Category : * South Carolina

(The State) In one of SC’s smallest churches, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Spartanburg, 6 people sit in pews meant for 50. Can it survive?

Where does the church go from here?

That depends on who you ask.

Jane Span, 80, who has attended Church of the Epiphany since she was 25, doesn’t have much hope for her beloved church.

“We just don’t have people rushing to join the Episcopal Church,” Span said.

And without a sizable number of congregants, running the church can be expensive, she said. The church needs to be maintained. Except for the priest, everyone who works at the church is a volunteer.

Plus, she suspects that not as many African-American families have continued to raise their families with the Episcopal faith.

“I was born in the church,” Span said. “And I think it makes a difference.”

Keeping the church’s history alive is also difficult.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–In the Morning you shall see, in the Evening you shall know (Exodus 16:2-15)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. The full Eddie Rickenbacker story with which the sermon concludes was posted yesterday.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Bp Mark Lawrence: Summer—When Living is for Now


Summer Ember days remind us that there are days—even seasons—where life’s living is for now. While we know fall and winter will come—and we need to be prepared for such seasons—today isn’t always a day to prepare for them. Today is first and foremost a day to live. Today matters. It can be working, fishing, sitting and enjoying life—but it is for now. In today’s world we need to hear that somedays, some seasons are for living—not the reaping of the past—not sowing for the future but living for today. The man who takes a vacation so he can do his work better or the person who has a picnic on the 4th of July so he can work harder (or more efficiently) on July 5th has not yet understood what a picnic or holiday is. I have known some clergy over the years who did not take their vacation days. Frankly, sometimes they were not always the most effective priests. Not because they did not rest—but because they did not drink deeply enough of life.

Summer Ember Days and Sabbath bring a similar message to us. Philo, a Greek speaking Jew in first century Alexandria wrote in a defense of the Sabbath to his Greco-Roman peers: “It’s object is rather to give man relaxation from continuous and unending toil and by refreshing their bodies with a regularly calculated system of remissions to send them out renewed to their old activities….” This, however, as true as it is on one level is actually not the spirit of the Bible. In this defense of the Sabbath, “rest’ takes on a utilitarian purpose. Nevertheless, the Bible’s view of the Sabbath is not something we observe to enhance the efficiency of work—as if we are first and finally beasts of burden. As Jesus said, “The Sabbath is made for man not man for the Sabbath.” The great Jewish scholar, Abraham Heschel notes: “The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life…not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of [man’s] work. The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath.” The Summer Ember days along with the Sabbath remind us that today is a day to live. Life is now and now is for living.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Theology

(AP) ‘Sheltering wings:’ Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston’s memorial plan conveys solace

Church officials unveiled detailed plans Sunday afternoon for the permanent tribute designed by the architect behind the 9/11 Memorial in New York. The announcement, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the church known as “Mother Emanuel,” will be followed by a push to raise the money needed to build the memorial and prayer garden.

Church officials say the design conveys both solace and resiliency. A marble fountain with carvings of the victims’ names will be flanked by curved stone benches that rise above visitors’ heads and cradle the space “like sheltering wings,” according to a news release.

“When you walk into the memorial, it’s going to give you the feeling of being embraced, just embraced with warmth,” said City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, a church trustee who lost a loved one in the June 2015 attack.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

A recent Kendall Harmon Sermon: Living as a Christian with suffering and Weakness (2 Corinthians 12)

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, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) Army soldier from Summerville, South Carolina, killed in action in Afghanistan was a ‘national treasure’

A 32-year-old Army Ranger from Summerville who was killed in Afghanistan after coming under small arms enemy fire Thursday is being remembered as a passionate and skilled leader.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz was wounded while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province, according to the Department of Defense. He was treated and evacuated to the nearest medical facility, where he died.

The incident is under investigation.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces

(Local Paper Editorial) Arrington crash, 11-year-old’s death both needless. Drunk driving is a choice

Two high-profile DUI accidents serve as vivid reminders of just how destructive intoxicated driving can be. Two people are dead, two survivors are recovering from serious injuries, and all of their families are left in a world of hurt.

An intoxicated driver fatally struck a vacationing 11-year-old Danish girl walking with her family Monday night near Cannon Park, police said. This followed a head-on collision involving a drunk driver June 22 that nearly killed congressional candidate Katie Arrington and a friend. The wrong-way driver in that accident died of her injuries.

The young girl’s parents will no doubt be scarred forever. The 30-year-old driver, charged with reckless homicide and felony driving under the influence resulting in a death, faces a possible long prison sentence and a lifetime of regret. The fatal accident also leaves the city with a black eye, coming about the same time Travel + Leisure named Charleston its top U.S. destination for a sixth year in a row.

