South Carolina Supreme Court rules property belongs to The Episcopal Church

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The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the property dispute between a breakaway diocese and The Episcopal Church. For both parties, the decision was a long time coming. The Court heard the case nearly two years ago.

AP has the story:

South Carolina’s top court has ruled that dozens of parishes that split with The Episcopal Church over theological issues including the ordination of gay priests cannot take valuable property with them.

The state Supreme Court made that decision Wednesday for 29 breakaway parishes that left the national church in 2012.

The Post and Courier:

In a highly anticipated ruling, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that 29 local parishes that left The Episcopal Church cannot take their property with them, a decision that could set the stage for a massive exchange of historic church properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, several parishes that broke away from the national church can take their properties with them because they never agreed to let the national church hold it in trust, unlike the others, a majority of justices ruled.

After hearing arguments in the case almost two years ago, the justices issued a complex 77-page divided opinion that leaves some of the Holy City’s most historic church properties in the hands of The Episcopal Church. Now-retired Chief Justice Costa Pleicones wrote in the lead opinion that he would reverse the entire lower court order that allowed parishes that left the national church to take church properties, the diocesan name and identifying marks with them.

St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center is included in the properties that must be returned to the Episcopal Church.

Both parties have 15 days to ask for a rehearing.

There is also a long-stalled case before a federal court over trademarks of the diocese. It is expected there will be movement in that case now that the state court has ruled. However, writing for the majority on the state Supreme Court, Acting Justice Pleicones states “the trial court erred in holding that the Respondents’ state-registered trademarks prevail over TEC’s federally-protected trademarks, and therefore would also reverse that portion of the order. ”

At the heart of Pleicones’ opinion is the Court’s earlier decision in Court’s decision in All Saints Parish Waccamaw v. The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, 385 S.C. 428, 685 S.E.2d 163 (2009) (All Saints) and application of the Supreme Court of the United States case Jones v. Wolf. Pleicones notes that following All Saints the diocese took steps that led to its breakaway from the Episcopal Church. Regarding All Saints he writes,

I would now overrule All Saints to the extent it held the Dennis Canon and the 1987 amendment to the Lower Diocese’s Constitution were ineffective in creating trusts over property held by or for the benefit of any parish, mission, or congregation in the Lower Diocese. The result in All Saints was obtained without considering the religious documents and texts, including the Diocesan Constitution, which formed the foundation of the relationships between All Saints Parish, the Lower Diocese, and TEC, and by ignoring the premise of Jones that a hierarchical church could direct the disposition of property in case of a schism with a minimal burden. Specifically, All Saints failed to acknowledge that, as a matterof church governance and administration, All Saints Parish had agreed to be bound by the “trust terms” found in the Dennis Canon and the Diocesan Constitution through its voluntary promises of allegiance, upon which the hierarchical church is founded, and by its conduct in remaining affiliated with TEC after 1979, and with the Lower Diocese after 1987. All Saints‘ failure to consider the entirety of these ecclesiastical relationships, the governing documents, and the parties’ conduct, aswell as the assurances given  the Jones‘ majority that a hierarchical church could direct the ownership of property in the case of a schism, led to a violation of the command of Pearson that a court look at the entirety of the dispute, including the hierarchal church’s constitution, canons, and rules, before determining whether the dispute can be resolved purely by the application of state law.

Our earlier reporting on the case:

June 15, 2015, Breakaway diocese rejects settlement

September 23, 2015, Supreme Court of SC hears case

A statement from the loyal diocese urges a pastoral response:

A Message from Bishop Adams:

The South Carolina Supreme Court today issued a ruling in our appeal of the state court decision in Dorchester County, and that decision is generally in favor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. We are grateful for this decision and for the hard work of the court in rendering it. We also give thanks to God for the faithfulness, support, and sacrifices of countless Episcopalians within our diocese and throughout the Church.

This is a lengthy and detailed ruling, and our legal team and leadership will be studying it closely in the days ahead. It is important to note that the legal system allows for periods of judicial review and possible appeal, so it will be some time before we can say with certainty what the journey ahead will look like. Please be patient and know that we will keep you updated along the way as information becomes available to us.

As clergy and lay leaders, you are likely to have opportunities to respond to the ruling within your congregation, as well as to the wider public. As you consider what to say, please keep in mind that

– This ruling is one step on a longer journey and much is unknown at this point. Speculation will not be helpful.

– We can give thanks to God while avoiding excessive celebration. Kindness and graciousness are in order.

– Remember that our ultimate goal is reconciliation and unity, joining with our Lord in the desire that we all may be one.

– We ask for your ongoing prayer for the life of the Church in the service of Christ.

In the next few days, we will continue to communicate with the clergy and lay leadership about what is taking place. A formal statement from the Bishop’s Office will be issued to the public later today. We anticipate calling a meeting soon for diocesan leadership to review the decision, receive legal advice and consider the next steps.

The breakaway diocese issued this response:

On August 2, 2017 the South Carolina Supreme Court announced their ruling in the case involving the Diocese of South Carolina, its trustees and 36 parishes.

The issues in this case are complicated and our legal counsel is reviewing the ruling, its implications and deliberating the appropriate response.

We ask for your patience and call on of the clergy, laity and friends of the diocese to keep the matter in prayer.

Added 8:33 PM – another statement from the breakaway diocese.

 


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73 Responses to "South Carolina Supreme Court rules property belongs to The Episcopal Church"
  1. I am glad to hear this. While I have some minor quibbles with the court's understanding of the accession clause, justice has been done.

    Particularly appalling was Lawrence's disingenuous and unethical behavior prior to the split. And given reports that he may have intentionally wasted diocesan assets in order to pursue a poison pill strategy, I am okay with it if he is held personally liable.

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  2. It is good this is getting settled in SC. It was obvious from the beginning that there were several parishes whose original deeds contained wording that would allow them to retain their property, but those were exceptions to the rule.

    I would think the real Diocese of SC would work out deals with the former Anglicans to purchase parish property in cases where a viable Episcopal congregation is absent or not large enough to maintain the building. They're previous offer to negotiate was ignored, but I think the disgruntled former Episcopalians will probably come to the table now that they are learning they can't just walk out and take everything with them.

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    • All Saints Church stayed with the TEC and is part of what is now called the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. St. Luke's on the other end of the island had followed Bishop Lawrence.

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      • Thank you! I misspoke, meant to question if St. Luke's property was affected by ruling or were they on short list of those who left but keep there property.

