SHOWDOWN

Friday, March 26th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Mark Lawrence has three words for Katharine Jefferts Schori.  Bring it on:

I come now to the reason why this Annual Diocesan Convention was postponed.  If the challenges I mentioned above were not enough for a diocese to face in a downturned economy, since our Special Convention in October, which addressed the many theological challenges before us, an entirely new challenge has surfaced:  A constitutional question about the ability of a diocese to govern its common life in a way that is obedient to the teaching of the Bible, the received heritage of The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, and in accordance with The Constitution & Canons of The Episcopal Church.  In December of 2009 our Chancellor, Mr. Wade Logan, was finally informed by a local attorney that he had been retained by the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor.  In a subsequent series of letters he presented himself as “South Carolina counsel for The Episcopal Church” and requested numerous of items of the Bishop and Standing Committee, as well as information regarding parishes in this diocese.   This way of presenting himself fails to acknowledge that this diocese is the only recognized body of The Episcopal Church within the lower half of South Carolina.  There is no other representative or ecclesiastical authority of The Episcopal Church here but our Bishop and Standing Committee.  Furthermore, this was carried out without the Presiding Bishop even so much as calling me.   Subsequently, the Presiding Bishop has stated publicly, as well as to privately to me, that the retaining of this attorney was in keeping with the mutual litigation in the Pawleys Island case of All Saints’ Parish versus All Saints’, the Diocese of South Carolina and TEC.  But as I had pointed out to her privately, and Bishop Ed Salmon made clear during a brief discussion at the recent House of Bishop’s Meeting at Camp Allen, in the prior circumstances the Diocese and The Presiding Bishop’s Office were partners in a law suit in which both were named by the other party.  This present matter is quite different.  The retaining of counsel now has all the signs of an adversarial relationship—one of monitoring through a non-constitutional and non-canonical incursion how a Diocesan Bishop and Standing Committee may choose to deal with its priests and parishes.  

What is astonishing is that this Diocese of South Carolina, while seeking to be faithful to the Holy Scriptures, historic Anglicanism and the received teaching of the Anglican Communion as expressed through its four Instruments of Unity, as well as to The Book of Common Prayer, and adhering to The Constitution & Canons of this Church, has experienced incursions not authorized by these very constitution and canons. A reference here to Powel Mills Dawley’s book in the Church Teaching Series, The Episcopal Church and Its Work, may be helpful for many.  Writing of the Presiding Bishop’s authority, Professor Dawley notes, “[He] exercises no direct pastoral oversight of his own, nor does he possess visitatorial or juridical powers within the independent dioceses of the Episcopal Church.”  The absence of the Presiding Bishop having juridical powers within an independent diocese makes the hiring of an attorney by the Presiding Bishop’s office an unauthorized act.  The stated purpose for her incursion is the protection of Church property.  Whether there are other more disruptive reasons for such non-canonical intrusion can only be surmised.  But in addressing only this stated purpose we can summarize that the Presiding Bishop has decided that the best way to resolve the challenges TEC faces over profound questions of doctrine, morality and discipline is to interpret the so called Dennis Canon as demanding that every diocese institute litigation in the secular courts with parishes that decide to depart, therein exercising coercive power to the fullest extent of the law regardless of the local issues, or the decisions of the diocesan bishop and Standing Committee.

All this is a profound overreach of the Presiding Bishop’s authority.  Certainly I know there are many within TEC who strongly disagree with my theological commitments, and regardless of how monolithic people may believe this diocese to be, there are those within this diocese who share their disagreement.  I acknowledge this and respect it.  Even more, some do not like the strong statements I have made criticizing certain actions and resolutions successive General Conventions have affirmed, as well as the steps that many leaders of the “national” Church have taken, tearing the fabric of the Anglican Communion.  But the thing we are confronting now is not a challenge of this nature.  It is a challenge to how for over two hundred years The Episcopal Church has carried out its mission and ministry.  It is one of the ironies of this time that we in a diocese like South Carolina, which has been one of the most vigorous critics of the “national” church, should be the ones that are called to defend the polity of TEC—to defend the way Episcopalians have for so long carried out their mission.  But history is full of such paradoxes.  In standing up and protecting our autonomy or independence as a diocese in TEC, in protecting the diocesan bishop’s authority to shepherd the parishes and missions of his diocese, and in defending the bishop and, in his absence, the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority, we are in fact defending how TEC has carried out its ministry and mission for these many years.  Every Diocesan Bishop, every Standing Committee, indeed every Episcopalian ought to know that if this is allowed to stand, that if The Presiding Bishop and her chancellor are allowed to hire an attorney in a diocese of this Church, to look over the shoulder of any bishop or worse dictate to that Bishop or Standing Committee how they are to deal with the parishes and missions under their care, imposing upon them mandates or directives as to how they disburse or purchase property then we have entered into a new era of unprecedented hierarchy, and greater autocratic leadership from the Presiding Bishop’s office and his or her chancellor.  It may then be the case that a chancellor who has heretofore been only a counsel of advice for the PB can now function, without election, confirmation or canonical authority, as the de facto chancellor of the Church, exercising power not authorized by this Church and therein dictating to the dioceses of this church how they shall deal with their parishes and property. 

