10/06/2011

Drama or Not witih Lawrence of South Carolina

There has been a bubbling up of matters pertaining to the legislative actions of the Diocese of South Carolina and the case made by its bishop, Mark Lawrence, with the tidal wave of paper today - a 63 page document outlining the basis for charges by members of the Diocese of South Carolina that Bishop Lawrence ought to be held accountable and found to have abandoned The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal News Service article is HERE.    The Living Church has an article HERE. 

Almost immediately there were charges that this is another case of the Presiding Bishop and those awful people "up there" trying to do in a righteous bishop, etc, leading BabyBlue to this little essay on conspiracy in high places to divert attention from other matters.  

The President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board wrote a memo to clear matters up a bit. (thanks to The Episcopal Cafe for the text.)  

He wrote, 

"From Bishop Dorsey Henderson President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board of the Episcopal Church 

Concerning the Diocese of South Carolina:

•In the matter concerning the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, information is being reviewed by the Title IV Disciplinary Board. Bishop Dorsey Henderson is President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board.

•Information was presented from communicants within the Diocese of South Carolina.

•The information was not brought forward by the Presiding Bishop’s office, or by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center.

•All information has been presented to the Disciplinary Board under the Episcopal Church Title IV disciplinary canons (laws of the church).

•In situations as this, the “church attorney” is an attorney who is retained by the Disciplinary Board to investigate cases brought to the Disciplinary Board. The “church attorney” is not the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

•As a matter of law and a matter of respect to those involved, the Disciplinary Board operates confidentially and will continue to do so. As such, it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the case in public.

•Bishop Henderson has been in conversation with Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina.

•The Disciplinary Board is comprised of Episcopal Church bishops, clergy and laity.

It didn't take any time for Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner at the Anglican Communion Institute to fashion this response:   A Response to the reported Title IVdisciplinary process begun against Bishop Mark Lawrence, which closes with this strange paragraph:

"I personally stand beside Bishop Lawrence and the people of South Carolina. If he has abandoned TEC, then it must mean that I have as well. Will you drive all of us out, Bishop Jefferts Schori? I say as clearly as I can: Presiding Bishop, you have bankrupted your apostolic office, broken your vows, and sullied this church, of which I and others are still members despite your folly, and of which I am still proud to be a member precisely because of bishops like Mark Lawrence whose witness proves that God, in his mercy, has at least not abandoned us."

Radner apparently had not read, or did not believe, Bishop Henderson's message.

The charges are dangling out there: This is a put up job to avert attention to the chaos in The Episcopal Church; it is the Presiding Bishop's forces at work to hound Bishop Lawrence from the Church; it is further example (Warner of Olympia being the first, and now Lawrence the second) of the terror that is Title IV; it is the culmination of a well panned out long range attach against orthodox Christians in The Episcopal Church. 

This is at the very least sad.

I take Bishop Henderson's memo at face value.  Persons from the Diocese of South Carolina,  for whatever reasons, have presented charges. Those must be investigated. Everyone who needs to know that such an investigation is under way know. The question as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence to warrant further work by the Disciplinary Board remains to be seen.  

Looking at the presented evidence, there seem to be three sorts of charges: (i) The Diocese, with Bishop Lawrence's support and encouragement, passed resolutions that attempt to modify the "unqualified accession" to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, (ii) the Bishop has encouraged the Diocese to remove itself from all engagements with The Episcopal Church on a church wide level and has set the stage for an attempt to leave TEC, and (iii) he illegally ordained his son a priest in this church..  I don't see much hope for any of these leading to the conclusion that he has abandoned The Episcopal Church. But, we shall see.

I hope that the last of these charges - that he did not properly ordain his son according to canon  law will not make it very far.  The son was a deacon somewhere, could indeed have been admitted into The Episcopal Church on the grounds that his orders, although irregular, are real, and ordained here. Then again it may have been less clearly done, but there it is. Let it alone.

About the real desires of the Bishop of South Carolina, the extent to which he is itching for a fight, etc, who knows?  

I think the clearest of the charges is that he has mislead the Diocese, with bad legal advice, to believe that it is not bound by the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church unless it wishes to be so bound.  His letter arguing that the changes made in the diocesan constitution and canons are valid in spite of the reading otherwise by a committee of Executive Council's reading of General Convention actions is, to my mind, just plain wrong. You can read his letter HERE.

The notion that the original states (they were not called dioceses then) which became known as dioceses at a later point, are exempt from the rule that binds dioceses in "unqualified accession" to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, is very odd indeed.  The matter of being in union with the General Convention and bound by its Constitution and Canons is established with the acceptance of those canons by the assembled General Convention itself. That the General Convention would later require "unqualified accession' by new dioceses presumes that those diocese already in union with General Convention have understood their similar accession to the Constitution and Canons.  To think otherwise would be to suggest the General Convention was aware of, or approved of a two tiered General Convention with dioceses who were and are independent and others who were admitted into union and are not independent.  That is a stretch.

Should it be clear that the Bishop has mislead the Diocese, and the Diocese has passed resolutions that are null and void, would that be grounds for the charge of abandonment? I think not. If the Bishop or Diocesan Council or Convention were to act in ways that ran counter to the Constitution and Canons then they could be brought to trial for disobedience of the Canons, itself a reason for deposition. But at least that would be on the basis of actions.

Abandonment, if it is to have much meaning, needs to be reserved for, well, abandonment. Before there is the jumping of ship, there is, however, often actions of defiance. Defiance of the canons is unbecoming a clergy person (although most of us have been unbecoming in this regard at one time or another), but more importantly it is, if grave and or serious, a basis for trial. 

Perhaps an interesting place to test all that out is in what I understand to have been changes made in the ordination declaration which the Bishop personally hears in the service. Another place would be in his refusal, if he does so, to take his part in the councils of the church - the primary one being his part as bishop in the House of Bishops. Deliberately abstaining from attendance can be viewed, if it goes on long enough, as refusing to honor his vows taken at ordination.

So, I believe we need to let this all stew. We need to pray for Bishop Lawrence, Bishop Henderson, the Presiding Bishop, and for Dr. Radner whose rant seems a bit over the top, and while we are at it for the Diocese of South Carolina and for The Episcopal Church. There are plenty of prayers needed all around. And there is the need to be less ready to leap to the conclusion that it is all a plot by somebody to do something awful to somebody else.



115 comments:

  1. Dr Radner needs to get a grip pure and simply.

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  2. So . . . what's the problem?

    Allegations like this by those within the diocese shouldn't be investigated?

    Only majorities can challenge a bishop?

    Bishops and their standing committees - but mostly bishops - can never be wrong, dishonest, or immoral?

    That can't be, because the same people infuriated by the "drama" of SC and the investigation hold that such charges from conservatives in liberal dioceses must be investigated. That conservative minorities must be heard and accommodated. That certain liberal bishops are not only wrong, dishonest and immoral, but that the very election and consecration of them was a perversion of the Holy Spirit's guiding.

    So, you see, there can be no real conservative objections here that I can discern - including the ever-fulminating Dr. Radner's - because that would be hypocrisy, and we are always reassured that conservatives hold no double standard. Just ask them!

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  3. As I understand it, the charges brought against the bishop must be investigated. This does not mean the outcome of this investigation will necessarily lead to sanctions against +Lawrence or his diocese.

    As far as Dr. Radner and his "outrage", that is to be expected. Due to years of excessive use, his "noisy gong and clanging cymbal" are beginning to sound quite hollow.

