Lions and Tigers and Discernment, O My!

The Rector of St. Andrews, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, is following through on his recent mutterings. I reported on August 6,2009, that "... one strand of the Diocese of South Carolina is making its views known. The Rev. Steven Wood says this, " It’s time for the Diocese of South Carolina to join the new North American Province: Anglican Communion North America. Anything short will mark a complete failure of leadership."

Now it appears that the parish is about to make use of the 40 Days of Discernment materials, meant to "introduce and guide congregations through a prayerful and reasoned process lasting about 40 days to discern a way forward through the Episcopal crisis. Much of this site's content comes from the 96-page book, 40 Days of Discernment, which was authored by many different people from several Virginia congregations and other experts during the summer of 2006. You will also find links to various resources that will aid the discernment process.

I have written about this program in a post, "40 Days of Discernment”: a Sham. The 40 Days of Discernment is not about discernment at all, but about getting the steam up to leave The Episcopal Church. I said there, "This is not a discernment process, it is an argumentative, apologetic process, the purpose of which is to confirm the worst fears about the Episcopal Church (that we are heresy ridden, pagan, sexual perverts and biblical unbelievers – see the “understanding the crisis” section.

There is no discernment here. Here there is the yell of “fire” accompanied by directions to the exit."

So St. Andrew's is getting ready to leave. By the time "40 Days of Discernment" has shown up on the agenda, the leaders of the congregation are packing the books.

This is not, I believe, what the Communion Partners Bishops had in mind.


  1. And of course they're relying on the fact that the diocese will either let them keep the property or sell it to them at a knock-down price.

    A huge proportion of the members of this wealthy charismatic evangelical church are new to Anglicanism. The traditional services are relatively poorly attended compared to the 'praise band' contemporary ones. The newcomers have no real connection to Anglican history or tradition, and no affection for it. It's a no-brainer that they will vote to leave - the 40 Days of 'Discernment' is just firing them up to do it.

  2. I attended a Sunday service at one of the now-departed VA churches during their "40 days of discernment." I had been sent there as a seminarian looking at potential field ed sites. What was preached from the pulpit was just one small step lighter than calling us the communion of the Antichrist. TEC was identified as an apostate denomination, non-scriptural, and supportive of sinful lifestyles. It was clear (as it was to us before the 40 days began) that there was no question but that they would leave. And when I read transcripts of the sermons of the previous couple of weeks (also part of the 40 days), it was evident that these sermons were intended to whip the congregation into a frenzy of TEC-hatred.

    When my fellow seminarian and I went forward after the service to introduce ourselves to the celebrant/homilist, his first words were "What are you doing here?"

    I guess we were just too tainted to be of interest to him.

    I am so very glad that's not where I ended up doing Field Ed.

    This place will leave, too. God will sort it out. In the meantime, I am proud of TEC for moving forward on full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons - it is a question of justice as well as theology. Funny how often the two go together.

    Mary T

  3. To our dismay we here in Georgia at St Andrews in the Pines went through this discernment.
    It was impossible to change the minds of the vestry or the Rector. They had a plan and it was followed.
    We luckily had a Bishop who came to our aid. I do not see that happening in South Carolina.
    Are they planning to steal the property from the Episcopal Church?

  4. @Lifting the Rock

    Any idea how many of the churches that are cutting themselves off from TEC are similarly new to Anglicanism? The official position that church property belongs to the church, and not to the congregation, makes more and more sense to me -- seems that to do otherwise would be to encourage "raiders" from coming into a small church, establish a stronghold and then breaking away.

    My background is in open source programming, and we have an equivalent to the different models of church government -- arguments about what license to put a work under. Some are very permissive (BSD -- think Congregational), some are very strict but protect the code from being hijacked (GPL -- think Catholicism) and some are in the middle (LGPL, EPL -- akin to churches with a hierarchy, but with autocephalous organizations -- Anglicans, Orthodox).

    The third option seems to me to be best in both cases. If you join a church, you should respect its traditions; at the same time, the church should not dictate your entire life without regard for your personal circumstances. Doing otherwise is rather presumptuous, either of the secessionist local congregation, or of the church leadership.



  5. It was pretty obvious at GC09 from the stuff the Southern Carolina diocese were saying that they were gearing up to leave. I remember thinking at the time they were going to be the next out the door--it was in their tone of voice.

  6. Michel S describes exactly what Duncan did with Trinity grads in the Dio of Pittsburgh. Took over small parishes to boost schismatics' numbers at the diocesan convention.

  7. Does anyone know if there is any church, which, after following the 40 Days of Discernment program decided to stay with TEC?

    Perhaps they should re-name the program:
    40 Days to Schism.

  8. Are the resolutions proposed by Bishop Lawrence for the special Diocesan Convention of South Carolina sufficient for his deposition under Canon IV.3.21 or only IV.3.23(a)?

    Can someone write to the Presiding Bishop requesting action under IV.3.23(b)?

    (The resolutions are here (pdf).)


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.