Scroll down for earlier postings
May 19, 2013
Federal Court to Hear Challenge to “Diocese of Diane” Ruling June 6th
Episcopal Church in South Carolina says issues in Lawrence's nuisance lawsuit go beyond state courts
CHARLESTON - U.S. District Judge Weston Houck will hear arguments June 6th on why Mark Lawrence’s lawsuit against the continuing Episcopal Church in South Carolina should not be “removed” from a state court and consolidated with ongoing legal actions at the Federal level.
Lawyers for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina are claiming that issues raised by Lawrence's lawsuit exceed the jurisdiction of state courts. Lawrence renounced his ministry in the Episcopal Church in November 2012, but still stubbornly inisists he is an Episcopal Bishop of an Episcopal Diocese that is part of the Anglican Communion.
Earlier this year, S.C. Judge Diane Goodstein in Dorchester County issued a bizarre ruling banning the continuing and duly recognized “Diocese of South Carolina” under Bishop Charles vonRosenberg from referring to itself as the “Diocese of South Carolina.” According to Goodstein, only Lawrence's religious coproation, known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina can use that title, the official seal, and other marks of the Diocese.
Goodstein apparently did not even inform the Episcopal Church that she was considering such a legally dubious order. It was also not immediately apparent that Goodstein even realized Lawrence was no longer a bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Neither the Episcopal Church nor the Anglican Communion recognizes Lawrence as a bishop. Similar legal cases in Federal Courts throughout the country have been overwhelmingly decided against breakaway groups like Lawrence's Protestant Episcopal Church in teh Diocese of South Carolina, Inc. (PECDSC Inc.)
Lawrence appeared to seek the order to embarrass Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who arrived in South Carolina a few days later to preside over the election vonRosenberg as Bishop of South Carolina.
April 28, 2013
VonRosenberg to Clergy: Do You Intend to Remain Faithful to Your Ordination Vows?
Scores of clergy, Punchy Mills face possible deposition from the Episcopal priesthood
Clergy, under pressure to back Lawrence, likely to lose their careers in the Church without a conversation with Bishop vonRosenberg at 843-259-2016
Now it’s the clergy who are under the gun.
When Mark Lawrence announced last fall that he had “moved on” from the Episcopal Church, he told his clergy that they had left the Church with him.
That was one of only many lies they would be told.
Clergy who are ordained in the Episcopal Church remain in the Episcopal Church unless and until they resign, die, or are found, by their actions, to have abandoned the Church.
Unlike other “provisional” bishops in dioceses with rebellious leadership, Lawrence’s successor, Charles vonRosenberg, has been slow to act against clergy nominally aligned with Lawrence. He is aware many were deceived about Lawrence’s real intentions and only now realizing the full magnitude of the potential loss of their priesthood in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.
From the first moment of his episcopate in South Carolina, vonRosenberg has been clear that he is all about reconciliation, but since then he has made little headway with clergy who are facing strong-arm tactics and a deluge of misinformation orchestrated by the Lawrencians.
Blind loyalty to Lawrence is paramount, as clergy face the loss of their priesthoods
In the world of Lawrence, clergy have merely become pawns in a numbers game. Their public profession of loyalty to him is deemed a vital shred of legitimacy around one of the fastest fizzling schisms in the history of Christianty.
The pressure is intense.
Many clergy have been told they will lose their jobs if they even attempt to communicate with vonRosenberg. Others report that it has been made clear to them that financial support from the Diocese for their parishes and missions will be taken away, if they do not go along with Lawrence’s delusion that he is an Episcopal bishop of an Episcopal diocese that is recognized as part of the Anglican Communion.
Many will be forced to give up their priesthood and will forever be stigmatized as having "abandoned" the Church. In general, it is very difficult for these ex-clergy to ever find their way back to the priesthood.
In addition, these clergy will be forfeiting their right to participate in the Church Pension Fund, regarded as one of the most generous in the country. The continuity of the fund allows clergy to build retirement security throughout their careers and flexibility in the kind of ministry to which they feel called within the Church. This is particularly devastating to younger clergy.
Mark Lawrence is reported to be fully vested in the Pension Fund and does not lose financially by leaving. In fact, most of the clergy most active on his behalf are similarly financially secure, if not fully vested. As much as they believe the Episcopal Church to be evil, it is obviously not so evil that they are willing to surrender the monetary security it offers them even as they continue to rebel against it.
However, the most significant loss for those clergy leaving with Lawrence is that they will no longer have authority to administer the sacraments of the Church, nor have any claim to be part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Lawrencian clergy must decide if they will remain loyal to their vows
SC Episcopalians has learned that over the past three weeks, vonRosenberg has begun to insist that clergy in the Diocese declare their intentions with respect to their continuing loyalty to the vows they have taken in the Episcopal Church.
At first, his communications were pastoral in tone, but this week he insisted, as their bishop, they respond.
The failure to respond in the affirmative almost certainly means that individual priests will be deposed as priests of the Church, from their ministries.
SC Episcopalians has learned that the list of those informing vonRosenberg of their intentions to remain loyal to the Church may contain many surprises.
A number who agree with Lawrence's Biblical literalism and have supported him openly have reportedly told vonRosenberg that they intend to remain in the Episcopal Church. While they sympathize with Lawrence's theology, and hostility to gays and women in positions of authority, they do not support his decision turn his back on the Church and create mischief.
In fact, only one-third of canonically resident clergy of the Diocese have actually publicly indicated their intentions to leave the Episcopal Church with Lawrence. Even less have had the courage to personally inform vonRosenberg or representatives of the Episcopal Church of their plans.
April 24, 2013
Reaction has varied. However, SC Episcopalians found the comments of retired clergyman Ladson "Punchy" Mills, hardline critic of vonRosenberg and frequent loquacious right-wing blogger, among the most ridiculous. Mills has suggested in his writings that vonRosenberg is a bully and hypocrite, and hinted that aspects of his leadership are reflective of McCarthyism and even the Holocaust.
Even so, Mills reports that he was offended and became "physically ill" when he received the standard letter from vonRosenberg asking him about his commitment to the Episcopal Church.
SC Episcopal Bishop wants Federal Court to Stop Lawrence from Claiming to the the Bishop of South Carolina
Asks Judge Houck to reject Lawrence's claim that the "Diocese" seceded from the Episcopal Church
CHARLESTON - SC Episcopal Bishop Charles vonRosenberg today asked a Federal Court to reject Mark Lawrence's hair-brained claim that the "Diocese of South Carolina" has seceded from the Episcopal Church. He is asking Judge Weston Houck for an injunction preventing Lawrence from continuing to act as if he is a bishop in the Church.
VonRosenberg became the bishop of the continuing Episcopal Church in South Carolina shortly after Lawrence abandoned his ministry last fall. He is recognized by the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as the Bishop of South Carolina. However, Lawrence now claims he didn't resign and is still an Episcopal bishop in an Episcopal diocese that has simply left the Episcopal Church. Lawrence continues to perform official acts of a bishop, and even confirms and ordains people.
Lawrence and his supporters appear to be freely spending the assets of the Diocese on things that include frivolous legal actions. For some unknown reason, Lawrence's people have not published audited statements of financial activities in 2012 that would give a better of picture of what they might be up to.
Some critics of the Episcopal Church have encouraged rebellious groups to create messy legal entanglements as a way of buying time to spend down Church assets so when they inevitably lose in court, there is nothing left upon which to sustain ministry.
Chancellor Tom Tisdale says a ruling on the injunction could come sooner than resolution of the larger legal actions in state and Federal courts. read the full story
April 18, 2013
Politicizing the Cross of Christ
Team Lawrence turns visit by African bishops into crass political stunt
Attacks on Episcopal Church make visitors seem petty and uncaring about ministry with the Episcopal Church in their countries
CHARLESTON -- The heart-rending decline of the Diocese of South Carolina and the continuing casualties of its politics were on full display this past week as Mark Lawrence paraded out four otherwise distinguished African bishops to bolster his claim that he is an Episcopal bishop of an Episcopal Diocese in the Anglican Communion.
A highlight of their visit was a sparsely-attended event at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, where they participated in a panel discussion and press conference where they issued statements of support for ex-Bishop Lawrence and stinging criticisms of the Episcopal Church.
Sadly, Lawrence's PR team immediately took to the internet to trumpet the bishops' endorsements of the ex-bishop's political agenda, largely ignoring their far more compelling personal stories of mission and ministry in Africa.
Anti-Gay, Anti-Church Bishops: We love Bishop Mark
The public invitation to the Evening with Four African Bishops read, “We’ll hear first-hand accounts of the vital work God is doing in the Anglican Communion… and how we can pray for their ministries and explore opportunities for further partnerships”
However, the promise of a spiritually uplifting encounter with devout Christian heroes amounted to little more than an angry attack on the Episcopal Church and Lawrence's successor. Analogies equating the present “suffering” of Lawrence and those who follow him to innocent victims of genocide, hunger, and poverty shamelessly trivialized the truth of the very Gospel of which they believe themselves to be the exclusive guardians.
“Amidst allegations that Anglicans worldwide do not recognize the Diocese of South Carolina and its Bishop, Anglican Bishops from East Africa strongly announced their support for the "diocese’s" dissociation from The Episcopal Church,” according to Lawrence's spin doctors on his website. “Their comments seemed to dispute the claims of Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the newly elected Bishop of the recently formed Diocese - The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.”
(NOTE: There are nearly 900 bishops in the Anglican Communion. Membership is not conferred by individual bishops or even groups of four bishops. The feelings of these four bishops about the legitimacy of Lawrence's claim that he is an Anglican bishop are irrelevant. The name of the person officially recognized by the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as the Bishop of South Carolina is The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg.)
But here's where it gets bizarre
In their comments the four bishops – from Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania --seemed oblivious to the extensive partnerships in ministry and remarkable missionary work in which the Episcopal Church is currently engaged ... in Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
According to Robert Martin, a bishop in the Anglican Church of Kenya, “The Kenyan Church does not recognize The Episcopal Church any more. We have no relations. I know that any contact I have with The Episcopal Church may cause me problems in Kenya because we are so shocked and horrified by what is going on and therefore any actions by The Episcopal Church have no validity as far as we’re concerned.”
Bishop Martin is apparently unaware of the millions of dollars going to important missionary work in his Province through the Episcopal Church and its parishes and dioceses. Much of this work includes relief efforts to feed and care for 80,000 refugees in that country, protection extended to Kenyan voters after 300 were killed for exercising their right to vote, the construction of clean water systems for entire villages, and the creation of micro-business opportunties that lead to economic self-sufficiency.
The Rt. Rev. Elias Mazi Chakupewa of Tanzania seemed equally unaware or uncaring about the involvement of the Episcopal Church in his country and the extraordinary partnerships in which Episcopalians have become involved.
Rwanda: Breathtaking or breathtakingly naive?
According to Lawrence's website, Bishop Chakupwa used his visit to Charleston to rip into the Episcopal Church saying, "We are not going to work with people who are denying the authority of the Bible, who deny the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. We are not going to work with them at all."
Bishop Chakupewa, whose diocese has a companion relationship with a diocese in the Episcopal Church, seems to have been uninformed that other bishops in his country are proud of the very positive relationship they enjoy with Episcopalians. They are particularly pleased with a partnership between the dioceses of New York and Central Tanganyika, known as the Carpenter's Kids Program, which links parishes in a mutual relationship of prayer, communication, and support on behalf of the more than 2.5 million AIDS orphans in Tanzania.
Easily the most stunning statements came from Bishop Nathan Kamusime Gasatura of the Diocese of Butare in Anglican Church of Rwanda, who was keen to remind listeners that his Province had been the first to take in dissident clergy from the Episcopal Church through its Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). The organization was founded by the former rector of All Saints', Pawleys Island.
Apparently confusing us with the Catholic Church, Bishop Gasatura claimed that those affiliated with AiMA had been “excommunicated and fired out of the Episcopal Church,” when in fact they all chose to leave like Lawrence.