    At any rate, is there really anybody who truly did not see this mess coming? Many Bishops and Standing Committees would not consent to +Lawrences becoming the Bishop of SC. Their wisdom is becoming obvious and a good old-fashioned "I told you so" might not be out of order.

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  4. Radner's statement pre-dated Henderson's scramble to put the blame somewhere else (indeed, it may have triggered it). Now it is reported that the charges did not come from SC.

    Does anyone **seriously** believe that the PB and Chancellor have nothing whatsoever to do with this?

    Even the AP simply says the charges are being brought by 'The Episcopal Church.' In a way, that is more correct than they may realize. Title IV changes; attorneys representing 'TEC' at work in a Diocese last year; Diciplinary Committees with specific members appointed by PB.

    I tend to argee with Radner. This will continue to kill off a denomination already reeling.

    I wonder when the moderate Bishops will say: 'we've got a juggernaut on our hands.'

    Samuel

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  5. I should have added, this is a more cautious statement from Fr Harris than one might have expected.

    Samuel

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  6. Samuel, according to the new canons, the disciplinary board for a bishop is as follows:

    "The
    Disciplinary Board for Bishops shall consist of ten Bishops elected
    at any regularly scheduled meeting of the House of Bishops, and
    four Priests or Deacons and four lay persons initially appointed by
    the President of the House of Deputies with the advice and consent
    of the lay and clergy members of the Executive Council and
    thereafter elected by the House of Deputies."

    The bishop members are not appointed by the PB but elected by the House of Bishops.

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  7. I could have sworn that the final language included the PB making an appointment or two, but I could be wrong.

    The point is not critical, however.

    In this particular case we know in great detail the involvement of the PB and her Chancellor in the Diocese in 2010. Indeed, they were quite public about this.

    One thing that would be good to know is the status of the charges. We only see an addendum. Have charges been leveled; are they being considered only? If the latter, what a huge dump of 60+ pages! In them, we have a kind of thought-policing. Bishop X said Y and Z.

    Can one for a moment imagine what this might lead to? +Lawrence likens TEC to Kudzu in a contet where he is encouraging his Diocese to stay and bear witness.

    This begins to sound like an Israelite King silencing a prophet, or hoping to. Is that where we are now?

    Thank you for your more cautious reflections, Fr Harris.

    Samuel

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  8. The PB appointed Shaw and Douglas.

    Two members appointed by the HOB stepped down.

    Samuel

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  9. As with all matters concerning Title IV, it is best to await the outcome of the process. The people involved, both the Disciplinary Board and accused, have an obligation to due process and the truth of the matter. Our obligation, which is not so obvious, is to allow the process to...proceed.

    I presume the integrity of all involved in their respective capacity and pray for wisdom in all proceedings. I trust the Holy Spirit will guide those who must decide to a right decision..

    Wake me when it’s over.

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  10. "The notion that the original states (they were not called dioceses then) which became known as dioceses at a later point, are exempt from the rule that binds dioceses in "unqualified accession" to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, is very odd indeed."

    Wasn't it in SC that a parish won their court case to keep their property based upon the fact that they "preceded" GC --because they were a colonial church? Perhaps there is something quirky in the state law that allows for this pre-existing exemption train of thought.

    I still think that the rabid hatred of blame-throwing on ++KJS has as much to do with her being a woman in a seat of authority than anything else... and is absolutely uncalled for. Just sayin'.

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  11. Samuel...thanks for the info on PB appointments. Those were made I believe when two declined. Who are the other members of the Board?

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  12. Susan W said... Susan W said... As an Episcopalian in South Carolina, I can assure you that this is not pointless drama. It is obvious to those who live here that the diocese is positioning itself to withdraw from TEC, as the dioceses of Fort Worth and San Joaquin attempted to do. Most of the churches in the area have removed the word "Episcopal" from their signage and publications, and actively refuse to accept the Presiding Bishop. Many parishioners believe that the diocese has already left the Episcopal church and now identify as Anglican. The Bishop refuses to recognize groups that are faithful to the TEC, either as a mission or as a church. He refuses to ordain women and those who identify as homosexual. At Bishop Lawrence's instigation, the convention passed a resolution which would allow congregations leaving the TEC to retain the real estate. What possible reason could there be for passing such a resolution, if you did not intend to leave the TEC? Then they removed all mention of the Episcopal church from the diocese charter. Again, what other reason could you have for doing this? As faithful members of the EPISCOPAL church, should we wait until they lock us out of the churches (as they did in Fort Worth) before we take action?

    Clearly, Bishop Lawrence's beliefs are at odds with those of TEC. The ideal solution would be to work towards a peaceful split, that would allow each group to keep a reasonable number of church buildings, in which to conduct services. Bishop Lawrence seems determined, not only to leave the TEC, but to make sure that loyal Episcopalians do not have a space in which to workship.

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  13. As an Episcopalian in South Carolina, I can assure you that this is not pointless drama. It is obvious to those who live here that the diocese is positioning itself to withdraw from TEC, as the dioceses of Fort Worth and San Joaquin attempted to do. Most of the churches in the area have removed the word "Episcopal" from their signage and publications, and actively refuse to accept the Presiding Bishop. Many parishioners believe that the diocese has already left the Episcopal church and now identify as Anglican. The Bishop refuses to recognize groups that are faithful to the TEC, either as a mission or as a church. He refuses to ordain women and those who identify as homosexual. At Bishop Lawrence's instigation, the convention passed a resolution which would allow congregations leaving the TEC to retain the real estate. What possible reason could there be for passing such a resolution, if you did not intend to leave the TEC? Then they removed all mention of the Episcopal church from the diocese charter. Again, what other reason could you have for doing this? As faithful members of the EPISCOPAL church, should we wait until they lock us out of the churches (as they did in Fort Worth) before we take action?

    Clearly, Bishop Lawrence's beliefs are at odds with those of TEC. The ideal solution would be to work towards a peaceful split, that would allow each group to keep a reasonable number of church buildings, in which to conduct services. Bishop Lawrence seems determined, not only to leave the TEC, but to make sure that loyal Episcopalians do not have a space in which to workship.

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  14. Fr Harris, happy to oblige.

    The responses from Susan are without any foundation. Thank you for being more cautious and for treating this carefully. The idea that +ML is plotting to leave is risible. He could have gone 2 years ago. He has received his own son out of ACNA into TEC. The diocese of SC has had a ten year history of dealing with Pawley's Island and AMiA.

    According to ENS, some members were elected by the HOB and some appointed by KJS:

    The Disciplinary Board for Bishops, part of the Title IV canons, consists of 10 bishops, four clergy and four lay members. Eight of the bishops were
    elected by the House of Bishop at the group's recent meeting; two were later appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori when vacancies occurred. The clergy and lay members were appointed by President of the
    House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson for an interim basis until the House of Deputies can elect at General Convention 2012. The Disciplinary Board will select a president from among themselves.

