South Caroliana Episcopalians split, sort of, from national church

From AP:

My emphases and comments:

SC Episcopalians to distance from national church

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — The Diocese of South Carolina voted Saturday to distance itself but not completely split from the national Episcopal Church because of church positions on same-sex unions and ordination of gays[Split but not completely split.]

Eighty-seven clergy members voted to pass the resolution after a nearly hour-long debate [a whole hour?] during a special convention in Mount Pleasant, Canon Kendall Harmon said, with 17 voting no. The vote allows leaders of the diocese to reduce its participation in the national church without severing ties completely, as some dioceses and parishes have.  [87-17]

The discord stems from the national church’s consecration in 2003 of its first openly gay bishop and its authorizing bishops to bless same-sex unions, a decision made at its national convention last summer.

The Diocese of South Carolina and two others opposing consecration of gay bishops voted in 2006 to reject the authority of the national church’s presiding bishop, but stopped short of a full break with the church.

Last June, four breakaway conservative dioceses formed a rival national province to the Episcopal Church called the Anglican Church in North America. Other parishes have since joined.

Bishop Mark Lawrence has said the Diocese of South Carolina does not want a split but a discussion with the national church on the divisive issues.  [Can’t we all just get along?]

"The only model that’s been out there for us has either been leave or acquiesce, and that hasn’t been working," Lawrence has said. "We need to get the 30,000 members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina awakened to the challenges before us. … Once we have done that, then the question is how do we engage the larger Episcopal Church?[Ask the Pope of Christian Unity!]

Saturday’s vote authorizes the South Carolina bishop and the diocesan Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from church councils and governing bodies that have "assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture," according to the resolution text.

The Diocese of South Carolina is comprised of 75 parishes in the southern and eastern part of the state. Other Episcopal churches in the state are in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

The 2.3 million-member Episcopal church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member communion that is the third-largest group of churches worldwide, behind the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches.

Neva Rae Fox, a spokeswoman for the national church, declined to comment Saturday on the diocese’s decision.

The vote comes [wait for it…] several days after an announcement the Vatican is making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism, a move that could entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.  [And those seem to be the problems for these Episcopalians.]

The change means conservative Anglicans will be able to join the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their liturgy and identity, including married priests. Until now, disaffected Anglicans had joined the Roman Catholic church primarily on a case by case basis.


Brick by brick.

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  1. stephenocist says:

    Don’t get too excited about this one having a direct impact on the ordinariates. There are good folks in South Carolina but it’s a heavily evangelical diocese and would have largely the same views as the new Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican provinces in Africa who’ve all been quick to pass on the proposed apostolic constitution. Of course, there’s always how things work out in God’s time…

  2. JoeGarcia says:

    To shed added perspective on this, Canon Kendall Harmon’s views on these developments can be found here:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting a feeling this is even bigger than anyone thinks.

  3. markomalley says:

    Resolution No. 1 takes The Episcopal Church to task for departing from the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Church of England, affirms the “unique Lordship of Jesus Christ” and grants the bishop and standing committee of the diocese authority to determine what is “edifying to the Body of Christ” and how best to uphold and propagate the constitutions and canons of the church. Passed: 86.7%

    Resolution No. 2 declares “null and void” the decision of General Convention to suggest a path toward the blessing of same-sex unions and consecration of gay bishops, and calls on the diocese to withdraw from all bodies of The Episcopal Church. Passed: 82.9%

    Resolution No. 3 promotes the formation of “missional relationships” with other dioceses and “orthodox congregations isolated across North America.” Passed: 85.1%

    Resolution No. 4 calls on the diocese to endorse a draft of the Anglican Covenant, a proposed document that would unify orthodox Anglicans worldwide. Passed: 87.5%

    Delegates at Saturday’s closed-door meeting decided to table Resolution No. 5, after some debate about changing its language. The resolution stated that the 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,” but will “speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture comments for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ.” The resolution could now be subject to modification then offered again for a vote at the next convention. Tabled

    Here are the comments from Bp. Lawrence:

    We need to keep Bp Lawrence and that diocese in our prayers. They have been struggling with the implosion of TEC for years and want to do the “right thing.” I, for one, believe this to be a very courageous first step in that direction.

  4. P.McGrath says:

    “The only model that’s been out there for us has either been leave or acquiesce, and that hasn’t been working,” Lawrence has said. “We need to get the 30,000 members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina awakened to the challenges before us. … Once we have done that, then the question is how do we engage the larger Episcopal Church?”

    Sorry, Bishop Lawrence, that game is over. You know full well that the Episcopal Organization is fully committed to the Anti-Gospel of Buggery. Pope Benedict has opened up for you an escape route. For the sake of the souls under your care, take it!

  5. becket1 says:

    I don’t see many Anglicans crossing the tiber. Out of “77 million” Anglicans worldwide, 400 thousand is a miniscule number.

    Anglicans in Kenya Reject Romes Offer. (Kenya)

    Ottawa Anglicans Reject Popes Offer. (Canada)

    Pope’s Offer Not Vital For Africa (Uganda)

    Anglicans’ RSVP to Rome, no thanks (Atlanta)

  6. jamie r says:


    Perhaps there are some evangelical Episcopalians in South Carolina, but for the most part, evangelicals in SC attend Baptist, Assemblies of God, PCA, Disciples of Christ, etc. churches. All the Episcopalians I knew growing up in SC often described themselves as “JV Catholics” or “Diet Catholic,” are mainly from older families, and worship in Churches that we Catholics should be looking forward to using. Evangelicals too think of SC Episcopalians as only barely not Catholic, referring to them as whiskeypalians and joking that “where three or four are gathered, there’s a fifth.” They have high church liturgies, and preserve a few things that even we Catholics have mostly lost, particularly making a slight bow at the name of Jesus and at the processional crucifix. They’re so close to being Catholic already; the ordinariate system, once the apostolic constitution is finalized, may be the last little thing many of them need to come over.

  7. merrydelval says:

    Carolina Anglicans are an interesting lot: high liturgy, evangelical theology, good preaching. There is little truck with Modernism here, but there are quite a few liberal ex-Catholics who have rowed over to the Episcopalians. One of the most virulently anti-Catholic Episcopal priests in the state is a former Catholic priest, while his predecessor, a woman, used to preach that Humanae vitae was right. There are a few of the Anglo-Catholics who have been making Rome-ward suggestions for years, especially in Charleston, but I really think it’s more rhetoric than anything else. In Greenville, many of the serious Anglicans have already made a home at St Mary’s, the Catholic church with an Anglican-friendly ethos. The little Anglo-Catholic church there I used to go to in illo tempore has a very Roman-friendly rector, young guy, but I doubt the other young men in his flock are interested in a Roman Church where gay marriage is not on the agenda. It will be interesting to see what happens in Carolina with this, as there are also “continuing” congregations of every Anglican stripe imaginable.

  8. Dr. Eric says:


    Right now, they have rejected the offer. That is not to say that down the road they won’t reconsider. I think there will be a snowball effect with this news and the news of the Bulgarian Orthodox.

  9. smcollinsus says:

    I’ve only been in SC for 6 years, but because of my business and social activities, I know many Anglicans. There is a very wide range of them here, just in the Charleston area. There are Episcopal churches within easy walking distance of each other – I’m talking blocks here, not even miles. And yet the divisions, especially over homosexuality, are deep and pretty absolute.

    Remember, there are more bell towers in Charleston for change ringing than in any other city in North America, including 1 Catholic parish and 3 Episcopalian. We have about a dozen Catholic ringers comparted to about 2 dozen not. I’m the only ringer who enjoys ringing in all 4 towers, and have friends on both sides of the issue. It is a good place to practice what the Church teaches on hating the sin but loving the sinner.

    On a more recent historical note, a former Episcopal priest here in the Diocese of Charleston was part of the committee that put together the Book of Divine Worship for use in the Pastoral Provision parishes, even though he does not celebrate the BDW Mass himself. And there is a Pastoral Provision parish in the Diocese, that does not use the BDW either, but they were receive under the PP. With regards to the Episcopal Diocese, thought, that parish is in Columbia which is part of the Diocese of Upper Sout Carolina.

    This has been a long road for many people, but frankly they have been traveling on that road all this time. I believe that metaphor doesn’t work with the ARCIC and their on-going discussions. I mean, how long have they been talking, and nothing changes, except in the wrong direction!

  10. Dave N. says:

    “Split but not split” is a tactic used in other denominations (ELCA for example) by churches who no longer wish to support the denomination but still wish to keep their building. On one hand, you can’t blame them, on the other it seems a little wishy-washy.

  11. Rien says:

    I take your points becket1. The links you posted are to me an indication that this has been way overblown by some on the Catholic side.

    Even if 400,000 eventually do come over that is little more than one half of one percent of Anglicans. Barely a blip.

    But as more Anglicans around the world openly reject the Pope’s offer I think the idea that even 400,000 will come over is way on the high side. Patrick Madrid said last week tens of thousands will come over. If it is really that small in the end then this gesture some would judge a failure.

    Folks don’r realize the Angl-Catholic (high church) are a small minority in Anglicanism now. Most the church is composed of progressives and evengelicals. African Anglicans are evangelical overwhelmingly. Their charismatic style of worship is drawing Catholics out of the church in Africa and they have somewhat of a disdain for Rome as is not uncommon in low church Anglicanism. I don’t see this having any impact there.

    Or the US or Canada where those not progressive are mostly evangalical.

    If this had been done 10 or 15 years ago the impact may have been bigger. As it is many Anglo-Catholics have left already.

  12. Athelstan says:

    Hello Fr.,

    [a whole hour?]

    By Anglican standards, that’s warp 9.

  13. Athelstan says:

    Hello Rien,

    You’ve been raining on the parade here all week. Certainly you have the right to your opinion. But maybe it’s a little early to dismiss this move as essentially meaningless. Maybe we could wait until the Apostolic Constitution comes out before writing it off?

    I agree that many of the Anglo-Catholics who were going to come over already have. But I also think that this could have considerable fruits in the long run – as much for cradle Catholics or Anglican converts – parties who are *not* the target of this gesture – who may find this kind of liturgical option to be very enticing.

  14. smcollinsus says:

    Well, it’s hit the fan now, I guess. While there has been no mention of the Vatican’s move towards unity in the news here, the Episcopalians’ meeting in Mount Pleasant, including interviews mostly with the progressives, is all over the radio news this morning.

  15. Ana says:

    This seems to be the typical posturing for the SC Diocese. They have been upset over the way the Episcopal Church is headed, but they are hesitant to separate completely since they would lose their churches in the process. Here in Charleston, at the ordination of a priest, the Homilist was openly pro-Rome to an extent that offended certain priest who were more liberal. Also, we have one Anglican-Catholic parish that is very high Church in actions and beliefs. This is a step in the right direction… just a matter of time and the direction of the Holy Spirit.

  16. lofstrr says:

    Oh that Pope, how dare he ‘entice’ those poor Anglicans and Episcopalians to come in out of the cold like that as they sit shivering on the doorsteps of our Church.


    This Papa makes me grin.

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