Lawrence’s PR team saw no reason to correct the error and posted the mistaken bishop’s remarks online anyway. They also failed to mention that the AMiA enterprise fell apart last year because of irrational criticisms of the Americans by angry Rwandan bishops.
However, Bishop Gasatura's most outrageous statement was his equating the 1994 genocide in his country with, what he described as, "spiritual genocide" in the Episcopal Church today. He also lashed out at the Episcopal Church (and the Church of England) for not protesting the evacuation of United Nations troops from his country during the murderous rampage that left nearly 800,000 people dead.
"The whole world stood by not even the church in America or Britain or any part of the world ever came to its rescue to lift a prophetic voice and challenge the international community," said Bishop Gasatura.
In fact, the reasons Christians throughout the world were reluctant to advocate intervention were very credible reports that Christian churches, including the Anglican Church of Rwanda, were actually participating in the genocide.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey was highly charitable when he said later: "The Church in Rwanda lost an opportunity to be prophetic during the genocide. The Church should have been calling out for justice but by and large its voice was silent." read more
In the aftermath, the Anglican Church in Rwanda failed to engage in a full-fledged investigation of its own involvment in the killings, even when one of its senior bishops was indicted.
Actually, the Rwandan Church had been much more than silent. It appeared to have been in the center of the action. The United Nations and other human rights groups were less charitable about this than Archbishop Carey:
"Far from condemning the attempt to exterminate the Tutsi, Archbishop Augustin Nshamihigo and Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza of the Anglican Church acted as spokesmen for the genocidal government at a press conference in Nairobi. Like many who tried to explain away the slaughter, they placed the blame for the genocide on the RPF because it had attacked Rwanda. Foreign journalists were so disgusted at this presentation that they left the conference." (African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, pp. 900-902.)
"On 7 May 1994 soldiers and militias arrived at Shyogwe Diocese aboard a red pick-up vehicle to transport civilian Tutsi refugees to the killing sites. "On that day Bishop Samuel Musabyimana was present and, addressing the soldiers and militias, publicly stated that he did not oppose the killing of Tutsis, but that he did not want killings at the Diocese and that the Tutsis should be taken to Kabgayi to be killed." (Indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda against former Anglican Bishop Samuel Musabyimana).
Bishop Gasatura's remarks demonstrated an astonishing lack of compassion and understanding about the subjects on which he was commenting. The willingness of Team Lawrence to post these inflamatory statements on its website and dignify his comments is reprehensible.
Apparently Lawrence has planned an extensive speaking tour for the Africans in parishes around the Diocese over the next few weeks.
Good luck with that.
April 18, 2013
Virginia Supreme Court: The Episcopal Church, Loyal Communicants Own Property of Breakaway Congregations
Ominous sign to followers of Mark Lawrence that those who voted to leave the Church got the boot
A decision by the Virginia Supreme Court today serves as another reminder to the followers of Mark Lawrence that the hundreds of thousands of dollars they are spending on lawsuits against the Episcopal Church are likely being wasted.
Thanks to the ex-bishop and his lawyers, most of the parishes in the "Diocese of South Carolina" may have gambled away the ownership of their property when they voted to leave the Church. Read full story
April 4, 2013
Does Team Lawrence Have an Enemies List ... and are you on it?
Ex-bishop not-so-subtly letting those who question him know he hasn't forgotten
Recent court filings by Mark Lawrence’s imagined “diocese” (PECDSC Inc.) not so strongly hint that it has a bulls-eye on the backs of those in the Diocese who refuse to recognize Lawrence as their bishop.
When Team Lawrence secretly got a dubious court order in January, they hired process servers to track down their foes at their homes in the early morning hours to slam them with their own personal copy -- a kind of warning that Lawrence was not to be messed with.
Neither Judge Diane Goodstein nor the order she issued require that these people be served, anymore than the PECDSC lawyers needed to name them in their legal filings last week in Federal Court.
It all seems to be part of the mean season that permeates everything at Lawrence’s command center.
Lawrence did a similar, somewhat cowardly, thing last year when a disciplinary board found that he'd “abandoned communion” with the Church. Instead of presenting his case to the board, Lawrence publicly ripped into the unnamed communicants of the Diocese who'd filed the original complaint. He argued bitterly that they had deprived him of his right to “face his accusers.”
According to Church canons, there is no such "right". Complaintants' can remain anonymous to protect them from reprisals by angry bishops, but in this case they voluntarily identified themselves in response to Lawrence's desire to have them hear his side of the story.
Lawrence never made any effort to meet with them, but instead had his Canon to the Ordinary post their names on the Diocesan website "for informational purposes," along with a statement demeaning some of them for being married to each other and worshipping at Grace Church in Charleston, a parish that has not recognized Lawrence as its bishop since he announced that he had left the Episcopal Church and "moved on."
Our readers will remember that in February, the PECDSC Inc. announced that summer camp applications for the children from parishes recognizing Lawrence as a bishop would be given preferential consideration for admission. St. Christopher's website published that list of parishes that had formally subscribed to this fiction.
You'll like this … one of the process servers, hired by the PECDSC Inc. to deliver January’s court order to its perceived tormenters, reported that in 15 years it was the first time every person he'd served responded with amusement and good humor ... and then invited him in for coffee.
April 4, 2013
Are Jim Lewis’ Pants on Fire, Fire?
SC Episcopalians was oh-so-distracted during the holiest week of the year, responding to various versions of reality Mark Lawrence’s spokespersons were peddling to different audiences. For some reason, the PECDSC Inc. does not always share them on its website.
This week we discovered this one on an anti-Church website called Anglican Ink, or something like that.
"IN RESPONSE TO TODAY’S LEGAL ACTION BY TEC, BELOW IS A STATEMENT BY JIM LEWIS, CANON TO THE ORDINARY
"There is little to say about the counterclaims filed in Circuit Court by The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. We are saddened they filed their suits on Maundy Thursday in the middle of Holy Week and that they have made the lawsuit personal by suing individuals who make up the leadership of our parishes. However we are not surprised that TEC’s filing now makes clear its intention to seize all the properties of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes. The court filings are consistent with the scores of lawsuits The Episcopal Church has filed against dioceses and parishes across the United States. We pray the denomination’s legal actions do not distract members of the Diocese during the holiest week of the year, when all our thoughts should be on things far more spiritual and far more important."
Whew! Here are some comments on this from our Truth-or-Dare Department:
-- The PECDSC Inc. was not “saddened” when lawyers for the continuing Diocese filed their responses to Lawrence’s lawsuit on Maunday Thursday nor did they pray that people wouldn’t be distracted during the holiest week of the year. In fact, even as ex-Canon Lewis was issuing his statement, his legal team was filing its response to the Federal lawsuit that included the disclosure of their enemies list... all on Maunday Thursday!
-- The Episcopal Church has not filed a lawsuit against Lawrence or the PECDSC Inc. Lawrence has sued the Episcopal Church, but not the other way around. However, over the past five years, the PECDSC has invested a lot of time and effort in demonizing the Episcopal Church and scaring people about its Presiding Bishop... and you just can't let all that manipulation and nastiness go to waste. So, why not make this part up?
-- Neither the Episcopal Church nor the Episcopal Church in South Carolina sued anyone last week as the Canon to the Ordinary suggests. They did file responses to the lawsuit that Lawrence and his team filed against them in January, as they were required by the Court by a timetable agreed to by the plainitiffs.
-- Neither the continuing Diocese nor the Episcopal Church has ever indicated that it wants to seize any parish’s property. They do claim that Mark Lawrence is not a bishop in the Episcopal Church and consequently has no authority to spend its resources, or hunker down in the Episcopal residence and the Diocesan House... or give away its property. BTW ... The Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury don't recognize him as a bishop, either.
-- The PECDSC Inc. under Mark Lawrence appears to have spent close to $1 million on lawyers over the past five years … even though the PECDSC Inc. was not involved in any significant legal actions. During this same time, the PECDSC Inc. has reduced funds for ministry and done little else. The idea that its leaders are being distracted against their will from “things far more spiritual and far more important” doesn't pass the giggle test. Just look what they were up to over Christmas... a bunch of elves didn't write that lawsuit they filed.
April 4, 2013
-- The continuing diocese was not trying to "personalize" anything when it listed members of the PECDSC Inc. Board of Directors and Trustees in its legal filings. These are the plaintiffs suing the Episcopal Church so, of course, their names are going to be in any court filings.
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina wants "Diocese of Diane" Lawsuit moved to Federal Court
Chancellor Tom Tisdale: Issues at stake go beyond state courts
Nuisance lawsuit in state court appeared to be more about embarring visiting Presiding Bishop and forcing the Church to waste money on legal fees
Controversy-plagued S.C. Judge Diane Goodstein issued a bizarre ruling suggesting Lawrence was an Episcopal Bishop of an Episcopal Diocese that is not in the Episcopal Church
From the website of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina... The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has filed to remove the state lawsuit filed against it to the U.S. District Court, citing statutory and constitutional issues that need to be addressed by the federal court. The Episcopal Church is also a defendant in the suit and has consented to the removal to the federal court.
The suit, originally filed in South Carolina Circuit Court in Dorchester County by a group that is breaking away from The Episcopal Church, now moves entirely to the federal court system, according to Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., Chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which is remaining part of The Episcopal Church.
Read full story here
March 29, 2013
VonRosenberg Lawyers Rip Lawrence Lawsuit
Continuing SC Episcopalians want full accounting of secret real estate and property transactions, bank accounts, investments, & securities
Countersuit tells "Diocese of Diane" Judge the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is "entitled to restitution of property and funds acquired ... through alleged misappropriation, conversion, breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty"
Mark Lawrence and the faction that followed him out of The Episcopal Church have no authority over the assets or property of the Diocese of South Carolina or any of its parishes, and have engaged in a plan to damage the diocese, according to a response and counterclaims filed in S.C. Circuit Court.
The local diocese that is continuing with The Episcopal Church is entitled to restitution of property and funds acquired by Lawrence and his supporters through alleged misappropriation, conversion, breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty, the counterclaim says.
The documents filed Thursday are part of the legal response to a suit filed against The Episcopal Church and local Episcopalians by supporters of former bishop Mark Lawrence along with 34 parishes who say they have disassociated themselves from The Episcopal Church. A 35th parish, St. Andrews in Mount Pleasant, is also one of the plaintiffs, although it claims to have separated from The Episcopal Church some time ago. The Episcopal Church also filed a separate answer and counterclaims on Thursday.
Read the full story
March 26, 2013
The Not-So-Gentle Art of Hectoring: Imaginary "Diocese" Launches Charm Offensive with the News Media
Lawrence's New PR Director pushes same misleading story line with news media
In Greek, the name Hector means “steadfast.” Quite possibly, its origin lies with a noble character by that name in Homer’s Iliad. Those who suffered through the classics in their youth recall that Hector, brother of gloom-and-doom Cassandra, was known for his consistency and reliability.
However, time has taken a toll on “hector,” and today its connotations are far less honorable or inspiring. These days "hector" means to intimidate or dominate in a blustering or bullying manner without particular regard to facts.
You can see how the ancient meaning morphed into the current one. We all know people who are so steadfast their views or irrationally confident of truth that they make those with different perspectives miserable through harassment, haranguing, and aggressive behavior.
In many ways, the efforts of Mark Lawrence and his followers to justify their fantasy Episcopal "diocese" -- the one with an Episcopal bishop that is not part of the Episcopal Church -- has come down to little more than relentless hectoring.
Last week, for example, SC Episcopalians saw an email signed by a Beaufort woman named Jan Pringle, castigating a local Associated Press reporter for an article he’d recently written for the Charlotte Observer.
