Rules of dis-engagement

Framed as principles for "engagement" with the Episcopal Church, the leadership of the Diocese South Carolina have unveiled five proposed resolutions designed to disengage from the Episcopal Church but stopping short of actual withdrawal. They parallel what Bishop Lawrence said to the clergy of the diocese on August 13.

#1: “The Lordship of Christ and the Sufficiency of Scripture”

Stating that "recent pronouncements by the Presiding Bishop and resolutions of the General
Convention have raised questions about the content and nature of the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church," this resolution tacks a signing statement on to the ordinal.

The resolution says that their doctrine, worship and discipline is expressed in the "theology of the historic prayer books" without defining which prayers books count as "historic." Is this understanding limited to the lineage of American prayer books 1662 through 1979 plus 1549 and 1552? Does this understand include other prayer books such New Zealand's (or, for that matter our own?) or books such as Canada's 1928 book?

Resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina reaffirms its commitment to live its corporate life under the authority of Holy Scripture (Articles of Religion, Art. VI and XX) and the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ (Art. XVIII) and commits to exercising all such actions as the Bishop and Standing Committee may believe edifying to the Body of Christ in bearing that witness and bringing to light such actions as contravene those essentials to “upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order” (Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States: Preamble) as we have received them: and be it

Further Resolved, that the following statement shall constitute our understanding of the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church and shall be read at all ordinations in The Diocese of South Carolina, and a copy of which shall be attached to the Oath of Conformity signed by the ordinand at such service of ordination: “In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the 'doctrine, discipline and worship' of The Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

#2: “Godly Boundaries”

This resolution echoes Bishop Lawrence's words in describing the Episcopal Church as both dysfunctional in our common life and decision-making and deliberate in violating our own constitution and canons. It is also assumed that resolutions expressing "the mind of the Communion" at a given Lambeth Conference carries a doctrinal weight equal or surpassing an individual provinces own councils. The resolution places the responsibility for repentance on the "bodies" of the Episcopal Church but leaves the terms of adequate repentance entirely with the Diocese of South Carolina.

Resolved that this Diocese authorize the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions; and be it

Further resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).

#3: “Domestic Engagement for Missional Relationships”

The writers of the motion believe that the Diocese of South Carolina "is uniquely positioned to be a source of encouragement and resource for equipping the faithful who feel isolated in other parts of the Episcopal Church." This resolution encourages parishes to set up relationships with other parishes deemed "orthodox" and "isolated" without regard to the Bishops and relationships of these other parishes in other dioceses.

The phrase "relationships with orthodox congregations isolated around North America" may open the way for parishes to do their own border crossing by including Canada and Mexico in the places where they may engage in partnerships. This also may be the way that the Diocese of South Carolina may establish relationships with ACNA and CANA congregations.

Resolved that this Diocese, committing itself to remain focused on our gospel mission effectively to reach both the lost and unchurched, will work in partnership with such Dioceses as are willing to form Missional Relationships providing gatherings for Bishops, clergy and laity for the express purpose of evangelism, encouragement, education and mission: therefore, be it further

Resolved that the parishes of this Diocese are encouraged to enter into their own Missional Relationships with orthodox congregations isolated across North America and to pursue effective initiatives which are lay-led and supported.


#4: “Emerging 21st Century Anglicanism”

This resolution is based on the assumption that the Diocese of South Carolina has "inherent sovereign authority" because it is a "founding Diocese of the Episcopal Church."

It appears to set up a mechanism to redirect money away from the mission of the Episcopal Church towards purposes of its own choosing. Additionally, it appears to assume the diocese can interact with other dioceses and provinces independently from the Episcopal Church. Nothing here about accountability within one's own province, except that the province must act in the way the diocese wants.

Resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina endorses the Ridley draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, as it presently stands, in all four sections, as an expression of our full commitment to mutual submission and accountability in communion, grounded in a common faith.


#5: "The Rubric of Love"

This resolution places homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered sexuality solely within the categories of sin and assumes their reversibility even as it attempts to set a boundary around discrimination. The resolution does not speak against violence against GLBT persons as firmly as it speaks in favor of the right to correct the behavior of the GLBT neighbor.

Whereas the Diocese of South Carolina recognizes we have all been created in God‟s image and are precious in his sight, and

Whereas we acknowledge we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and stand equally in need of his mercy and grace, we thankfully and humbly,

Resolve that this Diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Nevertheless, we will speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture commends for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ. It is love of neighbor and the abiding concern for their spiritual well being that compels such honesty and will never allow us to remain silent.

With these resolutions, the Diocese of South Carolina would set itself up as a kind of rump or shadow church for conservatives within the Episcopal Church. Their passage would also send a message to those same conservative Episcopalians that a relationship with this diocese is a better Anglican alternative to joining a separate denomination, such as ACNA.