Recently, the Presiding Bishop and I have had a respectful conversation about this matter, during which she asserted once again what she has stated publicly on many occasions.  That she has responsibility for the whole Church.  That the property of The Episcopal Church must be protected and this is one of her duties.  But if so, it is a duty that she has assumed, not one stated in the Constitution & Canons, nor assumed by any previous Presiding Bishop.  The PB’s role is to guide the work that the several dioceses perform together as may be voted upon by General Convention.  It is not to direct the work or ministry of the independent dioceses that make up the Episcopal Church.  That has always been the role of the Bishop of the Diocese and the various elected bodies of the local diocese.  The Standing Committee, the Bishop and perhaps the Board of Trustees of the local diocese alone have charge in various ways over these matters of property.  As a case in point, should a diocese decide to purchase property to plant a congregation, or alienate or sell the property it possess, it seeks no further authority than itself for such action. So too if a diocese chooses to close a congregation there is no higher authority than the bishop.  The Presiding Bishop’s decision to hire counsel in South Carolina leads us all into such precarious waters that every diocese and bishop in this Church ought to be concerned, lest the polity and practice of TEC be changed by a precedent without constitutional or canonical authority.  As I have said to our various deanery gatherings, and as I stated to the Presiding Bishop, precedent unchallenged may establish practice and practice unchallenged in time may turn to policy.  Therefore, we have a constitutional and canonical obligation to demand the removal of her legal counsel.  Especially is this fitting in that her public defense of her position was that they had previously had counsel in this diocese to assist in the Pawleys Island law suit.  Since the case is now finished there should be no further reason for such a retainer.  Unfortunately, after lengthy and respectful conversation, the Presiding Bishop and I stand looking at one another across a wide, deep and seemingly unbridgeable theological and canonical chasm.   At present both of us have signaled a willingness to continue the conversation even if it requires phone conversations from vastly different area codes.

And with that, Mark Lawrence has just crossed the Rubicon.  Will Lawrence’s stance cost him?  Of course it will; with this message, the Bishop has just painted a bullseye on his chasuble and his tenure as an “official” Episcopal bishop can now be measured in months rather than years. 

Should Lawrence’s line in the sand have happened sooner?  Absolutely.

But one of the things that irritates me the most about Anglican conservatives is this need to continually argue about what should have happened, where the line in the sand should have been drawn. 

Guess what?  The line wasn’t drawn where we think it should have been drawn and we’re not back there anymore, we’re here.  So what say we deal with actual reality rather than the reality we think should have been?

Is Mark Lawrence going to get run?  No doubt whatsoever.  Does South Carolina have some difficult choices ahead?  Yup.  Will they make the correct call? 

That remains to be seen.

36 Comments to SHOWDOWN

Bill2
March 26, 2010

There must be alot of Muslims in SC who want to buy empty churches. After all, KJS wants to protect the heritage of those dead Piskies.

FW Ken
March 26, 2010

So did Bishop Kate sign off on the sale of the building in Binghamton to the Muslims at 1/3 market value? How will that play in a SC court when she claims to be protecting TEC property?

Truth Unites... and Divides
March 27, 2010

CJ: “Is Mark Lawrence going to get run? No doubt whatsoever. Does South Carolina have some difficult choices ahead? Yup. Will they make the correct call?

That remains to be seen.

I don’t know what you mean by the right call. But I think the right call is for DioSC to secede from TEc. Can or will +Lawrence do so? I doubt it. Did’t he make a promise not to do so, so he could get the consents he needed?

