Time to fess up, Bishop Lawrence: You have lied to us.

Bishop Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has been inhibited from exercising any episcopal or other ministry pending further proceedings following a finding that he has abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. The ENS Report is HERE. 

The Disciplinary Board for Bishops issued its finding on September 18th. For reasons that remain unclear (the US Mail?) there is a gap of 22 days between the issuance and reception by the Presiding Bishop's office. 

The Office of Public Affairs at the Episcopal Church Center wrote: "The 18 member board – composed of 10 bishops, four clergy, four laity – issued a letter dated September 18. Following the assembly of numerous documents, the Presiding Bishop received the letter in her Church Center office on October 10; the letter was received via U.S. Mail."  Apparently what this means is that the letter was signed on that date but not mailed until all the accompanying documents were assembled. 

At any rate, the letter and accompanying materials got to the Church Center on October 10th.  We might hope that Bishop Henderson, chair of the Disciplinary Board, contacted Church Center officials earlier with a heads-up, thereby giving time for the Church Center to consider its next steps. There have been several developments, some quite expected, others quite troublesome.

Expected: The Presiding Bishop notified Bishop Lawrence that he was inhibited from ministry pending the resolution to the charges of the finding of September 18th.

Hoped for but not expected:  An effort to put together a meeting of Bishop Lawrence, Bishop Waldo (Upper South Carolina) and the Presiding Bishop to attempt to find some way forward was disclosed.  The ENS story reported that the Diocese of South Carolina wrote that this meeting was to take place on October 22nd.  It is unclear if this was planned after the announcement of the findings of the Disciplinary Board or before. It is unclear if it will now take place at all.

Unexpected and troublesome: In a meeting of the board/ standing committee of the The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, the following motion was made:

"The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, through its Board of Directors and its Standing Committee, hereby withdraws its accession to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and disaffiliates with the Episcopal Church by withdrawing its membership from the Episcopal Church.This decision shall be effective immediately upon the taking of any action of any kind by any representative of the Episcopal Church against The Bishop, The Standing Committee or any of its members or the Convention of this Diocese or any of its members including purporting to discipline, impair, restrict, direct, place on administrative leave, charge, derecognize or any other action asserting or claiming any supervisory, disciplinary or other alleged hierarchical authority over this Diocese, its leaders or members.

The Chancellor shall certify to the Ecclesiastical Authority and to the Board of Directors that such condition has occurred which certificate ion shall be conclusive ."

After thorough discussion, the motion passed unanimously ."


While not announced earlier, this action is apparently part of the matter not communicated by Bishop Lawrence because he believed it was imprudent and the timing was not right. 

In my post  Prudent non-communication from Lawrence of South Carolina I wrote, 

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

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

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

Sadly the decisions reached at the previously undisclosed meeting of the directors / standing committee of the new entity (The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina) support the charge that the bishop has colluded with members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to form an incorporated entity that would acquire all the assets of the Diocese of South Carolina precisely for the purpose of taking all the assets of the diocese.  Apparently the Bishop has done just as I suggested might be the case. What the Standing Committee /Board and he have engineered is on the face of it a betrayal of his vows and contrary to the accession clause in the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

The Bishop of South Carolina has practiced deception of such an order as to constitute malfeasance in office. He has succeeded in mucking up matters so badly that those who have left with him and those who remain as the Episcopal Church Diocese of South Carolina will both suffer.

It is a sad day for the Church, no matter the eventual outcomes. Bishop Lawrence has betrayed many trusts, not the least the trust extended to him in the follow-up to the second election.



  1. What does this discipline hope to achieve? Will TEC actually seek to take the property? This would be hugely expensive and would drag on for years, with empty churches being the result if they 'won.'

    Or is the point to isolate Bishop Lawrence from the larger TEC? He won't cease functioning as Bishop so is the point to let him continue but outside TEC? Then TEC creates a new diocese and just lets the old diocese continue as before.

    What is the thinking, or has there actually been any long term thinking about the two paths above?


  2. Astonishing! Where is the lie? He promised to work to keep the church in Anglican Communion and the Diocese in the Epsicopal Church--and as anyone on the ground in SC knows he worked AGAINST the many, even majority of voices that said 'Let's bolt' and against those in the largest parish which left.

