Category : * South Carolina

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina following the recent SC Supreme Court Decisions

From here:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today legal counsel for the Diocese received written notification that both our motions for Recusal and for Rehearing were denied by the State Supreme Court.   The former was denied 5-0.   The latter was denied 2-2 with Justice Hearn abstaining and no fifth justice appointed to fill the vacancy.

For those parishes that are parties to the litigation, I encourage you, at this stage, to consult with your parish chancellor.  All parties to the case have previously discussed the timetable for a filing under the Betterments Statute.  Legal counsel can give you best directions for how to proceed with that process.  Our press release for this evening can be found here.

As you will remember, we began our week with our Annual Clergy Conference reflecting together on the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and 12:9-10. Now this final ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court coming as it does at the very end of the week presses us once again with the need to find comfort, strength, and courage from the Lord through these words of Holy Scripture. May I encourage you to revisit them—I believe they were prophetic in their timing for us. Meanwhile please know that I have spoken with our lead counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan, Fr. David Thurlow, President of the Standing Committee, as well as with Canon Lewis. A Standing Committee meeting has been called for this Tuesday morning, November 21, 2017.

I will write further to you and to the diocese once I have met with the Standing Committee and have more thoroughly examined the options before us. For now we will continue to stand forthright for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the faith once delivered to the saints!

Please continue to hold our Diocesan Leadership and Legal Counsel in your prayers.

Your brother in Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

In a 2-2 Decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court Denies the Historic Diocese of South Carolina a rehearing

Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) was informed by mail that the South Carolina Supreme Court denied its motions filed for Rehearing and Recusal in its ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  Doing so finalized a sharply divided ruling that could deprive at least 28 parish churches of their right to properties some have held for over 300 years.

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:
“We are deeply disappointed the Court did not see fit to recuse Justice Hearn.  Her personal interest in the outcome of this litigation, beyond the normal matters of law, has clearly influenced its outcome. That is unfortunate not only for the Diocese but for all the citizens of this State with concerns for a fair and impartial judiciary. We also find it disturbing that the weight of the Constitutional concerns raised was not given further opportunity to be addressed. Church property ownership in South Carolina is now gravely complicated.

Given the gravity of all these concerns, we will now give serious consideration to seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court. We believe the number and character of the issues at stake in this ruling merit review by the high court. Because of the long road of litigation that has brought us to this day, all the parties to this case will need to take counsel together before deciding our next steps.

We remain confident that God is at work in even these circumstances to redeem and use them, as He does all things, for His glory and the building up of His Church.”

Read it all and follow all the links carefully.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Amicus Brief Filed By Religious Leaders in Support of the Diocese of South Carolina

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:   

“Friday’s brief illustrates well two essential problems with the current ruling of the Court. Because there is no legal consensus among the Justices, the ruling as it stands is, as stated in the brief, a “recipe for endless litigation.” As a consequence of misapplying neutral principles of law as intended by the U.S. Supreme Court, it violates rather than preserves, the First Amendment protections of religious liberty they are meant to ensure. Resolving these significant issues merits rehearing by the Court.”

The Diocese also provided the following list of additional details from Friday’s filed Brief:

  • “For over 300 years, since before the Founding of this Nation, members of the Respondent’s congregations contributed land, money and labor in reliance on settled South Carolina law – only to have this Court divest them of their property based on a canon unilaterally adopted centuries later by a national denomination. This outcome was possible only because the Court fashioned a new rule of law solely for this case, and this denomination. But that rule of law departs from this court’s precedents and imposes special burdens on religious associations relative to secular ones. Those burdens violate the First Amendment.” [p. 1]
  • Amici believe strongly that churches freely associated with each other can also freely choose to disassociate. And the exercise of that freedom should not come at the price of the tools for ministry established by local sacrifice… ” [p. 4]
  • “… the Court’s fractured decision leaves church property law in this state in utter confusion…. This confusion is a recipe for endless litigation.” [p. 2]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Jones vs. Wolf established the use of neutral principles of law to settle church property disputes… “A court applying a neutral principles approach can only apply state law as it normally would; any other approach would be the opposite of neutral principles.” [p. 9]
  • As the Court has done in this case, “Giving legal effect to trusts declared in denominational documents is not even mere deference. It is giving denominations power to rewrite civil property law.” [p. 14] and that is in violation of the free exercise of religion.
  • “If that conception of “neutral principles” is correct, then no church can join a denomination without jeopardizing its property.” [p. 16]
  • “Any denomination could pass a retroactive internal rule that would appropriate congregants gifts and church property.” … “Without secure property ownership, many rounds of future litigation are inevitable.” [p. 18]
  • “If ownership no longer turns on publicly recorded deeds and trust instruments, but on the meaning of internal church rules and relationships, no one can know for certain who owns church property.” [p. 18]
  • “Moreover, the Court’s ruling could eviscerate otherwise clear titles” and harm “the rights of insurers and lenders” all with “not a single justice agreeing as to exactly how State title and property law apply in this dispute.” [p. 19]

Read it all and please take the time to read the full brief.

