Category : * South Carolina

A Letter from Bishop Lawrence to all Parishes to be distributed this Sunday

Dear People of God,

“Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”  2 Corinthians 1:7

I leave tomorrow for the Global Anglicans Future Conference in Jerusalem.  It is a gathering of global leaders—Primates, Bishops, Priests and lay leaders—from around the Anglican Communion.  I will be attending not only as a bishop of the Anglican Church in North America, but, more importantly, as your bishop, representing the Diocese of South Carolina among the larger Anglican family.  This gathering is another reminder that the spiritual issues with which we engage locally are part of a global crisis regarding the authority of the Bible and its place in Anglicanism in the 21st Century.

Before leaving, however, let me share a few thoughts regarding the denial of our recent petition.  The U. S. Supreme Court’s denial is not an affirmation of the SouthCarolina Supreme Court’s August 2 opinion nor of the merits of our position.  It leaves us, however, back in the Dorchester County Court with a conflicted and fractured ruling. Quite simply, regardless of what you may have read or heard elsewhere, this case is not over—, as they say, that is the good news, and that is the bad news.

This afternoon I met with all our clergy to have a “family” conversation, for after five long years of litigation it has certainly taken its toll.  It has also been a refiner’s fire.  The rectors also met with Henrietta Golding since our lead attorney, Mr. Alan Runyan, is presently in Jerusalem as a lay delegate to GAFCON.  Ms. Golding described the legal landscape so that your priest may be aided in answering some of your questions.  However, I would hasten to add; definitively predicting how a judge or court may rule in the future has been many a fool’s errand.

This has been and is still a very complicated ecclesiastical and judicial landscape. Yet sometimes a question is asked or a statement made that distills a very complex matter.  I received a text message yesterday from a parishioner that did this for me.   Here it is in text speak; just as it came to my I-Phone:

Hey, I know I’m kinda slow.  Sometimes don’t see “The big picture.”  BUT still praying.  It’s only “stuff” as far as I’m concerned.  Your friend in CHRIST.  Leroy

Of course, the stuff Leroy is referring to is the current legal and theological unpleasantness.  The Church buildings, property, endowment funds, identity, beliefs, heritage… to name but a few at stake.

Here’s my response in text speak:

Yes, it’s only stuff. But some stuff is worth fighting for and some stuff isn’t and discerning the difference is the stuff that much of life is made of. Blessings friend, Mark
Discerning what is worth fighting for and what is not is one aspect of the legal issues before us.  It is also, what is involved in the theological and spiritual matters before us as Anglican Christians— both locally and globally.  One could wish these were not connected, the legal and the theological, but for now, they are.  One could wish we would not have to engage in either one or that these struggles had somehow bypassed us.  But many generations have had like challenges in their day and had to decide what stuff to hold onto and what stuff to let go of.  When Saint Paul penned those immortal words, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” it was not romantic love of which he spoke.  Nor was it a love without discernment, without struggles, without truth, without faith, without hope; it was the love that led Jesus to the cross to save a sinful, scarred and tattered world and doing so in surrender and obedience to his heavenly Father.  It was a costly and sacrificial love.One of our priests asked me just the other day, “Bishop, what are you hearing from God?”  I replied, “Not as much as I would like.”  I spent several hours just last night on the night shift…listening.  God it seems has enrolled me in a graduate course in the School of Prayer.

With that in mind, I find myself spending no little time praying through Luke 18:1-8, the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unrighteous Judge.  “And [Jesus] told them a parable that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” I certainly do not have space in this letter to unpack much of the richness in this passage.  Therefore, may I encourage you to read it for yourself.  Let it inform your prayer.