    His (I admit, ridiculous and naive) HOPE was the ECUSA might heed the warningsof the wider church. ECUSA has not. Too bad for us. While I don't agree with Mark Lawrence on everything, there is no basis for calling him a liar, it is unseemly to do so, and indeed, against the counsel of the New Testament.

    JOPHN 2007

  3. I would have thought that the secrecy goes both ways.

    Neither side trusts the other and eventually this mutual distrust becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy. The legacy of the derailment of Peter Lee's attempt to negotiate a mutually satisfactory solution with CANA rumbles on.

    Of course, had the South Carolinians who brought the charges refrained, then they could have continued with their ministries, while the Diocese of South Carolina pressed on in its own idiosyncratic way yet still nominally within TEC. I'm not sure how that would have been worse than the present situation.

    Incidentally, does the endorsement of charges in 2012 very similar to those not adopted in 2011 not strike you as a species of double jeopardy?

  4. I am not in South Carolina and can't speak to the particulars of what's going on there. It does appear, however, that there are people within the Episcopal Church who are using the disciplinary canons as a vehicle to purge voices that dissent from the majority view. The action against the seven bishops during the General Convention is, from where I sit, a prime example of this. I hear lip service from the majority on the desire for diversity, but hear praise for those holding conservative views only when the conservatives are leaving the Episcopal Church.

    Paul in Dallas

  5. Thomas Andrew19/10/12 8:26 PM

    Well it's not like the Presiding Bishop hasn't been working her own majic to get to this point. So glad to know that you are cleared to throw stones.

    Thomas Andrew

  6. Your writing is not clear enough. What, exactly, was the lie? Lie is a strong word. Is lack of disclosure a lie? Is delayed disclosure a lie? You used the word "lie" in your title and yet I cannot find the lie, per se. I can find accusations, and anger, and comments about delay and deception and secrecy, but I cannot find a lie at the moment.

    The two word verification I was given was "I Pyscho". Poor spelling aside, apparently God speaks through the "prove you're not a robot" box.

  7. It would be helpful if people who HAVE signed off with a name would also use it instead of "anonymous" at the beginning, so that strings from specific people could be traced.

    I am aware that "lie" is a strong word.

  8. Another growing diocese of the Church has been revulsed by the theological, canonical, and pastoral dishonesty of the minority of liberals leading the Church. Those from dioceses that lose members, have to close their cathedrals, and sow discord in this Church have absolutely nothing to teach the Diocese of South Carolina or the wider Church.
    $785,000 just approved by the Executive Council to put on a show that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is still viable will be increasingly duplicated as those in the pew decide to leave their revisionist leaders.

  9. When people make comments about whether the Diocese of San Joaquin is "still viable," I would like to ask how they possibly know anything of which they speak. I am a loyal Episcopalian in the Diocese of San Joaquin who is so grateful for the Episcopal presence that is still very much alive here. Come to Convention on October 26 and 27 in Modesto, California and you will find that we are indeed, alive and well.

    After all we have endured here in the Diocese of San Joaquin, I am very saddened by the actions of Bishop Lawrence in South Carolina. However, I embrace the "theological,canonical, and pastoral" [honesty] of leaders in the Episcopal Church.

    And honesty is important. What is the honest path for those who cannot understand and appreciate the direction of our church?

    Beryl Simkins
    Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin

  10. Allen,
    Please don't forget the other shows...neo-pagan native dancing at the consecration in LA and the smudging at the consecration of KJS. Telling shows they wear...
    Mark Harris,
    The charge against you is not the emotive force behind the word "lie" it is the falsity of it. I am sorry you are old and angry and can give slack or charitable readings to so much else and yet cannot come close to truthfulness on this one
    John 2007

  11. Have you seen the diocese's newest statements, linked on Thinking Anglicans? Talk about chutzpah!

  12. Allen, I'd be interested to know when this long-predicted mass exodus is actually going to happen. Your side has been crying out about the impending desertion for the entire time I've been an Episcopalian -- since 1996.

    Your use of "liberals" as an epithet suggests to me that perhaps it is you that lives in a "minority" of hard right conservatives, a relatively small number of Episcopalians that has already left the church in the conservative Republican stronghold dioceses.

    I keep hearing about this massive growth of conservative Christians who are leaving the mainstream protestant denominations yet it doesn't ever show up in the national, scientific studies of church membership, self-identified religious beliefs, or anything else.

