January 3, 2013
Vestry Members at Trinity, Edisto Resign in Protest over Surprise Vote on Secession
EDISTO ISLAND -- Four members of the nine-member Vestry at Trinity Episcopal Church have apparently resigned in protest after they claim the rector engineered a surprise vote on leaving the Episcopal Church over the holiday weekend in violation of an agreement to engage in a period of spiritual discernment.
Members of the parish also report that the parish has voted to hire the Beaufort law firm of Mr. Alan Runyon to defend them against some unidentified threat against their mission and property. Some parishioners believe that Mr. Runyon has been hired to file a lawsuit against the "worship community" of faithful Episcopalians, who no longer feel they have a church home at Trinity.
If Trinity votes to try to leave the Diocese, it will be the 37th parish or mission to dissolve its union with the Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina. Exactly half of the Diocese's parishes and missions, along with nearly one-third of its canonically resident clergy, have decided to join deposed Bishop Mark Lawrence in his quixotic journey out of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
The following is a December 31st letter to leaders of Trinity Episcopal Church from the Rector, a staunch supporter of former Bishop Mark Lawrence:
Dear Trinity Leaders,
The Episcopal Church events that have happened and are happening at the National level and being forced down to the diocesan level have now begun to influence actions that need to be taken locally to protect the mission and property of Trinity Episcopal Church here on Edisto Island.
The Presiding Bishop has claimed that our Bishop Mark Lawrence renounced his orders in The Episcopal Church (TEC); then she formed a group to organize a new diocese in South Carolina. This group has included several lawyers, some clergy and now some local congregations. These local congregations have received instruction and direction from the leadership of the National Episcopal Church and
their lawyers to organize, begin worshiping together and elect delegates for an upcoming convention called by the Presiding Bishop for January 25-26 at Grace Church in Charleston. These activities have begun on Edisto Island.
In addition, the new Edisto Island loyal Episcopal worshiping community has claimed in a letter to the editor published in the “News and Courier” on Sunday, December 16th that they are “the continuing worship community of Trinity Episcopal Church.” While I count them as brothers and sisters in Christ they do not have our permission to claim our legal name or represent themselves as us.
In response to these events, and the uncertainty of the future intentions of the National Episcopal Church, our Vestry has hired an attorney named Alan Runyan and has taken action necessary to begin protecting our worshipping community. Mr. Runyan is also the attorney for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina (the diocese that has existed since 1785 with Bishop Lawrence
as our current bishop) and several other parishes. The Diocese has operated for years as well under the names of the "Diocese of South Carolina" and the "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina." In fact these names and the seal of the Diocese are protected under the registration statutes of South Carolina.
You need to be aware that we are no longer associated with The Episcopal Church (TEC) but we remain affiliated, as we have since the 1700's, with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence. In addition we declare “null and void any claim by any member or
representative of the National Episcopal Church to have any authority over God’s congregation Trinity Episcopal Church of Edisto Island, South Carolina, including the real and personal property held for its benefit.”
While the Vestry desired to have a period of discernment and include the congregation in that discernment, these outside events demanded immediate and decisive action to bring clarity. While this is not the way we wanted to come to this decision waiting could have produced adverse results for our Parish. Accordingly as the Board of Directors of Trinity, they had the authority under the law of South Carolina to pass the attached resolution which was passed on December 30, 2012.
This change in plans has also necessitated changing our planned meeting in January. Therefore we will have one Special Parish Meeting on Sunday, January 13th at 5pm. This will be an informational meeting with a question and answer session. Our attorney Mr Alan Runyan, or his associate Mr. Andrew Platte, will also be present and available to answer questions as well.
Please feel free to pass this email along. I hope to have this same information out to the congregation in an email newsletter and the Trumpet this week. Please continue to keep Bishop Mark Lawrence and Trinity in your prayers as we move through this together.
Love, Know and Serve Him, The Rev. E. Weyman Camp IV