    The members and their dioceses are:

    Bishop Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut; Victor Feliberty-Ruberte of Puerto Rico; Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawaii; Bishop Dena Harrison of Texas;
    Christopher Hayes of California; Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina; Bishop Herman Hollerith of Southern Virginia; Bishop J. Scott Mayer of Northwest Texas; the Rev. Marjorie Menaul of Central Pennsylvania; Josephine Powell of Michigan; the Rev. Jesus Reyes of El Camino Real; Diane
    Sammons of Newark; Bishop Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts; the Rev. Canon Angela Shepherd of Maryland; Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester; the Rev. Robert Two Bulls, Jr of Los Angeles; Bishop James Waggoner of Spokane; Bishop Catherine Waynick of Indianapolis.

    http://www.episcopalchurch.org/newsline_128912_ENG_HTM.htm

    To confuse matters more, this list is different from that at the TEC
    website.

    Again, your calm response is salutary and in some considerable contrast to Susan.

    Samuel

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  15. Whether or not Bishop Lawrence becomes subject to charges, this once again raises a distinction I wish could be made with precision. One could conceivably abandon the discipline of the Church without abandoning the doctrine - and vice versa. For example, one could affirm the various points of the Quadrilateral (I know, I know - it's not "doctrine," exactly, but it is certainly a touchpoint) and still misuse the Prayer Book. Yes, there is a relationship between doctrine and discipline, or there should be; but they are not the same. I would wish that when allegations arise folks could be clear about that distinction.

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  16. Margaret

    Unqualified accession--in legal terms--means being without encumbrance so as to associate.

    If I make an unqualified accession to the local exercise club, I agree I am free to do so, have no outstanding debts, diseases, etc.

    It does not mean, in legal terms, that I am a lifetime member of said club. I can leave the club whenever I want to.

    You need to spend some time being sure you understand your terms.

    TEC has none of the language one needs for a hierarchy as in other denominations (see the RCC, UMC, PCA). Dioceses freely associated and so formed PECUSA. TEC is an association, not a hierarchical polity.

    I'd have thought most liberals would resent clerical hierarchies!

    Samuel

    WC: 'unties'

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  17. "The notion that the original states (they were not called dioceses then) which became known as dioceses at a later point, are exempt from the rule that binds dioceses in "unqualified accession" to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, is very odd indeed. The matter of being in union with the General Convention and bound by its Constitution and Canons is established with the acceptance of those canons by the assembled General Convention itself."

    From White and Dykman:

    "The first legislation concerning the admission of a new diocese was enacted in the Convention of 1789 when Article 5 of the Constitution provided that:

    A Protestant Episcopal Church in any of the United States not now represented, may, at any time hereafter, be admitted, on acceding to this Constitution."

    So its pretty clear that the founding dioceses were not required to accede to the Constitution.

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  18. "The responses from Susan are without any foundation." Kind of a sweeping statement, Samuel. But dismissing them en masse does relieve you of the tiresome chore of skating in circles, attempting to refute her post, point by point. Incidentally, Susan states that she is an SC Episcopalian. Are you? Is your experience of this situation also first hand?

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  19. Mark,
    As you said, all of this is very sad. We should pray for all of those involved. As a Christ-follower no longer in regular association with the Episcopal Church or any of the various splinter/breakaway etc groups this is like hearing about a family you were once close to consuming themselves in conflict. Perhaps at some point I Cor 1:10 will again be operative.
    Pax et Bonum!
    Steve Goodman

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  20. Susan W. and Anonymous...I hope you understand, my title for this post is not about the charges being drama, but about the wild spinning that took place immediately when the Bishop issued his letter and then when it was announced that charges had been filed.

    I believe we need to be very careful not to make Bishop Lawrence a star in a new drama, in which someone whose motives are unclear gets smacked down before the motives are refined into action, what ever that action might be and turned into a martyr for some cause.

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  21. BTW, Bishop Lawrence has been attending HOB meetings. He pointed out -- simply by asking -- how many bishops have no accession clauses whatsoever in their dioceses, and did they want Title IV coming after them too? With some sympathy, I am told.

    Many Bishops stayed away from Quito. It was expensive and seemed to be geared to doing business with the diocese down there, in terms of ousting leadership.

    One might hope that this ordeal is designed so the PB can refuse the charges and look important.

    Because already it appears the Title IV process is not being followed as prescribed. Henderson cannot say the PB is not involved unless he is admitting that the proper procedures have not been followed. The PB has to OK the process moving forward.

    Samuel

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  22. Joe, you say,"From White and Dykman:

    "The first legislation concerning the admission of a new diocese was enacted in the Convention of 1789 when Article 5 of the Constitution provided that:

    A Protestant Episcopal Church in any of the United States not now represented, may, at any time hereafter, be admitted, on acceding to this Constitution."

    So its pretty clear that the founding dioceses were not required to accede to the Constitution."

    To the contrary, the founding dioceses (states) by virtue of having made the constitution and canons and formed the union with General Convention acceded to the Constitution by "signing on" as founding dioceses. It is just plain nonsense to claim special exemption for the founding dioceses.

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  23. Fr Harris -- in part I agree. The argument re: founding is only PARTLY correct.

    Many dioceses *today* have no accession clauses.

    The legal fight in Texas, e.g., has nothing to do with founding (colonial era) appeal.

    Also, given the scope of the legal term, accession says nothing about the possibility of withdrawing.

    This is indeed what is being contested.

    TEC apparently wants to create a hierarchical system.

    1. It is costly (see budget issues)
    2. It has not been followed in this case
    3. for those with a fondness for horizontalism and laity, it is very clericalistic and centralizing

    Samuel

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  24. The Dennis Canon is binding on all dioceses, including South Carolina, whether they like it or not:

    "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission, or Congregation is held in trust for this Church [i.e., the Episcopal Church in the United States] and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons."

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  25. Thus may say Kurt Hill.

    Thus did not say the SC legal system.

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  26. Since my own sanity and equanimity have been questioned here, I thought I might pipe in:

    No, I do not find Bp. Henderson's note very illuminating. Rather, I find it deliberately obfuscating.

    ACI has recently posted an explication of why we think there is not just a lot of canonical confusion at work in this affair, as well as deliberarely veiled taking of responsibility (i.e. deceit), but potential canonical violation on the part of the the PB's office and those associated with it.

    One might recall that in 2010 it was indeed her own legal representative, Mr. Beers, who made formal use of a South Carolina lawyer to gather evidence to be used against Bp. Lawrence, some of which has appeared in the list of silly allegations the Disciplinary Board claims to be taking seriously, presumably (if the canons were followed) on the basis of the evaluation of the PB's office. The line of responsibility is indeed quite clear, and should be admitted, unless of course, the canonical procedure laid out in the new Title IV was not followed at all. In either case, however, the charges remain both silly and maliciously pursued given the public evidence. I would note that the canons also consider such malicious accusation itself as cause for discipline.

    The notion that "we should all just let this play out" before we make any judgments on the matter might make sense if the present evidence indicated transparency, procedural fairness, and common sense evaluation of facts in the public domain. None of these elements, however, is apparent in this case, and it is a deep embarrassment to TEC as both an insitution and as a Christian church that this is so. Hence, as a member of TEC, it strikes me as a duty to complain vociferously.

    Ephraim Radner

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  27. And I might add, the lawyers for the national church let the time run out on appeal, and they did that on purpose. You might try to find out why.It might be relevant to the present course of action.

    Samuel

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  28. "To the contrary, the founding dioceses (states) by virtue of having made the constitution and canons and formed the union with General Convention acceded to the Constitution by "signing on" as founding dioceses. It is just plain nonsense to claim special exemption for the founding dioceses."

    Thats just plain nonsense. An autonomous diocese (state) does not lose its identity and autonomous stature by being a part of a larger association. Rather it exercises its autonomous authority to participate in the association. Otherwise, it would be indistinguishable from the larger association.

