The process used by the DBB is spelled out in canon law. All procedures were followed precisely. You can find them for yourself online. Essentially, the DBB operates like a grand jury. There is no requirement that there be prior notice of the proceedings, no notice of the charges, and no disclosure of the names of the people who filed the complaint.
There are three reasons why the writer's logic here is fantasy.
(a) Lawrence made it very clear when a similar complaint was made against him in 2011 that he does not consider himself under the authority of the DBB and did not care about its process. It's just a little implausible that now Lawrence is seriously complaining about that process.
(b) As a courtesy to Lawrence last year, the DBB provided him with a copy of the complaint that was filed against him. Rather than respond to the complaint, Lawrence posted it online and used it to make a political statement rather than present intelligent counter-arguments. Did he really think the Board would extend the same courtesy to him again after the contempt he showed for it last year?
(c) Lawrence admits that all the allegations are true. What then would be the point of naming those who filed the complaint except to allow them to be harrassed? Neither Lawrence nor the Diocese dispute that the complaint is factually correct. The assumption behind the right to face your accusers is that you think they have wrongly accused you... not when you admit that their accusations are true.
There has been no attack on the Diocese. Mark Lawrence is shamelessly promoting this idea of an assault on the Diocese to divert attention from the fact the certification of abandonment was the result of his own personal behavior and his violation of his consecration oath.
By making it seem like the Diocese is under attack, he can rationalize the thousands of dollars in Diocesan funds he is wasting on silly newspaper ads and armies of lawyers.
"Two of the three actions that the Episcopal Church claims prove his abandonment are in fact actions of the Diocesan Convention. These were actions of the entire Diocese, all its parishes and missions, expressing together in duly elected convention what they needed to remain in the communion of this denomination."
In 1861, South Carolina tried to succeed from the United States. That didn’t exactly work out. Part of the reason is that once a territory becomes a state in the United States, there is no mechanism for leaving. Back then, conventions in Charleston and Columbia passed resolutions that violated that part of the United States Constitution, and eventually -- after a long war -- were considered to have committed treason.
The Constitution of the Episcopal Church is structured along the same lines as the U.S. Constitution and was, in fact, written up by some of the same fellows.
One of the requirements of all dioceses in the Episcopal Church is that their diocesan constitutions contain no provisions that would infringe on the concept of “unqualified accession” to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church. Accession means that the diocesan constitutions are trumped by the Constitution of the Episcopal Church when they are in conflict. This is essential to the “discipline” that priests and bishops are required to uphold. Bishops agree to it when they take their vows.
In 2011 and 2012, the Diocesan Conventions approved a critical change in the Diocese’s Constitution. They actually reversed the accession clause to say that the Diocesan Constitution takes precedence over that of the Episcopal Church. Lawrence not only supported this change, he was actually instrumental in creating the resolution and getting the Standing Committee to send it to the conventions.
The reason the Disciplinary Board for Bishops believes this to be “abandonment of communion” is that Lawrence used his position as bishop to advance this unconstitutional amending of the Diocesan Constitution. Even if he had had nothing to do with creating it, he had the authority to rule it out of order when it came before the conventions. This, the DBB says, was a violation of his consecration oath.
"In effect, the Episcopal Church has said it does not care what the parishioners of this Diocese, who are its sole supporters, have to say about their own future. The final action for which the Episcopal Church claims Bishop Lawrence was found guilty was for confirming, by the release of quit claim deeds, that our congregations own their own property."
There is no evidence that Jesus Christ ever imagined that his community of followers would not be mutually dependent on each other. St. Paul very clearly saw that churches and church leaders who viewed themselves as autonomous within the larger Body of Christ were a threat to the Gospel, not its' friend.
Mutual respect and interdependence is the fundamental premise on which all hierarchical churches like the Episcopal Church are constructed. It is hard to imagine that the person who wrote this for the Diocese is even an Episcopalian. We are one Church that gives enormous latitude to its individual dioceses and parishes for the expression of the Gospel, but we are one in spirit and mission.
If Episcopalians in a Diocese want to leave the Episcopal Church, there is no penalty or ostracism. They can leave with no hard feelings.
However, Lawrence and his followers say they want to leave the Episcopal Church… and help themselves to the assets of the Church on their way out the door. These are not assets that they personally paid for, nor did they actually build or pay for most of the current parish buildings they claim belong to them.
