South Carolina issues quit claim deeds to parishes

From the House of Bishops / Deputies email list server (emphasis ours), and shared with the author's permission:

The American Anglican Council President's most recent letter includes a quote from a letter sent to every South Carolina parish by the diocesan chancellor. Enclosed with the letter is a quit claim deed to parish property signed by Bishop Lawrence. Such a deed was used by the S.C. Supreme Court to rule that the Pawley's Island AMiA congregation was entitled to the parish property held when it was an Episcopal parish. Bishop Lawrence is thus trying to extinguish all Dennis canon claims on ANY parish property in his diocese. The excerpt is below:

"For 190 years (1789-1979) there had never been any idea that somehow the
parishes did not completely and fully own their property. Our Supreme Court
has now said that the attempt to change that in 1979 by the General
Convention was not binding on the parish of All Saints, Pawley's Island, SC.
In recognition of that ruling, and in continued pursuit of our historic
unity based on common vision rather than legal coercion, the Diocesan
Convention removed the relevant section from our canons in October 2010. The
issuance of these quitclaim deeds lays to rest any lingering issue that may
exist for some parishes when they seek to obtain title insurance or secure
bank financing for parish projects. Parishes may choose to file them or not
based on their individual needs. We trust this action will enable parishes
to freely exercise their rights and responsibility to oversee that which
God, through the faithfulness of prior generations, has bequeathed to them."

For those of you that think that things have been settled by investigation
begun under Title IV, you may want to think again.

Joan R. Gundersen, Pittsburgh GC Lay3 2012

Further to the letter in question, the AAC's Anderson spins it this way:

Why would Bishop Lawrence and the diocesan leadership take such a step? I believe it was out of a desire to preserve the legacy of the gospel in the parishes, as well as to keep the parishes together with the diocese as the means by which the good news of Jesus could be proclaimed. (The fact is that without such deeds some individual parishioners and particular churches would not feel protected from potential threats).

You and I both know that both the diocese and the bishop are under growing pressure from the national church leadership. We also know that exactly those leaders will countenance all sorts of ruinous teaching of Christian doctrine and life, but suddenly when it comes to questions of property they insist that their new line (which is out of step with Episcopal polity and history) be toed.

At PRELUDIUM, Mark Harris contends that there's not really much more that can be done at this point should The Episcopal Church want to keep playing the game where it believes what Bishop Lawrence has to say.

Bishop Lawrence has indicated that he is not leaving The Episcopal Church. In the past I have wanted to take him at his word. But I now suspect that is so only so long as there is a functioning Episcopal Church diocese. When through his own actions - like this one - he contributes to the demise of the Diocese, he is preparing a way by which his move out of TEC will no longer be about his abandoning the Communion of this church but rather about his no longer having a functional diocese in TEC, and a call elsewhere.

We won't know which outcome (or perhaps some other) will transpire. But if there is a "smoking gun" that indicates that a scenario something like outcome [of parishes leaving for ACNA or AMiA, the bishop resigning and then rejoining them] is in the offing, and if it can be traced to Bishop Lawrence, then he is subject to examination by his fellow bishops as to whether or not he has abandoned the communion of this Church by conduct clearly calculated to destroying the Diocese as it currently exists so that it can be reconstituted in ACNA or AMiA or some other off-shore drilling company, with him as the resigned bishop, now un-resigned in new quarters.

"What goes round, comes round." If the parishes are indeed voluntarily part of the Diocese and can leave and take their marbles with them, they may just do so, and then the bishop has a choice to either go after them into new lands or stay, but either way he will never again be able to be sure of the people and parishes he is with. And in particular, if he follows the parishes that leave, what if they don't like him and his little ways? They can cut and run again and again. They may run from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, but they may from the next better thing as well, and who knows if they will always love Bishop Lawrence and accept him as their Father in God? Why should they?

Comments (7)

Hmmm. Seems to me this goes counter to the entirety of catholic faith, which Bp. Lawrence claims presumably to be protecting, in that there is no Diocese without the Bishop, and local parishes only because the Bishop cannot be at all celebrations of the Eucharist and other sacraments. The implication here is that parishes constitute a Diocese, when in actuality a Bishop in a place, assisted by presbyters and overseeing the deacons, taking care of the people entrusted to his or her care, that constitutes a Diocese. This, as I'm sure sure others have observed, is just congregationalism with vestments. He'd be more catholic if he left well enough alone!

"We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us;
but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood" (1 John 4:6)

Is not the Diocese of South Carolina doing exactly what God asks us to do? CHOOSING to accept Him as our Lord and Savior? He has ransomed Himself to us, not we to Him.

Why is TEC so afraid of letting all of the parishes/dioceses go, because these parishes might take off their blinders and see the National Church for what it really is? - Not a Church at all, but a sad collection of theologians/politicians floundering around having lost their way?

Come boldly to the throne of Grace!

Pay attention before it is too late.

As a great Episcopal Liturgist once said:

1)Jesus Christ is Lord;loyalty to him must transcend all other loyalties;

2)the church is the earnestness of his kingdom; through the Holy Spirit, Christians are to seek to realize on earth what they will be when Christ appears in glory;

3)the eucharist is the great action of the church; it is both the pleading of and the showing forth here and now the accomplished act of redemption.

Maranatha! Morgan Falk

This is an obvious Shell Game, and I think the courts will see it for precisely what it is: FRAUD.

JC Fisher

God bless and defend the Episcopal Church!

For those that want to go their separate ways, let them! Hatred of gays is not a valid reason to start a new church.

Morris Post

I wish that I could be convinced that the dio of SC was so pure in its motivations as to think that all that is involved is the pure and unadulterated loyalty to their vision of the Gospel. For my part, I would think that the national church might work to do some sort of property management in separation cases that would be more like divorce settlements. It is clear, however, that from the stories of leaving churches that there are almost always minorities opposed to leaving. As a diocese trying hard to establish the validity of its minority point of view in the national church, I see nothing that would defend the rights of the minorities in SC that do not share the convictions of Bishop Lawrence, so I would not, I think try to paint SC as the "righteous remnant." From my standpoint, indivisible "property" such as church buildings should be sold and the proceeds divided proportionately between leavers and stayers. That way, everyone loses as should be the case in a divorce--no winners in a broken relationship, just wounded losers in need of healing.

@Morgan I like your phrase describing us as a "sad collection." Having always considered my self as more or less a "mess," I think seeing ourselves as a "sad collection" is a good starting place. Funny, somehow I always got the idea that humility was a virtue? Let me see what was that chief deadly sin, something that begins with a P?

Remind me again why Bishop Lawrence's election was ultimately consented to?

(I grow weary of people who are clearly not dealing with us in good faith being treated as if they are.)

If the parishes already own their property as the diocese claimed after the SC Supreme Court decision in favor of the Pawleys Island secessionists (this was the argument for not contesting St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant), then there is no reason for the diocese to issue quit claim deeds. It is redundant. The real reason is elsewise.

This is an in-your-face snarl at TEC defying every attempt to make a reasonable settlement. In fact, Bp. Lawrence has told his people that the gulf between himself and the presiding bishop is "unbridgeable." There is every indication that Lawrence believes he will be removed. If that happens, in all probability the majority of the partishes will vote to leave TEC with him at the diocesan convention next March. He and his secessionist allies are planning beyond all that. However, thay have a major problem in lack of money for court fights. Diocesan funds were drained by the previous bishops' contests in the Pawleys Island case. My hunch is that this measure is meant to tie the hands legally of the reconstituted Episcopal diocese in the property disputes that are certain to come between the Episcopal diocese and the break-away parishes.

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