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  29. Both Joe and Samuel appear to believe that “the South shall rise again” nonsense. Fat chance.


    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  30. The SC Supreme Court was careful to limit their ruling, which, incidentally, was cited and rejected by the Georgia Supreme Court in their later ruling on the Savannah case, specifically to the Pawleys Island suit. It provides no precedent for any future secessionist enterprise. Any broad ruling by the SC Supremes contrary to the numerous court decisions elsewhere in the country, will almost certainly kick the case up to the US Supreme Court.

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  31. Lapin,

    You’re almost there. I have always understood the SC decision to be based on how SC interpreted their laws concerning trusts and property. That’s one reason it it wasn't precedential in GA. It may not be precedential to any other jurisdiction unless that jurisdiction has the same (identical) code and case law.

    SCOTUS is unlikely to intercede because real property law is usually the domain of the state. Indeed, there are a number of factors that could limit federal jurisdiction in this matter, but that is more an “inside baseball” discussion (by which I mean highly technical procedural law).

    I have to contribute my nickel to the conversation regarding accession. The very act of accession renders the acceding party subject to the rules governing the association. Founders/charter members have already agreed to the chartering documents, and are subject to the same rules as acceding parties unless there are specific provisions for charter members only.

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  32. Deacon Charlie Perrin7/10/11 1:05 PM

    Will there soon be another firing upon a TEC equivalent of "Fort Sumpter?"

    Some of the arguments being presented in this case sound amazingly like those used by the southern states in the run-up to the Civil War.

    It's the same old States' Rights (read Diocesan Rights) fight. Instead of the local concerns being the future of the "Peculiar Institution" of slavery, it is now for the continued institutionalization of miscogny and homophobia.

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  33. All correct. Must abide by the rules. Or, disassociate. Which is what SC is doing. It says TEC is not ruled by rules but is manufacturing them.

    You are trying to claim TEC can create a rule which quashes the idea of association. Prohibits one from disassociating!

    Which is precisely why a major case is now before the courts in TX.

    Kurt, you need to get out a bit more. Your idea of 'southern' is from some reconstructionist screed.

    It makes you look like Brooklyn version of Jersey-shore.

    Samuel

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  34. Long live John Brown, Samuel!

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  35. Kurt--what do you actually mean? I'm serious. Have you flipped into another zone?

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. I can only say that the question of disassociation has been argued ad nauseum and I don't expect arguing it here will bring any more light to the issue. I am convinced that neither dioceses nor parishes can disassociate and retain property and so far in most jurisdictions that position has failed. I am tending to accept the assertion that Bp Lawrence does not intend to try to take the diocese out of TEC, but that, for a variety of reasons, he wants to distance himself and the diocese from the PB and other elected leaders of TEC. I have no problem with that unless that distancing unfairly disadvantages Episcopalians in the diocese who are supportive of progressive actions in TEC.

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  38. Daniel,

    Do you think that maybe there is some disadvantage to conservative/ traditionalist Episcopalians in liberal/progressive dioceses or is your concern only for your own kind?

    -- Conservative in an inclusive diocese where the insufficiently inclusive are excluded from full time employment. I'll not post my name so as not to incur further wrath. My kids need to eat even if they can't get that wonderful Medical Trust health insurance.

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  39. God bless you, Anonymous.

    Yes, the inclusive agenda does cost. It is not without victims.

    Samuel

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  40. I have fairly conservative friends, Fr Weir, in a parish just south of the SC/Upper SC diocesan border, so sick of unending, irrelevant, Sunday after Sunday pulpit rants against homosexuality from their parish priest, that they drive a two-hour round trip each week to attend service in the cathedral in Columbia. Parishioners deeper in the lower diocese and not within striking distance of one of its few "liberal" parishes, do not enjoy this option.

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  41. I think Fr. Weir is probably right. There is no clear indication that +Lawrence intends to take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church. I also don't think these charges help The Wicked Witch of 815 nearly as much as Samuel/Bart/Franklin/Himmelfahrt/Anonymous would like to imagine. +Lawrence is only a big headache for the PB that I think she would rather avoid.

    This former Southerner (born and raised in Texas, but descended from Union sympathizers who agreed with Houston) can't help but notice that enthusiasm for diocesan/states' rights depends on the issue and upon whose ox is getting gored. As I recall, those same North Carolinians who demanded the right to nullify federal laws clamored loudly for federal troops to be sent into Massachusetts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, a federal law which that state's citizens wished to nullify.

    So too that it appears to me that the faction that now demands diocesan independence from the rest of the Episcopal Church is the same one that loudly demands that the Central Office prosecute and execute for heresy any priest or bishop who departs, or even publicly questions, traditional church teachings on homosexuality. I fondly remember the late Bishop Walter Righter who felt their full fury.


    I'll sit back and wait for the usual invective to follow. I'm never sure what that's supposed to accomplish. It certainly doesn't incline me to change my mind at all. Quite the contrary.

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  42. Georgia --thank you.

    As to live and let live within Dioceses --be they conservative or liberal --the experiment in Virginia, allowing the blessing of same-sex unions while respecting conservative theological constructions to live and worship and serve with respect side by side --time will tell...

    My prayers continue for the situation in SC.

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  43. I am very much aware that liberal bishops can freeze clergy out of the deployment process. I am not at all in favor of any bishop denying a parish the candidate of their choice.

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  44. Are true liberals not bothered by the lack of transparency in Title IV procedures presently underway?

    1. Henderson says the PB wasn't involved; fine, but Title IV requires her to be involved

    2. Is he choosing his words carefully or has the process not been properly followed? Why don't we know?

    3. Who brought the charges? We really do not know.

    I am bothered by a church that has a hierarchical process of discipline. Many aren't.

    But surely everyone ought to want a fair and transparent exercise of justice?

    Did the PB not review the charges, as required?

    Samuel

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  45. Or, as has been remarked at T19.

    Did Henderson and the PB receive all these charges, and instead of reviewing them to determine whether they were credible (as required by Title IV), they simply let them stand as written, placed a cover letter before them with Disciplinary Board letterhead, and sent them off to +SC hoping to intimidate them or influence them in some way?

    If so, their publication blew the lid off and then there was a mad scramble to advert to a 'procedure.'

    That would explain such a lack of transparency.

    Sam

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  46. "I am convinced that neither dioceses nor parishes can disassociate and retain property"

    Here is your argument Fr Weir, as presented to the Texas Supreme Court:

    The cross motions with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and its allies (“the Defendants”) are fairly summarized as follows:

    TEC: We have a constitutional right to all the property.

    DEFENDANTS: But the property has been owned for 30 years by a
    corporation, not a church. What about the Non-Profit Corporations Act? What about the Trust Code? What about all organizational charters — ours and yours?

    TEC: We have a constitutional right to all the property.

    http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/ebriefs/11/11026508.pdf (page 5).

    There are then some serious questions asked:

    This case in unusual because TEC’s constitutional arguments were not directed at one particular Texas statute but all of them. Texas law does not exempt “hierarchical” churches, a word that appears in only three Texas statutes: one about gangs, and two about the Internet. So when TEC
    moved for summary judgment on grounds that hierarchical churches are governed by no property rules except Brown v. Clark, it directly attacked:

    • article 1396-2.15(C) of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act,
    which says directors cannot be removed except as provided in the
    by-laws;
    • article 1396-2.03(B) of that Act, which prohibits outsiders like TEC from filing ultra vires claims ;
    • article 1396-4.01(A) of that Act, which allows corporations to
    amend their articles in any way they see fit ;
    • section 112.002 of the Texas Trust Code, which says only a
    property owner can impose a trust ; and
    • section 112.004 of the Trust Code, which says trusts are revocable unless they expressly state otherwise.

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  47. Wait, Samuel: under the new Title IV the Presiding Bishop is not involved unless and until the Disciplinary Board determines that there is sufficient cause to bring charges. The Disciplinary Board is investigating before making such a determination - which is all that Bishop Henderson has said.

    Why is it so hard to imagine that there might be sufficient clergy and lay voices in South Carolina to make allegations? That doesn't mean that the allegations will result in charges (although I'm sure you expect them to). Since all clergy are accountable to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church (Title IV, Section 3.1), they may; but all we know so far is that allegations have been made and are being investigated. At this point, it's not appropriate for the PB or the House to be further involved.

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  48. I think the real problem is that there is somewhat less than completely "monolithic unity" in +Lawrence's diocese. . .just like all the rest.

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  49. No, Samuel. I just think that South Carolina is too small to be its own country and too large to be an insane asylum.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  50. Marshall Scott. Herewith the procedures:

    "At first glance, the procedures for initiating proceedings against bishops appear to be among the more straightforward of the provisions of the new canons. The starting point is the duty imposed on every “Member of the Clergy” to “report to the Intake Officer all matters which may constitute an Offense.” “Information concerning Offenses may be submitted to the Intake Officer in any manner and in any form.” (IV.4.1(f); IV.6.2.) When submitted, this information triggers canonical duties of the Intake Officer and the Presiding Bishop. The Intake Officer is required to make an initial determination as to whether the information if true would constitute an offense. If the answer is no, he must confer with the Presiding Bishop and, if she concurs, the matter is dismissed. If the answer is yes, he must prepare a written report and give it to the Presiding Bishop and President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops.

    These are not discretionary steps; they are canonical duties. They must be done. (IV.6.) The Presiding Bishop, the President of the Disciplinary Board and the Intake Officer (the “Reference Panel” in the terminology of the new canons) have discretion as to how to proceed next if the allegations survive this initial stage, but there is no discretion simply to do nothing at the outset."

    Do you disagree with this recent assessment?

    Samuel

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  51. Kurt--all this adolescent nagging aout the State of SC just makes you look like, well, adolescent. Charleston SC had a brilliant black Jewish chief of police and has had an outstanding Roman Catholic Mayor. You really do need to get out more. For a while two of the fastest growing municipalities in the US were Mt Pleasant and Bluffton -- yankees fleeing the bad weather and cost of living.

    Come on into the 21st century.

    Samuel

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  52. "Come on into the 21st century." The 21st century in which Britain's Conservative prime minister calls for state-sanctioned gay marriage? The 21st century where next to no-one in the US below the age of 40, and ever fewer above it, give a rodent's rear about the "moral values" about which Lawrence & his buddies persist in whipping themselves into a frenzy?

    Greenberg - good, but "brilliant"?

    Still no response to the question above, are you, like Susan W and like me, an SC resident?

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  53. I'm sorry, in the present climate of Title IV I am not saying anything about my background, region, whatever.

    I'd warn anyone to operate in the same way.

    I suspect I know about as much about Beaufort County as anyone on this thread.

    But look, let's face it. Just read the ACI piece carefully. You don;t need to reside in SC to be able to read Title IV procedures and conclude, they have not been followed or someone is prevaricating, or both.

    They also make clear that failure to follow proper procedure is itself cause for discipline.

    I suspect from your comments it must be hard to live in a diocese that is growing and prospering, and to be in such a minority. Something of the same sense conservatives inside of a dying TEC feel.

    But this is now old news. (As is the Tory Party moving away from social conservativism -- indeed, that has been true for over 20 years).

    Let's keep on the main issue -- Marshall, can you respond to the comment above about proper procedure?

    Samuel

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  54. It's very pleasant to live in a diocese not under the thumb of Mark Lawrence and his buddies, Sam.

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  55. OK, is anyone going to address the issue of proper procedure?

    How can Title IV be properly conducted if the PB had NOT been involved? She and the Intake Officer are meant to review matters before things go the Disciplinary Committee.

    Who is going to explain this?

    All the North-South nonsense is a sideshow.

    Samuel

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  56. No, Sam, the sideshow is the incessant squawking, here and elsewhere, about the "involvement of the PB" and the "proper conduct" of Title IV, intended solely as a smokescreen to conceal the real issue, which is the conduct of Mark Lawrence. But then, that's a bit harder to defend, isn't it?

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  57. Thanks Mr Lapinbizarre. That is hugely revealing.

    Shame on me for expecting adult discussion and responsibility.

    Samuel

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  58. Samuel:

    IV.6.4-5 (first sentence): "Sec. 4. Upon receipt of such information, the Intake Officer may make such preliminary investigation as he or she deems necessary, and shall incorporate the information into a written intake report, including as much specificity as possible. The Intake Officer shall provide copies of the intake report to the other members of the Reference Panel and to the Church Attorney.

    "Sec. 5. If the Intake Officer determines that the information, if true, would not constitute an Offense, the Intake Officer shall inform the Bishop Diocesan of an intention to dismiss the matter."

    The later sections regarding bishops identify who constitutes the Disciplinary Board, Intake Officer, etc; but do not appear to change procedures. So, as Intake Officer Bishop Henderson would seem to have latitude to investigate before determining whether there has been an actionable offense and to prepare a report before bringing this to the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop's canonical duties begin with the receipt of the report from the Intake Officer, and not when the Intake Officer receives allegations.

    Also, don't confuse the functions of the Disciplinary Board with those of Reference Panels, Conference Panels, Hearing Panels, etc. Each of these subcommittees of the Disciplinary Board has a role and a step in the process. The Disciplinary Board as a whole does very little.

    Actually, and without prejudging the outcome, it might be salutary to see the process worked through with the kind of visibility allegations against a bishop would bring. I grant that it would be a mixed blessing, involving time and expense. At the same time, experience using Title IV will confirm or disprove our various predictions about its utility.

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  59. Marshall,

    Having been on the receiving end of an accusation by the inclusivity thought police this is my take:
    Whatever its utility as a learning vehicle malicious prosecution is is just that, malicious.

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  60. I am getting a "page not found" message on this link -

    http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2008/04/anglican-communion-institute-and.html.

    Apparently Google no longer offers "cache" access to old postings. Is the thread accesible under an alternative url?

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  61. Marshall Scott

    Thank you for taking the time to respond on details of Title IV procedures. It is important to follow the rules.

    At the initial phase, if Bishops are charged, the PB MUST be involved.

    The problem is with Dorsey Henderson's (rather curiously timed) memo. His obvious point (perhaps he was instructed) was to distance the PB from the charges in the public eye, given a) the long history of the PB's office in affairs in SC in 2010, and b) the release of the documentation by the officers in the Diocese of SC, and c) the almost immediate and natural reaction to this mountain of loose charges of various kinds, attaching them (again reflexively) with the adventures of 815 in the Diocese in 2010.