Zach Frey
March 27, 2010

Now, here’s the thing: this overreach of the PB changes the polity (peace and blessings be upon it) for the entire TEC.

Including the liberal bishops, who last I knew, liked running their own little fiefdoms.

Do they not care, as long as they are left alone, and only conservatives are harassed? Or are they too frightened?

You’d think someone would bleat a protest.

God have mercy.

Dale Matson
March 27, 2010

Is there something she is doing with this overreach of authority that would constitute a canonical offense? Maybe it is time for the CP Bishops to offer up more than a silent witness and show some “solidarity”. If they don’t, Bishop Lawrence will be left to twist in the wind. If this happens then it will demonstrate that the “partnership” of the CP Bishops was in name only.

The Little Myrmidon
March 27, 2010

“At present both of us have signaled a willingness to continue the conversation even if it requires phone conversations from vastly different area codes.”

Wonder what the area code for Hell is.

Matthew
March 27, 2010

Zach, I used to think that as well. Here’s the thing. The bishops of the Episcopal Church by and large are not leaders. They are not alpha males (or even Alpha males). They are middle managers. That is to say the closest approximation to a piskie bishop in modern culture is Ricky Gervais or Steve Carell in ‘The Office’.

Episcopal bishops like to tell other people what to do. They also want to be told what to do. They need and desire a higher authority. It is the mark of how many of them have abandoned the faith once received that instead of looking to God, Scripture or tradition to shape their conduct, they seek authority from the Presiding Bishop. She has replaced God in their lives as the source of their authority.

Ed the Roman
March 27, 2010

I wonder if the Apostolic Nuncio or the Vatican Secretary of State have ever hired legal counsel in a diocese to do anything like this.

Be pretty funny if they hadn’t.

This is living into the tension ends up. This is what happens when you try to teach the kinetic and the phlogiston theories of heat in the same school. People can’t say “The Episcopal Church teaches definitively that: A” and “The Episcopal Church Teaches definitively that: anti-A” without there being a fight over it; a fight that will only end when one opinion is excluded.

Allen Lewis
March 27, 2010

It is too bad that Bishop Salmon and those who supported him in his “let’s not rock the boat and play nice with 815″ stance did not see fit to remove the accession clauses in the diocesan C & C as the Diocese of Pittsburgh had done.

Then the extension of the adjournment date for this convention would have some purpose. The implication of further action might serve as a deterrent to the lawlessness of the PB and her sycophants. AS it stands, this extnesion of the adjournment date is mere drama.

My prayers are with +Lawrence and the diocese, but I am glad I don’t have the emotional stake in these proceeding that I once had.

Katherine
March 27, 2010

Dale Matson, of course it’s a canonical violation. Much of what she’s done over the past few years has been. The problem is that she and her faction also control the mechanisms which might be used to sanction such violations. They are judge and jury.

Truth Unites... and Divides
March 27, 2010

Dale Matson: “Maybe it is time for the CP Bishops to offer up more than a silent witness and show some “solidarity”. If they don’t, Bishop Lawrence will be left to twist in the wind. If this happens then it will demonstrate that the “partnership” of the CP Bishops was in name only.

CP Bishops, including +Lawrence, are only reaping what they have sown.

An Institutionalist-Enabler of TEc’s soul-destroying heresy and apostasy will reap what they have enabled. Then they’ll cry and whine about it. And they’ll seek to gain sympathy for their co-dependence.

Boo-hoo. Boo-hoo.

Toral
March 27, 2010

I’ll take the opposite side of the predictions being made by many orthodox folks. This isn’t enuf for the PB to try to depose +Lawrence. Asserting some independence isn’t enuf; too much risk that a lot of institutionalist bishops wouldn’t go along. Last thing 815 wants is a premature, failed attempt at deposition. They will want to completely and finally crush the inventive argument that TEC is a voluntary association of independent dioceses and can postpone taking the offensive in SC indefinitely.

Besides, with the SC decision now final there’s no property in it for TEC anyway.

The main purpose of TEC’s action has been to secure, not property, but precedent, to deter others from following the example of present dissenters. +Lawrence’s strategy is so odd that they don’t have to worry about it catching on.

Kelso
March 27, 2010

Well, you hire a woman to be the Presiding Oceanographer and you takes your chances!

