Gamesmanship by Bishop Mark Lawrence – TEC (barely).

Prudent non-communication from Lawrence of South Carolina

The Diocese of South Carolina has a bishop, Mark Lawrence by name, and that bishop has made a decision in regard to the future of the Diocese and The Episcopal Church.  Here is what the bishop wrote this week (bold textmy emphasis) :”September 22, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We announced last month on August 20th that the Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church. However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action. Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball. Please know that I understand the level of anxiety and concern of many in the diocese. Nevertheless I must ask you all for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to deal wisely and carefully with a fluid situation that requires great discernment and sensitivity on a regular basis. I will communicate to you the details at the very earliest moment such a communication is prudent.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

+Mark J. Lawrence
South Carolina”

So, as they say, the fat is in the fire. What are they doing? Well, “for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action. ”  The bishop and Standing Committee have not “stopped or dropped the ball.” They are dealing “wisely and carefully.”

Bishop Lawrence is using the language of prudence in order to justify not telling his own diocese just what it is that the Standing Committee and he have agreed on as a “course of action.”

Ten to one the prudence has to do with actions that would, if known, be considered either illegal and perhaps criminal, or subversive to the vows under which he exercises leadership in the Church, or both.  Of course it could be that the actions contemplated or undertaken are not so drastic. But if not then why the prolonged secrecy?

It is hard not to come to the conclusion that this lack of open communication about a matter already decided upon is in order to announce a fait accompli with the decisions already acted upon. They are, apparently, dealing with the situation as we speak.

Article from ‘Preludium’ by Father Mark Harris, T.E.C.
            Father Mark Harris, on his U.S. web-site ‘PRELUDIUM’, offers pertinent commentary on the current situation in The Epsicopal Church in the U.S.A.
            In this article, Fr. Mark reports the latest intrigue from the TEC Diocese of South Carolina, which, though part of The Episcopal Church in the U.S., is episcopally governed by a well-known opponent of TEC’s openness to the LGBT community in the Church, Bishop Mark Lawrence.
            It seems that, ever since his election as Bishop of South Carolina, Bishop Lawrence has determined to set his moral compass against the direction of The Episcopal Church – evidenced by small acts of defiance of its polity and governance.
            After his absence on ‘retreat’ recently, Bishop Lawrence appears to have set in place various pieces of diocesan legislation calculated to allow the diocese to walk apart from TEC with property intact – a situation that other people have tried, in other dissident dioceses,  to accomplish but without much success.
            However, this Bishop is keeping his cards close to his chest, allowing only a drip-feed of information about his strategy to be made public from time to time. It will be interesting to see how his hand plays out in the not-too-distant future in the diocese and in The Episcopal Church at large.
            Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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7 Responses to Gamesmanship by Bishop Mark Lawrence – TEC (barely).

  1. Bro David says:

    This is my prediction; this bishop and standing committee realize that they would most likely be in a very costly and prolonged legal battle if they were to follow the course of the four previous dioceses that say that they have left TEC. So I believe that they are gutting the diocese and will leave the diocese which is a constituent part of TEC as a legal entity behind and that the people will be leaving en masse as individual former members of TEC parishes and that they will try to benefit from having parleyed some legal card trick in which they some how end up with the assets of the diocese and parish. They are hoping to create a legal nightmare of individual lawsuits too costly for TEC to pursue in court.

    • kiwianglo says:

      Well, David, you’re nearer to the action than i am. Your forecast seems eminently possible – considering the legerdemain that has gone on before.. I only hope that TEC does a bit of pre-empting itself – before the inevitable off-shore activity.

  2. Melinda Lucka says:

    Kiwianglo, many thanks for your posts re the Diocese of South Carolina!

    Bro David, loyal Episcopalians in the Diocese of SC have seen and are experiencing what you’ve predicted; it’s happened before our very eyes.

    Here’s how:

    1) The Corporate Purpose Statement of the Charter of the Diocese of SC was amended in October 2010, (signed by Bishop Lawrence), to eliminate accession to the ‘Constitution and Canons of TEC’. It now acclaims accession only to the ‘Constitution and Canons of the Diocese’…..very subtle, keeping the same name of the Diocese, (not to create a stir with parishioners), but establishing a huge change to the legal purpose of the diocesan corporation…in effect, a new corporation was created, in lockstep with what the Bishop proclaimed several years ago- that the diocese is a “sovereign” and “autonomous” entity.

    2) Just days prior to the charter amendment, the diocesan Canons were also changed, abolishing accession to the C&Cs of TEC. The diocesan Constitution was amended several months later, in early 2011, to limit the unqualified accession to TEC Constitution, creating accession to the Constitution of TEC only when ‘consistent’ with the diocesan Constitution.

    3) Months after that, in late 2011, the Bishop issued quit claim deeds to parishes in the Diocese, in violation to the Dennis Canon (which had been abolished the prior year). He had begun executing the deeds in early 2010, but issued them en masse at the end of 2011.

    4) As a direct consequence of the amendments to the C&Cs and Charter, and of the gift of deeds to the parishes, parishes felt (or were told) that they were free to change their bylaws. One by one, it is happening, in the name of ‘consistency with the Diocese’. Effectively, those parishes (5 known), no longer accede to the C&Cs of TEC. The latest to do so, early this month, was the Cathedral in Charleston. The parishes have all said that the changes do not take them out of TEC, that the changes were necessary, in order to establish consistency with the Diocese.

    The Bishop’s secret plan has created much confusion and frustration in the Diocese. Whatever the Bishop reveals, whatever steps are taken, and whatever litigation may result, it is important to get the word out that The Episcopal Church and the (real) Diocese of South Carolina will stay alive and well in the future the Diocese.

    9/29/2012 Melinda Lucka

    • kiwianglo says:

      Thank you, Melinda, for your new information regarding the activities of Bishop Lawrence, in his administration of the diocese of South Carolina. We, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand, can only pray for you who have remained loyal to the polity, charity and guardianship of TEC, in the current struggles for supremacy. On today’s Feast of St.Michael and All Angels, we pray that the angelic powers may guard and guide you all as you seek to spread the Gospel of Christ’s Love in North America, and in all the places where TEC promotes God’s mission.

      Agape, Father Ron, ACANZP

    • Bro David says:

      Melinda, in what manner do you believe that the Dennis canon was abolished? Certainly not by the SC Supreme Court ruling regarding Pawley’s Island. In that ruling the SC supremes merely ruled that the Dennis Canon did not apply, as the quick claim deed to Pawley’s Island predated the advent of the Dennis canon.

      Or are you thinking that because the diocese no longer accedes to the TEC C&C that the canon would not have effect in SC?

      • Melinda Lucka says:

        Right, not by the Supreme Court…by the actions of the 2010 and 2011 Diocesan Conventions, when accession to the Canons of TEC was abolished…it even separately repealed the Dennis Canon-equivalent, just for good measure I suppose, to be doubly sure it was gone, before creating the mischief that took place later.

        I can’t agree with you more, and am SO happy that there is someone out there who understands that the Supreme Court just said that the Dennis Canon didn’t apply to the facts and history of All Saints, since the deed and the rechartering of All Saints pre-dated the adoption of the Dennis Canon. That’s been the problem here…the All Saints opinion has been mischaracterized and used as the basis for all subsequent acts.

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