    If you are saying in your final paragraph that we need to get Title IV right or predictions of its danger will prove true, I agree. This is why some dioceses are rejecting it as unconstitutional, or refusing to acknowledge it because of inherent problems. The point argued by its proponents was that it would be transparent. This is proving untrue, sadly.

    Thank you for your engagement with this important matter before the church.

    Samuel

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  62. Marshall -- I think you have some details wrong (not surprising given the confusion).

    The Intake Officer is Clay Matthews, not Dorsey Henderson (President of the Disciplinary Committee). The Reference Panel includes the PB ('Bishop Diocesan' in the Title IV lingo). Unless the Intake Officer judges the charges unworthy of pursuit (and this must be OK'd by PB) a written report must be made and the PB must review it.

    Samuel

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  63. Having read a fair amount of the pretty boring prose of Title IV, I see that the PB, as a member of the reference panel, would have reviewed the intake officer's report and taken part in the decision to have the charges investigated. I believe it was Bp Lawrence's decision to make the charges public.

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  64. Correct, Fr Weir.

    Which means Bishop Henderson has misreported or has a different idea of proper procedure.

    Not only is the prose of Title IV 'boring' -- it is also lethal and intended to be so.

    Bishop Lawrence will be deposed within 6 weeks. This is TEC. This was the express intention of Title IV changes.

    We have a new TEC. Hierarchical, stream-lined, and brooking no diversity on key issues.

    Samuel

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  65. "Hierarchical, stream-lined, and brooking no diversity on key issues." Could it be you're confusing TEC with Rowan's Covenant Church, Sam?

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  66. I do not believe that Bp Dorsey has misrepresented the involvement of the PB. The charges were not made by the PB, but people in the diocese and while the matter is being investigated, the PB and the Church Center will not be involved. I think there is far too much drama here and elsewhere and I suspect that there is far less drama among the members of the Disciplinary Board. So we can all take a deep breath and wait for matters to proceed.

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  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  68. Suggesting that Dorsey Henderson, a man of considerable probity and a dog-lover, is guilty of misrepresentation, is pushing it, Sam. Re drama, Fr Weir, a director of the ACI put on a performance at Thinking Anglicans today so ill-mannered that I would not have credited it had I not actually read it.

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  69. Fr Weir

    You agree the PB was indeed involved because the Title IV rules demand it. What you are then saying is that they have let the matter move into the next stages.

    All this is fine and procedurally correct.

    It is not what Dorsey Henderson has said, however.

    Samuel

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  70. I had a look at Thinking Anglicans.

    Would you be the same Rabbit that is linking 5 year old denunciations against ACI instead of dealing with the content? I see Simon Sarmiento has issued a warning on that. Good for him.

    Sam

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  71. Sam,
    I suggest Bp Dorsey's statement again. It is quite clear that the PB's office was not involved in bringing forward the information. It came from people in the diocese. Bp Dorsey does not mention the reference panel's action, but there was no reason for him to mention it. If you think that omission was an attempt to mislead, I disagree. I think your comments reveal a desire to find the PB guilty no matter what the facts are.

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  72. Fr Weir--well, maybe one thing we can agree on is that Title IV, intended to make things more transparent, is failing in its remit. We really do not know what has happened.

    One possibility is that for the charge of abandonment, a decision has been made to operate in such a way as to leave the PB and Intake Officer out altogether.

    Another is that the procedures we apparently agree on were followed, and so the PB and IO did the requisite review.

    Given that the PB's office was so obviously involved in SC and for such an extended and public way, in 2010, it has been my conjecture that +DH wanted to exonerate the PB and so spoke very carefully. The danger was that in so doing he would imply that procedures for Title IV had not been followed. Note the careful use of the term 'information' -- properly neutral, having to do with the content of the addendum and not the charges as such.

    But of course I could be wrong -- that is the nature of speculation when we really don't have all the facts before us.

    What was in the missing cover letter, e.g.? We only even know what we know because SC felt it needed to release the material it was sent. Etc, etc.

    This is hardly a transparent process. How many other cases has the Intake Officer on his desk? How many other people have been informed they are being investigated? Someone on this thread obviously can be included in that (see above).

    I believe it was the Diocese of CFL that said it was accepting Title IV only with the condition that General Convention review its constitutionality. That is now proving quite relevant, except, to that we should now add: its transparency and fairness.

    These seem to be virtues you too wish to insure.

    Samuel

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  73. I am of two minds about transparency. The process should be fairly easy to understand, and I think this one may prove to be. However, details about specific allegations need not, and often should not be made public at the beginning of an investigation. Bp Lawrence did not feel that disclosure would harm him, but that is often not the case and great harm can be done by disclosure before the facts are known. I think our knowing how many complaints are currently being considered by any intake officer is not appropriate. What purpose would there be for our knowing that a number complaints were made where, if the allegations were true, there was no violation of the Canons?

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  74. Fine, Samuel. I'm willing to "come into the 21st century" if and when South Carolina enters the 20th.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  75. Five year old and still true, Sam. As I said some time back, re the sanctimonious ACI & Don Armstrong, it's a "Caesar's wife" thing - that and "who lies with dogs, shall rise with fleas".

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  76. Mr Rabbit: I agree with Simon Sarmiento's handling of the matter.

    Fr Weir: transparency needn't take the form of knowing each and every case, posted on some public docket. It SHOULD take the form of not having the public confused over what kind of process is taking place. Is this a charge of abandonment that the Disciplinary Board feels needn't go to the PB's office? Or, has this case been reviewed by the Intake Officer, a written report compiled, and consultation with a Reference Panel, as stipulated by Title IV?

    We do not know from what has been said.

    Mr Hill--I can only repeat what I've said before. You need to get out of your corner of 'Jersey Shore' in Brooklyn. Why not take a holiday and visit another state? It's good for the perspective!

    Samuel

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  77. Fr Weir

    Let me ask another kind of question while you ponder things.

    One of charges against Bishop Lawrence also associates itself with other TEC Bishops, because of a visit to Lambeth Palace, including +North Dakota, +N IND, +Dallas, +CFL, +W-LA among them

    Do you believe they too will be charged, or have been charged? Should they be charged?

    This is one of the after-shocks of the new Title IV process. It creates a sort of climate of waryness. Were rude remarks made in Northern Michigan against 815 being taped? Should George Conger watch his p's and q's when he files a report for news outlets?

    Recall that one can be brought up for 'disturbing the good order of the church' -- something one might smile about in the light of church history, but for the fact that many of the charges in the SC addendum are right at this level.

    Samuel

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  78. You "agree with Simon Sarmiento's handling of the matter" except when it comes to impugning the motives of other posters on this thread, Sam.

    "Four legs good ......".

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  79. Samuel,
    I am not pondering things, I am simply advising patience with the process. I have not read the charges against Bp Lawrence and I don't intend to, so I have no opinion about complaints that might be made about other clerics. I think if one were to write a book about this era, one might give it the title "The Age of Complaint." We seem all too ready to complain - and I include myself in that. This is not at all what St. Paul encourages us to do, but rather than giving thanks in all circumstances, we complain. Yes, there are injustices and we need to work to address them. If at the end of the day Bp Lawrence has been unfairly treated in this process, I will protest, but so far all I am hearing are petty complaints about the preliminary report.

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  80. Gosh I wish this involved petty issues!

    If Bishop Lawrence is deposed and people were cavalier with the procedures in order to 'get the job done' I doubt I will consider the concerns being raised 'petty.'

