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Episcopal Diocese of SC holds "Reconvened" Conference
October 16, 2010

All Resolutions Pass by over 2/3 rds vote

In This Issue:
Observations about the Convention
SOUTH CAROLINA: Convention approves 'protective' resolutions
Reconvened 2010 Convention Approves Changes Allowing Secession from the National Church
The Episcopal Café reports on The Convention
Videos of Bishops Lawrence and Allison Addresses
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Observations about the Convention
by: Observer, Barbara Mann

After Eucharist with a sermon by Fitzsimmons Allison, we heard remarks from Bishop Lawrence. This was not a convention address as he had given that in March, merely an update of events since then.

In his remarks the Bishop talked of opportunities and challenges he and the Diocese have faced in the past months. He talked of our Diocesan vision of “making biblical Anglicans for a global age.” He mentioned many opportunities he had taken advantage of in the Anglican Communion and a few locally. Many of the international opportunities were connected with the Communion Partners.

He also talked of challenges. First mentioned was the request of the Diocese that the Presiding Bishop discontinue her “unconstitutional incursions” into the Diocese. There has been no response from her. He then mentioned in detail the newly (GC 2009) revision of Title IV, “the disciplinary canon.” He stated his opinion that TEC wants to marginalize the Diocese of SC and that the Diocese has a God given mission within TEC.

The Bishop then talked of what he called the gravity of the moment. (Personal note – I certainly agree with him here.)

He was contacted by phone by a fellow Bishop who stated that he and 5 other bishops had been asked by the Presiding Bishop to contact Bishop Lawrence as the convention’s purpose does not bode well for Bishop Lawrence’s status as a bishop in TEC.

The next morning Bishop Lawrence contacted Bishop Katharine via email and her response reportedly mentioned something like "the havoc that was likely to ensue if Bishop Lawrence keeps on the current course".

He concluded his report by asking “Is there a place for a vigorous & minority voice in TEC? And then a quote “It is a great time to be alive” and “a time to try men’s souls.

The convention proceeded to the resolutions [see link to resolutions below]

In short the resolutions all passed overwhelmingly. There was some good discussion on the first two resolutions that dealt with changes to the diocesan constitution. R-6 removes our accession to the canons of TEC. R-7 allows a quicker process to change the constitution of the diocese. These will have to be voted on again at the 2011 annual convention in February.

R-8, R-9 and R-10 passed overwhelmingly by a vote by orders. These resolutions changed our canons to remove accession to TEC’s canons (R-8), allow for a quicker process to change canons (R-9) and to remove the “Denis canon” from our canons (R-10). They take effect immediately.

R-11 was the most troubling for me. It changes our corporate charter purpose statement.

The old (original?) language read
“The purpose of said Corporation is to continue the operation of an Episcopal Diocese under the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."

The new language reads:
“The purpose of said Corporation is to continue operation under the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina."

The convention was repeatedly told that this did not mean we are leaving or taking any steps toward leaving The Episcopal Church. In my view the actions say "we are leaving".



Barbara Mann is a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Charleston and is President of The Episcopal Forum of SC.
Resolutions Pasted by The Convention

SOUTH CAROLINA: Convention approves 'protective' resolutions
By Matthew Davies and Mary Frances Schjonberg, October 15, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] Participants in the Diocese of South Carolina's re-convened convention on Oct. 15 approved six resolutions that the diocese said represent "an essential element of how we protect the diocese from any attempt at unconstitutional intrusions into our corporate life in South Carolina."

But not all the resolutions passed without dissension.

"It's clear that these resolutions are an implicit intent to separate from the Episcopal Church, although the diocesan leadership all state that they have no such intention," Rob Wendt, senior warden of Grace Church, Charleston, and a lay member of the diocesan convention, told ENS following the vote.

Asked what these resolutions will mean for loyal Episcopalians in the diocese, Wendt said: "It's a wait-and-see approach. We've seen this coming, we've watched it develop ... The split has occurred, but when will it become a de facto split? We're just waiting so that we can move on."

South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence reiterated to the convention that it was not his intention for the diocese to leave the Episcopal Church.

Lawrence said that he had been contacted by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to "warn him about taking these actions," said Wendt, a North Charleston-based attorney. "That seemed to make a lot of members of the clergy more determined to vote defiantly on these resolutions."