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  3. I hope that some of the initial fires have died down and passions have cooled a bit. It was important for the principle of property ownership by the remaining Diocese of SC to be established, but of course, they can't realistically fill or maintain all of those buildings. Perhaps now there can be some kind of resolution that benefits both current Episcopalians and the former ones and helps further the mission of the church in different ways.

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  4. All Saints Hilton Head did not leave TEC. St. Luke's did, but it is not one of the seven churches that keep the property in this ruling; according to the SC Supreme Court, St. Luke's property will be returned to TEC.

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  5. What Would Jesus Do if a diocese disaffiliates from the Episcopal Church for reasons of conscience? Just thank them for their past support, celebrate the rich years past, and set them free to pursue their pilgrimage as the Spirit leads them?

    South Carolina appears to have been a natural experiment testing the null hypothesis that it is more faithful, prudent, and humane to impose a penalty. The result can and will be debated.

    It was not faithful to pursue years of litigation in the civil courts against fellow Christians. This could not have been done amicably, and unsurprisingly, it was not.

    It is unlikely that the value of the properties to the General Convention, if any, exceeds the heavy cost to it of the litigation pursued. Even thinking missionally about South Carolina, new churches in a fresh, convinced diocese would have cost much less and accomplished much more.

    While there are some who are passionate about real estate law, the people who worship in church buildings probably care more about them.

    The overall impression left is that the Episcopal Church has an unworthy institutional hatred of those who cannot agree with it. The psychology of that hatred is more interesting and important than the law as determined by the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

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    • With all due respect, the Lawrence crowd filed suit against TEC. Moreover, it refused the TEC offer to keep all parish buildings if it would return diocesan property. So, help me understand: Why did the Lawrence crowd need diocesan property? And how is it "good faith," when Lawrence took an oath to remain in TEC, yet it turns out he had made a decision to the contrary years earlier?

      I, more than many, have seen firsthand just how ugly TEC can be. But in this matter, I can only say that Jesus would have had scant use for Lawrence's hypocrisy.

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      • Well said, accurately said, and time for the breakaways to move on, establish their own churches as they wish, and pay for them themselves. The ECUSA, has some faults, but is a broad tolerant and pluralist Church one and represents INclusion; so many of these breakaways were EXclusionary.

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      • You are right on the facts. Absolutely. The breakaways began this mess and now they have their answer from the courts.

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  6. I read the 7 parishes retaining property are as follows:

    Christ the King (Pawleys Island)
    St. Matthew (Darlington)
    St. Andrew (Mt. Pleasant)
    St. Paul (Conway)
    Prince George (Georgetown)
    St. John (Florence)
    St. Matthias (Summerton)

    All remaining property will be returned to the rightful owners. There is still one more lawsuit awaiting a decision, but it's about getting the name back.

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  7. Frankly, I am much more concerned about the Episcopal Church retaining our historic properties, such as St. Philip's, St. Michael's and St. Andrew's, etc. These and other historic properties should be retained come what may, even if for a period we have to operate them as "museums." As far as the other properties are concerned, I'm sure that we can work out a fair settlement.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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    • Retain as museums? God doesn't care about museums for ourselves. These congregations in SC are among the fastest growing, most vibrant in the nation. Why would you not let them continue to retain & operate the property they have worked to provide, maintain & improve on?

      [First and last name on comments please. - ed.]

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  8. "Hatred" by the Episcopal Church? YOUR words and inflamatory angry ones. How unchristian and uncharitable. The court has spoken and taken almost two years to do so, which is shameful. The federal court will lean heavily now on this decision. Lawrence and those who supported him used division, and anger and seized these churches -- almost always without a democratic vote by parishioners but manipulation by reactionary clergy. They have lost. He needs to retire and if he and his followers want to set up their own churches, then of course they can do so. I am proud of the pluralism and inclusion of our national Church and attempts by breakaway schismatics have failed again and again and caused division and turmoil.

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  9. Bowman Walton, you have things backward. It was the breakaway parishes and diocese that filed suit in SC. The Episcopal Church was the defendant in the original case.

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  10. The popular translation of the Bible has resulted in 500 years of "inspired" clerics and lay people listening to the Holy Spirit - albeit a little bit, and their own egos and ambitions maybe a lot. I admire the Congregational movement in my own New England region (UCC) for its practicality and reliance on the educated clergy and educated congregations to follow their own conscience in voluntary association.
    I chose to be an Anglican of the Episcopal Church variety. That choice comes with Apostolic seccession, episcopal leadership and a requirement of discipline. One that I chose. The unhappy people of the breakaway parishes in lower South Carolina can't be both fish and fowl at the same time. Secession doesn't work once you've agreed to the confession.
    Taking the silver and the bank books is very bad manners and compounded by expecting the courts to twist the law into knots to justify illegal hortatory righteousness.

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  11. [tgflux - please use your first and last name - thanks editor]

    "fastest growing, most vibrant"

    Fastest growing, most vibrant WHAT? Altars to Bigotry? Perverters of the Gospel? Yes: I would prefer MUSEUMS to *that*.

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  12. As a fourth great grandson of The Reverend Paul Trapier Gervais, Rector of ST Michael's Church on John's Island, it is preferable to remain within the National Church in a manner akin to the Diocese of Texas. Baptized and confirmed there prior to relocating to Christ Church Las Vegas in 1987 I much prefer to work within the system. Though a progressive conservative minded person, continued programs for our youth and others making a positive difference in anyone's life take top priority.

    As a repeat Vestryman past experiences have great value in working well with a current diverse group. Meanwhile our 21 month old granddaughter in Houston thoroughly enjoys the programs at ST Martin while her recently born twin brothers will be baptized there in October. Both sons who were baptized there continue their membership while our oldest daughter-in-law was confirmed by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury at ST Martin over a year ago. Our youngest son who lives in Brooklyn has been involved with outstanding outreach programs.

    Let's stick to the basics!

