In a post last Sunday, I offered a “Modest Proposal” for orthodox dioceses to go forward within the Episcopal Church (USA). The gist of my proposal was that the orthodox plow ahead, keeping true to their own traditional path, and simply ignore the bureaucracy at 815 and elsewhere — because the bottom line is that they can do nothing to a diocese that stays in the Church. Neither 815 nor General Convention nor the Presiding Bishop has any power to compel a Diocese within the Church to do anything. And if enough orthodox dioceses were to come together in a mutual protection plan, even threatened depositions could be effectively countered to the point where ECUSA would sink in a morass of litigation.
Now it appears that the Diocese of South Carolina might be embarking on the first steps toward such a brave strategy. Bishop Mark Lawrence addressed his assembled clergy today, and included the following statement of intention:
The Standing Committee and bishop will be proposing a resolution to come before the special convention that this diocese begin withdrawing from all bodies of governance of TEC that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture; the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them; the resolutions of Lambeth which have expressed the mind of the Communion; the Book of Common Prayer (p.422-423) and the Constitution & Canons of TEC (Canon 18:1.2.b) until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions. Let no one think this is a denial of the vows a priest or bishop makes to participate in the councils of governance. This is not a flight into isolation; nor is it an abandonment of duty, but the protest of conscience. . . .
Some have already questioned whether this means that the Diocese of South Carolina will be following the path of the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and Quincy. After all, one of the bodies that has given its assent to actions contrary to Holy Scripture is General Convention itself, and would not a withdrawal from General Convention be a withdrawal from the Episcopal Church (USA)?
Not necessarily. I do not claim to be privy to South Carolina’s intentions and strategies, but like the next Episcopalian, I can read Bishop Lawrence’s statement in context. Had he meant to propose a resolution to withdraw from ECUSA, he could have said so; but he did not. He spoke of beginning to withdraw….
Read it all.