Jefferts Schori, in a statement e-mailed to ENS, said: "I grieve these actions, but I especially grieve Bishop Lawrence's perception of my heartfelt concern for him and for the people of South Carolina as aggression. I don't seek to change his faithfully held positions on human sexuality, nor do I seek to control the inner workings of the diocese. I do seek to repair damaged relationships and ensure that this church is broad enough to include many different sorts and conditions of people. South Carolina and its bishop continue in my prayers."

The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the South Carolina diocese, told ENS that the convention's action is "significant … in that it enables us to pursue the bishop's vision of making biblical Anglicans for a global age while resisting the national leadership's attempts to change our polity in violation of own constitution and the basic principles of justice and due process."

The convention, which met at St. Paul's Church in Summerville, occurred against the backdrop of a pending Episcopal Forum of South Carolina request for an investigation into the diocesan leadership's activities. The group sent a letter Sept. 22 to Executive Council and the House of Bishops listing "recent actions and inactions on the part of the diocesan leadership and leaders in parishes and missions within the diocese."

Reacting to the request and refuting the EFSC's charges, Lawrence compared his dispute with the Episcopal Church to a military battle and said the diocese was "engaged in a worldwide struggle for the soul of Anglicanism in the 21st century."

The resolutions are the latest in a series of moves the diocese has taken to distance itself from the Episcopal Church, ultimately stemming from disagreements over human sexuality issues and theological interpretation.

The Oct. 15 meeting came nearly a year after the diocese authorized Lawrence and the Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from churchwide bodies that assent to "actions deemed contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions."

The six resolutions came in response to General Convention's 2009 passage of revised Title IV canons on clergy discipline, according to an explanation posted on the diocese's homepage before the Oct. 15 convention. Supporters of the revised Title IV characterized the altered canons as an effort to move from a court-oriented system toward one based on safety, truth telling, healing and reconciliation.

The Title IV changes are due to go into effect July 1.

The diocese said the revisions to Title IV "contradict the constitution of the Episcopal Church and make unacceptable changes in our polity, elevating the role of bishops, particularly the presiding bishop, and removing the duly elected Standing Committee of a diocese from its current role in most of the disciplinary process." The diocesan leadership believes the revisions remove "much of the due process and legal safeguards for accused clergy" provided under the current version, the statement said.

The diocese's objections are detailed in a paper written by Alan Runyan and Mark McCall and posted on the Anglican Communion Institute's website. Runyan is a South Carolina trial attorney who is referred to on both sites as the diocese's legal counsel.

The sometimes multi-faceted resolutions appear to make four types of changes. One group consists of amendments to the diocesan constitution removing the "unqualified accession" to the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons to which Episcopal dioceses are required to agree (Article V, Section 1).

Resolution R-6 removes language acceding to the church's Constitution and Canons and adds language saying that the diocese will accede to the church's constitution, only if it is not "inconsistent with or contradictory to" the diocesan constitution and canons. It also changes the requirements for new missions and parishes, requiring them to accede only to the Episcopal Church's constitution and not its canons. And it amends an article of the constitution that would result in a rejection of the revised Title IV.

Under the diocesan constitution, such changes require approval by two successive meetings of the convention; the next meeting is scheduled for February 2011.

Resolution R-7 proposes for the future to strike the words referring to an annual convention from the portion of the diocesan constitution outlining the process for amending the constitution.

Resolution R-11 removes the accession language from the purpose statement of the diocese's corporate charter.

Resolution R-9 similarly amends the canon outlining the process for amending the diocese's canons by removing the reference to an "annual" convention.

Another group of canonical changes rejects all the Title IV changes adopted by the General Convention in 2009. A third group of changes specifies that all diocesan canonical references to the Episcopal Church's canons refer only to the 2006 version. Those proposals appear in more than one resolution.

Finally, Resolution R-10 deletes the diocesan canon stating that all property is held in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. The resolution's explanation bases the proposal on a September 2009 South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that allowed the majority of the members of All Saints Church, Pawley's Island, who left the Episcopal Church and the diocese in 2003, to retain the parish property. The court said that the "Dennis Canon," passed by General Convention in 1979 to state that a parish holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church, had no "legal effect" on the title to All Saints' property.