Read the full story, the entire email, and our comments
Convention Coverage II:
March 9, 2013
We're Back! Jubilant Convention Approves First Mission, Rolls Back Constitution & Canons to Restore Full Accession
Choose a Life of "Gratitude," Bishop Urges
After years of opposition from Lawrence and his Beaufort allies, Saint Mark's, Port Royal is Finally a Mission of the Diocese; Five "worship communities" may apply in the coming year as numbers grow
Cheers, flags, tears greet long-suffering congregation as it processes into the Convention see photos visit Diocesan website for full converage of this morning's events
"To Love & Serve the Lord": New Bishop Urges Diocese to look forward; No mention made of Lawrence or fantasy diocese
Convention Coverage I
March 8, 2013
United Diocese Kicks Off Upbeat Convention in Charleston
Longtime Episcopalians: "This is how it used to be!"
Former Bishop Neil Alexander: "Christ is the vine, we are the branches"
Delegates can't get enough of "Bishop Charlie & Annie"
See photos of opening Eucharist & reception
March 7, 2013
Von Rosenberg Seeks Immediate Injunction to Stop Lawrence from Impersonating a Bishop
Lengthy complaint details deceptive acts intended to confuse communicants of the Diocese after he left the Episcopal Church
Ironically, Lawrence was served papers this afternoon in Charleston at the official residence of the Bishop of South Carolina read the entire story read the actual complaint
March 5, 2013
South Carolina Bishop VonRosenberg Asks Federal Courts to End Ex-Bishop's Foolishness
Claims Lawrence has no authority to act in the name of the Diocese of South Carolina since he's left the Episcopal Church
In the past, Federal Courts have recognized the authority of "hierarchical churches" to decide who leads them
CHARLESTON – Acting to protect the identity of the diocese he serves, the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg filed suit in U.S. District Court today against Bishop Mark Lawrence, asking the court to declare that only vonRosenberg, as the bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church, has the authority to act in the name of the Diocese of South Carolina.
Having renounced The Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence is no longer authorized to use the diocese’s name and seal. By doing so, he is engaging in false advertising, misleading and confusing worshippers and donors in violation of federal trademark law under the Lanham Act, the complaint says. It asks the court to stop Bishop Lawrence from continuing to falsely claim that he is associated with the Diocese of South Carolina, which is a recognized sub-unit of The Episcopal Church.
The suit does not address property issues directly. But by asking the federal court to recognize Bishop vonRosenberg as the true bishop of the diocese, the suit would effectively resolve the issue of who controls diocesan property and assets, including the Diocesan House and Camp Saint Christopher on Seabrook Island. The ownership of individual parish properties is not addressed in the complaint.
“The intention of this suit is straightforward. We are asking the court to determine who is authorized to serve as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” Bishop vonRosenberg said.
February 28, 2013
Read entire story from the website of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and view the complaint
March 4, 2014
Easter Arrives Early for South Carolina Episcopalians
Continuing Diocese booming with influx of new members and emergence of worship communities
Popular new bishop inspires communicants to look beyond bitter attacks by ex-Bishop and his followers
Easter is still a few weeks away, but the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is experiencing a whole lot of resurrection these days.
After a jarring five months during which thirty-four parishes joined ex-bishop Mark Lawrence in suing them, Episcopalians in the eastern half of South Carolina are back on their feet and charging forward.
This weekend they will descend on Charleston for their Annual Diocesan Convention, buoyed by dramatic increases in membership and the emergence of new "worship communities" in those parts of the Diocese, where renegade parishes are trying to join the ex-bishop in leaving the Church.
Large crowds for Presiding Bishop, vonRosenberg's election energized continuing Diocese
Leaders of the "continuing diocese" in South Carolina knew something was up in December when word leaked out that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would be attending a hastily called a special convention to elect a new provisional bishop at the end of January.
Suddenly, there were more people signing up than could be seated in Grace Church in Charleston, the convention site that could only seat 350 people. Tickets for a fundraising reception for the continuing diocese sold out almost overnight when it was rumored Jefferts Schori would be attending, while a last-minute public reception in Grace's parish hall had to be moved when an constant stream of inquiries suggested it would not hold the crowd.
Organizers estimate that the three events drew nearly 1000 people, almost all of whom spoke personally with Jefferts Schori.
Before leaving town, delegates to the convention cheered the unanimous election of the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg as Lawrence's successor, and loudly echoed approval of his message of reconciliation and mission.
Today, von Rosenberg presides over a Diocese of 18 parishes and missions and as many as eight new "worship communities" hoping to apply for mission status as soon as procedures for admission to the Diocese are finalized. VonRosenberg has had a full schedule or meeting with vestries, conducting baptisms and confirmations, and creating from scratch processes for everything from seminary applications to creating a new Diocesan Constitution and canons.
He has also tried to reach out to congregations still wavering about following Lawrence. However, Lawrence supporters were waiting for him, dominated his attempts to conduct civil discussions, and treated him with extreme rudeness.
Established missions and parishes in the continuing Diocese report that their numbers are growing so quickly they can’t find enough space or create new programming fast enough.
At Grace, attendance at Christmas Eve services broke records, with nearly twice as many communicants showing up for its early family service than the church could seat. Crowds at subsequent services that night filled the church to capacity. By contrast just five blocks away at the Lawrence-affiliated Cathedral of St. Luke & St. Paul, the midnight Eucharist drew between fifty and 100 participants.
Like other loyalist parishes, Grace has experienced a spike in parish giving. Income in December was the highest of any month in its history, while the parish officially added nearly 60 new members to its rolls since the first week in January when Lawrence and his new "diocese" filed a nuisance lawsuit against the Episcopal Church.
According to one of the parish's clergy, “We don’t even know what a ‘low Sunday’ looks like anymore.”
Worship communities fuel growth under new Bishop
Even before his election, Bishop vonRosenberg's first visit to St. Mark’s Chapel in Port Royal drew a wildly enthusiastic congregation of nearly 160.
“God is calling you forward to a new day and new ministry,” the Bishop told them. Lawrence had refused to allow this "worship community" to become a mission of the Diocese and even refused to confirm its new members in deference to his political allies at nearby St. Helena's in Beaufort.
Worship communities report regular average attendance at their Sunday services to be anywhere between 35 and 135. They find worship space at local Lutheran and Methodist churches, and chapels like that at Coastal Carolina University. The most unusual location is on Edisto Island at Bobo's Po' Pigs Barbeque. With the election of the new bishop, the congregation at "St. Bobo's" now offers baptism, confirmation, Holy Communion, and the best pork barbeque sandwich south of Charleston.
According to Dan Ennis at St. Anne’s worship community in Conway, the congregation celebrated its first baptism in December and “I doubt any church ever renewed its baptismal vows with as much gusto as we did that morning.”
The congregations themselves are a surprising mix. While many have migrated from local parishes that have decided to sue the Episcopal Church with Lawrence, many others are returning to the Church after leaving when the radicals overtook the Diocese.
Read more in the Post & Courier's March 3rd article on new Worship Communities
The Rt. Rev. Robert Gillies of the Scottish Episcopal Church, a longtime friend of Bishop vonRosenberg, visited the Diocese in February denouncing schism and disunity in the Church. In a report to his Diocese about the experience he wrote, "Last week I have come away from a truly awesome experience in Charleston with appreciation for having met some truly remarkable people doing some remarkable things."
March 3, 2013
PECDSC Inc. = Cash Cow for Lawyers
Former Diocese is Now Officially being Sued by its ex-Bishop
Wolf in Shepherd's Clothing? Lawrence is first bishop in the history of the Diocese to sue those who trusted him as their chief pastor and spiritual leader
Church attorneys welcome expansion of the case
Read full story here
February 17, 2013
Presiding Bishop Never Threatened to Go After Parish Property in the Diocese of South Carolina
Ridiculous claim is at the center of frivolous lawsuit Lawrence and 30 renegade parishes have filed against the Church
Plantiff parishes unwittingly put their properties at risk when they were never in danger in the first place
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has never threatened legal against any parish in the Diocese of South Carolina because of differences over theology, gays, or loyalty to her leadership, as radical followers of ex-bishop Mark Lawrence have suggested.
SC Episcopalians is now able to confirm, based on several sources, that such claims have no basis in fact and never have. That's right. Not a shred of evidence that any parish’s property was ever in any danger of being taken away.
Tragically, this is the premise on which thirty parishes have been manipulated into joining a massive lawsuit against the Episcopal Church.
Today, they and these parishes are spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend themselves from imaginary “attacks” that apparently have only ever existed in imaginations of Lawrence and his followers. The irony is, having joined him in his legal attack on the Church, these parishes have put their buildings, assets, and properties at risk by declaring themselves outside the Episcopal Church.
They could have done nothing and achieved exactly the identical outcome they are seeking in court without any of the risks or costs.
Lawrence and his allies are always eager to point out that over the past seven years that the Episcopal Church has been engaged in 50-75 legal actions involving the ownership of parish and diocesan properties … and not so vaguely hinting that it was because of their opposition to the liberal-leaning actions of the Church under Bishop Jefferts Schori.
It is true that the Church has been involved in numerous property-related court battles, but not because of any theological, cultural, or political differences. It is because rebellious groups have illegally tried to lay claim to the property of the Episcopal Church... a small fact that the Lawrence crowd conveniently ignores.
Moreover, the volume of cases in which the Church is involved at any particular time has nothing to do with the current Presiding Bishop. Every one of her predecessors did the same thing when someone tried to make off with Church property.
In the Episcopal Church, it's part of every Bishop’s sacred duty to defend the property of the Church. If Bishop Jefferts Schori discussed property issues with Lawrence – as she most assuredly did – it was to remind him that she has no choice when it comes to legal action against parishes or dioceses trying to leave the Church and claiming ownership of property that righthfully belongs to the Church.
This is not a policy she created but one that has been in effect for most of the life of the Church.
Bishop Jefferts Schori’s approach to the Diocese of South Carolina under Mark Lawrence apparently was to allow him and parishes under his authority complete freedom to worship and believe as they desired … as long as they did not try to leave the Church with property that rightfully and legally belongs to the Church.
Those who were in the Diocese when Ed Salmon was bishop remember that he went to extraordiny lengths to prevent congregations from trying to leave the Church with their property. Now, we understand why.
For weeks it has gradually become apparent that the Anglican Communion is not coming to rescue of Mark Lawrence’s secessionist “diocese”. Clergy followers of Lawrence learned this weeks ago at a clergy conference, but few have shared it with their congregations.
February 11, 2013
Lawrence's "Diocese" is not Anglican
Stinging rebuke by Scottish Bishop is harshest yet: "Nothing in what I saw and heard ... convinced me that the will of God was being heard or listened to [by the PECDSC Inc]."
Source: Leadership at the highest levels of the Communion view actions by Lawrence & company as "schism"
For weeks it has gradually become apparent that the Anglican Communion is not coming to rescue of Mark Lawrence’s secessionist “diocese”. Clergy followers of Lawrence learned this weeks ago at a clergy conference, but few have shared it with their congregations.
This week’s rebuke by a senior cleric in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church that consecrated the first American bishop, seemed to put an end to the charade that the worldwide Communion is about to absorb the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Inc. (PECDSC Inc.)
In a report to his Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, Bishop Robert Gillies told his communicants:
"I have come away from a truly awesome experience in Charleston with appreciation for having met some truly remarkable people doing some remarkable things. I have also come away having encountered at first hand the awfulness of a modern day schism in the church. Nothing in what I saw and heard of in the decision taken by the Diocese of South Carolina to split from The Episcopal Church (of the USA) convinced me that the will of God was being heard or listened to."
For the past few years, Lawrence and PECDSC Inc. were confident they were true Anglicans and would re-affiliate with the Communion should they secede from the Episcopal Church.
In fact parishioners at historic parishes like St. Michael’s and St, Philip’s in Charleston, and St. Helena’s in Beaufort said that, before they voted to leave the Church, they’d been assured they absolutely would remain Anglican and part of the Anglican Communion. According to an older female member of St. Philip's last summer, "There's a plan for us to remain Anglican. It's all been worked out, we've been told not to talk about it."