Read the rest here.

H/T to T19.

Comments (12)

"begin withdrawing [the diocese, presumably] from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to..."

Withdrawing what -- your membership or your participation? Leaving or absent? This sounds more like leaving without leaving than it does like absent without leaving, a way of following the path of Fort Worth et al. without saying you've left. Is it more honorable or less?

Would those bodies include the Church Pension Group? Can participants in the Medical Trust health plans cover their same sex partner?

Tough love would allow the Diocese of SC to experience the consequences of their actions (when and if they become actions). The idea of distance from the pension fund and the health insurance program seems reasonalbe since we know they wouldn't want to "pick and choose."

Don't you kind of wonder how people would respond if, say, Kevin Thew Forrester proposed adding language of his own devising to the rite of ordination?

those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered

Love the not-so-subtle declaration that being GLTB is only a "belief"...

It's at moments like this that I am REALLY glad I was not on one of the Standing Committees that voted to consent to +Lawrence's election. It must feel horrible to know you've been had.

Paige Baker

One hardly knows where to begin with this collection of statements.

I agree with Jim that, if KTF's alterations to prayerbook rites were sufficient to deny consent to his elevation to the Episcopate, then a "unilateral move on the chessboard" to amend the ordinal certainly should get some attention.

I find it ironic that the diocese of SC feels that its position as a "founding" diocese of the Episcopal Church grants it a status that is higher than those dioceses that were created later. It really sounds a great deal like the language used in document of secession of SC prior to the Civil War.

A few lines for our edification from that:

"We, therefore, the people of South Carolina, by our delegates, in convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the union heretofore existing between this state and the other states of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent state, with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do."

I cannot see that these resolutions do anything less. They assert that SC is the true church, that they are not bound by the actions of the erroneous general convention as they interpret their actions to have been contrary to the constitutions and canons. They assert an independent diplomatic authority to make treaties with foreign powers hostile to TEC. All they retain is their "place." It is a secession in all but name. We can assume only one thing, they want to secede but keep their property.

South Carolina! Have the courage of your convictions, and follow the traditions of your civil fathers in the state and secede in name as well as fact!

I further agree that, if they wish to "withdraw and separate" then they had best also withdraw and separate from benefits such as the pension fund and health care. If they are to "stand in a crucified place," then let them not drink the wine mixed with myrrh and really take up their cross and follow their Lord and Savior in true suffering and self-sacrifice.

"Oath of Conformity signed by the ordinand at such service of ordination: “In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the 'doctrine, discipline and worship' of The Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”"

It sure sounds like innovative liturgy to me... funny, certain members of TEC get accused of tinkering with the BCP. Is this not the same?

Again and again I am sadly relieved that I did not vote to consent to the election of Mark Lawrence nor did our Standing Committee. We agonised for HOURS over this one consent.

Well one wonders whether they think the Church Pension Group has "assented to actions contrary." And while they have some time to stall about the denominational health plan, I think the pension issue is interesting. However, what I want to see is whether they participate in the consent process for the episcopal elections in Minnesota and Los Angeles, especially if someone is elected with whom they disagree. If they send in their letters, it ought to be highlighted as a violation of Resolution 2.

Marshall Scott

Bishop Lawrence will be the featured attraction at Albany's Clergy Conference this weekend. Unfortunately, many (most?) moderate and liberal priests in the diocese wouldn't be caught dead at that event. Result: Promotion of the noxious fiction that Albany is solidly conservative-evangelical.

Come on, clergy: "Silence is consent!"

Robert Dodd

I do not doubt their sincerity, but really believed that the people of South Carolina would be better served, and God more pleased, if the "leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina" would get out of their offices, away from their computers, and feed the poor, visit the sick and imprisoned, then return to their sanctuaries for praise and thanksgiving.

[Hello first-time commenter. For future comments to be approved please follow our policy of giving first and last name. Thanks - eds.]

Well, I suppose the the Diocese of SC has a corner on Jesus as Lord.

What about health insurance and pension funds?

Paige referred to Bp. Lawrence's insulting words, which he also used in his address to his clergy:

those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered

I suppose the folks in SC know better and that these beliefs are no more than figments of their imaginations, nothing more than fantasies.

Who will pastor the clergy, parishes, and lay people who wish to remain loyal to TEC?

I'd say, "What a load of BS!" but I'd probably get deleted, so I won't.

June Butler

"Those who believe themselves..." That's a great "politically correct" insult. Perhaps we non-schismatic Episcopalians should refer to the SC diocesan authorities as "those who believe themselves to be" still Episcopalians.

I should have said "the insulting words of the resolution, which Bp. Lawrence also used in his address to the clegy."

Jeffery, I heart your politically correct insult.

June Butler

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