Bishop Lawrence & Standing Committee Attempt to Withdraw Diocese of SC from TEC
October 19, 2012

Reports on the Issue from TEC, Diocese of SC and Press

In This Issue:
Episcopal Church Abandons Bishop and Diocese
SC Episcopalian Website reports on Bishop Lawrence Abandonment
Diocese of SC to Hold Special Convention on 11/17/12
ENS - Disciplinary Board says South Carolina bishop has abandoned church
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Episcopal Church Abandons Bishop and Diocese

Reported on Diocese of SC Website Today and published on page 3 of 10/19/12 Post & Courier as a half-page paid advertisement.

Anglicans have been worshiping in South Carolina since its establishment as a British Colony. From the beginning, they have defended and upheld the doctrine, discipline and worship of the faithful generations who came before them. That freedom is now under direct assault.

As a founding Diocese of the Episcopal Church, we have taken steps in recent years to defend our freedom of worship and order of gathering. On Monday of this week (October 15), the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence (14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina) was informed by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church that a disciplinary board had certified that he was guilty of abandonment of the communion of the church – that he had, in effect, by his words and actions, left the church. We believe that these actions of the Episcopal Church are both invalid under the Constitution of the Episcopal Church of this Diocese and violations of rights and freedoms which all Americans hold dear. We emphatically reject them, as well as the attempted restriction upon the ministry of our Bishop.

An Assault on the Bishop

This action is a deplorable assault upon the Bishop of this Diocese. The attack came in the midst of negotiations whose stated intent was to find a peaceful solution to our differences with the Episcopal Church. It involved a process in which there was no prior notice of the proceedings, no notice of the charges against him nor any opportunity to face the local accusers (who remained anonymous until today).

Also deeply concerning is the fact that all of the stated reasons for “abandonment” were known nearly a year ago, when an earlier attempt to remove him failed. This second attempt is double jeopardy of the most egregious sort and is contrary to the very canons they have used. Worst of all, canons that were originally meant for the removal of clergy who had well and truly “left” the church are now being used to purge a Bishop who has diligently sought to keep his Diocese both intact and within the Episcopal Church.

An Assault on the Diocese

These actions, however, are not just an attack upon Bishop Lawrence. They also represent an assault on this Diocese and its congregations. 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 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.

Abandoned

Bishop Lawrence’s actions have been taken to protect the integrity of the Diocese and its parishes. 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. It is this Diocese and its Bishop who have been abandoned; left behind by a denomination that has chosen a radically different path from that of its founders. 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. 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.
Read full article on Diocesan Website

SC Episcopalian Website reports on Bishop Lawrence Abandonment

October 17, 2012 (rev. 10 a.m. 10.18.12)
Lawrence "Restricted" as a Bishop and Priest; Disciplinary Board Finds He Has "Abandoned" the Episcopal Church

Oddly Lawrence Retaliates by Revealing Secret Conspiracy to Abandon the Episcopal Church

His efforts to eliminate "accession" to Church Constitution, alienate Church property, and change the Diocese's corporate charter violated his oath as a Bishop

Lawrence torpedoes efforts by the Presiding Bishop to find solutions that might let him stay on

Secret documents reveal that the Bishop and Standing Committee have been plotting to abandon the Episcopal Church all along

CHARLESTON - Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has temporarily banned South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence from acting as a priest or a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Lawrence was privately informed of the official "restriction" on his ministry Monday.

Jefferts Schori was required to issue the ban after the Church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops determined last week that Lawrence's various schemes to repudiate the authority of the Church’s Constitution, change the corporate purpose of the Diocese to exclude the work of the Episcopal Church, and issue quitclaim deeds relinquishing the Church’s interest in millions of dollars in parish properties violated his consecration oath as a bishop. Read the full report of the Board

Chaired by retired Bishop Dorsey Henderson, the Board found that Lawrence’s actions amount to “abandonment of communion,” a charge which automatically requires the Presiding Bishop to restrict him. The House of Bishops could make the restriction permanent and depose Lawrence when it meets in March. Read the full statement of restriction

Lawrence does not dispute any of the factual findings by the Board, nor does he appear to believe that they do not constitute "abandonment". In fac, on Thursday he revealed that the Standing Committee had secretly approved a plan to try to leave the Episcopal Church if the national Church found that he had abandoned communion.

According to sources, the Presiding Bishop has made efforts to
resolve the issues with Lawrence, and even set up a meeting with Lawrence and Andrew Waldo, the current bishop of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina, for this coming Monday to explore options that might allow her to lift the restriction and allow him to continue to serve.

However, Lawrence seems to have torpedoed any pastoral initiatives by the Presiding Bishop today claiming that some kind of secret resolution passed by the Standing Committee automatically dissolved the ties between the Diocese and the Church when the Disciplinary Board found that he had abandoned the Church. It is not clear who or what body approved the purported resolution. Dioceses are the creation of the Church and lack the ability to function independently. Read the resolution

Lawrence has repeatedly insisted the Diocese of South Carolina is "sovereign" and the Church has no authority over him as it does other bishops. In essence, Lawrence maintains that he is not accountable to anyone.