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  13. I hope that TEC is thinking about the practicalities and optics. Take St Michael's and St Philip's, both historical properties in the heart of Charleston, parishes I know well. The percentage of parishioners who will happily identify with TEC? I'd guess no more than 20%. These are extremely healthy churches whose entire identity is connected to Diocese of South Carolina theology and practice. Subtract these folks and you will have tiny populations inside extremely expensive-to-maintain properties. Now multiply this by a factor of 20 throughout the entire diocese, in Sumter, Beaufort, Summerton, and scattered across the counties. There will of course be a few exceptions where one might hope for 50% splits in loyalties, but these are very rare, even at a place like Hilton Head. I have not read the legal opinion but now we have rulings in TX, Illinois and SC at odds with each other. But I know Charleston like a second home and the people of the Diocese. I'd watch what is being said from historical churches like St Michael's and St Philip's, the Cathedral, the strong parish in Beaufort. I doubt many people will stay and not enough for the parishes to be viable. "Museum" is probably the most honest term, seen above in comments. Expensive and empty museums, as well. As for leasing them back, given all the rancor, that seems doubtful.

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  14. Post and Courier notes,

    "The ruling presents a dilemma for The Episcopal Church, which though largely victorious Wednesday now must decide what to do with so many reclaimed church properties that might have few congregants filling the pews."

    The swap for the camp deal required forfeit of copyright retention. That is still being adjudicated because the SC judges could not agree and decided to let the federal courts rule.

    and on the divided nature of the court itself,

    "Now-retired Chief Justice Jean Toal voted to uphold the trial court order but acknowledged the difficulty of the case and "five different, strongly-held opinions" among justices."

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  15. maybe. maybe not. one of my major learnings from reading about the religious upheavals in the English Church after Henry VIII is the willingness of the vast majority of people to float with the current as it flowed from Roman to national, and back and forth eventually coursing midstream over the span of a century. Maybe the people of these SC parishes will be relieved to go to Church and be done with the cultural wars, listen to the homily and sing the hymns.

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  16. During the past decade people had ample opportunity to take sides and leave, or stay. Those remaining are dedicated to the larger cause. If not, the parish on Wentworth Avenue has happily received them as faithful to TEC. Will they now return to the empty former parish home at St Philip's or St Michael's and make them viable?

    "Maybe the people of these SC parishes will be relieved to go to Church and be done with the cultural wars, listen to the homily and sing the hymns."

    That "maybe" needs to become a reality. In Newport Beach it was very difficult and this is a very different climate of contention and loyalties in the lowcountry. Add to that the serious division amongst the Justices themselves.

    This is not Henry VIII era cultural reality with its parish systems.

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  17. It will take a while for the ramifications of this on the ground to become clear. The Bishop posted there probably will need staff support from 815, considering the challenges ahead.

    Parishes are of course more than head count and buildings. They consist of clergy, clergy teams at big parishes, teachers, staff, musicians, vestries, etc. All of the clergy presently active in the EDSC decided over the years not to leave. They voted a month ago unanimously to join ACNA. They had to find pension and health care provisions some years ago and did so. They were all defrocked by +KJS some years back.

    All 29 parishes will have to start all over and find and hire priests who will in turn assemble staffs. If big parishes that had clergy teams of 5 become much smaller, it will now take one experienced person to deal with the start-up, pastoral challenge due to history of conflict. The chancellor of the diocese is a long time member of St Michael’s and vestryman of long standing. One can only imagine the pain and anger that has divided neighbor from neighbor, now ending in this. Vestries will have to be formed and job descriptions written and funds secured.

    The Justices were divided over titles, seals, copyright and have deferred to federal court, so the new entity will presumably remain under its provisional title TEC in SC, and under that banner will start advertising for clergy. It will take a special person who can wade into this and begin trying to make it work.

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  18. I wonder if the typical blogger understands the character of the big parish entities that largely no longer exist in TEC, whose average size in under 60 and age comparable? The two downtown parishes in Charleston show 13 clergy and major staffs of educators, program directors, programming, etc. Websites are available for perusal. Most of this will be dismantled in the months to come. All the clergy will leave, and the people working alongside them will have to see what their options are.

    The thing to watch is the messages coming out from their rectors to their people. Everyone is now likely stunned.

    I just want the practical challenge to be properly weighed, now that victory has been declared on the basis of a 3-2 decision. These are not your average TEC parishes and their parishionners are part of the warp and woof of EDSC. A similar story will be told at Beaufort, the Cathedral, and St Paul's Summerville, and on its goes. Kendall Harmon's parish on Yonge's Island. Etc.

    The Post and Courier certainly sees this correctly in terms of on the ground realities.

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    • Christopher - you are over your limit for today. Thanks for commenting. Remember everyone - 4 per day on the same subject is our limit. Also attacks on others will result in your comment being put in the trash. Stay on topic and speak your point of view without rancor. Thanks. Ann - editor

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  19. Judge Weston Houck, who has continued to ignore the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals' mandate to hear the continuing Diocese of SC's suit for restoration of title to the name "Diocese of South Carolina", died two weeks ago. Presumably the Appeals Court will now assign the case to a judge prepared to hear the case. The Federal suit is the reason why the SC Chief Justice abstained on this matter, leaving Judge Goodstein's wrong-headed ruling temporarily intact.

    It was my understanding that Episcopal Cafe limited comments to two per person, per day, on any given thread: is this no longer the case?

    [It is the case that comments are limited. We rely on self-enforcement outside of regular business hours. Regular commenters should be aware of that policy. - ed.]

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  20. It can't be easy for someone so convinced of the righteousness of their cause to suddenly find they are wrong, professor, but trying so valiantly to spin this win into a loss is disingenuous. The plain truth: I doubt anyone thinks there will be enough faithful Episcopalians to keep all these properties intact and functioning as parishes. People filling the pews have been fed a steady diet of specious ideas and propaganda about TEC for a decade now, and that cannot be erased overnight. At the moment, I can imagine that "stunned" is a very appropriate adjective to describe how they are feeling. I'd wager they thought they were going to get away with all this.

    I think the best possible outcome would be for the real diocese to figure out where viable parishes exist (paying special attention to those parishes meeting in exile) and come up with a list of parishes that could remain with the Lawrence group. This is no easy task. It will take time and need input from laypeople on both sides. Once they know exactly where things stand, they can begin to negotiate with the schismatics for the properties that can remain with the Lawrence faction. There's no reason this mess can't be straightened out and made to benefit both sides. Is it too much to hope both churches can not exist and minister in South Carolina?

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    • PS My hope is that we might even go a step further and see reunification. By now, I believe many who have affiliated with Lawrence realize that they were misled.

      At the end of the day, we have more in common than not. And those who oppose marriage equality must recognize that, like it or not, it is the law of the land.

      As Elizabeth I once said, "I have no desire to have a window into men's heart." Or, the focus should be on worship and service. The rest will sort itself out.