    Why are you guys hiding and not participating in the surveys? Where are you hiding? Why are you waiting and what are you waiting for? I wish you Godspeed if you choose to leave. I wish you peace if you choose to stay. I also wish you'd stop prevaricating and slandering and making false claims.

  13. And the $500,000+ that the diocese of SC has paid in attorneys' fees since Lawrence's election, Allen?

  14. from danielj to Allen

    neopagen native dancing and smudge...I am afraid that you speak from ignorance and bias How many native Jesus followers do you know, and how much time have you spent with them?
    When natives are at the drum, singing, dancing they are worshipping the one true God as surely as we do in liturgy. There is nothing neo or pagen about it Looking up to heaven, the Lakota literally say "Great Father, look, I am dancing under you"

    As for the natives at +KJS installment, those ndns were and are strong followers and witnesses of Jesus

    and smudge...cedar, sweetgrass, and sage are the historic incense native to this continent, just as franken ense/myr is in the middleast. Both are used in the same way

  15. from danielj to Allen

    neopagen native dancing and smudge...I am afraid that you speak from ignorance and bias How many native Jesus followers do you know, and how much time have you spent with them?
    When natives are at the drum, singing, dancing they are worshipping the one true God as surely as we do in liturgy. There is nothing neo or pagen about it Looking up to heaven, the Lakota literally say "Great Father, look, I am dancing under you"

    As for the natives at +KJS installment, those ndns were and are strong followers and witnesses of Jesus

    and smudge...cedar, sweetgrass, and sage are the historic incense native to this continent, just as franken ense/myr is in the middleast. Both are used in the same way

  16. I think many feel +Lawrence lied in answering questions during the consent process leading up to his consecration. I do not think he lied at that time. He gave disengenuous and unclear answers in such a way as to leave his options open. At any rate, what is happening now in SC is exactly what most people thought would happen. As I said elsewhere, it didn't take a rocket scientist to see this one coming a mile away.

    Now, the answers he gave to the questions posed at his consecration service are a different story. There are only two conclusions to draw from that. He either (A): broke the oath he gave when consecrated a Bishop, or (B): lied to begin with.


  17. Beryl,

    If the remains of the Diocese of San Joaquin is indeed viable, will your Convention vote to reject the $785,000 being given to you to sustain you as an indepdenent diocese? I'll watch for that vote.
    To the others I would commend the 2008 Faith Communities Survey undertaken by this Church. The purpose of which was to determine WHO this Church is and to set policy accordingly so as to avoid further deterioration. It indicates that only 1/3 of our churches are somewhat liberal or liberal. Yet, our policies are being enacted as though 2/3 or more would agree with the current revisionist trends of the past 4 General Conventions. The Church has split. Brian - if you haven't picked up on the stats of the Church, please read them. The Church is auguering itself into the ground in every trend. Some say that prophetic actions will have this fallout. I say that the larger community of the Church surveyed in 2008 WAS the voice of true prophets - and the Church's voice was ignored in deference to a microscopic, but loud viewpoint; all to our current trouble.

  18. The Lead has a piece by Jim Naughton asking, in essence, if he needs to get back on the job to follow South Carolina matters. I have tried multiple times to create an account, but keep being told that the code is wrong. Mark, if you could help me join the Lead, or else get the message to him that I for one badly want him to get back on the job, so to speak, I would be very very grateful. I think there is a lot more to this secret plan than simply taking the people of the diocese out. I think this may be the endgame of what Naughton described in Follow the Money. You don't need to publish this. My email address is ccarpentar@sc.rr.com
    Thank you, and I appreciate your recent posts as well.
    Margaret Carpenter in Florence, SC

  19. Of course the Diocese of SC was fed up and eager to either distance itself from TEC or disassociate or leave. Read Lawrence's categorization of the 4 types of parishes or 4 predominant stances that he experienced after visiting them all in the first year. Most of them wanted to leave, and saw it as probably inevitable but--and the but us crucial here---he said he wanted to try to remain in the denomination and the anglican communion. Just as many of us on the parochial level try to hold together conservatives and liberals but may, if one side gains dominance and creates havoc and division, may have to go one way or the other. Should that happen that does not mean we lied about our intent and desire. It means things moved, parish history took a direction, that made the attempt to hold it together no longer possible, or wise, or consonant with what we took to be the will of God. So, too, with Lawrence. What is amazing is the lack of understanding, let alone charity, on this blog. My hunch is that opponents of Lawrence have to play the conspiracy card and make the 'lie" charge to (I don't know) assuage the guilt for using a completely wrong (but expedient) canon to allege--laughably--abandonment instead of calling for a long-term process of negotiating and/or working through issues of diocesan autonomy over time. But scream, scapegoat, allege disingenuity, but don't ever think (as Geralyn Wolf+ at least once was admirably able to say circa 2006) 'maybe we've done the wrong thing or done it in the wrong way.' John 2007

  20. I had the same problem with Episcopal Café yesterday, Peg. The glitch seems to have been corrected and I can now post again.