The actions of the Disciplinary Board came about after a massive complaint was filed against Lawrence by communicants in the Diocese this summer. This was the second complaint against Lawrence in less than two years.

The first complaint was filed in 2011 and contained similar allegations. However, the Board said that the complaint did not contain sufficient evidence for a finding of abandonment. The Board did not say that Lawrence had not done anything wrong.

According to information provided to SC Episcopalians, the evidence in the second complaint was overwhelming.

Lawrence and his handlers have been working feverishly all week to generate some semi-plausible narrative that would cast Lawrence as an innocent victim. It's a bit of a challenge since Lawrence does not deny any of the findings of the Disciplinary Board. In fact, a second secret resolution supposedly approved by the Standing Committee a year ago seems to confirm that Lawrence has been conspiring to the abandon the Church for some time, and take the diocese with him.

Equally challenging for Lawrence is his claim that he does not recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, since it was that authority that made him the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina in the first place.

Traditional Episcopalians in the Diocese have been frustrated that the Church did not acted sooner against Lawrence. According to sources, a number of Church leaders consider Lawrence to be a "pawn" of former SC Bishop Fitz Allison, two former Bishops of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and other embittered critics of the Church.

Lawrence has a history of authority issues that began long before he became a bishop.
Link to SC Episcopalians Website

Diocese of SC to Hold Special Convention on 11/17/12

On Wednesday, October 17th, the Diocese of South Carolina announced a Call to Special Convention. The business to be transacted at this meeting shall be the nature of an appropriate response to the recent actions taken against Bishop Mark Lawrence by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, to include any relevant constitutional and/or canonical changes.

Date of Special Convention: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Location: St. Philip’s Church, 142 Church Street, Charleston
Registration: 8:30 am – 9:45 am in the Parish Hall
Call to Convention: 10:00 am
The cost for Lay Delegates/Clergy: $40/per person

A packet was mailed to all parishes and missions earlier this week, detailing protocol for this event.

Register for the Special Convention here.
Last Updated ( Friday, 19 October 2012 07:58 )
Link to Diocesan Website

ENS - Disciplinary Board says South Carolina bishop has abandoned church

Decision prompts diocese to claim it has ‘disaffiliated’ from the church - By Mary Frances Schjonberg | October 17, 2012- Abstract below, link to full article at ENS.

The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has certified to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence has abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.”

The presiding bishop spoke by phone to Lawrence on Oct. 15 to inform him of the Disciplinary Board action and to tell him that, effective noon of that day, the exercise of his ministry was restricted, according to an Oct. 17 press release from the church’s Office of Public Affairs. He is not permitted to perform any acts as an ordained person.

Lawrence has 60 days to respond to the allegations in the certification, the release said.

“These actions make it clear the Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina,” the diocese said in an Oct. 17 statement on its website.
The diocese said that the action “triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the diocese from the Episcopal Church and called a special convention.” That convention will be held Nov. 17 at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston.

South Carolina Episcopalians, a group that says its purpose is “to provide news, encouragement, and support to traditional churchmen and women in South Carolina who no longer feel they have a diocesan home, issued a statement late on Oct. 17 criticizing recent Lawrence’s actions.

“Rather than using the past few days to find some common ground with the presiding bishop, Lawrence and his handlers have been working feverishly to generate some semi-plausible narrative that would cast Lawrence and the diocese as victims,” the group said.

The disciplinary board said Lawrence failed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the church” by not ruling three specific resolutions out of order during a diocesan convention on Oct. 10, 2010, or otherwise dissenting, “but instead speaking in support of them in his formal address to the convention.”
The convention passed six resolutions at that convention in response to General Convention’s 2009 passage of revised Title IV canons on clergy discipline, which Lawrence and the diocesan leadership oppose.

The board said he acted similarly on Feb. 19, 2011, when the convention again passed one of those resolutions, which removed language in the diocesan constitution that adopts the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons. Resolution R-6 added language saying that the diocese will accede only to the Episcopal Church constitution, and only if it is not “inconsistent with, or contradictory to” diocesan constitution and canons. It also changed its requirements for new missions and parishes, requiring them to accede only to the Episcopal Church’s constitution and not its canons. And, the resolution amended an article of the constitution that would result in a rejection of the revised Title IV.

Then on Oct. 19, 2011, the board said in its certification, Lawrence enacted Resolution R-11 to remove the so-called accession language from the purpose statement of the diocese’s corporate charter filed with the South Carolina secretary of state.

Finally, on Nov. 16, 2011, the board said, Lawrence directed Diocesan Chancellor Wade Logan to send a quitclaim deed to every parish in the diocese. A quitclaim deed generally transfers ownership of the property from the party issuing the deed to the recipient. The “Dennis Canon” (Canon 1.7.4) states that a parish holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church.

The 18 member board – composed of 10 bishops, four clergy, and four laity – made the determination under Canon IV.16 (A) following complaints from 12 adult members and two priests of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, according to the press release.................


– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
Link to ENS Website

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