“This was preventable and never should have happened,” police Chief Luther Reynolds said at a news conference Tuesday alongside Mayor John Tecklenburg and other city officials. “I am very angry. … This hurts all of us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Travel

(The State) A Heartbreaking local story–A Columbia, South Carolina, teen who drowned in the Lowcountry was pursuing a life in ministry

Jack Fleischer spent much of his 19 years of life at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center as a camper, counselor and staff member. And, after a memorial service this weekend, his ashes will be buried at the Lowcountry camp he loved so much.

Fleischer, a Columbia resident, drowned after he jumped off a dock into Bohicket Creek in Charleston County on Friday night, multiple media outlets reported. That’s just off S.C. 700 near Johns Island.

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said crews found Fleischer’s body early Saturday.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

AS Haley on the Ongoing South Carolina Episcopal Church litigation mess–“O, What a Tangled Web We Weave . . .”

Thus two of the Justices viewed this case as one in which the civil courts should “defer” to the “ecclesiastical authorities” — even though South Carolina is a “neutral principles” State, in which “deference” has no role! — while the third reaches his result based “strictly applying neutral principles of law.” Two of them simply “reverse” the decision below (and one only in part), while only Justice Hearn declares the whole kit and caboodle to belong to her own denomination.

The first two Justices would thus have overruled the leading South Carolina neutral principles case, All Saints Parish Waccamaw v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, but two votes do not suffice for that. They would have required a third vote to overrule that decision, and they never obtained that third vote. So the neutral principles doctrine of All Saints Waccamaw stands unchanged.

Nor did Justice Hearn get any other Justice to buy into her “constructive trust” rationale (unless Justice Pleicones may be said to have done so by “joining” in her opinion). But that was not a ground urged on appeal by ECUSA or its rump diocese — so Justice Hearn gratuitously inserted her views on an issue that was not properly before the Court.

Finally, only two of the Justices (Hearn and Beatty) mentioned Camp Christopher — the retreat property that belongs not to any one parish, but to the Diocese itself. The Dennis Canon does not apply to the property of a diocese, and so it cannot be used to transfer ownership. For Justice Hearn, “deference” requires that result, while for Chief Justice Beatty, the result follows from the fact that he cannot see how Bishop Lawrence’s Diocese is the “successor” to the diocese that owned the property before the lawsuit began. (But the Diocese did not go anywhere — it is still the same South Carolina religious corporation it always was. So how can there be any question of whether a Diocese can “succeed” itself? The Chief Justice went out on a limb, and no one joined him.)

An even bigger problem for Judge Goodstein on remand, however, is how she should regard the opinion of Justice Hearn, who belatedly recused herself due to a (presumed) perception of a conflict of interest. (You think?) Which is to say, she never should have participated in the case to begin with.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Corporations/Corporate Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government

(Local Paper front page) A SC funeral home left a body to rot for years in ‘corrupt’ system that protects homes

The funeral board, which oversees discipline, is dominated by people who work in the funeral business. By law, nine of its 11 members must be licensed funeral directors and embalmers. The remaining two slots are reserved for public representatives, but those seats often sit vacant. On at least one occasion, a part-time funeral worker served as the public’s voice on the panel.

This guild of peers includes members and former leaders of South Carolina’s funeral industry associations. It rarely revokes or suspends a license, preferring to levy reprimands and light fines that keep problem operators in business. Even when licenses are pulled, no one checks to make sure those disciplined are abiding by the rules unless someone files a formal complaint.

What’s more, nearly 40 percent of the 600 complaints filed against funeral homes and their operators were dismissed between 2006 and 2017 with no action taken, according to labor department records.

That doesn’t surprise Joshua Slocum, who leads the national Funeral Consumer Alliance, a Vermont-based nonprofit that fights for transparency and funeral affordability. He said most states have models similar to South Carolina’s, with funeral boards dominated by funeral professionals. It’s an opaque system rigged to benefit the death industry, concealing misdeeds and leaving consumers in the dark, he said.

“It’s an outrage against public policy and a clear, no-gray-area conflict of interest,” he said. “The system may be legal, but it’s inherently corrupt.”

South Carolina’s funeral board is ensconced in the state’s labor and licensing agency, one of some 40 professional boards that oversee more than 400,000 licenses for everything from architects and accountants to foot doctors. Most of these boards also are dominated by insiders from their respective industries.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals

(Local Paper) An Important Letter to The Editor on the Historic Diocese of South Carolina Lawsuit

“Conflicting rulings leave church dispute unsettled”

From there:

Recent letters to the editor suggest that because the United States Supreme Court denied our petition for review, the legal questions between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church (TEC) are settled and all that remains is return of the property. As the elected leaders of our congregations (St. Michael’s, St. Philip’s and the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul) we have a far different perspective.

While the denial of our petition means the five opinions of the South Carolina Supreme Court justices will not be reviewed, it was not an affirmation of them. The same day, the court also declined to review a Minnesota church case with the same facts but an opposite outcome to ours. All the denial means is that the court was unwilling to resolve this conflict between the lower courts.

So why do we continue in our legal defense? Our houses of worship, established by faithful generations before us, are worth preserving for our children and grandchildren. And the faith we proclaim there, the immutable Gospel of Christ, is worth defending.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria said last week, at an international gathering of Anglicans in Jerusalem, “If we walk together with those who reject the orthodox faith, in word or deed, we have agreed that orthodoxy is optional.” We believe the divinity of Christ and the authority of Scripture must be upheld, not revised to suit the times. The Gospel ministry we share in our churches today, and the ministry these sanctuaries will enable tomorrow, is worth protecting.

We believe that the grounds for doing so remain strong. As TEC itself argued in its Brief in Opposition before the United States Supreme Court, the South Carolina ruling is “fractured.” Among the five separate opinions, promulgated after two years of wrangling, there is no majority legal opinion. The conflicts of interpretation among the five opinions are significant.

One key example illustrates this well. In the deciding opinion on the parish property issue, Chief Justice Don Beatty said only parishes that acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon created a trust. None of our parishes signed such a document. To our knowledge, no congregation in our Diocese did so. On that basis, what the ruling says is that no congregation should lose their property. This is one of the many difficulties that must still be resolved by a state court.

Many of our congregations have been faithfully proclaiming the Gospel here for over 300 years, through earthquake, fire and flood. We will pass through this challenge as well and look forward, God willing, to another 300 years of faithful proclamation. We pray that The Episcopal Church will respect the path of faithfulness we have chosen, as parishes and as a Diocese. For those truly concerned to heal fractured relationships, this is the shortest road to that destination.

–Penn Hagood is senior warden of St. Philip’s Church. Heidi Ravenel is junior warden of St. Michael’s Church. Todd Lant is senior warden of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul.

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

(PFC) The Supreme Court Declined Their Case , but the battle over the Historic Diocese of South Carolina is far from over

When asked this question,…[The] Reverend Lewis said that, “[i]n its argument for why the Supreme Court should not review our case, The Episcopal Church attorneys argued it was too ‘fractured’ to be used for setting precedent. On that one point, we would agree. The South Carolina ruling is composed of five separate opinions that do not agree on either legal principles or outcomes. Interpreting what the conflicting legal opinions in this ruling actually mean and how they will apply will require further adjudication by the courts. We continue to believe the facts and law of the case favor our positions.”

As the case returns to the Dorchester County court later this summer where it originated and a judge considers several motions one of which is the motion to execute the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision, Reverend Lewis and the Diocese appear confident that this motion cannot be implemented until “numerous significant and complicated legal questions are answered.” The Diocese then can hope and pray that because the facts and laws indeed favor their position, the legal process still has time to correct the situation.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Local paper front Page) Dorchester County, South Carolina, on road to prosperity

For years, Dorchester County has stood by while its neighboring counties have garnered all the attention.

New businesses and developers have chosen Berkeley and Charleston, leaving the smaller Dorchester behind as a sort-of Cinderella waiting for an invitation to the ball.

“Dorchester has struggled for decades to attract economic development and that’s mainly been geographical in nature because Interstate 26 is on the wrong side of the county line,” said County Council Chairman Jay Byars. Much of the fast-growing industrial corridor along the highway is in Berkeley County.

But now, things are changing. New manufacturers and industrial parks are moving in on U.S. Highway 78 and along the Interstate 26 corridor.

New neighborhoods are springing up throughout with the county.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy

The Rector Of Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, writes his parish about the current situation in the Diocese of South Carolina

Stay the Course

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Thursday, I returned from the Aliquippa mission trip to attend the meeting of diocesan clergy with Bishop Lawrence and our legal counsel. It was hard to leave the team and the wonderful work they are doing, but the Lord made it clear that I needed to be at this meeting and to prepare for our time together on Sunday. It was also quite evident that our mission team was in capable hands under the leadership of our new Student Minister Camden Windham and our dedicated adult leaders. Please continue to pray for the team as they finish their work and return home Saturday evening.

Being together with the clergy and Bishop Lawrence was a blessing; I was encouraged to stay the course. Our legal battle in terms of property is far from over. Our Vision still guides and directs us in our ultimate purpose of reaching lost people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were reassured yesterday that, contrary to the claims of TEC that all is settled, there are many months in court ahead. If we dwell on this protracted journey, we may be discouraged or tempted to lose heart. Let us fix our eyes squarely on Jesus Christ and dwell on the calling we have in this missionary moment. His Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will be the power we need to press on faithfully.

I will have more details on Sunday morning at the Rector’s Forum at 9:15 am. Please make plans to attend if you are able. In The Weekly eNews, we will post all of the pertinent information and links for those who are out of town or otherwise unavailable. Please know that your Vestry and your clergy stand ready to field your questions and guide you to helpful resources. Unfortunately, much of the path that lies ahead is unknown. But we cling to that which is known — the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the eternal victory of the empty tomb.

Truly the best is yet to come,

–(The Rev.) Shay Gaillard is rector, Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

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