However, as of last week, anyone looking for the Anglican tradition in eastern South Carolina by way of the Communion’s website was directed to the “Episcopal Church in South Carolina” under the leadership of its new bishop, Charles vonRosenberg.
Parishes in the PECDSC Inc. who call themselves "Anglican" do so without any authorization or agreement of the Anglican Communion.
SC Episcopalians has also learned from very well-placed sources that Bishop Gillies' view of the recent actions of Lawrence and the PECDSC Inc. as “schismatic” is fully shared by the leadership of the Communion.
Former Bishop Lawrence's claim that the “vast majority" of the Anglican Communion recognizes him as an Anglican bishop is hooey.
The Anglican Communion is a loose affiliation of 39 Churches or “provinces” whose worship and theology is descended from the Church of England going all the way back to King Henry VIII. To belong to the Communion or legitimately claim to be “Anglican,” bishops, priests, lay people, and parishes must belong to one of those provinces. In the United States, the only “province” recognized by the Communion is The Episcopal Church.
There are two dioceses within the Episcopal Church recognized in South Carolina: The Diocese of Upper South Carolina led by the Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo, and the Diocese known as “The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,” led by Bishop vonRosenberg. Both bishops continue to believe in reconciliation with the 30 secessionist parishes and missions that are trying to leave the Episcopal Church with ex-bishop Lawrence.
February 9, 2013
Scottish Bishop Affirms Anglican Ties with the Episcopal Church in South Carolina
Uplifting Kirkin o' the Tartan draws bagpipes, flags, 'Amazing Grace' and standing room only congregations
Senior bishop in the Church that consecrated Samuel Seabury urges unity saying, "Jesus shed his blood to wash away our sin and make us whole… not to waste his precious resources in litigation.”
CHARLESTON - The week Episcopalians in South Carolina continued to affirm ties to the Anglican Communion and, in particular, the Scottish Episcopal Church through which the apostolic succession was passed to the American Church after the Revolutionary War.
The Rt. Rev. Robert Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, and his wife spent the better part of last week in Charleston affirming shared history, and celebrating a boisterous Kirkin ‘o the Tartan at Grace Episcopal Church on Sunday morning. There were standing room only congregations at the parish's two major services as bagpipes, tartans, church flags, and the melodies of Amazing Grace and Loch Lomond filled the air, even spilling out onto historic Wentworth Street.
Bishop Gillies, a personal friend of newly-elected Bishop vonRosenberg and Mrs. vonRosenberg, delighted congregations throughout the morning, culminating in a rousing sermon urging unity within the Body of Christ.
“You cannot, one cannot, say in the Creed ‘I believe in the one holy, catholic , and apostolic church’ in one breath and then pronounce in the next that one is not in communion with others down the road, or across the sea, or wherever it might be … One contradicts what one says and the already fractured body of Christ suffers yet another blow.”
Bishop Gillies declared that Jesus “shed his blood to wash away our sin and make us whole… Yes indeed, to make us whole, not to fragment ourselves, not to waste his precious resources in litigation.” However, Bishop Gillies urged Episcopalians to look forward with hopefulness and “live up to the name and the higher calling by which we are inextricably bound together as Servants of Jesus.”
February 6, 2013
Letter to the Editor
Response to Critics of January 26th Sermon by the Presiding Bishop
A recent letter (P & C, 2/1/13) excoriated Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori for a host of supposed transgressions, beginning with her “vindictive and mean-spirited language” in a sermon given January 26 to a convention of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
I want to assure your readers that I and the hundreds of loyal, God-fearing Episcopalians in attendance at that event heard no such language. We heard a profound, loving, inspirational call from the leader of our church for unity and comity in the face of a very painful rift. We heard a reasoned, nuanced warning from a Primate whose every action has been with the approval and blessing of the Constitution, Canons and duly sanctioned authority of the Episcopal Church to all those with whom we both agree and disagree on the perils of acting alone without consultation and, yes, inclusiveness of ideas and feelings from many sincere but differing perspectives.
We did not hear any personal reference to former SC diocesan bishop Mark Lawrence. The “allusion” the letter writer refers to is his own.
The other attacks leveled at Bishop Jefferts Schori are ones those of us most closely following the current schism have heard repeated many times from the followers of Mr. Lawrence. In a manner reminiscent of absurd secular “birther” attacks on another leader pilloried for what are clearly suspicious motives pursuing a hidden agenda, supposed facts, figures, and half-truths are offered without any proof as indisputable. This is a common practice of demagoguery - repeat it loudly and often enough and people who should know better will believe it. In any arena such behavior is offensive; it is especially unseemly in people claiming to be acting in the name of the love of Christ.
I would challenge the letter writer and everyone else following Mr. Lawrence to come and attend the worship of the many congregations who have remained loyal to the Episcopal Church. Despite the painful cost thrust upon many of us for doing so, you will find no hostility, no disparagement, and no lies or partial truths directed towards those who have left. You will find earnest attempts to know and serve our Lord, and I believe you will know we are Christians by our love. -- The Rev. John C. Fisher, Edisto Island, SC
February 4, 2013
When Church Politics Rises to the Level of Pure Pettiness
By Andy Brack, Publisher, The Statehouse Report
If you think politics rocks and rolls only at the Statehouse, take a look at church politics.
Episcopalians, known around the country for acceptance and tolerance, are facing mighty frustration and confusion in the lower part of the state following a schism late last year that has pitted parish against parish, priest against priest, and a bishop against the national church.
The headline-grabbing schism in what until recently was a united body known as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, today is fueled by a spiritual and historical stream of secession, a menacing aquifer of greed, disdain, money, power and sanctimony. It has spilled from the pulpit into state courts. It has caused churches and parishioners to pick between church leaders who have left the national Episcopal Church and those who remain with it.
Some see it as a bunch of ecclesiastical nonsense because they don’t really care which governing organization they’re aligned with. But others see the split as a hurtful squabble brought on by conservative clerics who are negatively impacting the worship lives of church members. And some are even gloomier, viewing the break as sinful lust by those leaving to grab as much as they can by using rhetoric, strategies and tactics worthy of the best negative political campaign that Lee Atwater ever ran.
Over the last 10 years, some champions of Biblical literalism in the Episcopal Church in the lower part of the state got hot and bothered by gender politics. They went ballistic when the Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man, was named Bishop of New Hampshire, even though the likelihood of anyone from South Carolina worshipping in the Granite State was next to nil. More recently, the same zealots got bent out of shape over the blessings of same-sex relationships in other parts of the country, just as they surely got bent out of shape in the 1970s with the ordination of women and as their ancestors did over race during and after the Civil War.
Led by S.C. Bishop Mark Lawrence, many churches broke away from the national church and formed a new entity -- “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” -- with rhetoric that sounds much like what happened when conservative Democrats jumped to the Republican Party -- “I didn’t leave the party; the party left me.”
It came as no surprise that since the end of last year, breakaway churches and the “new diocese” filed lawsuits to keep property and even the seal of the national church diocese they abandoned. In what was the pot calling the kettle black, the breakaway diocese had the gall to spin that the national church abandoned them -- even though Lawrence and his minions voted to leave the national church as it appealed to them to stay inside the tent.
Although they departed with much bluster of cutting all ties, they really want (you should see this coming) to keep all of the formerly united diocese’s money, property and land, including a popular church camp. Seems to me that when you abandon something, you leave and start anew --and that means without all of the stuff that you signed over to the national church years ago. But that, I guess, is logic.
To rub salt into all of these self-inflicted wounds of the past months, S.C. Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein issued a temporary restraining order Jan. 23 to keep any individual, organization or parishes that are continuing to worship with the national church from using names and the seal historically associated with the Episcopal Church in the lower part of South Carolina for 300 years. Hmmm, surely seeking the order wasn’t a disruptive coincidence as it came the same week the continuing parishes were preparing to elect a new bishop.
Churches are supposed to be places of sanctuary, not places for negativism and pettiness. Who knows what will happen with the Episcopal parishes in the lower part of the state? About the only thing for sure is that it looks like a lot of lawyers will get richer. And that’s not the kind of Christian charity that motivates people to give to churches.
February 1, 2013
Bishop vonRosenberg names the Reverend Callie Walpole Archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina
CHARLESTON - The Rev. Calhoun Walpole, a Sewanee graduate and native of Johns Island, has been named Archdeacon of the continuing Episcopal Church in South Carolina by newly elected Bishop Charles vonRosenberg. Her appointment makes her the highest ranking woman ever to serve in a leadership role in the Church in South Carolina, and marks a dramatic reversal of longstanding hostility toward female clergy under ex-bishop Lawrence.
The new Archdeacon will serve as secretary to the diocesan convention, oversee clergy transitions, and have oversight responsibility for diocesan programs. She will step down as Priest-in-Charge of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Charleston at the end of February, but continue on in a parttime capacity as Vicar of Grace Church. Read more about the new Archdeacon
January 31, 2013
'Diocese of Diane' Hearing Postponed
Both sides agree to a temporary extension of Judge Goodstein's controversial restraining order
ST. GEORGE - A full hearing on a restraining order issued last week by a controversial Dorchester County Judge has been postponed by mutual agreement between the Episcopal Church and the renagade group headed by ex-bishop Mark Lawrence. No reason was given.
S.C. Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein had scheduled the hearing for tomorrow in Columbia, but both parties agreed to an indefinite delay. A new date has not been set for the hearing, but either party may request it at any time.
Goodstein issued the order ten days ago at the request of the embittered Lawrence and his breakaway "diocese" as way of disrupting last Saturday's election of his successor, and embarrassing the Presiding Bishop who participated in the weekend of celebration in Charleston.
Lawrence and his followers convinced Goodstein that they own the names "Diocese of South Carolina," "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and "Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Inc," and its corporate seal even though they claim they are no longer in the Episcopal Church.
Lawrence renounced his ministry in the Episcopal Church and, by association, the worldwide Anglican Communion last October. However, he still believes himself to be an Episcopal Bishop in an Episcopal Diocese, just not one in the Episcopal Church.
No ecclesiastical (church) or judicial authority (court) in the world has bought into this fantasy except Goodstein, who issued the restraining order without even allowing the Episcopal Church to be heard on the matter.
January 27, 2013
Praise God! Episcopalians in South Carolina have a New Bishop!
Cheers, tears, & applause mark the election of Charles vonRosenberg as new bishop to follow ex-bishop Lawrence
Overflow crowds enthusiastically embrace Presiding Bishop, as they set about to rebuild a Diocese torn apart by dissenters
CHARLESTON - During a joyous, celebratory weekend in Charleston, South Carolina Episcopalians confidently charted a new course for themselves and the future of the Episcopal Church in the eastern half of the state with wild enthusiasm for a new bishop and the full support of the Episcopal Church around the world.
Without any hesitation, they swiftly reversed years of angry and hostile actions by secessionist leaders who tried to drive a wedge between them, the Church & worldwide Anglican Communion, and took aim at the long journey ahead to rebuild one of the most important an dinfluential dioceses in the Episcopal Church.
According to the Rev. Canon Michael Wright of Grace Church in downtown Charleston, “We knew this weekend would be good. We had no idea that it would be great. No one could have foreseen the sheer joy and enthusiasm in what happened.”
Read the entire story ...
See photos on Facebook
Read more coverage from Episcopal News Service
January 25, 2013
Election for XV Bishop of South Carolina Moves Forward Despite Attempted Disruption by Lawrence and PECDSC Inc.
Enthusiasm builds, registrations jump after ex-bishop and his "diocese" got a restraining order to embarrass the Presiding Bishop
CHARLESTON -- Organizers of Saturday's Special Convention of the Diocese were swamped this afternoon as last-minute registrations surged following news that ex-Bishop Lawrence and his PECDSC Inc. (Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Inc.) convinced a judge to issue a restraining order against her and the continuing Diocese.
Enthusiasm for the election of Charles vonRosenberg as a successor to the embittered Lawrence was high Thursday, as final preparations got underway. A public reception welcoming the Presiding Bishop to South Carolina will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. A celebratory choral Eucharist at Grace for all communicants of the Diocese will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the Special Convention at which vonRosenberg is expected to be elected.
Most people attending will be non-delegates, many of whom say they just want to experience the joy of the Episcopal Church once again and Christian fellowship devoid of angry rhetoric, negativity, and attacks on gays.
January 24, 2013
Ex-Bishop, Renegade "Diocese" Get Temporary Restraining Order, Disrupting Election of His Successor & Visit by Presiding Bishop
Injunction claims Lawrence and his "diocese" are being harmed when the continuing Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx refers to itself as "The Diocese of South Carolina."
Mean spirit, lawsuits against loyal Episcopalians by ex-bishop unprecedented in the history of the Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx
Key lawyer was recently employed by the judge who issued ruling without hearing arguments of the Episcopal Church or the officially-recognized Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx
ST. GEORGE - Former SC Bishop Mark Lawrence, thirty dissident parishes, and their legal teams asked for and received a temporary injunction against the Episcopal Church and by association the continuing Episcopal Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx that appears to have been carefully timed to disrupt the election of Lawrence’s successor, the XV Bishop of the Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxx on Saturday.
Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein in St. George ruled late Wednesday that the Episcopal Church, its continuing Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx, an even individuals cannot use names like the “The Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”, or the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” for at least ten days. She also ruled that they cannot use the official seal. Read her ruling here
The judge's order did not seem to reflect an understanding that Lawrence renounced his ministry in the Episcopal Church, or that the continuing Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx and the Diocese of Upper South Carolina are the only official entities recognized by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
Last November, after Lawrence announced his departure from the Episcopal Church, his legal team apparently scrambled to trademark these names with the U.S. Office of Patents and Trademarks so he could claim undisputed ownership of them. However, the applications were withdrawn earlier this month, when an investigation by a reader of this website discovered that they had never been acted on by the agency.
The bizarre ruling will likely not affect the election of The Right Rev. Charles vonRosenberg as the new Bishop of South Carolina at a Special Convention in Charleston, though Goodstein’s ruling may mean delegates or the Presiding Bishop will have to mumble or otherwise not speak the name of the Diocese, which he will lead.
The Episcopal Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx is the only Episcopal diocese recognized by the Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina. The restraining order is only in place for ten days.
Judge did not even listen to arguments of the Episcopal Church.
Judge Goodstein considered the injunction ex parte, meaning that attorneys for the Episcopal Church or the continuing Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx were not allowed to argue their side of the issues.
Andrew Platte, an attorney for several of the plantiff congregations and the PECDSC Incorporated, is a recent law clerk for Judge Goodstein and has taken a important role in the recent legal attacks on Episcopalians in the Diocese. He is an associate in the firm of Speights and Runyon, which played a significant role in convincing parishes in the Diocese that the Episcopal Church might be preparing to take their property away.
Lawrence lieutenants may attend Special Convention.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, whom Lawrence and the PECDSC Inc. are also suing, will preside at the Special Convention. SC Episcopalians has learned that some of Lawrence’s followers appear to also be planning to attend.
Lawrence renounced his ministry in the Episcopal Church in October 2012, but now claims he is still the Episcopal Bishop of an Episcopal Diocese, that is just not under the authority of the Episcopal Church. Lawrence and parishes associated with him want to leave the Episcopal Church, and want take with them millions of dollars in Church property and financial resources they estimate to be worth $500 million.
Only 30 of the Diocese’s 74 parishes and missions appear to have signed on to support Lawrence's aggressive attack on his former flock. Less than one-third of the Diocese’s canonically resident clergy have taken steps to leave the Episcopal Church with him.
Since his departure from the Church, Lawrence and his allies appear to have done little but obsess over those among his former communicants who chose to remain in the Episcopal Church. Lawrence is the first bishop of the Diocese to launch such a bitter assault on the very people who elected him their chief pastor and spiritual leader.
Last week Episcopalians in South Carolina learned that their children would not be allowed to register early for summer camp at the Diocese’ Camp & Conference Center unless they attended a parish that recognized Mark Lawrence as a bishop, even though he is not formally recognized as such by any denomination. According to one staff member, they are “getting what they deserve.”
Only 31 of 74 parishes and missions in the Diocese have joined Lawrence's crusade against loyal Episcopalians
All Saints, Florence
Christ Our King, Waccamaw
Christ St. Pauls, Yonges Island
Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg
Good Shepherd, Charleston
Holy Comforter, Sumter
Holy Trinity, Charleston
Prince George’s, Winyah
St, Bartholomew’s, Hartsville
St. Andrew’s, Mount Pleasant
St. David’s, Cheraw
St. Helena’s, Beaufort
St. James’, James Island
St. John’s, Florence
St. John’s, Johns Island
St. Luke’s, Hilton Head
St. Matthew’s, Fort Motte
St. Matthews, Darlington
St. Michael’s, Charleston
St. Paul’s, Bennettsville
St. Paul’s, Conway
St. Paul’s, Summerville
St. Philip's, Charleston
The Church of Our Savior, Johns Island
The Church of St. Luke & St. Paul, Charleston
The Church of the Cross, Bluffton
The Church of the Epiphany, Eutawville
The Church of the Resurrection, Surfside Beach
Trinity, Myrtle Beach
January 22, 2013
Bad News for Renegade "Diocese": Don't Pack Your Bags for London
Church of England Bishop reportedly tells dissident clergy Lawrence's "diocese" is not destined for the Anglican Communion
Mark Lawrence’s new “diocese” will not be joining the Anglican Communion any time soon. Neither will any of the South Carolina parishes that have chosen to leave Episcopal Church.
That was the grim news delivered to clergy who have recently aligned themselves with Lawrence's Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Inc. (PECDSC Inc.) at a clergy conference two weeks ago.
For several years, clergy followers of Lawrence have quietly assured their parishioners that they would continue to be Anglicans, even if they split from the Episcopal Church. However, it is now clear that there never was a basis for such a claim.
According to reports, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester, said individual dioceses or parishes cannot be members of the Anglican Communion, except through one of its provinces. In the United States, the only province recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Communion, is the Episcopal Church.
Membership in the Communion has always been limited to churches that are descended from the Anglican tradition that traces its roots back to the time of King Henry VIII. Currently, there are 39 such churches, or “provinces”, in the Communion.
Nazir-Ali was only confirming what has been standard practice for centuries. Lawrence’s followers were well aware of it, but a number of communicants of the Diocese were hesitant to leave the Episcopal Church without the assurance that they would continue as Anglicans.
While the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is considered an evangelical and conservative, he has made it clear he hopes to strengthen ties to the more progressive Episcopal Church, and is open to a dialogue with gays and lesbians on their role in the Church of England. Welby’s political patron, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, favors gay marriage, a position even more liberal than that of the Episcopal Church.
Nazir-Ali also reportedly suggested that it was unlikely the dissident Anglican Church of North America, led by Lawrence’s friend and mentor, Robert Duncan, would make the cut either.
January 18, 2013 (rev. 1/22/13)
Children not Spared in Ex-Bishop’s “All Out War” Against the Episcopal Church
Applications from pro-Lawrence parishes "preferred" at St. Christopher summer camp over those from Episcopalians
Staffer to parent: Episcopal Church kids "get what they deserve"
SEABROOK ISLAND -- Loyal Episcopalians, whose families have for generations sent their children to Camp St. Christopher, got a rude awakening this week when they discovered their children are no longer eligible for early registration for summer camp because their parishes do not acknowledge Mark Lawrence to be their bishop.
According to the Rev. Bob Lawrence, the Director of the Diocese’s Camp & Conference Center, “Preferential registration is open to all parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina. There is a pull down menu of parishes on the registration website. It includes all of those parishes that remain under the apostolic authority of Bishop Mark Lawrence in the Diocese of South Carolina. Open registration for all others will begin February 1st.”
[When the Director refers to the “Diocese of South Carolina,” he is actually referring to those parishes claiming allegiance to Lawrence’s “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Inc. (PECDSC Inc).” ]
Parents who worship in loyal Episcopal parishes have reported that their attempts to register their children for summer camp have been met with hostility and rudeness they've never experienced at St. Christopher.
One parent was told by a staff member that kids from their parishes "get what they deserve" and they needed to learn they were going to "suffer" because of their parents' choices.
The PECDSC Inc. is not recognized as a diocese of the Episcopal Church by the Episcopal Church or by any legal authority. Mark Lawrence is not a priest or a bishop in any church since his renunciation of ministry last fall, and describes his relationship with the Episcopal Church as "all out war." About half of teh parishes and missions in the Diocese have taken steps to leave the Episcopal Church with Lawrence.
The idea that the PECDSC Inc. would even consider segregating children, according to where their parents chose to live out their commitment to Jesus Christ, is completely alien to the spirit of St. Christopher and the generations of Episcopalians, who have sustained it though the years.
SC Episcopalians has asked the Camp if there are any other official policies or practices that would make non-preferred campers feel less welcome or valued this summer. No response so far.
January 10, 2013
Charles vonRosenberg to become Bishop of South Carolina
Popular Former Bishop of East Tennessee is a consensus choice
Extensive ties to South Carolina will help him restore vitality, get to work immediately
Praise for selection rolls in click
CHARLESTON - Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, retired Bishop of East Tennessee with longtime ties to South Carolina, will be formally elected Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina at a special convention January 26th at Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Shori will preside over what is expected to be a brief, but joyous gathering of loyal Episcopalians.
Bishop vonRosenberg will serve as a "provisional" bishop, meaning that he has all the authority of a diocesan bishop except tenure. Once the Diocese is back on its feet, vonRosenberg will probably step down to clear the way for a permanent successor.
The 65-year-old vonRosenberg and his wife, Annie, are so well-known and popular in the Diocese that the Steering Committee for the convention decided to make him its only nominee. His extensive knowledge of the Diocese means that he can get started on the enormous task of restoring the vitality of what was one of the most important dioceses in the Episcopal Church.
The new bishop formerly served in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, as rector of the Church of the Resurrection in Greenwood and later as Canon to the Ordinary from 1989-1994. He and his wife moved to the Charleston area a few years ago to be near their six grandchildren, after he retired as Bishop of East Tennessee in 2011.
VonRosenberg has much the same personality and leadership style as former Bishop Gray Temple, who was bishop from 1961 to 1982. VonRosenberg was acquainted with Bishop Temple and his wife, Maria, when they retired in Columbia and he was serving in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.
The Diocese of South Carolina was left without a functioning ecclesiastical authority after ex-bishop Mark Lawrence, and other diocesan leaders renounced their ministries in mid-October. The Presiding Bishop accepted Lawrence’s renunciation on December 5th, after he showed little interest in refuting charges that he'd "abandoned communion" with the Church through his actions as a bishop.
Fortunately, the vonRosenbergs already have a home on Daniel Island. He may have to work out of his house for a while as well Lawrence continues to believe himself to be an Episcopal bishop in an Episcopal diocese, and continues to live in the official episcopal residence, show up for work at the Bishop's office in the Diocesan House, and freely spend Diocesan funds pursuing his fantasy "diocese" and, of course, the lawsuit he filed last week against the Episcopal Church.
VonRosenberg will be installed immediately after his election.
Currently, at least 19 of the Diocese's 74 parishes and missions have affirmed their continuing participation in the Episcopal Church, while another 18 have taken no action to leave with Lawrence. About one-third of the canonically resident clergy in the Diocese have indicated they are leaving with Lawrence, though it is not clear how many have actually done anything about it.
As in other dioceses with breakaway leadership, vonRosenberg will likely move swiftly to determine which clergy are jumping ship with Lawrence so he can depose them.
VonRosenberg graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1969. He earned his master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1974. Early in his episcopate, Sewanee's School of Theology awarded him an honorary doctor of divinity.
January 8, 2013
Debut of PECDSC Lawsuit Bungled
Sneaky end-run to trademark official seal and official names embarasses Lawrence supporters
After our story, status of applications changed from "pending" to "DEAD"
On November 7th last year, then-Bishop Mark Lawrence was enraged when he heard the officially-recognized Diocese of South Carolina had used its corporate seal and legal names in organizing a clergy conference to discuss his recent departure from the Episcopal Church.
Lawrence demanded that the Diocese discontinue use of these official designations because they belonged to him and the religious corporation he calls, "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Incorporated (PECDSC Inc.)".
Lawrence renounced his ministry in the Episcopal Church in October, and his renuncation was accepted by the Presiding Bishop in December when he showed no interest in responding to a Church board that had determined his actions as a bishop constituted abandonment of the Church.
Despite the very public disavowal of his ministry in the Episcopal Church, Lawrence continues to believe himself to be an Episcopal bishop in an Episcopal diocese that is not part of the Episcopal Church. He continues to live in the episcopal residence of the Diocese, pay himself and his staff with Diocesan funds, and work in his office in the Diocesan House. He also thinks he is a bishop in the Anglican Communion, even though the Anglican Communion doesn't think he is. It doesn't offer individual memberships anyway.
Last week Lawrence filed a lawsuit, demanding the Episcopal Church through its continuing Diocese of South Carolina stop using his trademarks and seal.
According to Jim Lewis, Lawrence's second in command, “The Diocese [the PECDSC Inc.] has established its registered trademarks, seals, buildings and other property through over 200 years of ministry in South Carolina – beginning before The Episcopal Church even existed.”
Well, not really 200 years ago. In fact, not even two months ago.
According to the U.S. Office of Patents & Trademarks, the PECDSC Inc. filed an application to trademark "Diocese of South Carolina," "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina," "Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina," and its corporate seal on November 8th ... one day after Lawrence went ballistic over the Clergy Day business.
A review of the Federal agency's public records by one of our readers revealed that the PECDSC Inc applications had not even been assigned to a staff person to begin the approval process. The day after SC Episcopalians broke this story, the applications were withdrawn, and their official status changed from "pending" to "DEAD."
January 4, 2013 (revised 2 p.m. 1.5.13)
Lawrence's Renegade "Diocese" Files Suit Against the Episcopal Church
Ex-Bishop claims $500 million in Episcopal Church assets and property belongs to him & his PECDSC Inc.
Only half of the parishes and missions & one-third of the clergy of the Diocese have formally signed on with Lawrence and his corporation
ST. GEORGE - After years of belittling Christians who attempt to resolve ecclesiastical matters in the courts, former S.C. Bishop Mark Lawrence filed a whopper of a lawsuit today against the Episcopal Church, claiming that he and his renegade "diocese" own all Episcopal Church property in the Diocese, including the seal and the names of the Diocese.
Lawrence's spokesman says the purpose of the suit is to protect parishes from a "blatant land grab," presumably by the Episcopal Church. No one in the Episcopal Church or the continuing Diocese of South Carolina has indicated that it wants to take anybody's property away from them.
However, Lawrence correctly states that the Episcopal Church has filed lawsuits in the past when rebellious leaders in other dioceses tried to make off with Church property that didn't belong to them. The courts eventually have sided with the Episcopal Church except in cases with exceptional circumstances.
However, Lawrence's pre-emptive strike has now put the property of every parish in the Diocese in play. Most of them had no idea he was going to do that. It's a high-risk play, for sure, and every parish associated with the PECDSC Inc. stands to lose.
The best thing about the lawsuit is that it has finally made one thing clear: It's all about money and property, and always has been.
Over the years, Lawrence has repeatedly castigated those who would use the legal system in resolving matters of faith. You can read his ten-page spiritual and Biblical justification -- with a major serving of crow -- on why he now thinks the Courts should give him the $14 million, and his followers the $486 million in Church assets and property they want here.
Meanwhile, the ex-bishop continues to pay lavishly for legal help. He has spent nearly $500,000 on legal fees since he became bishop five years ago (not including this lawsuit), even though there were no active court cases involving the Diocese during that time.
According to the lawsuit filed today, nearly twenty high-priced lawyers appear to have been hired by Lawrence and the PECDSC Inc. to serve on their legal team.
Records show that only half of the parishes and missions in the Diocese have formally taken steps to join Lawrence. About one-third of the canonically resident clergy have publicly declared their intent to leave the Episcopal Church, but very few have actually felt strongly enough to resign as Episcopal priests.
Click here to read the full story.
The press release announcing the suit can be found here. If you need a full copy of the lawsuit, please email us at email@example.com
Among the ripple effects of Mark Lawrence’s renunciation of his Episcopal ministry has been the emergence of new “worshipping communities” formed by loyal Episcopalians who no longer feel welcome in pro-Lawrence parishes. Many of these are meeting now in private homes, but others have secured worship space through the generosity of local churches of other denominations. One has even gone forward with electing its own vestry.
January 2, 2013
Investigation Discovers Renegades Trying to Make Off with the Official Names of the Diocese
Former bishop apparently having difficulty accepting that he's out of the Church
SC Episcopalians has discovered that Mark Lawrence’s renegade "diocese" is trying to trademark official names of the Diocese of South Carolina, according to the Office of Patents & Trademarks at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its online application fails to include an admission that it is not recognized by the Episcopal Church as the Diocese of South Carolina.
Lawrence continues to claim that he is an Episcopal Bishop in an Episcopal Diocese, even though he was formally deposed weeks ago after announcing that he'd left the Episcopal Church. He still uses "The Right Reverend" before his name, occupies the bishop's office at the Diocesan House, and lives in the bishop's official residence. He also insists he's a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion, a claim not actually supported by the Anglican Communion.
The continuing Diocese of South Carolina, under the leadership of Charleston civic leader and businessman Hillery Douglas, is officially
recognized by the Episcopal Church as the Diocese of South Carolina, and will meet to elect Lawrence's successor January 26th.
Status of Requests: Pending
Filed: November 8, 2012
Click here to view the applications and contact the Office of Patents & Trademarks
January 2, 2013
It's Official: "Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury"
December 24, 2012
"Worshipping Communities" Expand Communion and Fellowship in the Diocese
Lawrence's abandonment inspires new Episcopal congregations in the Diocese of South Carolina; Diocese of Virginia offers encouragement click here
Among the ripple effects of Mark Lawrence’s renunciation of his Episcopal ministry has been the emergence of new “worshipping communities” formed by loyal Episcopalians who no longer feel welcome in pro-Lawrence parishes.
Just in the past few weeks, “worshipping communities” have emerged in Florence, Conway, Port Royal, Summerville, and on Edisto Island. Another appears to be taking shape in Mount Pleasant. Many of these are meeting now in private homes, but others have secured worship space through the generosity of local churches of other denominations. One has even gone forward with electing its own vestry.
"St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Port Royal"
Altogether, regular participation in these new Christian communities seems to be in the neighborhood of 250 to 300.
Many participants have spent most of their lives in the Episcopal Church, and include former Diocesan leaders, vestry people, wardens, and other local parish leaders. A number of others are Episcopalians who quit going to church when the Diocese became radicalized under Lawrence.
Easily among the most inspiring stories of these communities has been the nine-year journey of St. Mark’s Chapel in Port Royal near Beaufort. The congregation looks, acts, and functions like any parish in the Episcopal Church, but its desire to participate more fully in the life of the Church was ignored by former leaders of the Diocese because it appeared to threaten a neighboring anti-Episcopal Church congregation in Beaufort.
Today St. Mark’s draws an average Sunday attendance of about sixty, and counts more than 100 people as communicants. St. Mark’s will almost certainly become an official parish in the Diocese, once a new bishop is installed in late January.
Learn more about this remarkable congregation
These communities are also receiving offers of support from active and retired clergy in South Carolina, but also from other dioceses throughout the Episcopal Church. A number of parishes, including many that that have experienced similar schism, have offered to serve as parish partners for worshipping communities and loyalists parishes that may be struggling.
"Worshipping Communities" to send delegations to upcoming Diocesan conventions
December 18, 2012
The continuing Diocese of South Carolina has embraced these new communities, and they will be allowed to send delegates with voice and vote as part of the upcoming Diocesan conventions.
The first is a Special Convention of the Diocese on January 25-26th to elect a new bishop and standing committee. The regular Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina will convene on March 8th.
Read personal testimonies from members of these new communities of faith
Enthusiasm for the Continuing Diocese Builds as Election of New Bishop Approaches
Nearly one third of parishes and missions, two-thirds of clergy appear to be on board
New "worshipping communities" are likely to gain official recognition in pro-Lawrence areas
Three weeks ago, loyal Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina were taken by surprise when the Presiding Bishop finally accepted Mark Lawrence’s repeated assertions that he had left the Episcopal Church and released him from his ministry.
That surprise was short-lived as a growing number of energized volunteers pitched in to kick start the reorganization of the Diocese of South Carolina, and chart a new course under a new bishop.
Activities were not just centered in Charleston. Loyal Episcopalians in areas throughout the Diocese with pro-Lawrence parishes quickly found each other, and they began creating new "worshipping communities" to support each other and possibly start new Episcopal congregations.
However, the biggest boost to the continuing Diocese was the announcement that The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori would preside at a Special Convention of the Diocese in Charleston on January 25-26th to elect a new bishop and standing committee.
Counts are still fuzzy, but far exceed expectations.
Members of the Steering Committee of the continung Diocese say they significantly underestimated the numbers of loyalists who'd stay on after the very popular Lawrence announced he had left the Church.
“Originally we anticipated not more than six or seven parishes and missions would choose to remain with us," one of the volunteers working with the Diocesan Steering Committee said, "We were definitely and happily wrong about that.”
Fully one-third of the 75 parishes and missions of the Diocese did not send representatives to the November 17th start-up meeting of former Bishop Lawrence’s renegade “diocese.” Even then, delegations from three key parishes at the meeting said they were not committed to joining Lawrence.
The renegades apparently are faring even less well among canonically resident clergy, as only a third of them have indicated an interest in sticking with Lawrence. However, many of these are rectors of key parishes and will be a significant loss, but others are retired or have moved their residency to the diocese because they were attracted to Lawrence’s politics. The latter group has made a negligible contribution to the life of the Diocese.
"Worshipping Communities" springing up throughout the Diocese
The continuing Diocese is also reporting that they are hearing from a growing number of new “worshipping communities” of comprised loyal Episcopalians who no longer welcome in their pro-Lawrence congregations. Many of these groups are meeting in private homes or other places of worship in their communities.
Planners for the upcoming Special Convention of the continuing Diocese are saying that these groups will be included in the upcoming convention, but planners are having a difficult time getting a hard count since many are only now forming.
Beaufort. The most famous of these worshipping communities is nine-year-old St. Mark’s Chapel in Port Royal, where for years Lawrence refused to allow the congregation to seeking any official status out of fear of antagonizing pro-Lawrence clergy at neighboring St. Helena’s in Beaufort. St. Helena’s is a political stronghold for Lawrence and provides his “diocese” with significant funding.
Last year, Lawrence was pressured into reneging on a commitment to confirm members of St. Mark’s, even though the service was only days away. Today the congregation at St. Mark’s holds regular services in their own church building, supported by local Episcopal priests.
Florence. Loyal Episcopalians in the Pee Dee reported last month that more than fifty loyal Episcopalians have signed on with their new worshipping community in the Florence area. Many say they are not yet ready to give up on their home parishes, but say they enjoy the worship and fellowship they have experienced with their fellow Episcopalians. Many on the Pee Dee community are former vestry people, wardens, and bible teachers.
Edisto. Alienated by an autocratic rector at historic Trinity Episcopal Church, as many as fifty loyal Episcopalians on Edisto Island announced this week that they have formed a very enthusiastic worshipping community to meet weekly for prayer, worship, encouragement, and study. Clergy assisting the group are widely known for their preaching and teaching.
Summerville and Conway. In Summerville, a worshipping community of approximately 45 loyal Episcopalians has formed and is hoping to create a new church plant. Episcopalians who no longer feel welcome at St. Paul’s in Conway are apparently making similar efforts to establish a community of loyal Episcopalians in the Horry County area.