All you members of the House of Clowns – sorry, Bishops – see what destroying the Book of Common Prayer has wrought? See what tolerating Bishops Pike and Spong and others of their ilk has brought you to?

You stand foresworn on your oaths for not “driving away all erroneous and strange doctrine”. You stand between Heaven and Earth as Christ’s Apostles in this age – yet you do not seem to understand that an angry God will judge you severally for the actions (and lack thereof) of your anointed heads and hands. You were given that pastoral staff not only to lead the sheep – but to smite the wolves!

Dale Matson
March 27, 2010

The Little Myrmidon,
“Wonder what the area code for Hell is.” Come on, give me a tougher one than that. the area code is 666.

Michael D
March 27, 2010

“Wonder what the area code for Hell is.” Come on, give me a tougher one than that. the area code is 666.

That was my first reaction, too, Dale. But the more I think about it, the more I suspect its probably a 1-800 number. The first call is free.

Don Janousek
March 27, 2010

On a personal, somewhat off-topic note, Her Episcopo Highness, KJS herself, was way out here in Grand Island, Nebraska Friday morning. Can’t imagine how she ended up way out here in the sticks with us rubes. Maybe she got lost. Grand Island is majority Catholic and Lutheran. The Catholic cathedral is here. The only Episcopo church is St. Stephen’s. Been here a long time and has a very tiny congregation which is rapidly dwindling. However, was cutting my toenails, a Friday ritual, so missed her visit. She did get a big pic on the front page of the local rag. Should I ask the Catholic bishop to exorcise the city? Anyone?

Dale Matson
March 27, 2010

DJ,
Just make sure KJS didn’t get any of your toenails. If she did, there’s trouble afoot!

bob
March 27, 2010

It finally dawns on me that KJS is actually striving for something she doesn’t *think* she wants. That is for people to leave ECUSA. Her mother left to become a layman in the Orthodox Church. This was very frustrating to her, but her full time job seems to be getting others to do it as well. Making a (Small-o)orthodox Anglican *stay* in her organization is something she has no education in doing, no interest in learning. The fact is SHE is the reason for people like her mother and others who have wised up (Would that there were more) are leaving. There can’t be a more perverse thing here. Something vested and decorated as a church, “Keeping” feast days and seasons, mouthing old platitudes while at the same time denying truth as vigorously as possible. Selling a church building to Muslims. They might as well decide what corner of the buildings they have now will be fit for a minaret; the “Faith” is already being preached there.

FW Ken
March 27, 2010

Toral -

Your comment is reasonable, and if you were dealing with a reasonable situation, you would be correct. I’m afraid neither Bishop Kate, nor, indeed, the Episcopal Church are well-connected to reason.

Smurf Breath
March 27, 2010

The main purpose of TEC’s action has been to secure, not property, but precedent, to deter others from following the example of present dissenters. +Lawrence’s strategy is so odd that they don’t have to worry about it catching on.

Agree w. Toral. Even from Schori’s point of view, this seems to be a tactical error. Even if she allows Lawrence to let parishes leave amicably, congregations in other dioceses under liberal bishops will realize their bishops will not necessarily let them do the same. So she doesn’t really gain anything in the area of intimidation (except for Howe?), and ends up looking like a belligerent jerk.

Don Janousek
March 27, 2010

Hmmmm. Selling church buildings to Muslims? As I said in my previous post, the only Episcopo church in Grand Island, Nebraska is St. Stephens, with a small, aging and dwindling congregation. Yet, the Grand Poobah, KJS, makes a stop here. We have a contingent of Somali immigrants in Grand Island, they are almost 100% Muslim, St. Stephens in a large old building, the Somalis would like to find a place to have a mosque……well, slap my a** and call me Sally! KJS might have been checking out a possible future real estate deal!

Dale Matson
March 27, 2010

Dear Sally er…Don Janousek (Sorry the name doesn’t work for me). and the other part….forget that too.
By the way, Why did they name the place “Grand Island”? It is not an Island.

FW Ken
March 27, 2010

Do they still have mega-Christmas decorations in Grand Island? I have a story about that, but will spare ya’ll.

:-) :-)

Don Janousek
March 27, 2010

Dale Matson: The name was given to the place by French trappers and fur traders who came into the area long ago. There is a minor channel of the Platte River a few miles upstream which can be said to create an “island” of sorts. However, the answer to why the French chose that name has the same answer as why do the French rarely bathe and why do the French like really stinky cheese – Je ne sais quoi.

