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Episcopalians in Diocese of SC Speak out on Schismatic Actions
October 8, 2010

Is the 10/15/10 "Reconvened" Convention Legal under Canon Law?

In This Issue:
Response to the Proposed Schismatic Resolutions
Bishop Lawrence receives inquiring about the legality of leadership actions
I'm Proud to be an Episcopalian
Episcopal Forum requests The Executive Council of TEC and all Bishops to investigate the leadership of the Diocese of SC
Bishop Lawrence Responds to EFSC Letter
Contact Info
Response to the Proposed Schismatic Resolutions

Abstract of 10/4/2010 Report by: Melinda A. Lucka, Attorney at Law

Since the Fall of 2003, when the Diocesan Convention passed a Resolution to join a newly chartered “Anglican Communion Network,” and particularly since the 2006 elections of our current Presiding Bishop and our diocesan Bishop, the Diocese of South Carolina has taken a number of steps to disassociate from The Episcopal Church...........

What is now proposed is drastic, if approved. The Resolutions for this “Reconvened” Convention, and in particular Resolutions 6, 8, 10, and 11, go beyond “talk,” and cross over the line to “action.” .............

Resolution 2: ......... was adopted, stating that the Diocese affirms its legal and ecclesiastical authority as a “Sovereign Diocese within the Episcopal Church;” that the Presiding Bishop has no authority to retain attorneys in this Diocese that present themselves as the legal counsel for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina; and that the Presiding Bishop must withdraw and terminate the engagement of all such legal counsel in South Carolina.

The term "Sovereign Diocese" is an altogether inaccurate characterization of our Diocese, and is contradictory to use in the same phrase with “within the Episcopal Church.” Although the Diocese has some rights and duties independent from The Episcopal Church, it is inherently bound to the national Church, through The Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons, and it shares the same governing authority with all other dioceses, General Convention.............

Resolution 6: This Resolution proposes a Constitutional change to abolish accession to the Canons of The Episcopal Church. It further attempts to eliminate the governing authority of General Convention. Oddly, the Resolution allows accession to TEC Constitution to the extent that it is consistent with the Diocesan Constitution, and maintains a procedure to select deputies to General Convention. In addition, the change would amend the Diocesan Constitution to do away with compliance with TEC for trials of clergy.

Resolution 8: This Resolution proposes to abolish canonical compliance with the doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC for the creation of Missions. It further attempts to refuse compliance with the 2009 version of Title IV amendments adopted by General Convention, by proposing to maintain compliance with the 2006 version of Title IV of The Episcopal Church Canons.

Title IV of TEC Canons, the section of law controlling disciplinary procedures regarding priests and bishops, was revamped in 2009 at General Convention, and the amendments will become effective July of 2011. Dioceses were asked to implement the changes; however, our Diocese failed to even address them until September 2010, just prior to the “Reconvened” Annual Convention. This proposed Resolution not only fails to implement the Title IV changes, it attempts to maintain a degree of compliance with the 2006 version. Further, Resolution 8 completely contradicts Resolution 6, the proposal to amend the Diocesan Constitution to abolish compliance with TEC Canons altogether........

Resolution 10: This Resolution attempts to abolish Section 5 of Diocesan Canon XXIX-“Property Held in Trust,” the Diocesan version of the “Dennis Canon” (Title I Canon 7.4 of TEC Canons.) The justifying explanation of the Diocese, found below the Resolution, is incorrect, stating that the South Carolina Supreme Court in the All Saints Waccamaw case held the there is “no implied Trust in the property of the parishes of the Dioceses.” ......................

Resolution 11: (Amending the Corporate Purpose Statement in Charter) Again, this Resolution is an attempt to create a hybrid diocese, by proposing to remove the word “Episcopal” from “Episcopal Diocese”, yet retaining “Protestant Episcopal Church” and substituting “in the United States” with “in this Diocese.”

Resolutions 7 and 9: (Amending the Diocesan Constitution and Canons, respectively) These Resolutions maintain the 2/3 voting requirements in order for amendments to take effect; however, both Resolutions propose to eliminate the need to wait until the next Annual Convention in order to effectuate any amendments.......

If Resolutions 6, 8, 10, and 11 are approved by amending the diocesan Constitution and Canons in such a conflicting manner as described above, .......... an utmost violation of the TEC Canons and authority of General Convention will be committed by the Diocese......

Pursuant to current TEC Canon, Title IV 1.1 (e), the violation of Canons and General Convention is grounds for presentment, trial, and inhibition of Bishops, Priest, and Deacons..........

Melinda Lucka is a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, having served on its vestry from 2005-2008. She currently serves on the Board of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, a 501 C(3) organization comprised of South Carolina Episcopalians advocating the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. Her duties on the Board include apprising the Board and general membership of legal issues related to The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. Ms. Lucka is an attorney with the Finkel Law Firm, LLC, in an “Of Counsel” capacity, primarily practicing in the areas of environmental and land use law, with an interest in Episcopal Church Canon Law.

Full Text: Response to the Proposed Schismatic Resolutions

Bishop Lawrence receives inquiring about the legality of leadership actions
Abstract of letter dated 10/8/10 to Bishop Lawrence from Steve Skardon Jr.

Dear Bishop Lawrence:

I am writing to inquire about the authority you and the Standing Committee are relying on to reconvene the 2010 Annual Convention. There is nothing apparent in the governing instruments of our Diocese that permits either the reconstituting of that convention or consideration of amendments to the Constitution & Canons by such a gathering.

1. There is no provision in the governing instruments of the Diocese that allow a convention to recess for more than a day, and then reconstitute itself with authority.........

2. Even if this scheme were legitimate, proposed changes in the Constitution and Canons could not be considered by the re-convened body unless they had been introduced on the “first day” of an annual convention. They weren’t..........

3. The call of the Standing Committee to re-gather delegates to the 2010 Convention is also invalid in that several of its incumbent members have been serving and voting illegally since January. For that reason, the six resolutions the Standing Committee has proposed cannot be considered, even if the re-convention is legal...........

The bottom line, if you are going to follow our Constitution and Robert’s Rules, is that the terms of one-third of the Standing Committee expired in January 2010, and their successors were elected in March 2010. The fact that the incumbents stayed on with voice and vote for nine additional months, and their elected successors were not allowed to vote, means that the Standing Committee has been illegally constituted since January and therefore any actions it has taken are unconstitutional.

4. The Bishop and Standing Committee have no authority to dictate to the parishes who can serve as delegates to a Diocesan convention...............

The call for the re-gathering of the 2010 Convention delegates instructs the parishes that delegates be the same as those who served in March. However, there is no authority for the Diocese to preempt the right of parishes to determine who will represent them by arbitrarily extending incumbents’ terms beyond the election of their successors. If any of the parishes have elected delegates to since March, they are the delegates who are authorized to serve, not the old ones.

I read that you’ve called this re-gathering of delegates based on your belief that the Presiding Bishop is acting in unconstitutional ways. From my perspective, failure to strictly abide by your own Constitution and Canons might not be the most credible way to make that point, especially since you are asking that the re-convention do something that will insure years of legal entanglements. In the past, you’ve expressed disdain for litigation, why invite it now by acting irresponsibly?...........

STEPHEN SKARDON JR. is editor of
and is a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Charleston

Link to Full Letter with supporting arguments

I'm Proud to be an Episcopalian
By: Christina Wilson, St. Mark's Chapel, Port Royal, SC- October, 2010

I am not disgruntled. I am a proud Episcopalian. I am a committed member of a wonderful congregation of other proud Episcopalians.

I am outraged at my own Bishop's response to his own flock's obvious concerns. In thinking on this I was inspired to write this poem. (See Link to Bishops Response below)

Link to Poem

Episcopal Forum requests The Executive Council of TEC and all Bishops to investigate the leadership of the Diocese of SC

On September 22, 2010 The Episcopal Forum sent a Letter to The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church and all Bishops. This letter which can be read at the link below concludes with:

"We wish to call to your attention the recent actions and inactions on the part of the diocesan leadership and leaders in parishes and missions within the Diocese of South Carolina, which we believe are accelerating the process of alienation and disassociation of the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church.

In accordance with our Mission statement, we feel compelled to emphasize the importance of the issues that we include in our attached documents. Specifically, we enumerate issues that present grave concern to us, as Episcopalians in our Diocese, and we request that The Episcopal Church leadership investigate the situation in our Diocese."

Link to Letter

Bishop Lawrence Responds to EFSC Letter
Link to Bishop's Response

Join The Episcopal Forum of SC
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Link to Join The Episcopal Forum

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