Contact information for these "worshipping communities" is available through the continuing Diocese. www.episcopaldioceseofsc.org
December 8, 2012
Continuing Diocese of South Carolina to Elect New Bishop on January 25-26th
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside over historic gathering of loyal Episcopalians
CHARLESTON -- The Diocese of South Carolina tonight announced that it will hold a Special Convention in Charleston on January 25-26th to elect a successor to former Bishop Mark Lawrence, who left the Episcopal Church in October.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside at the gathering to be held at Grace Episcopal Church, according to Hillery Douglas who leads the steering committee of Diocesan clergy and laity planning the event. Mr. Douglas is the Senior Warden at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Charleston.
Lawrence announced in October that he had decided to leave the Episcopal Church rather than face charges that he'd "abandoned communion" with the Church. Even though he has stated in numerous public forums and in writing that he was no longer an Episcopalian, he continues to claim that he is still a bishop in the Church.
The convention will actually be electing a “provisional” bishop to serve until such time as the Diocese is reorganized and back on its feet. The new bishop will be elected from among several nominees from among the ranks of currently active or retired bishops. The delegates will also elect a new Standing Committee which is currently vacant.
The Special Convention will take place five years to the day that Lawrence was consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Now neither Lawrence nor the other two anti-Church clerics who ran against him, are in the Episcopal Church.
Participation in the convention will be open to all the parishes of the Diocese desiring to continue on in the Episcopal Church.
Approximately half of the congregations in the Diocese have indicated that they intend to follow Lawrence out of the Episcopal Church. Another third appear to be staying with the continuing Diocese and the remainder are still trying to figure out what they want to do.
Even Lawrence has conceded that it is unlikely those that leave with him will be able to hold on to their property.
The regular annual Diocesan convention will be held as scheduled on March 8th.
December 5, 2012
Presiding Bishop Accepts Lawrence's Renunciation of Ministry
"I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina," deposed Bishop insists ... after announcing he is no longer in the Episcopal Church
Sources tell SC Episcopalians he has no plans to clear out until ordered by a Court
NEW YORK CITY -- Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, after consulting with senior bishops of the Episcopal Church, today accepted Mark Lawrence's renunciation of his ordained ministry and released him as a priest and bishop in the Episcopal Church.
In the former, less pastoral language of the Church, he has been deposed.
The Presiding Bishop informed him today by phone, email, and registered mail. Following that, the House of Bishops was notified. The renunciation is effective immediately.
The Presiding Bishop's formal statement was thorough and precise:
Mark Lawrence “is therefore removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations. This action is taken for causes that do not affect his moral character."
While the announcement marks the end of a bizarre chapter of the life of the Diocese of South Carolina, it also marks the beginning of an equally challenging period, as the legitimate continuing Diocese attempts to reorganize itself and elect Lawrence's successor.
However, Lawrence will not make that easy.
He insists that he is still the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and there is no indication that he plans to leave the Diocesan House, or vacate the episcopal residence in downtown Charleston. SC Episcopalians has been told by a source close to the former bishop that he does not plan on going anywhere until he is ordered to do so by a court of law.
In what he likes to describe as his "nuanced" style of speaking, Lawrence seemed to say exactly that Wednesday evening in a letter to the Diocese that at times appeared to mock the Presiding Bishop:
"I write these words in the vesper light of this first Wednesday of Advent, the bells of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul ring in the steeple beside the diocesan office, I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina."
At other points Lawrence seemed in denial and almost delusional, suggesting that he had not renounced his ministry in the Episcopal Church. For the past month, he in fact has frequently and publicly stated verbally and in writing that he has left the Episcopal Church.
The Presiding Bishop based her decision to depose Lawrence on his address November 17th to a "convention" of his renegade "diocese" in which he publicly proclaimed the disassociation of the diocese from the Episcopal Church:
“We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago... We have moved on. With the Standing Committee’s resolution of disassociation the fact is accomplished: legally and canonically."
Read the Presiding Bishop's remarks
Read Lawrence's response
December 4, 2012
Lawrence Continues to Promote Fantasy Diocese
You won't believe what he is up to this weekend
SULLIVAN'S ISLAND -- In spite of an inhibition imposed on him by the Episcopal Church in October, Mark Lawrence continues to tear apart his former Diocese by conducting unauthorized confirmations and ordinations, and refusing to renounce his episcopal orders, even though he says he has left theEpiscopal Church.
This Sunday he apparently plans to break new ground, mocking even further the sacred vow of conformity to the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church” he made just five years ago. Not only will he conduct a confirmation, which he is forbidden to do, but plans to lay his "Apostolic hands" on everyone else, including those who have been confirmed in the Episcopal Church.
The following notice appeared on the website of Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island, announcing Lawrence’s plans to visit this weekend. It appears to be from its rector:
"Even if 11:00 Sullivan’s Island is not your normal Holy Cross service, I especially urge you’ll join us on Sullivan’s this Sunday for this truly beautiful and awe-inspiring worship. At the Bishop’s Visitation you’ll have an opportunity to affirm your commitment to Christ and have hands laid on you by a bishop in Apostolic Succession. It’s one of God’s gifts to His Church, and I hope you’ll be here to share in this blessing.
"Bishop Lawrence will be laying his hands upon all of our people (both young and older) who are to be confirmed, and if you’re already a confirmed Episcopalian, you’re also invited to come and stand before the Bishop this Sunday and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ, and have Apostolic hands laid upon you. It’s a perfect way to affirm that you’ve gotten serious about your faith and intend to have a deeper, closer relationship with your Lord. I’d love it if our entire parish reaffirmed their vows! I’d love for you to join with us and worship!"
Lawrence continues to refuse to renouce his vows as a Bishop in the Church, so he is technically he is still the head of the Diocese of South Carolina, even though he is temporarily restricted from exercising any authority. He also refuses to respond to a certification by the Church's Diciplinary Board for Bishops that he has "abandoned communion" with the Church that might clear the way for the inhibition to be lifted.
Last Saturday Lawrence ordained four new deacons in his religious corporation known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina Inc. (PECDSC Inc.) For several weeks he has been conducting confirmations. Lawrence says he is not in the Episcopal Church anymore, but appears to be carrying on as renegade “bishop” based on Apostolic Succession … through the Episcopal Church.
December 1, 2012
“Just a Guy with a Computer” Defends Lawrence, Slams Presiding Bishop over "Uncanonical" and Possible Illegal Acts
Lawrence supporters rally around yet another dubious claim of legitimacy
Over the weekend, supporters of Mark Lawrence attempted to bolster his claim of "vast overwhelming support" for his rebellion against the Episcopal Church by publicizing a letter from an arch-conservative group called the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI). In the letter the ACI suggests the Presiding Bishop has engaged in “un-canonical (and possibly) even unlawful actions” in her handling of his recent attempt to secede from the Church.
It is not clear that anyone in the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion actually takes the ACI seriously.
At one point retired South Carolina Bishop Edward Salmon described the ACI as “just a guy with a computer.” A former member of the ACI’s Board of Directors once told the news media that the Board never met during his entire three-year term.
ACI is popular among secessionsists as it has used its website in the past to promote various crackpot legal theories that attempt to legitimize their legal claims.
The ACI is probably not the most credible of Lawrence's defenders, especially in matters of unlawful behavior. In 2009, it became prominent in the mainstream media when a former high-profile leader was indicted on 20 counts of felony theft after allegedly embezzling almost $300,000 from church and trust funds over eight years. He subsequently cut a deal with prosecutors and entered a no-contest plea to a single lesser count read more
In the course of defending himself, he appeared to suggest that the ACI had "borrowed" some of the money. However, there was no suggestion that anyone affiliated with the ACI, other than the person charged, was aware of the alleged scam. read more about this
The letter is too cumbersome and error-filled to warrant a response here, but Lawrence's renegade "diocese" had no such qualms and posted it on its website. Here it is, if you'd like to read it.
November 26, 2012
Renegade "Diocese" Struggling to Recover from Sputtering Launch
Boastful full-page ad in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina slightly at odds with reality, raises questions about motives
Only 38% of clergy and two-thirds of parishes & missions are on board with Lawrence, as continuing Diocese of South Carolina prepares to elect his successor
COLUMBIA -- After a spate of less-than-stellar media coverage and a weak showing at his recent “special convention,” embattled Bishop Mark Lawrence took his new renegade “diocese” of South Carolina on the road Sunday with a preposterous full-page advertisement in the largest newspaper ... in the neighboring Diocese of Upper South Carolina. Read the full content
Lawrence left the Episcopal Church in mid-October rather than being held accountable for "abandoning communion" by violating the consecration vows he took in 2008. Now he is attempting to drag his former Diocese out of the Church with him, even though there is no legally recognized way for that to happen.
Over the past six weeks, Lawrence and his surrogates have lauched a massive public reations campaign among the parishes of the Diocese and in the news media to explain, with pretzel-like logic, that he is an Episcopal Bishop, just not in the Episcopal Church. They, he insists, are no longer in the Episcopal Church, but he is less precise on what reglious organization they are in. Larwence has continued to conduct confirmations in the Diocese even though his ministry has been "restricted" by the Church.
"Overwhelmingly vast majorities" of supporters are more imagined than real
In the Sunday edition of Columbia’s The State, Lawrence boasted of an “overwhelming majority” of clergy, parishes, and even the 77-million member Anglican Communion lining up behind his effort to leave the Church with his clergy, parishes, and their properties intact. He also implied that votes taken at his November 17 "special convention" in Charleston constituted nearly unanimous support for him among the communicants of his former diocese.
However, only 38% of the 211 resident clergy in Lawrence's former diocese appear to have publicly declared their intention to leave the Church with him, either through casting votes at the recent “special convention” or signing onto his newspaper ads.
While Lawrence correctly stated in the ad that his actions received nearly unanimous support from delegates at the “special convention,” he failed to disclose that only fifty of the 75 parishes and missions in the Diocese actually showed up.
Despite its outward enthusiasm, Team Lawrence was privately dismayed at the showing of parishes and missions at the “special convention.” Even more, they were embarrassed when three parishes thought to be with Lawrence announced that they had abstained from voting because their parishes were still in “discernment.”
The two most critical votes -- to abandon the Church and approve a new Constitution devoid of any mention of the Episcopal Church -- were voice votes. A third vote on revising the renegade diocese’s canons was taken by roll call.
Judging from the responses to that roll call, Lawrence’ support was highest among parishes and missions with immediate financial needs being met by the “diocese.” Without the votes of those parishes and missions, Lawrence’s support would have dipped to around 50%.
Claims of support in the Anglican Communion seem specious
Lawrence’s advertisement in The State also rehashed his increasingly dubious claim of support among leaders of the “overwhelmingly vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion.”
He argued, without any evidence, that this conveys legitimacy on his assertion that he is a “faithful Anglican Bishop in good standing.” He also claimed that these leaders consider his renegade “diocese” to be part of “the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”
Actually, leaders of Anglican Provinces have no authority to do either of the things Lawrence is claiming, and the claim itself raises questions about how well Bishop Lawrence understands the Communion.
Anglicanism is the theological tradition of the Church of England that has its roots in the reign of England's Henry VIII. The Anglican Communion is a loosely structured alliance of 38 independent ecclesiastical bodies around the world that are descended from that tradition. They are known as "provinces" of the Communion, and led by autonomus "Primates."
The Episcopal Church is the province for the United States and the 17 countries that comprise its membership. No one in those geographic areas can claim to be an Anglican "in good standing" without being an Episcopalian in good standing. Primates have no authority in jurisdictions beyond their own. The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the Anglican only Primate recognized by the Communion in the United States.
In a full-page advertisement in Charleston’s Post & Courier two weeks ago, Lawrence cited two letters he claimed are from a handful of arch-conservative Primates, as evidence of his "vast" support in the Communion.