Posted in * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon on Ezekiel–Do we know what we are Responsible For (Ezekiel 18+33)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. Please note carefully the section where I argue that no Christian should ever say “it is what it is.”

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Enewsletter from the Diocese of South Carolina

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Local Paper Front Page) Southerners split on the economy, Confederate monuments and Donald Trump, new poll finds

While Southern whites and blacks agree all races should be treated equally and political correctness threatens their personal liberty, they are divided over views on economic opportunity, Confederate monuments and President Donald Trump, a new poll shows.

A survey of residents in 11 Southern states — released Wednesday by Winthrop University — collected views more than two months after hundreds of white supremacists and counter-protesters clashed violently in Charlotttesville, Va., over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park.

Trump was criticized for blaming “both sides” at the rally, which was punctuated by a criminal charge against an alleged neo-Nazi for driving through a group of counter-protesters, killing one.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Sociology

Mediation Update–Both the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina+the new Episcopal Church Diocese in SC announce its recessed until early December

Both “sides” involved have stated the mediation with Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. has been recessed until December 4-5, 2017.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Local Paper) Edward Gilbreth–Strong judicial disagreements fuel the South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal controversy

Another petition supporting the rehearing filed Sept. 25 by various churches and the Diocese, includes these arguments:

“The sole basis on which Appellants have argued, and the Court has so held, that St. Philips (as an example) should be divested of its property is that St. Philips Church, in 1987, acknowledged the purpose of the parish corporation as being ‘in accord with the Articles of Religion’ of the national church (or more precisely the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, according to the Articles of Restatement filed with the SC Secretary of State by St. Philips in 1987.)

“The Articles of Religion of the national church were established in 1801, one hundred and seventy-eight years prior to the Dennis Canon. The articles of Religion, similar to those for other Protestant Churches, contain nothing more than a summary of the religious doctrine, theology and beliefs of the national church and St. Philips Church. The Articles of Religion do not mention the constitution or any of the canons of the national church, let alone the Dennis Canon adopted 178 years after the establishment of the Articles of Religion.”

Interestingly, The Episcopal Church has never required subscription to the Articles, which now appear in a section called “Historical Documents” in the back of the Book of Common Prayer.

All this, along with the controversy surrounding Justice Hearn’s participation in the initial ruling due to her family involvement in a church with ties to the national church, makes for interesting consideration as the mediation for and possible rehearing of the Diocese’s case approaches.

Read it all.”>Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A look Back to 2008–Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina at the partial Lambeth Conference

From here

Q: Have you picked up on a lot of concerns from people here about things going on in the Episcopal Church?

A: I find that when I apologize for what we’ve done, in the midst of the conversation they say thank you, I’m glad to hear that that’s how you feel. William Temple, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the church needs to be very clear in its public pronouncements so it can be very pastoral in its application. What the Episcopal Church did in 2003 is it made a public pronouncement by action, and that action was contrary, or in contradiction to the teaching of the church, and so what we have is a public pronouncement and an official teaching that [are] incoherent with one another, and that creates, then, a very awkward situation in which what we teach and what we’ve done are at odds with one another, and there is a profound unclarity on a public level, which means on a local level every individual priest, every individual bishop has to take a stand, and once you’ve taken a stand then it’s difficult to be in a pastoral relationship with those who feel like you’ve just abandoned them or taken a position that alienates them from where they are. And so it’s just the opposite of what the archbishop said years ago, that the church needs to be very clear in its public pronouncement so it can be very pastoral in its application. We’ve turned the axiom on its end.

Q: A group here within the church has recommended that the moratorium continues and be enforced against a blessing for same-sex relationships, against gay bishops, against the cross-jurisdictional relationships. What is your reaction to these recommendations?

A: Well, I’d say this: that the Anglican Communion is in a process of trying to understand how we live in a global age. ”¦ Some of us have come to the conclusion we need some kind of covenant by which we can say this is who we are, this is how we shall live together, this is how we should treat one another. There are limits to Anglican diversity, and these are now what they are.

Q: Is that a good idea?

A: It’s a wonderful idea, because this Communion is too important in an age of globalism, in a global church, not to be able to live together with respect, with trust, and with cooperation.

For those interested yopu can read more there an also here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, 2008 Lambeth Conference

Remembering one Year Ago Today–(NYT) A Somber Charleston, South Carolina, Reflects on Race as 2 Murder Trials Begin

CHARLESTON, S.C. Seventy-four days separated the fatal bursts of gunfire: the eight rounds a white police officer fired at Walter L. Scott, a black man in North Charleston, and then the shots that killed nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church here.