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  21. Our sad divisions have caused deep pain the lives our our people. Church hurts live long because the causes are often rooted in our own sin and our inability to live each other in the light of the Gospel of our Lord.

    The Church belongs to Christ, and we ALL are his living presence and light on Earth.

    On one hand I rejoice in this ruling, on the other hand I am deeply disturbed to see the polarization of our American Culture relfected in the Body of Christ.

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  22. You misunderstand me, “Diplomat.” Reference Kevin Montgomery @ 2:59 pm.

    Our historic properties (e.g., St. Michael’s), should be maintained even if the congregations are small and require substantial aid from the “home office” for a period. Also, there may be parishes in which the schismatics are only just a majority of the area’s self-identified Anglicans/Episcopalians. With some aid and effort, the loyal Episcopalians can probably make these parishes viable, and these properties should also be retained by the Episcopal Church.

    In the non-historic parishes which are overwhelmingly schismatic in composition, I don’t see any real benefit of retaining these properties. The loyal TEC congregations which remain in these areas probably cannot maintain them without significant aid for a prolonged period. Fair compensation should be made for these structures by the schismatics, and the monies applied to aid the small TEC congregations in these areas.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  23. Here are some practical questions for folks within TEC in South Carolina. This follows right along with Dr. Seitz's comments.

    Where are the clergy going to come from to immediately fill the 29 churches in question? Is there a continuing St. Philip's Church, St. Michael's, the Cathedral, St. Helena's in Beaufort, etc. or have those parishioners joined other loyal TEC congregations? I believe that Dr. Seitz was generous in his number of 20% who would be loyal to the building. Even if that is the case, the operating costs alone would sink just those 4 parishes listed above. How does one seek to reconcile this? Where does Camp St. Christopher fit into the equation?

    Looking forward to hearing the answers to these questions.

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  24. I feel sorry for so many of you as you seem to have nothing more than hatred, revenge, and malice in your hearts. TEC has done nothing to support these properties; that has been done by their congregations. It's no wonder why the congregations filed suit based on the uncharitable past TEC has shown to congregations who previously voted to leave. So, you want TEC to take the properties from their congregations and then said congregations to buy them back? In what way does this show charity, love, or understanding? If it lacks these, then there is nothing Christian about it. I love TEC, but I love the Lord more. Many of us chose God over Church. You have twisted the commandments to change doctrine to what is socially desired and worldly rather than what is godly and biblical. Next, you will offer the golden calf to the congregations who left to attempt a return to TEC. I'll stay with the Lord. We are the blessed ones who the Lord has chosen to remind us that he is before all earthly material buildings. We'll gather, praise, and worship outdoors in the heat of summer or the cold of winter to prove our love of God. We are not bitter; we are happy in the Lord. You can fool the folks here, but you cannot cheat yourself or God. In the end we all have to answer to God and only God. When you answer for your actions and desires of your hearts, then know that he knows the truth. I pray the Lord remove the bitterness from your hearts and the desire to cause hardship to others. AMEN

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    • You breakaways really do throw out nasty charges like "hatred, malice," etc. Shame on you. There is no question, as discovery in documents has shown, that the Lawrenceites had a prepared secret agenda to damage the national Church and build up a mythical large separate independent "Episcopal" (not) denomination. This has failed miserably across the whole USA. The dishonesty has been shocking -- were votes taken in every parish in SC among the members? No! Only a handful. Hardly democratic. The ECUSA is INclusive, not EXclusive to gay people, women clergy/bishops, gay clergy/bishops, gay couples marrying (law of the land -- Supreme Court). The schismatics falsley and regularly advertised themselves in SC and Charleston as "Episcopalians" or "Anglicans" but as the Archbishop of Canterbury told them, they are not part of the Anglican Communion! These are inconvenient facts but they are facts. Lawrence and his friends were given a generous offer by Bishop Adams -- they churlishly and arrogantly rejected it. They thought quite wrongly that the law was on their side. It was not. It will not be either in the federal case and the US Supreme Court is most unlikely to agree to hear the case. Let us move on in comity now. Nobody wants the great churches to become museums or have people running them who has views which are best shown in ...museums! The future is Christian pluralism and tolerance of difference.

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  25. "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" is easier to say than to do, and some South Carolinians found it so difficult that they left TEC rather than wrestle with it. There's nothing really wrong individuals leaving, of course. But when disaffected clergy broke their vows to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church things went awry. These clergy should have asked to be released from their vows instead, and then started their own "Anglican" body from scratch. Ethical behavior required nothing less than that.

    The result of their failure has been an acrimonious and protracted squabble engendering deep divisions on both sides. These divisions will probably take a long time to heal. That healing must begin with both honesty and prayer. We can and must forgive, but should not forget the serious errors in leadership that led to this. Overcoming our sad divisions requires nothing less than that.

    And all of the people, not just the clergy, will be paying the price for a long time to come.

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  26. You'd rather have museums than houses of worship? Wow, and you why these congregations left. Bless your poor misguided heart.

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    • Hmm...it seems to me the breakaways who plotted with Lawrence (and it was a plot; most congregations did not have a VOTE of parishioners on leaving but were led (not) by the Lawrenceites; so much for church "democracy"). I would suggest that the plotters have a "museum" mindset, set in the past not the present or the pluralistic/inclusive future. They are the misguided ones and they have "guided" their confused flocks into the wilderness....

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  27. As a follow-up.

    I went to the study your congregation page on the TEC website http://pr.dfms.org/studyyourcongregation/Charts.aspx

    I don't know the names of all of the affected 29 congregations, but the largest ones listed in my comment above are not TEC parishes any longer. Who is going to file articles of incorporation to now become the "Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of St. Philip's Church"? Where are these people? Are they going to leave Grace or Calvary or St. Stephen's or Holy Communion just to keep those doors open? Has anyone thought through the practical implications of all of this?

    Fr. Will McQueen

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  28. These are legitimate questions, Fr. Will, and others have raised them as well. I have some observations in this regard.

    Obviously some of our historic properties, such as St. Philip’s Charleston, may have substantially smaller congregations in the immediate future. Of course, over time congregations can be built up. In the short term, however, we must be prepared to aid the loyal Episcopalians who are willing to step forward to take up new leadership roles. Such aid can be financial in nature. Aid may also take the form of making personnel available—perhaps there are retired clergy who would be willing to relocate to a warmer climate who can perform pastoral functions for a fraction of the cost of full-time rectors and curates..?

    The fact that the broader public sees buildings such as St. Philip’s as icons of the entire community will aid the Episcopal Church in maintaining them. As historic properties, they undoubtedly qualify for grant monies (e.g., Trinity Wall Street, state and national historical societies, non-sectarian federal grants programs, etc.), which can be applied toward maintenance. Raising funds from the general public to help in their preservation has long been a successful means of helping to maintain them—as well as a means of attracting potential worshipers.

    We should emphasize that everyone currently worshiping at St. Philip’s and at the other TEC properties which were occupied by the schismatics, is welcome to stay even if they have some disagreements with the TEC. At the same time these folks must understand that “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” means more than just welcoming white, heterosexual, conservatives. TEC means what it says.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  29. With all due respect, why do you say these congregations are among the fastest growing, most vibrant in the nation? All accounts show the schism to be disastrous for Bishop Lawrence's diocese, and it continues to hemorrhage both people and funds.
    ---St. Michael's of Charleston dropped from 1,847 in 2011, to 1,351 in 2015, a loss of 27%.
    ---St. Helena's of Beaufort went from 1,737 in 2011 to 951 in 2015, down 45%
    ---St. Philip's of Charleston declined from 2,677 in 2011 to 1,974 in 2015
    ---Old Saint Andrew's of West Ashley, fell from 962 to 546, down 43%
    I don't take pleasure in these churches' dropping membership; however, my theory is this split was largely due to the vanity of leadership, and the parishes knew very little about what was actually happening and subsequently have little enthusiasm for it. I hope they can find a prayerful and godly way forward.

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    • Yes, you are quite accurate in your figures. And Grace (pro tem, the Cathedral, soon to be restored to the ECUSA now) is packed to the rafters and a happy united place, without the acrimony caused by the breakaways. As I have asked elsewhere, and you have alluded to, why did these Lawrence people not hold votes in all the parishes by their members? Well, we know the answer. Best to "lead" (not) by confusion and not worry about democracy. Pretty shocking way for Christians to behave. This was all about power and the wish to establish a national breakaway church and it has failed miserably a cross the country. The numbers are derisory and ACNA is deeply hierarchical and authoritarian.

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  30. The Fourth Circuit Federal Appeals Court has reassigned the "copyright" suit (right to the "Diocese of SC" name, seals, etc) to Judge Patrick Michael Duffy.

    In a largely unnoticed 2015 decision, Judge Duffy ruled that the Church Insurance Company policy that Mark Lawrence's group had taken out for protection against possible legal action by TEC, was, because it was issued in the name of "the Diocese of South Carolina", to be used for the benefit of the continuing diocese, not that of Mark Lawrence. In consequence, the legal expenses of continuing diocese have been covered by this policy, while the cost of supporting Mark Lawrence's 40 member legal dream team has been supported by a seven figure+ annual levy on his church's congregations. Rumour has it that there is discontent.

    Be interesting to see how Judge Duffy rules.

    On a side issue, the acrimony between judges, evident in yesterday's SC Court ruling, was a little surprising.

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  31. "Getting the name back" is a federal lawsuit that was waiting for this state court decision to continue. This SCSS decision would give the name back to TEC, so one would imagine the federal court may now concur.

    YMMV

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    • Actually, the now-deceased federal Judge Houck twice ignored instruction from the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court to proceed with the case regardless of the State suit. Houck was buried two weeks ago in a ceremony presided over by an ACNA, former Episcopal, clergyman.

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  32. This conversation illustrates how little the courts can actually do to heal heartbreak. Many of us who felt that TEC was a good fit for us socially and theologically have been hurt by the division, which has unofficially made us strangers in both TEC and the breakaway group. I don't like to use what could seem like hyperbole, but my parents devoted their lives to the church and found themselves on opposite sides in the split, and you cannot imagine the pain of watching people in their 80s estranged and openly weeping over something that was once a true foundation of their relationship.

    They're gone now. A reunited church would honor all they did for it, but would do so on an earth that they no longer occupy. As both a believer in a literal Incarnation and Resurrection, and a believer in equality, gay rights, social justice, I get pushback in both places.

    It may not be obvious that I am fine with skepticism about literal interpretation of credal tenets, as well as with embrace of those doctrines - but I am. I don't think it's simple, I don't think I can judge another's heart, I don't think I myself have an absolute grasp of The Truth. If the split could heal, we could worship together. We could stop calling each other either silly and backward, or apostate, and love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. I, in fact, do love those who broke away even while I think they were misled.

    This decision is good. It's justice in the ways of the world, but it doesn't heal the rift. I hope we keep working on that.

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  33. You might read the article above about the plan to proceed carefully and pastorally. I also believe that It is true that the churches rejected the offer to keep their parishes (in exchange for ceding the diocesan properties). TEC did not file suit, the breakaway churches did. Had they accepted TEC's then-very-reasonable-offer, none of this would be happening. I think that spiritual pride and greed are sins too?

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  34. [Please sign your first and last name when you comment - thanks, editor]
    I was a member of the Diocese of San Joaquin until 1995. When we moved the the Carolinas I was shocked to find the new bishop was a clergy member from
    my former Diocese. It felt like the turmoil our family left had followed us. I was well aware of Bishop Lawrence's alliance with Bishop Schofield- his Bishop in California.
    We spend time each year at Pawley's Island in SC. After Lawrence did just what he said he wouldn't do- lead the Diocese out of TEC- it was good to find Holy Cross Memorial, a parish that chose not to leave.

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  35. Sorry, still frustrated by the board re-do. This is JC Fisher, as I have been since this board was "The Blog of Daniel". ;-/

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  36. I'm glad that the court affirmed the principle that you can't take the properties when you leave the church. But I would like to see the practicalities handled as gracefully as possible. My guess is that many folks under 55 will come back when they realize that homophobia isn't a tenant of faith.

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  37. Yes how tragic, churches with present memberships only 20-30 times the size of the average TEC parish.

    St Philip's with 2000 members, seven priests on staff, major programming. How many people will stay? I'd put it at under 10% at this particular parish.

    29 parishes all without any clergy and needing to start over.

    It is good to see some suggestions being put forward. This will take a lot of creative thinking and compassion.

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  38. Well, Doctor Seitz, I wouldn’t worry too much about St. Philips. I’m sure that most Episcopalians would heartily support the national Church giving financial as well as spiritual aid for as long as is necessary. Besides, two hundred loyal congregants, motivated by the spirit of semper reformanda, can have a real impact at this 330-year-old parish. They are a fine nucleus with which to begin to rebuild this Episcopal community. And no doubt many residents of “The Holy City,” those who felt pushed away by the holier-than-thou schismatics, will now feel welcomed to return to the fold. In addition to their bums in the pews, they will also bring their time and talents, their tolerance and traditions of hospitality (to say nothing of their cash), to the “Westminster Abby of South Carolina.” Furthermore, who knows how many very pissed off people will leave ACNA and return to TEC after this debacle? Probably more than one might suppose…particularly younger people who don’t share their parents’ or grandparents’ bigotries.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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    • Agree. In fact, once I am sure it is going to the correct entity. I will personally send a check.

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  39. Sounds like a really exciting plan and cause for rejoicing.

    Adieu to 1800 men, women, children, all clergy and staff, and relatives in the graveyard. Apparently from Brooklyn that sounds like a very good idea.

    While you are sending your checks you might give some thought to younger clergy and their families. The rector, Jeff Miller, is I don't think yet in his fifties. Kind and gracious man.

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    • I'm sure there is a process to welcome him back home should he wish.

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  40. Not trying to make you run out of your daily response quota too fast, honest.

    But your posts seem based on a fear that TEC will run roughshod over these parishes, cast out clergy and staff who need to support families, and run cackling away with the tattered banner of the parish, oblivious to any collateral damage. The earlier offer to let the breakaway parishes keep parish property, if our diocesan name were restored to us, may or may not be on the table - I'm not assuming it will be - but it certainly doesnt portend the crass victory-riot you seem worried about. You're hearing some joy at the upholding of TEC in a case where our good name was dragged in the mud. I feel ok about that joy.

    The ancestors in the graveyards were buried in a TEC graveyard and returning it to TEC probably won't cut their descendants off from them, whether the descendants stay with the parish or go. A substantial number of parishioners may be ardent enough ACNA adherents to leave. Others may have stayed with their family church because it was their family church, and are either fine with TEC or indifferent. I talked to several people at my church when it broke away, who said the legal cases and affiliations were all business and paper matters that didn't interest them much. I don't claim that's a large group, but when the continuity of the parish was not interrupted by the split - same priest, service, study and service groups, BCP - I can see why many would stay no matter which "Anglican" organization that church affiliated with. And especially when they were told they were still an Episcopal church.

    Others who left to stay with TEC might return.

    I.e., if a parish does return to TEC, it might not be as catastrophic as all that. But honestly, those who upheld the Breakaways' character assassination campaign of TEC, calling us, not wrong on this or that theological point, but fully apostate, may feel consequences for that. A vague term but I doubt most of us would support harsh ones. Those higher placed breakaway leaders might have a harder time but are probably better positioned to weather the loss that they knowingly risked.

    I know many workaday congregants were misled by breakaway leaders' allegations about TEC. I know, because for awhile I was one of those who were misled.

    And previous offers of property and good relations indicate to me that TEC would welcome them back.

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  41. Dear Ms Palmer, I appreciate your kind and hopeful comment.

    As President of SEAD and ACI we hosted over 15 conferences in Charleston between 1997 and 2007, at the Cathedral and at St Philips and St Christophers. I was theologian in residence at St Michael's for one sabbatical. My classmates at Christ School were South Carolinians and many from Charleston. I know most of the clergy and have friends at numerous parishes. I have a secondary residence at Sea Pines. I have received emails from all over the diocese in the last days from close friends of many years.

    "But your posts seem based on a fear that TEC will run roughshod over these parishes, cast out clergy and staff who need to support families." No, not based on fear, but on a clear sense of the situation on the ground in a place I have known well from the late sixties. As for casting out clergy, that has already happened. The clergy were deposed and now have pensions and health care arrangements other than TEC by necessity. They cannot serve these parishes even if they wanted to, which is dubious in the extreme. Those who wanted to stay with TEC did so at the time.

    I say this only to be sure the situation isn't misrepresented, even for reasons of wanting all to be well when it manifestly isn't factually speaking, for the principals.

    I suspect your use of the term "breakaways' character assassination" tells us about the steep climb ahead in any case.

    I will try to withdraw from this discussion. I live in France and am soon to retire from TEC. We will continue to enjoy our time at HHI and know God will support his Body the Church in ways that redound to his glory. This has been a painful saga over the years. I will pray for those in the Diocese. Blessings on those charged with trying to bring peace.

    Kind regards in Christ.

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  42. Kurt Hill, I feel sorry for you. You stated, "At the same time these folks must understand that “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” means more than just welcoming white, heterosexual, conservatives. TEC means what it says."

    Are you suggesting that these congregations that left TEC only includes white, heterosexual, and conservative members? I say in charity that you need to remove the hatred and bigotry from you heart.You seem to have let your hatred distort your thinking and have become the very thing that you claim to fight against.

    Too many of TEC members seem to have either forgotten or never learned the Catechism (p. 845, BCP, 1979), and its proclamation on the scriptures being the Word of God (p. 853). The question comes to interpretation. Some things are considered finite and the Will of God while others are interpreted as being social thinking of the time. "Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with creation" (p. 484, BCP, 1979). Just because Church leaders tell us to ignore certain parts of scripture doesn't make it acceptable to God. Which is right is the question.Just because people desire something to be the Will of God doesn't make it so. The golden calf is a prime example. Read Exodus 32 - 34 for an understanding. The will of the people is not always the Will of God, and it is a sin to preach to others that it is.

    Let's talk about love, charity, and greed. One group prays for God to protect the other; the other group seems to wish nothing more than hardship. In 2009 Katharine Jefferts Schori forbade any breakaway church to purchase their own property. In what way does this show charity? In what way does this show love? It doesn't. She is a spiteful woman who lacks the Lord in her heart; her very preaching has gone against the the Catechism and the Articles of Religion (p. 867, BCP, 1979). In 2009 she denied that Jesus is the only way to salvation (http://www.catholic.org/news/national/story.php?id=34091). She fits every definition of a “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15). Some chose to continue to follow her while others decided that it was not the Will of God to follow a leader who professes sin and denies Jesus as being the only way to light.

    In what way have those outside of a congregation supplied anything into property, buildings, etc.? They haven't. Again, in what way is it morally just to take something for which you haven't toiled from those who have? Would Christ say to take what you have neither earned through toil or been given freely to you by those who have? It is greed that fuels TEC. They would rather cut the baby in half than to allow it to remain spiritually alive. Read 1 Kings 3:16-28 for an understanding.

    I shall pray for the Holy Spirit to remove the hatred and bigotry from your heart. Bless your heart!!!

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    • I don't know Mr. Hill nor you, Mr. Cummins, but he didn't use hateful terms, I thought, but yes, robust ones, and fair enough in a serious dialogue after the mess Lawrence caused (and this man and his group did NOT take democratic votes in all the churches among parishioners!). I know SC quite well now from many many visits and contacts in Charleston and elsewhere and I have read the background to the case(s) and statements from the breakaways and the official diocese of the ECUSA led by Bishops VonRosenberg and Adams. i have not heard any hateful statements from the latter group, but I have been shocked by the anger and hateful comments of the former.. I also am shocked by the open dishonesty of clergy in the former group continuing to call themselves "Episcopalian" when they are not, in fact, and "Anglican" when they ally or wish to ally with the so-called ACNA which is NOT part of the Anglican Communion, as the Archbishop of Canterbury has said publicly. You either are a part of the Episcopal Church or you are not. They chose not to be but they falsely advertise in the past and even present that they are "Episcopalians". This is deceitful. If this group wants to keep separate, let them do so, as the court judgement (the SC lower court judgment was nonsensical and the judge in that bizarre case who was going to run for the Supreme Court of SC withdrew her candidacy) of the Supreme Court of SC makes separation inevitable now unless the former group want to return to the ECUSA. The former group was not happy about women bishops, about gay clergy or gay bishops or gay marriage. Fair enough. Then separate from the national Church and good luck and Godspeed. I am proud of our national Church's INclusion, not EXclusion of people of any background, and of its pluralism and opposition to prejudice.

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    • Hi, Mr. Cummings. Your post contains references to disputed theology and to hard facts, and I don't think theology is the ground on which we can be reconciled. The idea that those of us who stayed with TEC followed Katharine Jefferts Schori and her theology might be understandable, but it's not true. What many of us follow is the verse in the Gospel of John that declares Jesus Christ to be the Word of God. I'm neither a fan nor a detractor of KJS. I think she is a distraction from Christian fellowship, and a successful one, and whether she was elected PB in true belief on the part of the majority that she was theologically excellent is not a given. I wish her well. I didn't follow her anywhere. My theology is pretty orthodox. But I obviously have differences with the conservative wing and never joined up.

      Disagreement on theology conveys no right to declare oneself the rightful owner of another's diocesan identity. It conveys the right to leave and organize and associate with the likeminded, and to be respected even by those who disagree, for honorably following one's convictions.

      Does ACNA pray for God to protect TEC? That would be lovely, but hardship is not what TEC wants for ACNA. Since TEC offered them the parish properties, I honestly cannot understand anyone saying that TEC is greed-driven, but when I ask, I get silence, or criticism of TEC doctrine, as though those who "toiled for" their parishes are exclusively those who hold conservative doctrine.

      As though the division was between breakaways who had built the parishes, and TEC adherents who had used those fruits and not contributed. As though only parish conservatives had pledged, supported with money and hands-on work, visited the sick, made pancakes, run committees, been wardens, tended the gardens. My theology is likely to be closer to yours regarding salvation and the creeds, tho probably not identical on some points, but I find your contention that TEC is the party who stole the fruits of conservatives-only hard work to be stunning. Jaw-dropping.

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    • Apropos the comment that ++Katharine was not charitable in forbidding the sale of church assets to the dissidents, there is nothing uncharitable in refusing to be bullied, or refusing to incentivize bad behavior.

      It is one thing for people to leave the church, another thing altogether to try to cart off church assets. And there is a good reason for the Dennis Canon--it provides assurances that the resources we provide today will continue to be used for those same purposes in the future. And I certainly do not want my donations to support an organization that opposes marriage equality.

      In the meantime, one has only to read the AAC's tawdry "Sewickley memo," drafted by Geoff Chapman, a former Episcopal priest, to learn what the real goals of the dissidents were. See https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/article/memo-discloses-aac’s-strategy-replacing-episcopal-church

      I'd add that any strategy that has to be kept secret, per Chapman's own words, at a time when the dissidents were claiming that there goals were very different, should be inherently suspect. Churches maintain confidences; they should not keep secrets.

      And let us not forget that Lawrence was consecrated based on his statement that he did not intend to break with TEC. Yet, pretrial discovery revealed he and others had been scheming toward that very goal long prior to those conversations. Further, he falsely told members of the diocese that the national church was planning to try to seize their local churches.

      Lastly, TEC, with the approval of the PB offered to let the Lawrencians keep their churches. Not buy. Keep. As in "free of charge." That seems a very generous offer, in light of the dissidents' bad behavior. And true to form, Lawrence rejected that offer. So his selfish, bullying behavior has caused harm to many, including those whom he deceived.

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  43. Mr Cummins, further to your point, if we are counting african american Bishops and parishionners, given the presence of the Reformed Episcopal Church, there are more non-white members in ACNA than in TEC.

    I would also be curious whether there are not more african american episcopalians in the EDSC than in most NE dioceses.

    It is very easy to engage in sloganeering at a distance. Your call for prayer is the only tonic, for all on all sides.

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    • Professor Seitz, with respect, you need to cite serious numbers in these comparisons you are making. Among the clergy of the breakaways there are hardly any African Americans, and few women. Where do you get this information you cite about large numbers of AAs among parishioners? This would surprise me. And as for black parishioners in the ECUSA the number may be small but many of them are gay men or women who were not welcome in black churches; I have met them in our own thriving large DC church, St. John's Lafayette Square opposite the White House. The breakaways also sought strong links with homophobic African bishops and then lately Latin American bishops. I have also attended a service in one of the historic Charleston churches seized by the breakaways and there were a handful of AAs among the fairly large congregation. Thanks for your comments.

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  44. PS--More african american bishops overall in ACNA, and more african american parishioners by percentage, is the point of comparison, to be more specific.

    I welcome correction over whether there are more african american parishioners in EDSC than in individual NE dioceses, but my hunch is that is a correct statement, having spent time in both regions.

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  45. “Are you suggesting that these congregations that left TEC only includes white, heterosexual, and conservative members?”—James Cummins

    Hmm. In retrospect, James, I should have added “male” to that list. And, no, I believe it was a more clergy-driven schism than one from grassroots demand. You are welcome to your opinion, James, in matters theological and otherwise.

    And, of course, it is always a pleasure to discuss matters with someone such as yourself, someone who so thoroughly knows the Mind of God. There was another Cummins who also had (or claimed to have, anyway) such miraculous discernment abilities—George David Cummins But, like the ACNA, he departed the Episcopal Church in schism and started his own little group, the remnants of which exist—sort of—to this very day.

    I’m surprised, James, that someone so thoroughly endowed with Christian love and charity as yourself gives the ACNA a “pass” on the Decalogue. Most particularly those precepts which say: “You shall not steal”; and “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor;” and, of course “You shall not covet” your neighbor's house, spouse, parish church, church assets, denominational name, etc., etc., Surely you can pray that the Holy Sprit will remove the bigotry and hatred from their hearts regarding TEC, can’t you..?

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  46. Kurt Hill, George David Cummins was against ritualism; I am a follower of the Oxford Movement. However, good for him for breaking away when he could no longer accept the practices. John Wesley did the same; do you condemn the Methodist Church as well? I proved to you that TEC has very strict beliefs in what is to be followed; I also showed you how its leadership no longer follows that. You do not have a right to condemn others for having a more stringent following. If you want to accept others, then you have to accept them for their beliefs. You think everyone should bend to suit you, and that what a bigot does. The Diocese of South Carolina does not preach to hate as you and your leadership have done. Now, let's talk about theft. In 1951 a portion of Seabrook Island was willed to the Diocese of South Carolina; it was not given to TEC. It is on a portion of this land that Camp St. Christopher is located; therefore, by your own admission TEC is a thief for going after this land.

    Mr. McDowell, TEC's membership in the Anglican Communion has been suspended; TEC is simple an observer. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/anglican-communion-suspends-u-s-episcopal-church-over-same-sex-n496786

    Eric Bonetti, you should call for TEC to make a full withdrawal from the Anglican Communion since it has suspended the participation of TEC related to same-sex marriages (See the Article listed above).

    Prof Seitz, I haven't seen any figures with regard to the membership of TEC or The Diocese of SC or the ACNA. The comment made by Kurt Hill suggests that certain folks are not welcome in certain churches. One doesn't have to have a majority of a group to consider folks welcomed.

    Gwen Palmer, I personally stopped attending ECUSA in 2009 when then PB made those statements that went against the teachings of the Church and choose to provide bitterness and hardship towards the congregations who chose to leave.

    Let's talk about history. How many of you even know that you are supposed to bow your head when "Jesus" is spoken? It's for the same reason that you find the cross of St. Andrew on the ECUSA's flag. If you don't know, then you should learn about Samuel Seabury.

    As for ownership, if you believe that the property doesn't belong to the congregation, then you must believe that ownership of any church formed before 1776 is actually the property of The Church of England.

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    • You write some very strange history, which doesn't seem to be the actuality on the ground. You must have missed the news releases last year after your NBC article was written about the fact that the Anglican Consultative Council chose to ignore the Primate's Meeting's directive and seated TEC as a full voice and vote member at ACC 16, as it has always been seated.

      As to your misunderstanding about the property suits, TEC didn't go after anything, it was the schismatics who filed the suits and asked the court to give them everything, including the camp. But in this decision, the SCSC said no, the camp belongs to TEC along with almost everything else.

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      • Your rebuttal iS accurate and factual. The ACNA is NOT a member of the Anglican Communion, as the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. Only the ECUSA is. As for the "suspension" of the ECUSA, this is a minor exclusion from a sub committee and frankly who cares, we are not pre-1776 colonies and are an independent church which makes its own decisions in our own country, The C of E was bent on a middle way to keep the reactionary and homophobic African bishops happy which is a fool's errand. The SC breakaways have allied itself with the latter and now the Latin American ones and other renegades who don't welcome gay people or clergy but condemn them.And it is tiresome to keep rebutting this lie -- and that is what it is -- that it was TEC which brought the suits. It was the breakaways! Why is this false news and alternative fact repeated so often? It is shocking. The woman (and she was a woman, and there were negative attitudes very much because she was female) Presiding Bishop, with the real ECUSA Bishop of SC offered the breakaways a real concession on property etc, but they arrogantly and stupidly rejected the compromise. Now, with the SC Sup Ct decision they are even worse off. The false advertising by the breakaways in using "Episcopal/Episcopalian" for years now and also claiming to be members of the Anglican Communion was deceitful and wrong. The so-called Diocese of SC (not) wants to turn the clock back on advances in human rights for gay men and women, no question and reaching back into the O T for justiification or even the N T just doesn't hold intellectual rigor, particularly on the words of Jesus. There are precious few women clergy among this group or African Americans either. Fact. The ECUSA with its fault is INclusive, not EXclusive and it is pluralistic not reactionary.

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  47. “Kurt Hill, George David Cummins was against ritualism; I am a follower of the Oxford Movement. However, good for him for breaking away when he could no longer accept the practices. John Wesley did the same.”—James Cummins

    Hmm. What you think you “proved” to me and what you actually revealed to me are two different things, James.

    A “follower of the Oxford Movement.” That’s an unusual formulation, James. Usually people call themselves High Church or Anglo Catholic. I identify more as High Church, since this tends to emphasize that the Catholic theological/liturgical viewpoint has been a part of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism from the very beginnings of the English Reformation. And also to emphasize that this tradition is not frozen in the Gothic Revival mode of 150 years ago.

    Yes, George David Cummins was a central leader in the Schism of 1873, allegedly because the Episcopal Church had “given over” to Ritualism. I suspect, however, that more was afoot. It’s ironic though, isn’t it, that miters are no longer absent from the Reformed Episcopal Church, since its merger with the much more High Church Anglican Province of America? I am not the only one to notice that the raison d'etre of the REC is now totally compromised. One might even say it was totally betrayed.

    Anyway, I firmly disagree with you that John Wesley “broke away” from Anglicanism. It was Thomas Coke (whose role was only to superintend) and Francis Asbury who were the movers and the shapers of the Methodist Schism in America. Both Charles and John Wesley remained priests of the Church of England until their dying days. In fact, one can argue that much of Evangelicalism in America has a High Church origin via Charles and John. The regressive, Calvinist Evangelicalism that so permeates much of the United States today was the product of George Whitefield, who wound up buried in a Presbyterian church.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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