The Little Myrmidon
March 27, 2010

“Come on, give me a tougher one than that. the area code is 666.”

I knew that. Really. I knew that. I was being rhetorical. Really.

Connie
March 27, 2010

I understand +Mark Lawrence is going to be attending the Global South-to-South Encounter next month (as an observer and perhaps a witness for what’s been going on in TEO). That’s just gotta rub KJS the wrong way! The Standing Committee needs to be ready to defend the diocese while he’s out of the country.

Sasha
March 27, 2010

Connie:

Not only are you right about Messrs. Lawrence and Howe rubbing that Antichrist KS-J the wrong way, I wouldn’t be surprised if she tries JUST THEN to have them deposed, barred from their rectories and offices, and God Knows what else…

[Somebody who's so utterly EVIL like her as to be glad to do business with one of Satan's twin-religions (Islâm and Humanism {the latter most often coming out as Communism!}) is surely such that NOTHING can be "put past her"... Particularly given that she would take their money, even if but a fraction of a place's value, over that of Christians!!!]

Clown Celebrant
March 28, 2010

South Carolina is screwed. Why? Because they’re Episcopalians. Pure and simple. What Katherine Bejeebers Schlamori says goes. Just like what Nancy Pizzarosi says goes. Why can’t you people just knuckle under?

Sinner
March 28, 2010

I understand +Mark Lawrence is going to be attending the Global South-to-South Encounter next month

He will be deposed before he returns.

The Global South are not in communion with ECUSA. We all agree with that.

Canon IV.9 of ECUSA states:


(ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same

Clearly , attending the Global South event means Lawrence will be formally admitted into a religious body not in communion with ECUSA. Therefore he will be deposed.

Dale Matson
March 28, 2010

Sinner,
“Clearly , attending the Global South event means Lawrence will be formally admitted into a religious body not in communion with ECUSA. Therefore he will be deposed.”
Attending is not the same thing as being admitted. He is already a member of the same WWAC as the Global South members. I do hope he will be given voice in addition to seat. Nothing like someone from within TEC offering them some facts on the ground to fire them up. Who knows, it could be a speech by him that forces the ABC to fish instead of cut bait.

obituary
March 28, 2010

Is this not the juncture where Bishop Lawrence issues an inhibition on the Squid ?

Christopher Hathaway
March 28, 2010

Chris, I think the three words that +Lawrence has for @#*Schori should be slightly different:

“Bring it, b__ch.”

LaVallette
March 29, 2010

So the Schori “Curia” strikes again.

Sinner
March 29, 2010

Attending is not the same thing as being admitted. He is already a member of the same WWAC as the Global South members. I do hope he will be given voice in addition to seat. Nothing like someone from within TEC offering them some facts on the ground to fire them up. Who knows, it could be a speech by him that forces the ABC to fish instead of cut bait.

Is this not the juncture where Bishop Lawrence issues an inhibition on the Squid ?

What good would that do? Now, an injunction? you might be talking!

Although the state constitution does say:

No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

Can’t that be used to keep the wiccan heretic out?

H. Hall HardenberghIII
March 29, 2010

In all the comments I see an attitude of resignation to the oppression and outright thefts and malicious mischief of the presiding bish and such stalwarts as that fool in Central New York, Mr. Gladstone Goose, and the pentultimate fools of the california appellate court whose own member in his diddenting opinion pointed out that they couldn’t do what they had just done. The simple solution to all these asses is to come upside their heads with the usual 2×4 in the form of lawsuits successfully charging them with the felonies and thefts and outright mischief they have indulged in. When Mrs. Jefferts/Schori has to spend most of her time testifying and when she and Mr. Beers get jury judgements against them and against the Episcopal church for the damage they have done and when the Episcopal church national office has been reduced to a rented suite in a defunct shopping center, then and only then will true justice have been served.Forget bishops to the rescue. Most of the ones I have known have all been pusilanimous little ninnies whose diapers needed changing. Laity are the answer. they are bullet proof compared to clergy and like david when he slew Goliath. have a unique ability to fling stones at overbloated heads. I believe it is time for that to happen

Dale Price
March 29, 2010

Despite the bleats of progressive Piskies about the horrors of centralized Romanism (“polity!”), it’s obvious they’re copacetic with Kate getting her Pope-ette on.

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