Which Way the Diocese of South Carolina?

Phil Ashey, who writes for the weekly American Anglican Council newsletter raises interesting questions about just what is going on in the Diocese of South Carolina this week.  Now it is useful to remember that Canon Ashey is Chief Operating and Development Officer, American Anglican Council and a member of the clergy of an ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) parish outside Atlanta. So the interest comes with a certain zing.

Ashey writes about the Diocese of South Carolina. What he has to say assumes that the Bishop and / or Diocese will somehow decide to leave The Episcopal Church. Here is what he had to say:

"We are mindful that Bishop Lawrence is returning from a time of discernment and prayer, and that difficult choices lie ahead for orthodox Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina.

As usual, attorney Alan Haley has done a masterful analysis of what is likely to happen if the Diocese of South Carolina decides to leave TEC:

"Following a now well-tested strategy, [Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori and her Chancellor David Booth Biers] will

(1) try to have the Diocese's bank and investment accounts immediately frozen;
(2) declare the see of South Carolina vacant, because of Bishop Lawrence's voluntary "abandonment" of communion with ECUSA;
(3) "derecognize" the diocesan Standing Committee and arrange to have a new one appointed from among members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina and other dissident clergy;
(4) call a "Special Convention" to elect a "provisional bishop" of the Diocese; and
(5) see that the convention passes a resolution authorizing the bishop so designated to file a lawsuit in a South Carolina court to recover all of the real and personal property of the Diocese.

The lawsuit may have little chance of ultimate success, given the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision in the All Saints Waccamaw case, but that would be of no consequence to the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor. The point would be to make the choice to withdraw as expensive as possible for Bishop Lawrence and his diocese. And if the ongoing litigation in San Joaquin and Fort Worth is any guide, there will be individual lawsuits brought against individual parishes, as well, in an effort to multiply the costs."

You can find the rest of Alan Haley's analysis here.

Based on our experience assisting congregations and dioceses who have been leaving TEC since 2004, I believe (regretfully) that Alan Haley's predictions are spot-on.

Ashey recommends reading Haley's analysis. Do so. Unlike Ashey, Haley does not propose that the Bishop and / or the diocese will leave The Episcopal Church. Indeed he cautions against it, recommending that the Diocese not leave even if the Bishop does. The section of Haley's analysis that Ashey quotes is only one part of a broader commentary. 

Why does Ashey quote only the one section?  To give the impression that the possibility of an attempt to take the diocese out of The Episcopal Church is about to happen.

Of course we have no clear indication just what Bishop Lawrence is thinking. We will soon I am sure. But he has said that the diocese is not leaving.  Apparenetly Ashey can hardly wait. We will see. 

Meanwhile Phil is simply thinking wishfully, perhaps lusting for ACNA's greater presence in the Carolinas.

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