In the last line of this teaching, our Lord poses a question, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  In reflecting on this, I am drawn to another teaching of our Lord on intercessory prayer, Matthew 9:35-38.  While Jesus was teaching and healing in cities and villages and seeing the crowds, “he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Here are two teachings regarding intercessory prayer.  Both are relevant to our situation in the diocese.  Both point to circumstances in which many of us find ourselves. Frankly, to pray only for vindication of our legal cause but have little compassion for the lost and needy; to turn a blind eye to the huge numbers of people moving into the Low Country; to seek God’s help in the court but not seek him for laborers for the harvest; is to fail to respond rightly to our Lord’s closing question in his teaching on prayerful persistence.  Frankly, we dare not let the legal questions of the courtroom dominate or hinder our pursuit of the God’s mission in the world.  Both the “stuff’ in the courtroom and the “stuff” of the Kingdom matter.  Let’s make sure we keep the order right.  “Seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.”  That’s the lodestar, the true manna, the pearl of great price, which keeps the main thing the main thing. May God grant us the grace to place the Kingdom before the buildings and use the buildings for the Kingdom.

Yours in Christ,

–The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence is XIVth Bishop of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Item) 2 Sumter churches among 28 in South Carolina that may have to vacate property after Supreme Court denies request

After the U.S. Supreme Court denied a state church district’s petition for a hearing Monday, it is unknown what the future may hold for two local congregations’ properties.

The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, rector of Church of the Holy Comforter, 213 N. Main St., made his comments after the high court informed The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina that it would deny a request to hear its case to reverse a decision made last year by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Doing so leaves in place a sharply divided ruling from the state’s high court from 2017 that could deprive at least 28 parish churches of their right to properties – some of which have been held for more than 300 years.

Kaiser said the local congregation has owned and maintained the property and buildings associated with Church of the Holy Comforter since 1857 and that no money has ever come from the national Episcopal Church, with which Holy Comforter was previously associated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

The Rector of Saint John’s, Johns Island, South Carolina Writes his Parish about the recent US Supreme Court Decision

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Diocese of South Carolina Canon Theologian Kendall Harmon to speak at GAFCON 2018

From here:

Canon Theologian Dr. Kendall Harmon has been asked to speak at the upcoming Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), in Jerusalem, June 17-22. Nearly 2000 Anglican delegates – laity, clergy and bishops are expected at this the third GAFCON gathering.

Dr Harmon will be presenting a seminar entitled “understanding the Christian doctrine of Hell” along with Rico Tice, Senior Minister at All Souls, Langham Place, in London (UK). Tice will be interviewing Harmon about the issues around hell in church history and today and will then be giving a short talk as an example of how he preaches on hell. The two of them will explore both the theological underpinnings of hell in Scripture as well as providing practical applications for this doctrine in the ministry of those attending. GAFCON, whose mission is “to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world,” is founded on the Bible, bound together by the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008, and led by a Primates Council which represents the majority of the world’s Anglicans.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Eschatology, GAFCON

AS Haley on today’s Supreme Court Decision

From here:

Today’s order list from the United States Supreme Court brings the sad news that the Court voted to deny certiorari (review) in the case of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina.  This means that no four justices considered the case important enough to have the Court’s full attention, and says volumes about the secular makeup of our current Court.  (Or it could be telling us that the justices of the Supreme Court are better followers of St. Paul’s advice on litigation than are most Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians! Six of them are Roman Catholic, after all.)

It also means that the impossibly fractured, highly partisan and irresponsible decision of the court below will stand in infamy as possibly the worst application of so-called “neutral principles” on record. But that the Supreme Court chose to do nothing about the legacy that Harry Blackmun gave us says that it has disowned its responsibility for that doctrine, and in the future will mean that churches can expect no fair treatment of their property issues in the secular courts.

As, always, therefore, St Paul is vindicated yet again. And ECUSA gets just what it always wanted: a servient South Carolina of its own, with no regard whatsoever for the centuries of history that built the heritage it betrays today. By watching what the Episcopal Church and its minions do with the treasure that has been handed over to them, the rest of the Christian world will learn the nature of the god which Episcopalians today truly worship.

Posted in * South Carolina, Featured (Sticky), Supreme Court

A Local Newspaper Article on today’s Supreme Court Decision

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Supreme Court

A Message from the rector of Saint Philip’s, Charleston, about today’s Supreme Court Decision

June 11, 2018
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
—Matthew 7:24–25
Dear Friends,
We learned today that the Supreme Court of the United States has denied the petition for writ of certiorari that was requested by the Diocese of South Carolina, St. Philip’s Church, and twenty-eight other aligned parishes. Though we are disappointed with this decision, our attorneys will be pressing forward. There remain two actions in the Dorchester County Court of Common Pleas, both of which regard the property rights of the Diocese and its parishes.
In one, the remittitur case, we will seek a specific evidentiary inquiry as to whether or not St. Philip’s and twenty-eight other parishes actually acceded to the terms of the Dennis Canon. The Dennis Canon was found by the S.C. Supreme Court to have created a trust interest over the church properties, with the Episcopal Church as the trust beneficiary. In the other, the Betterments case, we will seek recovery, under a South Carolina statute, of the value of certain improvements on the respective church properties.
There is also a federal court trademark action, brought by TEC and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina against our Diocese and its parishes, which seeks damages for the alleged improper use of the term “Episcopal” and other related relief. So, though the Supreme Court of the United States could have ended most or all of this litigation by agreeing to hear our property rights case, its unwillingness to do so will cause us to continue the litigation in the state and federal court systems in South Carolina. We will continue to keep you apprised of any additional developments in both the state and federal litigation.
In the meantime, let me assure you there is no cause for despair! The Lord’s Easter victory is evidence that our Heavenly Father’s plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. God is sovereign over the affairs of men and nations, and He has us right where He wants us—in a posture of dependence. As we have throughout this entire legal process, we will continue to be faithful to Jesus Christ and His call to preach the Gospel. We will NOT be distracted from the mission of the church no matter what comes our way!
One of the hymns we sang this past Thursday put it best…
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine!
Faithfully Yours,
The Rev Jeff Miller is rector, Saint Philip’s, Charleston SC
Posted in * South Carolina, Supreme Court

A Message from the rector of Saint Michael’s, Charleston, about today’s Supreme Court Decision

June 11, 2018
Dear St. Michaelites and Friends:
“Courageous Joy” vs. “Circumstantial Joy” was our theme in worship yesterday, and there is a difference. Our joy is not based on circumstances and happenstances, but on what Jesus has done for us. We also mentioned the fact that Nehemiah’s phrase: “The Joy of the Lord is our Strength” is a profound one (Note, Nehemiah didn’t say “the joy of our circumstance, or the joy of our job etc). Our Joy and strength is found in Christ-Alone. Words we need to hear as we open up social media today to the news that the United States Supreme Court denied our Petition for Writ of Certiorari.
We have attached communication from the Diocese of South Carolina explaining the latest. Let me highlight three important facts as you read it.
  1. None of the nearly three dozen churches involved are in any eminent danger of eviction as a result of today’s decision
  2. The Diocese of South Carolina will now return to our state courts as we believe the ruling of our State Supreme Court is “virtually unenforceable as written.”
  3. The law and facts of our case still favor us and the Diocese plans to continue to press in, even it if requires a second appearance before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
In the meantime, I will be meeting with our leadership team today to come up with a time to gather as a parish family this week and weekend.
On a personal note, so many of you have emailed, texted and called to ask how the Zadig family is doing. In one word, we are fine. Our biggest prayer is that St. Michael‘s Church always be that place where the undiluted Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, taught and caught.
Remember, we are people of courageous and not circumstantial joy, in all of this, choose joy.
Blessings and much love in Christ,
–(The Rev.) Al Zadig is rector, Saint Michael’s, Charleston, SC
Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Supreme Court

Diocese of South Carolina statement: Petition for Cert Denied by United States Supreme Court

Charleston, S.C. (June 11, 2018) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) was informed that the United States Supreme Court denied its Petition for Writ of Certiorari.   Doing so leaves in place a sharply divided ruling that could deprive at least 28 parish churches of their right to properties some have held for over 300 years.

The central issue the high court was asked to review was whether the same rules for determining property ownership applied to church property as in any secular case (neutral principles of law). Courts across the nation have been deeply divided on this issue. There was in this instance, the serendipity of a Minnesota case simultaneously petitioning the Court for review, with essentially identical facts but an opposite outcome in Minnesota. The Court has declined to review either case, leaving in place divisions only it can resolve.

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis observed, “We are disappointed the Court chose not to resolve a serious division in the lower courts, though our case was a providential opportunity to do so.  The essential issue of what the Court means by “neutral principles of law” will remain unresolved for now.”

The Diocese of South Carolina will now return to our state courts, where the case has been remitted to the Dorchester Courthouse where it originated. An element of TEC’s argument for the United States Supreme Court to deny our petition was the “fractured” nature of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling. Constitutional issues aside, the Diocese believes the conflicted nature of the current State Supreme Court ruling is virtually unenforceable as written. Interpretation and implementation of that ruling, given its five separate opinions, with no unified legal theory even among the plurality of the court, means there are still significant questions to resolve.

The Diocese remains confident that the law and the facts of this case favor our congregations. We plan to continue to press both to their logical conclusion, even if that requires a second appearance before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Statement by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Diocesan Bishop: “While, obviously, we are disappointed that the Court did not review this case, our hope remains steadfast in our Heavenly Father. There are many unresolved legal questions which remain before the State Court as well as matters for prayerful discernment as we seek to carry out the mission to which we are called in Jesus Christ. We shall seek his guidance for both.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Supreme Court

US Supreme Court declines review of the dispute between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC Diocese of SC

Dear Friends,
This morning, the United States Supreme Court released its list of orders of the day, which is their normal process for announcing the outcome of last Thursday’s conference discussion of petitions.

The Court announced they had denied our petition for Certiorari (as well as that for Eden Prairie).

As previously announced, the Bishop has scheduled a clergy day for this Thursday at St. Paul’s, Summerville, beginning at 1:00 p.m.   The purpose will be to brief you, as best we are able, on the current legal landscape and its implications.  The Bishop will address what this means (and doesn’t mean) for us as a Diocese and how we anticipate moving forward.

As always, please continue to keep this process and the labors of our legal counsel in your prayers.

In Christ’s service,

–The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary in The Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Supreme Court

Thursday June 7 at Saint Philip’s, Charleston

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Spirituality/Prayer, Supreme Court

The rector of Christ Church, Mount Pleasant, preaches on approaching the Supreme Court decision Theologically

Timely Sermon Addressing Legal Issues from Ted Duvall:

This past Sunday, the Rev. Ted Duvall, the Rector of Christ Church, Mount Pleasant, gave a helpful sermon addressing the on going legal battle. Listen now.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Jeff Miller, rector of St Philip’s, Charleston, writes his Parish about Today

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” –Hebrews 10:19, 22
Dear St. Philip’s Family,
On Thursday, June 7, the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States will gather to consider whether or not to grant our petition for a Writ of Certiorari. We believe that this is the best way to bring clarity to the conflicted legal landscape and resolution to the protracted battle between the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church. While this is a hopeful sign, it is not a guaranteed thing. The justices grant only a small percentage of the thousands of petitions that they receive annually, and we cannot assume that they will take ours.
However, the Epistle of James reminds us that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” and as Christians, we can be sure that the judge of all the earth will do right. To this end, I want to invite you to join me at noon on June 7 in the Church for a special prayer service led by Bishop Lawrence. It will be a time for us to ask for forgiveness, to pray for deliverance, and to seek the Lord’s guidance for our parish and diocese. Prayer is one of the greatest privileges we have as believers, and we can approach our Heavenly Father with confidence. To borrow a phrase from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
We will have a nursery available for children ages five and younger, and I strongly encourage allparishioners to make this service a priority. It is not just the future of St. Philip’s that is at stake; it is the American right to worship freely that is in jeopardy. In the meantime, let us not lose heart, but let us carry on with the work the Lord has given us to do, confident that even now, He is doing for us “greater things than we can ask for or imagine”!
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Jeff+
Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Supreme Court

A Day of Coming before the Lord

You may find the bishop’s letter about this there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Kendall Harmon’s Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2018–3 Basic Questions about the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit