TEC moves against Diocese of S.C. & Bishop Mark Lawrence

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UPDATE: News release from The Episcopal Church

Disciplinary Board for Bishops certifies that South Carolina Bishop has abandoned the church


[October 17, 2012] The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has advised Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that the majority of the 18-member panel has determined that Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

Following complaints of 12 adult members and two priests of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, the determination was made under Canon IV.16(A).

The 18 member board – composed of 10 bishops, four clergy, four laity – issued a letter dated September 18. Following the assembly of numerous documents, the Presiding Bishop received the letter in her Church Center office on October 10; the letter was received via U.S. Mail.

On Monday October 15, the Presiding Bishop called Lawrence and, speaking directly with him, informed him of the action of the Disciplinary Board. She also informed him that, effective noon of that day, the exercise of his ministry was restricted. Therefore, under the canon, he is not permitted to perform any acts as an ordained person.

From here, Lawrence has 60 days to respond to the allegations in the certification

See more below fold.

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The Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina has been notified that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has certified his “abandonment of the Episcopal Church.” From the diocesan Web site:

On Monday, October 15, 2012, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina was notified by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that on September 18, 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church. This action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church and called a Special Convention. That Convention will be held at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Bishop Lawrence was notified of these actions taken by the Episcopal Church between two meetings, one held on October 3 and one to be held on October 22, which Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence had set up with the Presiding Bishop to find a peaceful alternative to the growing issues between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. The meetings were to explore “creative solutions” for resolving these issues to avoid further turmoil in the Diocese and in The Episcopal Church. A timeline of these events and their associated documents may be found below.

Two of the three charges had previously been determined by a majority vote of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in November 2011 not to constitute abandonment. The Diocese has not received a signed copy of the certification and also remains uninformed of the identity of those making these charges.

We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God’s providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop during a good faith attempt peacefully to resolve our differences. These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Certificate of Abandonment is posted here. Other documents, including a timeline of documents related to the case, are posted at the Diocesan Web site.

Acts of abandonment

The Disciplinary Board for Bishops cited three particular acts of abandonment

“Bishop Lawrence failed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” by presiding over the 219th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina on October 10, 2010, at which the following acts were adopted, without ruling them out of order or otherwise dissenting from their adoption, but instead speaking in support of them in his formal address to the Convention.”

“Bishop Lawrence further failed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” by presiding over the 220th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina on February 19, 2011, at which Resolution R-6 was finally adopted on the second reading, without ruling it out of order or otherwise dissenting from its adoption.”

“On October 19, 2011, in his capacity as President of the nonprofit corporation known as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Lawrence signed, executed, and filed with the Secretary of State of the State of South Carolina certain Articles of Amendment, amending the corporate charter 4 as stated in Resolution R-11, described in paragraph 7.c above. That amendment deleted the original stated purpose of the corporation “to continue the operation of an Episcopal Diocese under the Constitution and Canons of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America” and replaced it with the stated purpose “to continue operation under the Constitution and Canons of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.”

“On about November 16, 2011, in an apparent effort to impair the trust interest of The Episcopal Church and of the Diocese of South Carolina in church property located in that Diocese, Bishop Lawrence directed his Chancellor, Wade H. Logan, III, to issue quitclaim deeds to every parish of the Diocese of South Carolina disclaiming any interest in the real estate held by or for the benefit of each parish.”

Certificate of Abandonment

Restriction of Ministry

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GrandmèreMimi
Guest

Well, +Mark Lawrence threw down the gauntlet and left the disciplinary board no choice. The charge was inevitable.

+Lawrence can do what he chooses, as can the members of the diocese, but they cannot take the diocese out of the church.

June Butler

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billydinpvd
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billydinpvd

Seems rather straightforward. I think the Church was gracious to take him at his word, before his consecration, that he didn't plan to take the diocese out of ECUSA; now that he's openly tried to loosen the ties between the Church and his diocese, this action seems pretty meet and right.

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Lionel Deimel
Guest

I agree that a diocese cannot leave TEC, but there has not been a definitive court ruling anywhere to that effect. It wasn’t needed in Pittsburgh, and the matter is still in the courts in San Joaquin, Fort Worth, and Quincy.

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Paul Davison
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Paul Davison

I'm surprised that they didn't schedule their special convention for December 20, the anniversary of secession.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

The Diocese does not leave TEC - it stays. People can leave and +Mark can be charged but courts have universally held that the Diocese and its properties stay with TEC.

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