The idea that a bishop somehow is the owner of millions of dollars in trust funds, real estate, and camps and conference centers when he is consecrated is ridiculous. The same is true for those who think they own church buildings just because they walk in the door and say they are members of the parish.
In other words, the writer of this piece seems tobe equating “what the parishioners of this Diocese have to say about their own future” with permission to commit grand larceny. This is why a number of lawyers believe that Lawrence and his followers have engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the Episcopal Church of its rightful property.
"Abandoned. Bishop Lawrence’s actions have been taken to protect the integrity of the Diocese and its parishes. "
How is the integrity of the Diocese at stake? Because New Hampshire had a bishop who was gay, or that bishops in the Episcopal Church can choose to bless committed, monogamous relationship between adults of the same gender? The Diocese of South Carolina is trying to tie itself closer to members of the Anglican Communion, but apparently feel no threat to their integrity because of its condoning of polygamy among its members.
"In the exercise of his freedom of speech, he has stated his personal good faith beliefs concerning the theology and polity of this Diocese. The parishes of this Diocese have repeatedly joined him in expressing those same beliefs. The actions taken by the Episcopal Church make it clear that such freedom of expression is intolerable to them."
The writer of this piece is again confusing the Constitution of the United States with the Constitution of the Episcopal Church. No one is attacking Lawrence’s freedom of speech, nor has not been found guilty of “abandonment” because of his beliefs or theology.
Nothing in the complaint filed against him or the charges certified by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops says anything about his free speech, his beliefs, or his theology.
In the parlance of debate, this argument is called a red herring. It means something designed to confuse others when the facts of an argument don’t hold water.
"It is this Diocese and its Bishop who have been abandoned..."
The Church has abandoned Lawrence and the Diocese? Seriously?
The reason this writer’s logic make no sense is that the Episcopal Church today is no different than it was in 2008, when Mark Lawrence took a sacred oath of loyalty to the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church” during his consecration.
There was already an openly gay bishop in the Church, and many openly gay clergy. The polity of the Church had been engaged in discussions about homosexuality for nearly thirty years.
Years earlier the Episcopal Church had led the way on the ordination of women, and the full inclusion of black people into the life of the Church. We had rewritten our Prayer Book using more inclusive language, and allowed lay people to administer the chalice during communion.
That Lawrence and any of his clergy followers would suggest that the Episcopal Church is a different church from what it was in 2008 or whenever they were ordained makes no sense. The real question is: what were they thinking when they took their vows of loyalty to the Episcopal Church?
"... left behind by a denomination that has chosen a radically different path from that of its founders."
Is this guy/woman serious? The founders of the Episcopal Church clearly envisioned a Church where landowning white males would decide policy and theology for everyone else. There is no evidence that any of the founders were female or anything but white, wealthy, and seeking to create a church that would support the status quo.
Many of them owned slaves and saw no conflict between their enslavement of our fellow men and women and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first bishop of this Diocese, of whom Mark Lawrence is an admirer, was a huge slave owner. Even bishops outside the South were famous slave-traders and made fortunes trafficking in human flesh. When priests in this Diocese attempted to baptize or even perform marriages for slaves, they were ostracized and threatened with losing their jobs.
Today, most Episcopalians rejoice that the Church has taken a radically different path. Only in South Carolina would we in the 21st century try to romanticize this sorry legacy.
"For that reason, we have disassociated ourselves from the Episcopal Church and will meet again in Convention on November 17th to consider further responses to these actions by the denomination we helped found."
This is the most peculiar claim in the entire flyer. In the first place it is unlikely that the writer had anything to do with founding the Episcopal Church. If he had, he would know that our bishop signed the Constitution of the Church knowing full well that there was no exit clause or right of secession. He also would have known that dioceses are creatures of the Episcopal Church, not the other way around. No group of parishes can become a diocese of the Episcopal Church without being authorized as such by the Episcopal Church.
"By God’s grace, we look forward to many more generations freely exercising the faith first brought to these shores so many generations before us."
The writer, who presumably speaks for the Diocese, seems to have invented some theory that bishops of the Episcopal are somehow free to go around saying and doing anything they please. In the Episcopal Church, bishops are not mini-popes. They pledge themselves to be part of the wider Church of Jesus Christ, and that means honoring your consecration vows (Please refer to definition of “red hearing” above)