, and at great expense, he reviewed it - making it even more polite and to the point.

He was right. My letter worked. He said that if the first letter is well-written, there isn’t usually a need for the scorching lawyer letter.

In the case of DioSC and TEC, I suspect that the DioSC attorneys will need to haul out the flame-throwers.

December 11, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
21. Ross wrote:

Seems to me that there are two distinct matters here:  one ecclesial, one legal.

Ecclesiologically, +Lawrence and those who align with him are of the opinion that the Diocese of South Carolina has separated itself from the national church, while remaining in every other respect the same entity it has always been.  Contrariwise, TEC and those who align with it are of the opinion that +Lawrence, along with the rest of the diocesan staff and most of the clergy, have abruptly left the Diocese of South Carolina and taken up analagous positions in a brand-new ecclesial organization; leaving those who remain affiliated with TEC to fill the gaps left in the diocese by their departure.

Legally, the dispute is over who has control over the incorporated entity known as the Diocese of South Carolina and the assets it owns.  Including its name and trademarks.

The legal dispute will be resolved, appropriately, by the legal system, in due time.

The ecclesiological dispute will likely not be resolved, and so far as I can see there’s no fundamental need for it to be resolved.  Legal matters aside, does it injure +Lawrence’s diocese if TEC insists that those who remain affiliated with it are the real, original Diocese of South Carolina?  Similarly, does it injure TEC’s diocese if those affiliated with +Lawrence insist the same thing?  The one thing both sides agree on is that they are no longer in the same ecclesial organization, so—again, legal matters aside—nothing one group does can affect the other.

December 11, 9:42 pm | [comment link]
22. Katherine wrote:

Ross, you are right about how the two sides are looking at things, but it really is not possible to put legal matters aside, since it appears that as soon as the TEC group organizes itself it will launch a lawsuit to take property from the larger group.  If this were not the case, they could agree to separate without all this uproar.

December 11, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
23. Milton Finch wrote:

My worst fear in all this is what will happen to Camp Saint Christopher, located on Seabrook Island.  That has been the site where many have come to Christ, and if it were to fall into the hands of TEc, that would be devastating!  Many more of the faithful to the real Diocese of South Carolina use it as compared to those that are of the TEc ilk.  How was that property handed, legally, to the Diocese of South Carolina if it was?  I hope and pray that it was not granted to a national organization that has no ownership other than a Dennis Canon!

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

My apologies, Wmresearchtriangle. I am sooo used to the *lies* that TECcies like to put forth at every turn that we (Diocese of South Carolina) are somehow compelling those loyal to TEC to take the actions they have, that I misunderstood what you wrote.  At this point, I am so tired of their lies that I tend to *react* and not read.

However, my point is that no one in the Diocese is compelling anyone to go anywhere. Lets face it. Many of these loyalists have been part of our parishes for years- some of them for many years. If they could stand it thus far, why not just stay where they are and send their support to TEC like I suspect some of them have been doing for years.  They can certainly leave if they feel inclined but no one is being forced to leave.

As to the legal situation, the diocesan leadership is fully aware of the unauthorized use of the name and diocesan seal by TEC loyalists.  I suspect something will be done.  I don’t know what, when, or how- so please no more comments/speculation about that.  None of us will be surprised if litigation proceeds against the Diocese by TEC for the real property of the diocese. TEC may find the SC courts a bit more of a challenge considering the SC Supreme court has made a ruling. To take up numerous lawsuits similar to the one that has already been decided (and ruled against TEC) won’t necessarily be a winning strategy for TEC. Also, their legal strategy depends on their continuing “charade” of being the Diocese of South Carolina hence why many TEccies think they have every right to the name and the seal.

As to the ecclesiological situation, what you have is one entity that has become two.  Both groups are claiming to be the Diocese of South Carolina-a sort of ecclesiasticial “divorce” if you will.  I know of no canon in TEC that addresses this problem.

December 12, 12:17 am | [comment link]
25. MichaelA wrote:

The liberals have to fight - they cannot co-exist.

The reason being, liberals don’t actually create anything.  They don’t plant churches and they don’t grow churches.  In fact, left to themselves, they cannot even maintain churches at their former level of membership and activity.  They are parasites.

Liberals can only feed off churches which are paid for and maintained by people who are orthodox or somewhat orthodox.  Therefore they cannot accept an orderly separation - it inevitably leads to their demise in the medium term.

The orthodox should unashamedly accelerate this process by planting more churches and missions, and fostering their growth wherever possible.  Its fun to watch the liberals squirm, and more to the point, it fulfils our whole reason for existence in the first place!

December 12, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
26. "Peter in the pew" wrote:

25 MichaelA, I am in complete agreement. Already have shovel in hand and ready to turn some soil and start planting. Spring ‘13 is gonna be rich in growth for the orthodox, and the liberals will be leaving empty pews to gather dust. Soon enough we will return and that dust will yield new souls for Christ.

December 12, 7:31 pm | [comment link]
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