SC Episcopalians tried to verify the authenticity of the letters but was unable to find any of the signers who would admit to authoring them. In fact, the letters were so similar in form and content that they appeared to have been drafted by the same person, very likely an aide working for Lawrence.
Specific mention of the two letters in the most recent ad were dropped.
While Lawrence claims support from Anglican leaders is of great comfort, SC Episcopalians has not been able to identify a single Province in the Communion, whose canons condone the actions of a bishop who abandoned his vows in the way that Bishop Lawrence has.
In fact, the very Provincial leaders Lawrence claims as “comfort” have taken far more aggressive actions against rebellious clergy than the Episcopal Church has even imagined taking against Lawrence.
Team Lawrence struggles with credibility among the news media
Efforts by Lawrence's communications team to win over the news media at its "special convention" two weeks ago completely fizzled. Reporters just did not buy the imaginative story line that the renegades constitute the legitimate Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
They were openly skeptical at the lack of any real debate or substantive discussion by the delegates and preplexed why they were not provided copies of a conciliatory letter to them from the Presiding Bishop, or made aware that Lawrence's strongest ally in the House of Bishops had pleaded with them only hours before not to go forward with an attempt to secede.
Some reporters said they were offended by the open hostility and occasional paranoia of among convention leaders. They also questioned the reasons for the highly controlled access they were given to Bishop Lawrence, as well as the extensive and unnecessary security measures, including the presence of Charleston policemen.
One reporter new to covering the Diocese told SC Episcopalians: "I was just disgusted by the nastiness of the entire event. It was so negative, I could hardly wait to get out of there."
Expensive PR blitz seems to be backfiring
If Lawrence is betting that the thousands of dollars he is pouring into his current public relations offensive is helping, he needs to think again.
The gap between Lawrence's imagined successes and reality is widening as communicants across the Diocese are sensing that his self-proclaimed "all out war" against the Episcopal Church is largely imaginary.
In a devastating Letter to the Editor in today's Post & Courier, a layperson in the Diocese labeled Lawrence as "a failure," castigating him for a lack of growth and church attendance since he became bishop. "Empty seats and an aging congregation are his legacy. Instead of focusing on creating a peaceful, welcoming environment that people want to be a part of, he has focused on discord."
As was the case in Charleston, the ad in Columbia seemed to raise more questions than it answered. There was no apparent reason for running the ad in a legitimate Diocese of the Episcopal Church beyond the geographic boundaries of Lawrence's former Diocese. However, it did suggest that Lawrence might be trying to poach new parishes to bolster the membership and finances of his struggling cause.
Continuing Diocese prepares to elect a new Bishop
As if these unpleasant reverses are not enough, the continuing Diocese of South Carolina appears to be getting on its feet much faster than its counterparts did in four other dioceses with leaders who attempted (and failed) to breakaway from the Episcopal Church a few years ago.
The continuing Diocese is fully recognized by the Episcopal Church as THE legitimate Diocese of South Carolina. According its Steering Committee, the continuing Diocese will hold its 2013 Annual Convention in Charleston on March 8th, at which it will elect Lawrence's successor. Hillery Douglas, a civic leader, businessman, and senior warden at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Charleston, is chairman of the Committee.
Parishes publicly aligned with the continuing Diocese have reported significant numbers of church-shoppers and new members from those sticking with Lawrence.
At Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, one new transfer from a pro- Lawrence parish said he was astonished to actually hear a positive, upbeat sermon in an Episcopal parish. "We've heard the opposite for so long, I have to keep reminding myself that this is normal."
November 17, 2012
Renegade "Convention" Votes to try to Secede from the Episcopal Church
Nearly two-thirds of parishes and missions appear to support Lawrence; Lawyers are running the show now
"We are out of the Episcopal Church ... We have moved on," Lawrence declares
Actions put millions in Diocesan assets and parish property in play
CHARLESTON -- To no one’s surprise, today’s historic meeting of the renegade “Diocese of South Carolina” rubberstamped last month's actions of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Standing Committee to attempt to secede from the Episcopal Church.
Slightly less than two-thirds of the Diocese’s 75 parishes and missions appear to be supportive of Lawrence, based on participation and votes cast at today’s meeting. In addition, the delegates approved a new constitution and canons, that appeared to have been hastily prepared by Lawrence's team of legal of lawyers.
Delegates appeared to be untroubled that they were likely commiting themselves and their congregations to years of divisiveness and litigation. They also seemed to have had only a limited understanding of the new Constitution and Canons before approving them.
The relationship between a diocese and the Episcopal Church is similar to that of a state with the Federal government. There is no exist clause, and Church leaders are obligated to protect property that has been entrusted to them for the work of the Episcopal Church.
The limited precedence for such actions suggests Lawrence's followers are in for a long, expensive, and ultimately futile effort.
Essentially, Lawrence is setting up his own independent religious denomination, hoping that some sort of a merger or cooperative arrangement with other religious organizations in the Anglican tradition might be created down the road. Those he has mentioned share his Iiteralist approach to the Bible and judgment that people who are not heterosexual are not part of God's plan.
Lawrence was effective when he outlined his vision of his new organization, assuring clergy that it would have a pension plan and health insurance, but not so assuring about affordable property and casualty insurance for their parishes. Read his full address
Lawrence offered a contorted argument for why he thinks he and the renegade "diocese" are part of the Anglican Communion, even though they now do not belong to the only province of the Communion in the United States.
Lawrence did not address the two most important issues facing his new denomination: the surrender of millions of dollars in assets and parish properties that belong to the Episcopal Church, and the legal impossibility of a diocese or a parish leaving a “hierarchical” ecclesiastical body like the Episcopal Church.
Lawrence is hoping to win those battles in court, and appears to have spent nearly $500,000 over the past five years on legal expenses to prepare. Lawrence insured that the conflict would have to be settled in the courts by the issuance of quitclaim deeds relinquishing the Diocese's (and the Episcopal Church's) interests in parish properties, and appearing to give away the same in a deal with St. Andrew's in Mount Pleasant a year earlier.
Lawrence continues to live in a house in Charleston purchased by Episcopalians for the Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina. He also continues to work in the Diocesan House, estabished by the Episcopalians for the work for the Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina. It appears that Lawrence is also continuing to spend diocesan funds on salaries for himself and his staff.
Delegates were not provided copies of yesterday’s extraordinary pastoral letter from the Presiding Bishop to the Diocese urging reconciliation, nor were they advised of a passionate, last minute appeal by Lawrence’s strongest ally in the House of Bishops to “step back from the brink." Read her entire letter
Many parishes and missions chose not to send delegates since the meeting was not an official convention of the legitimate Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Since mid-October Lawrence’s authority has been temporarily stripped from him, after a Church Disciplinary Board found that he had “abandoned communion” with the Episcopal Church. That authority includes the ability to convene an official convention.
The meeting was held at St. Philips’ Episcopal Church in Charleston. The actual business session lasted a little more than 90 minutes. There was little debate about anything.
Delegates were seated on the main floor, while the news media and visitors were carefully segregated in the two balconies upstairs. The vistors, many of whom are Episcopalians, were not provided copies of the resolutions the delegates were considering.
While Lawrence claims he is no longer in the Episcopal Church, he vehemently objects to the existence of a “continuing Diocese of South Carolina,” authorized by the Presiding Bishop to carry on the work of the Church in Lawrence’s absence. As many as 18 parishes and missions appear to be committed to staying with the continuing Diocese, while another ten are in discernment over what they will do.
All clergy and parishes actually have until March 8th to decide what they will do. At that time, the continuing Diocese of South Carolina will hold its annual convention, and elect Lawrence’s successor and a new standing committee. Those clergy and congregations that fail to attend likely will be presumed to have abandoned the Diocese and the Episcopal Church.
Approximately 60-70 people attended the continuing Diocese's Clergy Day earlier in the week. Its leaders have received encouragement and offers of support from throughout the Church. Charleston businessman Hillery Douglas is the chairman of the transitional Steering Committee. He's the senior warden of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Charleston.
Learn more about the continuing Diocese of South Carolina.
November 16, 2012
Enthusiam for Renegade "Convention" Cools as Doubts about Lawrence Persist
Attacks on faithful Episcopalians, loss of support, & letter from the Presiding Bishop chip away at enthusiasm for Lawrence's renegade diocese
Expensive full-page newspaper ad rehashes old rhetoric, fails to answer key questions; Only 33 of 75 rectors sign on in support
CHARLESTON -- In the final countdown to the launch of their new renegade “diocese," Mark Lawrence and his allies spent this week unexpectedly veering from one snafu to the next, as their planned mass exit from the Episcopal Church began to look like mass chaos.
Read the full story
November 15, 2012
Presiding Bishop Issues Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina
On abandonment of communion: "Bishop Lawrence has an extended period (60 days) in which he can repudiate those charges, and I stand ready to respond positively to any sign that he has done so."
On "Disassociation": "The Diocese of South Carolina is a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, and that status cannot be altered without the action of General Convention."
On the future of the Diocese: "Please know that The Episcopal Church wants you to remain!"
Click here to read her entire pastoral letter
November 11, 2012
Transition to Post-Lawrence Diocese Underway
New Steering Committee is only transitional, but includes who's who of parish and Diocesan leaders
Hillery Douglas, Senior Warden of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Charleston, is the chairman
Episcopalians in South Carolina were cheered this morning by news of a newly-formed Steering Committee to shepherd the initial reorganization of the Diocese of South Carolina after last month’s apparent departure of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Standing Committee.
An open letter by members of the steering committee for the continuing Diocese of South Carolina was published in newspapers throughout the state, welcoming all Episcopalians to “carry forward the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as prior generations have done since 1789.”
The Office of the Presiding Bishop acts as the default "ecclesiastical authority" in the event a bishop is "restricted" or has left the Episcopal Church. Learn more at the Diocesan website
Click here for the entire story
November 10, 2012
On the Campaign Trail with Mark Lawrence, It's "All Out War" with the Church & Loyal Episcopalians
Bishop and surrogates stumble through contraditions and reversals trying to justify leaving the Church, sort of
Three weeks after saying "I am no longer an Episcopalian," Lawrence now claims he is a bishop in the Episcopal Church and one without "restriction" on his ministry
This week “restricted” Bishop Mark Lawrence and his surrogates stumbled through an embarrassing series of contradictory public statements, explanations, and media interviews as part of a Diocese-wide campaign to convince loyal Episcopalians to leave their Church.
Their goal is to gin up participation for a meeting next Saturday in Charleston at which they hope to formally launch their renegade “diocese” called the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, Incorporated (PECDSC Inc.).”
According to Lawrence, this is "all out war" with the Episcopal Church.
However, only two weeks after confidently telling his clergy that he and they had left the Church, Lawrence and his field commanders were raising far more questions about their plans than they were answering. Since Lawrence's announcement that he was leaving the Church, a communications team at the corporate headquarters of the PECDSC in Charleston was kept busy trying to reconcile various contradictory statements, and get a consistent message out through the electronic media and nearly daily revisions to the PECDSC website.
At the heart of the confusion this week has been whether Lawrence and his group are in or out of the Episcopal Church.
Lawrence now claims that his PECDSC corporation is the Episcopal Church in the eastern half of South Carolina and, as the bishop of that corporation, he is the bishop of the "sovereign" Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina without ties to or the authority of the Episcopal Church.
The PECDSC is actually the old corporate structure of the Diocese of South Carolina, but Lawrence and his supporters have rewritten it without references to the Episcopal Church such that it is essentialy a new corporation. Such an action is of questionable legalityl, but it will take years of lawsuits to get courts in South Carolina to straighten things out.
However, that confusion was compounded as the week wore on by tail-chasing responses to questions about the status of the PECDSC corporation in the Anglican Communion, the authorship of letters from ultraconservative Primates claiming to back Lawrence, Bishop Lawrence’s own intentions about leaving the Episcopal Church, and the likelihood that pro-PECDSC congregations will not be able to retain their parish property and buildings.
Read the entire article by clicking here
Visit our "2012 Reports" page for all articles from 2012 by clicking he