The legality of the Oct. 15 convention was called into question by a group called South Carolina Episcopalians who wrote to Lawrence on Oct. 8 noting that "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."

The Oct. 15 convention had been called for by Lawrence and the Standing Committee as a re-convening of the March 2010 annual diocesan convention.

"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," wrote Steve Skardon, on behalf of the South Carolina Episcopalians.

Wendt told ENS that his parish of Grace Church is one of the largest in the diocese. "We have a broad range of theological beliefs but the general consensus is that this is not worth fighting over, we can tolerate diversity," he said. "There are several other smaller parishes that have a general consensus along the same lines."

-- Matthew Davies is editor and international correspondent of the Episcopal News Service. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and editor of Episcopal News Monthly/Quarterly.
ENS Report

Reconvened 2010 Convention Approves Changes Allowing Secession from the National Church
Abstract from October 15, 2010, By Steve Skardon www.scepiscopalians.com/

Presiding Bishop "grieves" that Lawrence and his supporters
have misinterpreted her "concern... as aggression"

Diocesan Chancellor seems to be out of the picture, as
delegates leave confused over legalities of the actions

The re-convened 2010 Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, convinced that the leadership of the Episcopal Church is out to get its rebellious Bishop, easily approved six controversial resolutions altering the Diocese's Constitution and Canons as a prelude to a final departure from the National Church next spring.

Delegates left the convention unsure about exactly what they had done, but convinced that whatever it was, it was the right thing. Some thought they'd voted to leave the national Church. Others said they'd voted to leave the Church next March, while still others insisted they did nothing that would change the relationship of the Diocese to the Episcopal Church.

Egged on by vague comments from Bishop Mark Lawrence, most assumed that he is correctly reporting that national Church leaders are trying to depose him. He has suggested that the revisions to Article IV of the national Church's Constitution are aimed at him, and told associates that he expects to be deposed on July 2nd, one day after the revisions take effect.

One delegate representing a traditional Episcopal parish described as "fantasy" Diocesan leaders' depiction of the attitude of national Church toward the Diocese. The Diocese has been engaged in an imagined culture "war' with Church leaders since 2003 when a majority of dioceses & bishops consented to the election of a gay man as bishop of New Hampshire.

Charleston attorney and delegate Rob Wendt said after the convention, "It's clear that these resolutions are an implicit intent to separate from the Episcopal Church, although the diocesan leadership all state that they have no such intention." Wendt is senior warden of Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. Traditional Episcopalians at the convention were in agreement with his characterization of the convention.

Presiding Bishop responds. When she was informed of the convention's actions, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said "I grieve these actions, but I especially grieve Bishop Lawrence's perception of my heartfelt concern for him and for the people of South Carolina as aggression. I don't seek to change his faithfully held positions on human sexuality, nor do I seek to control the inner workings of the diocese. I do seek to repair damaged relationships and ensure that this church is broad enough to include many different sorts and conditions of people. South Carolina and its bishop continue in my prayers."

Lawrence reported to the delegates that the Presiding Bishop had encouraged five bishops to talk with him, that he had spoken directly with her a few months ago, and that those conversations "did not bode well" for his continued episcopate.

SC Episcopalians has spoken with bishops and others close to the House of Bishops who report that, contrary to the Bishop's characterization of their conversations, they are just trying to determinate what he wants. One source said that when he has spoken with fellow bishops about his intentions they say "he is evasive, vague, and resists giving direct answers."

Delegates found legal implications of their actions confusing. The weakest part of the convention was the lack of understandable legal guidance. Over the past year, Bishop Lawrence appears to have lost faith in the Chancellor of the Diocese, who was not even present. The Bishop instead is relying on a Mr. Runyon, a lawyer from Beaufort. According to Bishop Lawrence, Mr. Runyon is the legal counsel to the Standing Committee.

However, Runyon's legal opining at the convention was vague and complicated, leaving most delegates unaware of the legal status of their property. One delegate asked if they would be able to take the diocesan camp and conference center on Seabrook Island when they left.

