Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina leaves the Episcopal Church

As someone who lives in South Carolina and knows the biblical witness that many Episcopal Churches in this part of the state live out, I find this news concerning. At the same time, I applaud the Diocese of South Carolina for refusing to compromise the Gospel and for preserving the historic polity of the Episcopal Church.

From Episcopal News Service: “Disciplinary Board says South Carolina bishop has abandoned church: Decision prompts diocese to claim it has ‘disaffiliated’ from the church”

From the Church of England Newspaper: “South Carolina expelled from the Episcopal Church”

From the Living Church: “+Lawrence’s Ministry Restricted”

Stand Firm in Faith has several posts on this.

Protestantism is dying out as everyone knew it would eventually. In fifty to a hundred years episcopal/anglicans won’t exist anymore. Fortunately many are coming home to Truth in Catholicism. All of protestantism, historically, is man made. Only Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was created by Jesus Christ Himself. When He creates One Church and calls everyone to unity, it’s not surprising to see man made churches crumble and fail. For Christendom to be re-united again all of protestantism and non denominationalism must and certainly will fail. The sooner they do the better, because all the people in those groups will eventually find their way to truth and the most intimate relationship with God that one can find in this world. And that is through receiving Him in His Sacraments at His Church. Especially reconciliation! And the Eucharist as a mainstay.

Given the basic nature of +Lawrence, and of the gracious Katherine, this has been coming for a long time.

Let the lawsuits begin.


Ok, so I read the first 3 links, and didn’t really know what to read on that blog. But, I’m still at a loss. You’d think if a whole diocese was thrown out of a Church, that someone would at least clearly say what the reason was.

So, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina voted down some resolutions or disagreed with some constitutions, which makes them not part of the national Episcopal Church?

I wonder what was in those documents? “Discipline of clergy” was the closest any of those articles got to shedding light on it. Is the Episcopal Bishop of SC against women ordination or something?

Anyways, this just makes me glad to be Catholic. I don’t think anything like this will happen to a Catholic Diocese as long as I’m alive. Furthermore, it seems absolutely ridiculous to me, that the Episcopal hierarchy has a woman above a man. It just seems patently ridiculous that Bishop Mark Lawrence has to answer to “Bishop” Katharine Jefferts- forgive my Catholicism :p.

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I’ll give you one guess.

The subject is an extremely complicated one and involves the train wreck the Episcopal Church has become, since, oh, 40 years past, or so. I’ve been watching it for many years, and know of no way to bring you up to speed, beyond saying that +Lawrence did not approve of the direction and ideology of TEC, and he has the support of almost all his diocese. And since, historically, TEC is organized up to the diocesan level, hierarchically, and above that is an association of equal Ordinaries, he declined to follow the herd. Unlike a number of dioceses, and many individuals, however, he declined to leave TEC. But the Diocese had passed a resolution, to leave the TEC, which would be triggered if the gracious Katherine and her court attempted to inhibit, in any fashion, +Lawrence in his episcopal functions. TEC did, and here we all are.

It will be interesting to watch the train wreck from this point. The gracious Katherine has no chance to acquire the parish properties of the Diocese of SC, for complicated legal reasons. What they will go after is the title of “Diocese of SC”.

And no need to apologize for your Catholicism. As an Anglo-Catholic, of markedly traditionalist bent, I share it. You are correct; the gracious Katherine, in spite of her awesome and memorable miter, is no bishop, in the usual sense you and I would understand it. Nor is the presiding bishops office hierarchically above any diocesan bishop. For all her graciousness’s use of (++) and a metropolitan crozier.


posterus traditus Anglicanus, Anglicanus-Catholicus

I agree that the coverage is more than a little confusing. My understanding is that, for the past two or three years, the Diocese of South Carolina has been preparing for the possibility of leaving The Episcopal Church (TEC). TEC was unhappy that Bishop Lawrence didn’t stop those moves, and brought him up on charges. The Diocese of South Carolina, in response, passed resolutions in support of Bishop Lawrence, with the provision that if Lawrence was found guilty, the diocese would leave TEC.

Much of the unhappiness in the diocese stems from TEC’s new policies regarding sexuality. Those aren’t the only reasons, but they have been important motivators.

What happened was that over the years the Episcopal Church has been moving to allow the ordination of non-celibate homosexual clergy, the blessing of same-sex unions, and most recently the ordination of transgendered clergy. The Diocese of South Carolina (which only covers the eastern part of the state, the western part forms the Diocese of Upper South Carolina) has tried to distance itself from these actions.

That got harder to do when the Episcopal Church revised its disciplinary canons a couple years ago. The new canons gave the Presiding Bishop unprecedented powers to interfere in diocesan affairs.

The Diocese of South Carolina has always maintained that the actions of the Episcopal Church in regards to human sexuality are wrong, and as the ecclesiastical authority in his diocese, Bishop Lawrence has refused to implement those changes. He and the Diocesan leadership have also always held that the revised disciplinary canons violate the Constitution of the Episcopal Church.

Under those revised canons, Bishop Lawrence was found to have “abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church” because he presided over a diocesan convention made changes to the diocesan constitution and canons that basically said, “The Diocese of South Carolina is going to do what it knows is right, and we’re not going to follow the rest of the Episcopal Church into heresy.”

To protect individual parishes from being sued by the national church, the Diocese issued quitclaim deeds to all parishes in the diocese. This essentially gave all parish property to the parish, thereby giving up any property claims that the Diocese and the national church might have.

Bishop Lawrence also changed the corporate documents of the diocese removing mention of the national Episcopal Church. It should be noted that the Diocese of South Carolina is older than the Episcopal Church.

However, none of this constituted the diocese leaving the national church. As a precaution, the Diocesan leadership set in place provisions that if Bishop Lawrence’s status as Bishop was attacked by the national church, the diocese would automatically disaffiliate from the national church. When Bishop Lawrence was found to have abandoned the communion of the church, then the diocesan leadership voted to withdraw from the national church.

It will be interesting to see how the Episcopal Church handles South Carolina. Usually when a diocese leaves, it sues the Diocese and the individual parishes for all the property and usually wins. However, the South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled the Episcopal Church’s Denis Canon (which established a trust in favor of the national church and the diocese on parish property) was not applicable in South Carolina. And in any case, the Diocese had already given quitclaim deeds to its parishes anyway.

I live in South Carolina. As I understand it, the RC Bishop of Charleston (diocese is coterminous with the borders of the state, as is the Episcopal diocese, so “territory” is the “same”) and the E Bishop of South Carolina have a very close relationship. I think this can potentially be a very ripe source of converts for our diocese.

Laawrence and the Diocese were definitely not planning to leave TEC. In that they differed from the four Dioceses who left, and associated with the ACNA. +Lawrence was playing a shrewd waiting game, for a hostile act against his office and See. And TEC has obliged.


Given what I know of the nature of the Diocese of SC, this is not likely to happen.


Well said.


I wouldn’t say that the Diocese has been preparing to leave. I would say they have been planning for the event that they were forced out of TEC. Which is what has happened. The Diocese of South Carolina could have left when all the other conservative dioceses left with the creation of ACNA. But they didn’t.

This is not the first time that Bishop Lawrence has been brought up on charges. In fact of the 3 charges he has been found guilty of, he was originally found not to be guilty on 2 of them. But TEC’s new disciplinary canons do not protect clergy from double jeopardy. So there you go. And of course, lets not forget that Lawrence had to be elected and confirmed as bishop twice because of resistance by the national church.

The Diocese of South Carolina has been the step-child of the Episcopal Church for a long time now. Once they opposed TEC’s new inclusive gospel, they were marked.

Not quite. The Diocese of South Carolina covers the low country. It’s see city is Charleston. The Diocese of Upper South Carolina covers the other half of the state. It’s see city is Columbia.

While the Diocese of South Carolina is theologically conservative, I don’t get the feeling (but I could be wrong) that they are Anglo-Catholic. I think they put the Protestant in “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.” I would not expect a big influx of Episcopal converts.

You are correct, as to the general bent of the Diocese of SC. Evangelical, low-church.


I also get the feeling that there are quite a bit of left overs from the charismatic movement in the diocese.

I know little about the situation, except what was reported in this thread. But the first article says that, a year ago, the Diocese of South Carolina sent quitclaim deeds to every parish in the diocese. A quitclaim deed generally transfers ownership of the property from the party issuing the deed to the recipient. That sure sounds as if the diocese was making it hard for TEC to maintain control of the properties if the Diocese of South Carolina bolted.

There there are the resolutions which announced that the Diocese of South Carolina, not the TEC, would set its own Constitution and Canons. And a year ago Bishop Lawrence modified the corporate charter, filed with the state government, to indicate this independence.

I think you are correct.


It…thanks for providing the news…however, I do have one request.

I read the links…but could not understand or decipher the issues surrounding the why the diocese is seceding, in layman’s terms.

And since you are there…could you summarize, in a nutshell what is the issue? And what will happen to the dioscese? Will it affiliate with another A of E/Episcopal branch?

Historically, the national level church organization had no claim to any church property, which was usually held, in the normal legal sense, by the diocese or the parish. Until the passage of the Dennis Canon, in a strange event at the 1979 General Convention of TEC.

The legal oddities underlying the Dennis Canon aside (and they are multitudinous), it is rendered moot by a ruling of the SC Supreme Court which said it had no authority in the state of SC. The quit claim deeds followed that decision. That is, whatever oddball interpretation was placed in other secular courts on how a legal trust could legally be established, TEC had no claims on the property of the Diocese of SC (and of Upper SC, for that matter).

What +Lawrence and the Diocese did was to clearly reinforce the historical fact that in the Episcopal Church in this country, since the beginning, there is no higher ecclesiastical authority in a diocese than the Ordinary. The so-called national Episcopal Church is in reality an association of such authorities.

Lawrence maneuvered to make this clear. But he also maneuvered not to leave TEC. He waited to be attacked. And here we all are.


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