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 ."
This was stated to be from the "STANDING COMMITTEE AND BOARD OF DIRECTOR'S MINUTES, OCTOBER 2, 2012."
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.