Visitors, including the news media, were not allowed in the convention hall and were relegated to viewing the proceedings via closed circuit television. Audio was so bad that no one could hear any of the roll call votes, or most speakers.
SC Episcopalians Website

The Episcopal Café reports on The Convention
Abstract from article: South Carolina convention reconvenes


"It's clear that these resolutions are an implicit intent to separate from the Episcopal Church, although the diocesan leadership all state that they have no such intention," Rob Wendt, senior warden of Grace Church, Charleston, and a lay member of the diocesan convention, told ENS following the vote.
...
Jefferts Schori, in a statement e-mailed to ENS, said: "I grieve these actions, but I especially grieve Bishop Lawrence's perception of my heartfelt concern for him and for the people of South Carolina as aggression. I don't seek to change his faithfully held positions on human sexuality, nor do I seek to control the inner workings of the diocese. I do seek to repair damaged relationships and ensure that this church is broad enough to include many different sorts and conditions of people. South Carolina and its bishop continue in my prayers."

The Diocese of South Carolina reconvened their convention today and passed canonical changes and constitutional changes (in their first reading) that attempt to separate the Diocese from the Episcopal Church without actually leaving.

The revisions and changes attempt to enshrine in their canons the notion that their diocese has an existence and mission independent of and not accountable to the rest of the Episcopal Church. Their Bishop and ordained and lay leaders claim that this independence does not amount to departure, but is rather an attempt to conserve a previous, historic relationship between the dioceses and the wider church.
The other thing the Convention is trying to do is to separate their disciplinary canons for clergy from the rest of the Church in advance of the implementation of the revised Title IV Canons. They are want to only accept the Episcopal Church's canons through 2006 by specific title, and not recognize (nullify) the application of the Canons of the Episcopal Church enacted since that time.

Finally, the mission of the Diocese is separated from the mission of the wider church. One constitutional change is to remove any connection between the work of the Diocese from the work of the Episcopal Church.
See the Daily Episcopalian essay by Bishop James R. Mathes responding to an earlier piece by Bishop Mark Lawrence that appeared in the Living Church.

From the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina Facebook page:
All Resolutions were approved as proposed. R-6 passed 1st reading: amending diocesan Constitution to no longer accede to TEC Canons; R-8 passed: amending diocesan Canons to no longer conform with Canons of TEC, yet partially keeping the 2006 TEC Disciplinary procedures.

R-10 was approved: abolishing the diocesan version of TEC "Dennis Canon," acknowledging that all parish property is to be held in trust for TEC and the diocese. R-7 was approved 1st reading, along with R-9, eliminating the requirements in the diocesan Constitution and Canons to wait for an Annual meeting in order to am...end the Constitution and/or Canons of the diocese.

R-11 was approved, removing "Episcopal Diocese" and TEC from the Charter of the Diocese, profoundly changing the historical language of the Charter: "The purpose of the said proposed corporation is to continue the operation of an 'Episcopal Diocese' under the Constitution and Canons of The Protestant Episcopal Church i...n the 'United States of America.' "

Today is a sad day in our Diocese. Ever since the 2003 "Chapman Letter" and the vote of the Diocese to join the "Anglican Communion Network," loyal Episcopalians in South Carolina have feared today's actions. Since that time, the hope promoted by the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, has been to maintain a United Church. We now pray for new hope.

It was also announced that Bishop Mark Lawrence has appointed Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester (Church of England), as "Visiting Bishop for Global Anglican Relations." Nazir-Ali is in the US making the rounds, having already visited The Anglican District of Virginia, (aka CANA aka ACNA) and is now off to visit the former Episcopalians in the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth.

The Episcopal Café, an independent Web site featuring news, commentary, art, meditations and video. The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators. (Image is above is from the Café)

Editorial Board: Carol Barnwell, John Chilton, the Very Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Sean McConnell, Jim Naughton, editor in chief.
The Episcopal Café

Videos of Bishops Lawrence and Allison Addresses

Interview with the Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon, October 15, 2010

Convention Videos Available from Anglican TV

Alan Runyan Explains the Canons in Context, October 15, 2010

The Rt. Rev. FitzSimons Allison Preaches, October 15, 2010

Remarks of the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence during the Reconvened Convention, October 15, 2010

Bishop Lawrence's Remarks, Continued, October 15, 2010
Link to: Convention Videos on Anglican TV

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