    Rabbit, you'd do better to engage issues and not just hop about trying to confuse and obscure. I realize that is more work, and it's more fun to hop about, but sometimes even a bunny needs to try to sit still and think. Give it a try. You might even get used to it!

    Samuel

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  81. Samuel, I accept correction regarding Bishop Mattews rather than Bishop Henderson as Intake Officer.

    That said, I was trying to address a different point. As I understand Bishop Henderson's letter, part of the point of the investigation is whether these allegations should result in charges (and, yes, I know I'm not using the language of the Canon); that is, even if (as) any of these events happened, is it then actionable? I appreciate that this could be determined by the Intake Officer alone; but also appreciate cautious investigation rather an a rapid push deeper into process. We can take or support actions that show poor judgment or be misguided, and certainly be embarrassing, but aren't actionable per se. I know I have.

    So, to your later question: if the meeting in question with other bishops were not actionable with regard to Bishop Lawrence, neither would it be with regard to other bishops. With that in mind, it would be pointless to speculate about it.

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  82. If you wish to engage in issues, Sam, feel free to go ahead and demonstrate to us which, if any, of the published charges against Mark Lawrence are trumped up or just plain wrong.

    All I have read so far, both here and at Thinking Anglicans, relates to the wording of the canon and falls in the "motion to suppress" category so familiar to those of us who follow "Law & Order" reruns.

    As Fr Weir so rightly says, "so far all I am hearing are petty complaints about the preliminary report".

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  83. I knew you were up to it, Rabbit. Good job.

    We have a Title IV process.

    We know in the case of +Warner that a procedure was carefully followed. This is not in doubt. Intake Officer, PB, Reference Panel, etc.

    In the case of +ML, we have the President of the Disciplinary Board insisting the PB's office did not handle the charges.

    That is either a canonical infraction--and as such required by the new Title IV itself to be addressed. Or, +Henderson is saying that his Committee is handling the matter on its own. That is not proper according to Title IV. Charges must first be reviewed by Intake Officer and PB. There is no latitude here.

    UNLESS, +DH is arguing that he has that latitude and can sidestep the procedures. If this is so, an accounting is required.

    One possibliity is that he is arguing that specific charges of abandonement are now under his purview. (You will recall the present PB introduced this approach so as to obviate the need to get Sr Bishop approval for the usual deposing procedures; so a CofE Bishop said to have 'abandoned' something, e.g.).

    You can call all this petty. I'd like to believe we have a church of order and charity and transparency.

    You might also have reason to be worried if it turns out the failure to follow proper procedure gums up this present investigation and/or those who have a plan by which to remove +ML.

    Samuel

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  84. Marshall--the problem is that as written Title IV does not give that latitude to +Dorsey Henderson.

    The charges go to an Intake Officer in the first instance. Even if he received them, he is to forward them as inappropriately sent to his committee. The procedure was carefully considered so as to avoid just this kind of direct appeal to a Committee. You can imagine the kind of mess this would create.

    After the IO studies the charges, he is to consult with the PB, and the President of the Discplinary Committee. He must prepare a written report. All this is just as one expects in due diligence. To operate outside of this threatens legal messes.

    Which means +DH may have in view the character of the charges -- abandonment -- as somehow allowing him to work indendently. But this is guessing. (You will recall that the present PB has had recourse to the odd business of 'abandonment' so as to avoid having to get approval for deposing from Sr Bishops -- which she failed at receiving.).

    Perhaps you can press for more explanation to be fortcoming as one who believes/hopes Title IV will be a good development.

    I want a church of fairness, transparency, and charity.

    Whatever the party strife may be.

    Sam

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  85. "You might also have reason to be worried if it turns out the failure to follow proper procedure gums up this present investigation and/or those who have a plan by which to remove +ML." Courts have consistently ruled that the disciplining of clergy is an internal matter for a denomination, Samuel.

    I'm a bit puzzled why you haven't answered Lapinbizarre's request that you "go ahead and demonstrate to us which, if any, of the published charges against Mark Lawrence are trumped up or just plain wrong". Seems a very reasonable request to me. What's the problem?

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  86. You could not be more correct.

    Which is precisely why SC courts will say it is none of their business what ecclesial decision is made. They have ruled re: property already (this is their purview).

    So, you would have 'deposed' Bishop and clergy but nothing changed in terms of the Diocese.

    Does the National Church not see this coming?

    So, that's a two for one deal in terms of your question.

    It matters little what the charges are and which ones are less or more frivolous.

    Because an effort to charge +ML with abandonment probably needs little factual basis within TEC.

    And this brings us back to the questions being posed. Has +ML been charged with abandonment? By whom? Who has reviewed the charges? Is Title IV being followed.

    THOSE issues might well be of interest to SC secular court if TEC decides to sue for the properties, viz., 'did you follow your own rules?'

    Samuel

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  87. There is nothing in the bishop's statement that leads inevitably to the conclusion that the Reference Panel, of which the PB is a member, did not review the complaint. What the statement made clear was that the complaint did not originate from the PB or the House of Bishops and that the PB's office will not be involved in the investigation. I think it likely that the bishop didn't think it necessary to spell out the process that brought the matter to the Disciplinary Board. I continue to think that this is a tempest in a teapot and indicates an unwillingness to trust the process.

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  88. Dear Fr Weir

    One can of course pray you are correct.

    But we just don't know.

    I'd equally wager that +DH's comments imply he is exercising some discretion and wants to distance the entire affair from the PB.

    He did this in the face of the obvious public conclusion that, having invested so much time and money in SC in 2010, the PB was behind the charges. So he conflated the 'they didn't bring charges' (of course not; who thought that?) with 'they weren't involved at all' and the confusion was introduced.

    This is obviously a major issue before TEC. This is not +Warner. We know that SC has provoked certain quarters of TEC, given the tightrope +ML is trying to walk, in order to keep his diocese from following the example of Steve Woods in Mt Pleasant or Chuck Murphy.

    I am glad to be able to conclude you do not think the matter or protocol 'petty.' That would be fairly cynical and I never believed that was your character, having followed your efforts at Covenant-Communion.

    Samuel

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  89. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I find the suspicion about this disturbing. Samuel has jumped to conclusions which are not at all the most obvious ones. My statement that I was ordained on September 17, 1972 does not need a recital of the steps that led to that event. So I think Bp Henderson's does not need a recital of the steps that led to the present situation. I trust that the Canons were followed, as Bp Henderson says they were. I can only pray that those who have to see a conspiracy behind every action will see the error of that.

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  90. Thank you Fr Weir.

    Let us spend some time in prayer and ask that God bless what TEC is now doing.

    Yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ

    Samuel

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  91. Not sure what "Samuel" would say, but I'm happy to provide a list to LB and Amanda:

    Starting backwards on the list of 12 charges that are meant to provide "evidence" that Bp. Lawrence has "abandoned the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church":

    12. He ordained his son a priest, who had previously been ordained a deacon in another "Anglican" church (ACNA?). As many have pointed out, at least in terms of TEC's own rather wooden understanding of "episcopal succession", this is no different than accepting the diaconal ordinations (not to mention other ordinations) of the Roman Catholic church, etc., something our bishops do all the time. This is silly and mean-spirited. His son came to work for the Diocese of SC. But the Disciplinary Board is paying a (not very sympathetic) lawyer to "investigate" this.