  21. "What is amazing is the lack of understanding, let alone charity, on this blog."

    Heard of Stand Firm, anon?

  22. Too bad Mark Harris continues in lying about the actual events in the Diocese of South Carolina. The truth is what is published on the Diocese of South Carolina's website. You know the motto of the Anglican Communion is "The truth shall set you free". Yes, indeed. Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! Thanks be to GOD!


  23. What are we to make of the fact that several Bishops on the DBB represent dioceses that have no accession clause (and don't intend to have one)? One (+MA) has proudly and intentionally ignored the canons re: marriage? What does it mean to have a reference panel of 3 Bishops (PB, +Mathews, +Henderson) whose impartiality is obviously wanting?

    At what point does a neutral observer not simply conclude, 'rough justice of the wild west mining towns.'


  24. [Hope you're staying high&dry, away from Sandy, {{{Mark}}}]

    Heh, you've obviously come up on the ACNA/GAFCON (targetting) radar again, Mark!

    To wit:

    Should that happen that does not mean we lied about our intent and desire. It means things moved, parish history took a direction, that made the attempt to hold it together no longer possible, or wise, or consonant with what we took to be the will of God.

    What utter passive(aggressive) nonsense: "things moved". Spare me!

    If you want to leave---if that's your discernment (however discerned)--- then Vaya Con Dios. Use the feet God gave you, and walk out TEC's door. But ALL of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina BELONGS to TEC. Not you, not xLawrence.

    TEC, in turn, belongs to God. And Episcopalians in TEC have discerned it "consonant with what we took to be the will of God" that our resources for mission and ministry (that property xLawrence seems to determined to try and steal) will remain in GeneralConvention's hands. Scripture, Tradition and Reason will guide TEC's use of those resources. Not heretical schism!

  25. From John 2007
    How, JCF, is my description passive-aggressive. I have been laboring in TEC for twenty years without acrimony in parishes which I have tried to hold together, generally losing a significant number who disagree with TEC, and should I decided to leave because the cost is too high, or because the joy is too low, or because I think the error (in my judgment) is too sigbificant, in light of the many moves and changesd TEC has made, how is that passive agressive--other than, I suppose, the way in which any legitimate expression of "enough is enough" or "patience has worn out" is passive (we waited, we hoped) and then decisive. And how many times do those taking your position need to be reminded that the primates warned that schism would happen--viz., 'the sacramental fabric would be torn at its deepest level'--with vgr in 2003? I've stayed in tec, but I don't think those who left are the most profound schismatics.

    Last, you offer no substantive points. Are you saying tec has not made significant changes every step of the way since Lawrence was elected and that one of those was the setting up of a lawyer to represent tec in Lawrence's diocese as the rep of tec? Are you saying that a diocese can't dissent from a canon or appeal for a constitutional convention/resolution when a canon seems to go against the constitution? And what about selective prosecution, those Bishops and priests on the left side of the aisle who violated, and promoted the violation of the marriage canons, the creeds, and the practice of communion of the unbaptized? Why no discipline for them? Surely, you have something to say of substance.

  26. JCF-LeSigh!
    You will continue to spend money on lawsuits until you've made many lawyers rich. And you deserve each other. I am an atheist and I am happier every day that the St. Swithins-up-the-Cream-Bun-and-Jam has found its niche as the church for gay ex-fundies and ex-catholics, of whom there is a significant supply. Mincing around in chasubles, you will congratulate yourselves for not much but at least you'll all agree with each other. Enjoy.
    And the Fundiegelicals will continue to hive off into ever-shrinking variants of Same Old, Same Old.
    By the time 2040 rolls around, you'll be about 0.34% of the US population. Congratulations!

  27. Turnip Ghost, it is truly the Catholics among you. As well as the over-all effects of the past social upheaval.

  28. Mr. Mcgranor, I don't quite follow.


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.