And now, seven days will separate the trials of the officer, Michael T. Slager, and of Dylann S. Roof, the white supremacist accused of carrying out the church killings.

Jury selection in the state trial of Mr. Slager, who was fired after the shooting, will begin on Monday; one week later, the same process is scheduled to begin in the federal case of Mr. Roof. Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Roof, rebuffed his offer to plead guilty.

The proceedings, unusual in a country where, for different reasons, few police officers or mass killers stand trial, will draw renewed attention to, and more reflection within, the Charleston area, where many residents still struggle with killings that rattled the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

The indefatigable former Bishop Chimes in (Again) on the Anglican/Episcopal mess in South Carolina

From there:

It has been publicly announced that the Diocese of South Carolina will enter into mediation with The Episcopal Church (TEC) at the Federal Courthouse in Columbia November 6-8. All parties to the ongoing litigation in both the State and Federal courts have agreed to participate. Many understandably hope this will bring an end to years of litigation. What is an appropriate expectation of the outcome?

A word often used by the TEC bishop and legal counsel is “reconciliation”. While an attractive word to readers and pleasing to the ear, it creates false expectations. To be reconciled implies, by definition, coming back together. It requires one or both parties to repent of their past actions and positions. That is unreasonable in this case.

Neither the Diocese of S.C. nor TEC has shown any evidence of changing course on any of the issues that created the initial divisions years ago. The Diocese has moved on, becoming formally affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and TEC has continued with its own theological agenda. The two are not compatible and are, if anything, further apart than ever.

And nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

So what is a reasonable expectation? What might be sought, and could work, is a “settlement” that ends all the litigation and enables both dioceses to go their separate ways in peace. The Diocese of S.C. granted that grace from the beginning in 2012 to parishes wishing to remain with TEC. The 80% who chose to disassociate from TEC should be allowed to do the same. The two opposing dioceses share a common history in S.C. and a heritage each has some claim to. Perhaps there is a way to honor that reality outside the “winner takes all” setting of the courtroom.

The resources of both groups would be preferably spent on the work of ministry to which each feels called. A workable settlement would allow each to go its way in peace to pursue their separate callings. If that is the goal of the mediation, by both parties, then much good could come of it. Failing that, expect the litigation to continue.

[The] Rt. Rev. Dr. C. Fitzsimons Allison is 12th Bishop (ret.) of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News

The Church Times on the Anglican/Episcopal Conflict in South Carolina (II)–The timeline accompanying the article

(This timeline is very slightly edited for the purposes of greater accuracy by yours truly. Where it occurs it is noted in italics–KSH).

Also from here:

SOUTH CAROLINA: A TIMELINE

1785

The Diocese of South Carolina is founded by the parishes of the former South Carolina colony.

1789

The Diocese becomes one of the nine founding dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the US.

2003-2006

Church leaders in the diocese begin to express disagreement over issues such as the ordination of partnered gay clerics, leading to the departure of some leaders. Eight dioceses pass resolutions requesting alternative primatial oversight.

2006

The diocesan convention of South Carolina elects the Very Revd Mark Lawrence as its Bishop, and while he does receive the endorsement of a majority of bishops in the Episcopal Church (TEC), he does not from the majority of Standing Committees, based on a technicality.

2008 After a second election, Mark Lawrence receives the required majority of both bishops and standing committees, having stated that he did not intend to break away (News, 9 August 2007).

2008-2009 The National Episcopal Church, without the knowledge or permission of the Diocese of South Carolina, retains the services of a lawyer to work on its behalf. The lawyer was a former chancellor of the Diocese of South Carolina.

2009

The Supreme Court of South Carolina (overturning a ruling from 2003) rules that the property and assets of All Saints’, Pawley’s Island, belong to the group that voted to leave TEC and join the Church of the Province of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission in America (News, 1 October 2009).

2010

April The Diocese of South Carolina declares that the Presiding Bishop of TEC, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, has no authority to retain lawyers in the diocese, and demands that she withdraw them (News, 8 April 2010).

September TEC accuses the Diocese of removing references to it from the official name of the churches and websites of more than half its 44 parishes. Bishop Lawrence denies the claims (News, 29 September).

October The diocesan convention agrees six resolutions, which, it says, will “protect” it from intrusions from the broader Episcopal Church (News, 27 October 2010).

2011

October TEC accuses Bishop Lawrence of filing amendments to the corporate charter of the Diocese’s non-profit corporation, deleting all references to the Episcopal Church and obedience to its constitution and canons. It also says that he had “done nothing to stop other parishes which are outwardly moving in the direction of withdrawal” from TEC (News, 14 October 2011).

November A disciplinary board for bishops of the Episcopal Church rules that Bishop Lawrence had not abandoned communion between TEC and his Diocese (News, 2 December 2011).

2012

October A second disciplinary panel is convened, and Bishop Lawrence has his ministry restricted by the Presiding Bishop, pending an investigation. The Diocese responds with a resolution threatening to “disaffiliate” from TEC, which is passed (News, 19 October 2012).

December The Presiding Bishop declares that Bishop Lawrence has been removed from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church, and calls a diocesan convention to elect a new bishop and standing committee for the continuing diocese, made up of 12 parishes and congregations who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church (23 November 2012).

2013

January A lawsuit is filed in the South Carolina Circuit Court against TEC by two corporations claiming to represent the Diocese of South Carolina and some of its parishes, seeking a declaratory judgment that they are the sole owners of the property, name, and seal of the Diocese. This includes 29 parish churches, valued at $500 million (News, 11 January 2013).

A judge issues a temporary restraining order preventing the new TEC diocese from using the name or symbols of the Diocese. It becomes the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) to comply.

The Rt Revd Charles G. vonRosenberg is elected Provisional Bishop and immediately invested by the Presiding Bishop. A new standing committee and diocesan council are elected.

March Bishop vonRosenberg files a complaint in the US District Court against Bishop Lawrence, citing violations of the Lanham Act, a US federal law prohibiting trademark infringement and false advertising. The suit, vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, states that Bishop Lawrence is engaging in false advertising by representing himself as bishop of the Diocese.

TEC also files its response to the breakaways’ lawsuit, saying that Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese have no authority over the assets or property of the diocese.

August More than 100 clerics are given notice of removal from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church by Bishop vonRosenberg, worded so that they can return in the future. (Three clerics have since returned.)

2014

A back and forth of appeals — to add four individuals, including Bishop Lawrence, to the breakaway lawsuit; and to include in the trial alleged correspondences before the suit between lawyers and parties. These are dismissed by Judge Diane S. Goodstein. She rules that the trial must begin on 8 July.

A 14-day trial is held in the Dorchester County Courthouse in St George, South Carolina, before Judge Goodstein (News, 8 August 2014).

2015

February Judge Goodstein rules in favour of the breakaway group, giving them the right to hold on to the name and property of the Diocese. The Episcopal Church appeals to the South Carolina Supreme Court (News, 13 February 2015).

March The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules in favour of Bishop vonRosenberg in the federal false-advertising lawsuit, sending vonRosenberg v. Lawrence back to the US District Court in Charleston for another hearing. A US district court declines to hear the vonRosenberg v. Lawrence case until the state case is resolved, however.

June The Episcopal Church [in South Carolina (ECSC)] claims to offer a settlement allowing the disputed parishes to keep their church properties if the Diocese and trustees relinquished their names, identities, and all assets. The Diocese says that the offer did not come with authority to bind all parties on the Episcopal Church side, however, and that the counsel for the national Episcopal Church did not sign the offer and provide the necessary proof of authority, as requested.

2016

Bishop vonRosenberg announces his retirement as Provisional Bishop. The Rt Revd Gladstone B. Adams III is elected and takes office in September.

2017

March The breakaway Diocese votes to join the Anglican Church in North America (News, 17 March).

August The South Carolina Supreme Court overturns portions of the ruling from 2015 stating that the diocese could keep church property and retain its name. It states that the Diocese must return the 29 parish churches, valued at $500 million, to the Episcopal Church (News, 18 August).

The federal case, vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, is assigned to US District Court Judge Richard Gergel, and scheduled to proceed to trial in March next year.

September Post-opinion motions are filed by the breakaway Diocese, seeking a rehearing and asking for recusal of one of the Supreme Court justices, Justice Kaye G. Hearn, for “bias and conflict of interest”. The Episcopal Church requests in its reply that the “wrong, rehashed, and untimely” post-motions are denied a re-hearing. The Diocese reaffirms its position in another reply. The court’s decision is pending.

October All three parties and their legal representatives meet Senior US District Judge Joseph F Anderson Jr. in Columbia SC to discuss dates and procedures for mediation among all parties in both the federal and state litigation. It is agreed that mediation will take place on 6 November for three days.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Jeremiah and the call to both the inner and the outer Christian life (Jeremiah 20; Jeremiah 37+38)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

James Workman Chimes in on the Anglican/Episcopal Dispute and the Supreme Court in South Carolina

From there:

When a friend heard that the Episcopal Church is continuing a lawsuit over ownership of church real estate in the Diocese of South Carolina, knowing it could drive 20,000-plus Christians from their meeting places, that person said, “That’s just not Christian.”

I cannot disagree. Apart from the legal arguments, when a fair person weighs the biggest issues, it’s real estate versus unimpeded worship and ministry.

It is hard to see that the Episcopal Church is being Christian in this action.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina