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?