    11. and 10: the bishop is quoted as using vivid metaphors for things he thinks are wrong about TEC ("Kudzu") and how it relates to the larger mission of the Church Catholic ("sidecar"). Heresy? Contra-canonical? Treasonous?

    9. Bp. Lawrence "was mentioned" in an ACNA-related parish report!!!!! Yikes! This one is really "serious". So was the Archbishop of Canterbury! So was St. Michael himself! Where's the Intake Officer?!?

    8. The bishop (actually, previous bishop first) didn't allow a new mission to start in the backyard of a current parish, but he didn't forbid/prevent missions from churches he doesn't control to start in the state! He has "allowed" Roman Catholics and Baptists (yes, and some "Anglicans") to plant churches! Surely a dereliction of duty.

    7. Some of his parishes have talked to a lawyer who is not a member of TEC! Maybe these parishes are even wondering about leaving the diocese. This must be the bishop's fault. He put them up to it.

    6-1. These all have to do with various ways in which parishes and the diocese have sought to affirm, linguistically, their understanding of the "Constitution of the Episcopal Church" (which remains a standard for the Diocese of SC in all statements and convention addresses), and which touches on questions of diocesan "sovereignty" with respect to General Convention resolutions. this is an ongoing debate within the Church. Does a contention regarding the meaning of TEC's Constitution to which one affirms allegiance constitute "evidence" for "abandoning" the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the Church? Does an analogous contention by a citizen of the US -- e.g. a governor and legislature of a state arguing about health-care funding -- constitute "treason"? Yes, this is ridiculous.

    These are all "serious" charges, we are told; they require funding and time to investigate; they demand the calling of "reference panels" and "conference panels" and the like. They come in the wake of attempts by the Presiding Bishop to dig up dirt on the bishop last year -- prior to any such "serious charges" being formally lodged -- and of predictions by her personal lawyer that Bp. Lawrence would indeed be "deposed". And we are supposed to find any of this credible?

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  92. Thank you Dr Radner. That's what I was hoping we could get around to. Appreciated and read with interest. Roger Mortimer

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  93. Father Weir, the horse has been long dead and is now an unrecognizable bloody mess. Samuel just repeats the same drivel over and over. Please give up and let him have the last word. This conversation was boring three days ago.

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  94. Bless you, Fr Radner, for such a thorough response and rebuttal.

    Let's pray any future response engaages the details of your comment, for the blessing of Christ's Church.

    Samuel

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  95. I appreciate Dr. Radner's comments, although I think the matter of the cost of the investigation should not be a major factor in deciding if the investigation should proceed. Members of the diocese have made these allegations and I think they need to be taken seriously.

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  96. Fr Weir

    But surely Dr Radner's point is that the charges are ridiculous.

    Why would they then be taken seriously, justifying expensive lawyers and other costs?

    Or do you find the charges credible?

    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  97. Kurt--great news and just in time for your vacation! Shake off the Brooklyn street grime and head for:

    http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/oct/11/charleston-named-top-tourist-stop/

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  98. Samuel,
    When lay people make allegations about clergy I think not taking them seriously is a road to disaster.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Fr Weir

    The point of having an Intake Officer is to determine whether charges are credible. He must file a written report.

    It is this stage which we cannot determine has happened. Where is the written report? Which charges have been deemed 'credible' (and which ones not)? Where is the evidence of due diligence?

    I don't want clergy being hassled for speaking bunk in the pulpit...not least because the frequency of this would clog Title IV.

    That is why there is an Intake Officer (Bishop Matthews). Where is his written report, as required by canon?

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  100. I'm sure that Charleston is a nice place to visit, Samuel. But, I definitely wouldn't want to live there!

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

    PS: Just because Brooklyn is older than Charleston does not mean it is grimier.

    ReplyDelete
  101. I am tired of Samuel's petulance. Who is he demand to know anything about a confidential report to the PB and Bp Henderson?
    With that I will follow wise advice and let him have the last word if he wants.

    ReplyDelete
  102. Priscilla Cardinale11/10/11 6:03 PM

    I am so relieved to know that we can do away with the canons now and just let Ephraim Radner decide everything! Whew! That will save untold dollars and hours for everyone. Since he is so far above the meanies who raised the charges and knows intimately the inside scoop then investigations are a waste of time.

    What is it that this reminds me of? Oh yeah, Orwell. Some pigs are more equal than others in the Episcopal barnyard it seems, and things like nepotism and conduct unbecoming don’t mean a thing if you are one of the right (cough, ultra-orthodox, cough) people, eh?

    Besides, it’s all the rage today among conservatives to raise a holy hullabaloo about nothing, say wild and unChristian accusations and namecalling of Schori, to deflect attention from the wrongdoing of the accused. Everybody’s doing it and everyone knows that all that matters is that conservatives are held completely above and free of any and all accusations of wrongdoing because, well they are always right! And good! And holy! Or so they say.

    This whole thread leans to the mind-boggling but Fr. Radner has taken it to new lows and shed his pious, unflappable righteous image a tad, hasn’t he? Tell me, Ephraim, are you speaking ex-cathedra for ACI or just as a priest of God here? Just curious.

    Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy!

    ReplyDelete
  103. You can rest assured, Priscilla, that I have no power to decide anything in this affair! All is well. But it is precisely because folks like us having no particular power to decide anything that it is worth expressing our views. I'm sorry you find these views offensive enough to call on God's protection. But at least I can be confident such protection will be granted.

    Meanwhile, I am far from wanting to "throw out the canons". Indeed, it is because there appear to be violations of the canons on the part of those with the "power to decide" that I am vociferously concerned. And where the the interpretation of the canons themselves are at issue, I find it grotesque that some would use such contention to charge a bishop with "abandonment of the church".

    You seem to have a deep antipathy towards "conservatives" (whoever they may be). No doubt, in your own experience you have reasons for it. But I suggest, in this context, you keep your anger focused just on me. Then at least I can offer some kind of response. It's hard to defend a nameless herd.

    ReplyDelete
  104. Rick O'Shea11/10/11 8:37 PM

    Can't we give this thread a pre-Halloween stake through it's heart?

    ReplyDelete
  105. Rick wrote...


    Can't we give this thread a pre-Halloween stake through it's heart?

    Yes...I think its time.

    ReplyDelete
  106. You are right to shut it down.

    We learn tonight that Dorsey Henderson simply operated on his own. No Title IV 'Intake Officer,' or 'PB' or 'Reference Panel.'

    As suspected.

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  107. Daniel

    You are right. I have no right to ask about proper process.

    Others will decide that for me, in order to get the job done.

    It is as was suspected. No Title IV process of Intake Officers, PB, Reference Panel.

    Mark Lawrence will be charged and convicted of abandonment by a disciplinary committee vote.

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  108. Yay!! Samuel gets the last word!!!

    oops.

    ReplyDelete
  109. I wonder if +Mississippi and +Georgia will write another public statement to their dioceses saying they were in fact wrong in what they had assumed about Title IV procedures?

    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  110. Rick O'Shea12/10/11 2:43 PM

    Attention Junkie.

    ReplyDelete
  111. Well, if you keep feeding animals they keep coming around.

    ReplyDelete
  112. +Dorsey Henderson now urging calm in The State (Columbia SC newspaper).

    His former Executive Council President fired a very sharp volley yesterday in support of +ML.

    ReplyDelete
  113. As of today, both Hicks and +Matthews names have been removed from Disciplinary Committee, in response to a letter from Counsel for Diocese of SC.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.