Schismatic ‘S.C. Diocese’ to join ACNA

Breakaway South Carolina Diocese Joining Anglican Church in North America

A diocese that broke away from The Episcopal Church partly over ideological differences will be joining the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America.

(Photo: SC Diocese)A banner bearing the seal of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which voted to leave The Episcopal Church back in 2012, is scheduled to formally join ACNA later this month.

In an announcement released Tuesday, the Diocese explained that should the affiliation be confirmed, they “will be the largest Diocese in the ACNA.”

“The ACNA represents the unifying of a number of different groups in terms of theological approach and worship emphasis such as evangelicals, charismatics and Anglo-catholics,” stated the Diocese.

“In South Carolina this new unity has a healing dimension in that the Reformed Episcopal Church, which split from TEC in 1873, is also a member. South Carolina represents one of the REC’s stronger membership locations.”

(Photo: ACNS)Hundreds of Anglicans convene in Bedford, Texas, for the inaugural assembly of the Anglican Church in North America, June 22-25, 2009.

In November 2012, the South Carolina Diocese voted to leave the national denomination due to theological differences and the apparent mistreatment of diocesan bishop, the Rev. Mark Lawrence.

In January 2013, a lawsuit was filed by the breakaway diocesan leadership over the rightful ownership of the name and property of the regional body. The estimated value of the property is $500 million.

In February 2015, Judge Diane Goodstein ruled in favor of the breakaway diocesan leadership and in September 2015 the South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in an appeal.

The diocesan leadership and those loyal to the liberal Mainline denomination are still awaiting the release of the decision from the state Supreme Court. Joy Hunter, director of communications for the South Carolina Diocese, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that the diocesan leadership did not expect such a long wait for the decision.

“Ours isn’t the longest delay, however. The court has been known to take more than a year to render a decision in similar circumstances,” said Hunter. “We continue to maintain the use of our name and properties, which for the diocese goes back to 1785, and much longer for some parishes.”

In 2015, while their legal case was continuing, diocesan leaders met with ACNA officials at the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center in South Carolina. The meeting was overseen by Bishop Lawrence and ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach.

“The Diocese of South Carolina has been in the process for some time of discerning what its permanent affiliation should be among the Provinces of the Anglican Communion,” explained the Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary and an attendee of the meeting, to CP back in 2015.

“We have reached a place where it seemed the next and most appropriate step was to meet with leaders of the ACNA to share our common interests and questions as this diocese continues the work of discernment.”

At present, the South Carolina Diocese is scheduled to join ACNA at the conservative denomination’s 226th Diocesan Convention, slated to be held at St. Paul’s Church in Summerville, South Carolina, on March 10-11.

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This report from the U.S. “CHRISTIAN POST”, reveals the intention of the schismatic ‘Diocese of South Carolina’ (formerly a diocese of TEC – the Episcopal Church in North America) to now officially join the (also schismatic) ACNA – Anglican Church in North America.

Holding off for some time, ever since its split, led by Bishop Mark Lawrence (formerly Bishop of the TEC Diocese of the same name) – maybe in the hope of being accepted as a ‘floating diocese by the official Anglican Communion – the schismatic ‘Diocese of South Carolina’ (formerly a diocese in TEC) has now decided to formalise a relationship to ACNA, which will put an end to it’s becoming a diocese in communion with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The hope – held out by schismatic ‘Bishop’ Mark Lawrence, that his breakaway flock might be given recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury as an honorary ‘extra Province’ within the Anglican Communion – is now obviously at an end. Having not yet achieved its objective of retaining the assets of the official TEC Diocese of South Carolina (the South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in an appeal, but has not yet issued a response), the future of the properties presently occupied by the schismatics is still in doubt. 

Obviously, impatient with the hoped-for outcome of the property issue, Bishop Laurence is anxious to achieve a liaison with his fellow schismatics in ACNA, rather than wait for recognition or possible rejection for membership of the Anglican Communion.

All this is going on while Pope Francis makes fraternal overtures to Anglicans at All Saints in Rome.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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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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