January 30, 2016
Welby's Woes Extend to his Own Church of England
By two-to-one, the English public supports same-gender marriage
This month could go down as one of the most miserable for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Aside from managing the current groaning and travail in the worldwide Anglican Communion, the venerable Church of England, which he also leads, appears to be increasingly out of step with the people of England.
The Church's own statistics show that C of E membership has dipped below one million for the first time in modern record-keeping. Church members are dying off and the numbers of new baptisms, new members, and new clergy are not keeping pace.
This month's efforts by the Anglican Communion to punish the Episcopal Church for its embrace of same-gender marriage isn't likely to help.
Last week a survey by YouGov, found that by a margin of 45%-37% people in England who claim to be Anglican, Episcopal, or Church of Englanders say they are okay with same-sex marriages. Nearly three-quarters of young people in that group say it is fine with them.
By an even wider margin, Englanders in general support same-gender marriage by 56%-27%. Read the full story here
January 29, 2016
New Revelations Stun Loyal Anglicans
Failing to punish the Episcopal Church, most GAFCON Primates walked out of Canterbury gathering; ACNA representative left early as well
At a news conference on the final day of his historic gathering of Anglican primates two weeks ago, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sounded upbeat about the prospects of a unified Anglican Communion "walking together" in the future.
As proof, he brandished a final "communique" from the group outlining a global vision for the worldwide denomination that included addressing crises as diverse as hunger, refugees, and religious persecution, including that of gays and lesbians.
Asked why the leaders of the ultraconservative provinces of the Communion - known as GAFCON - were not present, he explained they had flights to catch.
Turns out that was not exactly what was happening. Read full story from ENS
January 27, 2016
Chaos in the Anglican Communion
by Dr. Ron Caldwell
Dr. Caldwell continues his thoughtful analysis of the issues raised by the recent actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion. Click here for his full commentary
January 22, 2016 (revised 1/26)
Primates' Meeting Ends After Imposing "Consequences" on the Episcopal Church
Primates dodge debate on homosexuality with focus on Church's failure to consult on same-sex marriage
Post-conference briefing provides more questions than answers
CANTERBURY - Last week Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby convened a kind of peace conference at Canterbury Cathedral to engage the fractious leaders of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion in discussions on the global challenges they are facing. His hope was they'd find a way to move move beyond their bitter 13-year stalemate over human sexuality.
It was not an easy task.
Over the past two years, Welby has traveled to each of the provinces to press his case for unity, and discourage disaffected “primates,” like those in Africa, from leaving the Communion altogether.
He cancelled an every-ten-year conference of Anglican primates and bishops at Lambeth Palace when ultraconservative primates threatened to embarrass him by not showing up. They've even gone so far as to organize their own rival version of the Communion, known by the acronym GAFCON, to cultivate sympathizers and sabotage the Communion’s more modern-thinking elements.
Click here to read full story
January 20, 2016
GAFFE-CON: Foley Beach Misleads Primates on Church Pensions
Read full story here
January 18, 2016
Lambeth 1988: Marriage is also between one man and a few women
SC Episcopalians hates to bring this up when things are going so swimmingly for our Anglican brethren across the Pond.
However, we just need to get this off our chests.
In their grand condemnation of the Episcopal Church last week, the Primates of the Anglican Communion affirmed their view that, "The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union."
Traditionalists rightly applauded. Unfortunately for them, the actual tradition in the Anglican Communion is only sort of like that.
At the 1988 Lambeth Conference, the leaders of Communion agreed that marriage between a man and a woman is the "ideal," but in the real world there may be the need for a little flexibility.
That's right. It's called polygamy... and it's all part of that big Anglican family walking together over there.
According to Lambeth 1988, there are circumstances in which it is acceptable for an Anglican in good standing to be married to multiple wives at the same time.
Check it out to see if you qualify.
Back then the leaders of the African provinces believed the one-wife rule was frustrating their efforts to convert Muslim men who were allowed to have multiple wives. It seems those pesky Muslims were actually posting signs all over the place that read: "Jesus: Three Gods, One Wife. Allah: One God, Three Wives... Your Choice."
That's pretty much all it took for Anglicanism to broaden its view of the marriage "ideal".
Then there's the small print
Now before any of our readers get too excited, the participants at Lambeth imposed a few limitations on this rule.
The first is that it only applies to men. Women can't have multiple husbands as that would be immoral, of course.
The second is that once you become an Anglican, you can't still go around grabbing up more wives. You are limited to the wives you have when you join up. So, plan ahead.
However, the third part of the deal is that when you convert, all your wives automatically convert over as well. They don't really have a say. This goes back to that old idea that women are more or less property and, apart from their husbands, not especially unique spiritual beings.
You might be surprised to learn there are many ardent advocates of polygamy in parts of the Anglican Communion and they will tell you that nowhere in the Bible does God condemn polygamy.
In fact, they will point out that many of God's favorites - like Abraham and Solomon - were practicing polygamists. Moses even told his male followers that those who were tempted to commit adultery should just find themselves a nice concubine from among their conquered peoples and make the most of a bad situation.
Makes for an interesting time at "family night" down at the local parish.
Meanwhile, our point is that there is precedent in the Communion for bending the marriage "ideal" a bit to incorporate the political and cultural realities of the Communion's member provinces.
At least that was the argument put forth by the polygamists' leading advocate in 1988... the Anglican Church of Uganda.
January 18, 2016
The Selective Outrage of the Anglican Church
by Jonathan Merritt in The Atlantic
Read full story here
January 14, 2016
Are Episcopalians Wasting Time with the Anglican Communion?
Politics of ultraconservative provinces have turned "instrument of Anglican unity" into an impotent relic
Read full story here
January 14, 2016
Primates Want Episcopalians Excluded from Anglican Communion Activities for Three Years over Same-Gender Marriages
African Primates organize surprise attack at unofficial conference even though they lack authority
Presiding Bishop delivers moving defense of the Episcopal Church
January 14, 2016
Bishop vonRosenberg to Retire this Summer
Beloved Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina leaving an extraordinary legacy
South Carolina Bishop Charles vonRosenberg informed his Standing Committee this morning that he will step down as Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, in mid-to-late summer.
The retired Bishop of East Tennessee was elected in January 2013 following the sudden departure of ex-Bishop Mark Lawrence, who quit the Episcopal Church and abandoned the Diocese in late 2012.
Since that time, vonRosenberg has guided the wounded diocese through seemingly endless legal proceedings in state and Federal courts, fending off legal attacks from Lawrence and his followers and their claim to be owners of "The Diocese of South Carolina."
Lawrence and 36 parishes aligned with him filed a lawsuit against the Church and vonRosenberg's diocese just days before his election laying claim to parish property and diocesan assets valued at as much as $500 million.
The case is now on appeal before the state's Supreme Court.
Read Bishop vonRosenberg's letter to the Diocese
Diocese will consult with the Presiding Bishop on the way forward
The Diocese will consult with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his staff on the selection of vonRosenberg's successor, creating a process that likely will lead to the election of another "provisional" bishop to continue to rebuild the Diocese on the foundation vonRosenberg has established.
Provisional bishops normally serve until a diocese is strong enough to stand on its own and elect a "Diocesan" bishop. Three years is usually considered a good run for a provisional bishop, and most of the breakaway dioceses have had a succession of them until they were ready to elect a "Diocesan" bishop.
Meanwhile, the Standing Committee of the Diocese assumes the authority of the bishop when there is a vacancy in that office. That could happen next summer as the next regularly scheduled Diocesan convention won't occur until the fall. However, the Standing Committee are empowered to call a special convention to elect a new bishop if its members feel it is necessary.
Even so, the way forward will not be easy.
During his tenure vonRosenberg has endured repeated attacks and humiliation at the hands of the breakaways. Lawrence's attorneys repeatedly belittled "the foreign bishop" and in open court intentionally mangled the pronunciation of his name. He was variously vilified by Lawrence's lieutenants and spin doctors as a stooge for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Throughout the ordeal, vonRosenberg never publicly criticized Lawrence or any of the parishes that had chosen to follow him. He insisted that his Diocese remain committed to the idea of reconciliation, and left the door slightly open for a process by which pro-Lawrence clergy could return to the priesthood even as he was "releasing" them from their ordination vows.
Following his election and installation, vonRosenberg led the wounded diocese for months from an office he shared with a third-grade Sunday School class at one of his Charleston parishes. Lawrence and his cohorts had laid claim to everything that wasn't nailed down, including vonRosenberg's title as the "Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina."
Even today Lawrence still lives in the official Charleston residence of "the Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina. claiming that he is that person.
With extraordinary patience, vonRosenberg rebuilt the Diocese from the ground up. He recreated a Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, reorganized its deaneries with new leaders, and secured loans and donations to stabilize the Diocese's shaky infrastructure. He even had to come up with a new name for the Diocese itself.
VonRosenberg made history with the very popular appointment of the Ven. Calhoun Walpole as his Archdeacon. She is the first woman to hold a diocesan office at this level in South Carolina.
He presided over the formation of eight new mission parishes, formed by loyal Episcopalians who'd been run out of their home parishes by the Lawrencians. He became the first bishop to celebrate the Eucharist at Po Pigs Barbeque on Edisto Island, the initial location of one of his budding mission parishes and home to one of the best BBQ buffets in the Sea Islands.
VonRosenberg reestablished relationships with Episcopal Church seminaries that the Lawrencans once feared as too liberal, and began sending students to them. Last fall, vonRosenberg received approval from the Diocesan Convention to establish a new cathedral at historic Grace Church in downtown Charleston. The former cathedral had cast its lot with Lawrence.
Of great significance was vonRosenberg's organization of an effective legal defense against Lawrence's attacks that would not run the Diocese into the red. Lawrence's legal team at times included nearly 50 of the best and brightest of the state's law firms.
The wisdom of his strategy became apparent in September 2015 when the Chief Justice of the state' Supreme Court blasted a titanic hole in the central premise of Lawrence's lawsuit.
Proposed settlement of Lawrence's lawsuit was historic
Much of vonRosenberg's success has been due to the widespread esteem in which he is held in the wider Church.
Last summer he persuaded Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori to sidestep the Church's long-standing refusal to even consider giving away Church property to dissident groups as part of a larger settlement offer to the Lawrencians.
VonRosenberg's plan, which she approved, was for the Church to withdraw any claim to the property and assets of pro-Lawrence parishes in exchange for their dropping their claims to the property and financial assets of the Diocese of South Carolina.
One of the side benefits of the deal for the breakaway parishes was that they would not be liable for funds misspent by Lawrence, should state's Supreme Court find that he acted illegally in seizing and expending Diocesan assets that rightfully belong to the Episcopal Church.
It was a win-win for all sides. Astonishingly, none of the Lawrence parishes took the deal.
Read vonRosenberg's biography
January 12, 2016
Archbishop of Canterbury Seeks to Reel in Dissident Provinces
Breakaways and their allies take aim at Anglican unity with our-way-or-the-highway tactics
LONDON - Leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces have gathered in London for an unusual five-day gathering, convened after two years of extensive prodding and lobbying by Archbishop Justin Welby.
The ABC is trying to restore unity to the Communion after years of bickering by its ultraconservative members, mostly from parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. These provincial leaders, known as “Primates”, have spent years threatening to leave the Communion, if western provinces didn’t change their progressive ways, especially around issues of human sexuality.
Read more from the Episcopal New Service
Apparently seven of the Primates refused to attend the session if their brethren from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were in attendance. They want them to "repent" for their tolerance of gays and lesbians in their churches. They are also unhappy over the role of women in the western provinces.
Welby apparently got dissidents to agree to attend by inviting the Rev. Folly Beach, the leader of the self-styled "Anglican Church of North America", to join the conclave for at least part of the time.
The Most Reverend Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church and The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz of the Canadian Church were apparently willing to put up with the insult in order to help Welby out.
South Carolina breakaways cheer on Welby critics
With some hesitancy, SC Episcopalians provides the link above to the website of the breakaway "Diocese of South Carolina" and a posting by former Bishop Lawrence of a letter from Foley Beach.
We hesitate because it is filled with intentional inaccuracies that tend to make difficult situations even more intractable. For example, Beach is not a "Primate." That is simply a self-important title he appropriated for himself. In fact, Welby and his predecessor ABC have been very clear that the ACNA is not even part of the Anglican Communion, much less eligible to use its titles.
He also refers to the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) which is similarly not recognized by the Communion and his no authority to recognize anyone or anything as "Anglican."
His reference to a lack of "order" in the Anglican Communion is wholly disingenuous since it is he and the ultraconservative with whom he is in league who have created the disorder by boycotting Primates' Meetings and underwriting legal attacks on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada (and now the Church of England) by breakaway groups.
January 8, 2016
First Dean of St. Luke & St. Paul Dies
Matt Currin: "Dear All, I have gone to Glory!"
"The Good News of the Gospel is that God is mindful of us, each and every one of us, and those 'out there." What a glorious future our children have in store for them. A New Age is dawning, and it staggers the imagination to think what goodness God has in store for His wonderful creation." - Matt Currin in "Does God Still Speak to Us?"
Friends of The Rev. Beverly "Matt" Currin were only slightly surprised Friday when news of his earthly demise and arrival in Heaven came by way of an email blast … from Matt himself.
“I am no longer on this earth but in my heavenly home. I look forward to seeing you all again one day. Thank you for years of Friendship and Love. Remember to always have Faith. Continue to have Hope. Lastly but most important Love one another,” he said.
Matt became the first Dean of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in 1963 and one of many intellectual and theological giants drawn to the Diocese of South Carolina under its late Bishop, Gray Temple.
Learn more about this remarkable Christian man
He left the Diocese in 1966 for Christ Church in Pensacola, Florida which grew to become the largest parish in the Diocese of the Gulf Coast. Its Episcopal Day School continues to turn out graduates marked with Currin's own brand of Christian hope and commitment.
According to one graduate, "The tales of his life bare an unintentional yet undeniable witness to the inestimable value of his lifelong service to the Episcopal Church, to Pensacola and its communities, to those like myself who ventured beyond armed with the awesome power of his educational convictions."
Matt and his beloved wife, Eleanor, never lost touch with their many friends and admirers in South Carolina. She is a native of Pawleys Island and can be contacted at Matt's email address, email@example.com.
Matt was an avid reader of SC Episcopalians and grieved over the demise of the Diocese. He was particularly disappointed that St. Luke & St. Paul voted to leave the Episcopal Church in 2012. At the time of his departure from the Cathedral, there were over 800 active communicants in the congregation.
Read Matt Currin's obituary
December 28, 2015
Lynn Skilton & Martha Horn
Two remarkable women departed this life this week, and it would be a mistake not to note their passing.
The Reverend Martha Horn died today in Charleston. There was no one more enthusiastic in proclaiming the Gospel than she. Despite personal tragedy and a long painful struggle with cancer, Martha was tireless in her ministry and only seemed to grow stronger in her faith as challenges mounted. Hers was a compassionate and encouraging voice to those whose earthly journey has not been easy. It will be missed by many. Her husband is the Reverend Robert Horn.
For 52 years Lynn Skilton was widely known as a partner in ministry and mission with her husband, the Rt. Rev. Bill Skilton, formerly the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina and later Assistant Bishop of the Dominican Republic. Lynn was a consistent friend and thoughtful mentor to many who knew and loved her.
She was also a much beloved high school teacher in the Berkeley County school system. Among the many tributes by former students, one seemed to sum up Lynn's role in their lives saying, "You gave me a fair chance when others wouldn't."
Her funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon at Old St. Andrews near Charleston.
December 27, 2015
It could be that among the next few postings on this site will be a report on the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court on ex-Bishop Lawrence's lawsuit laying claim to the "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina" and 36 of its breakaway parishes and missions.
Of course, SC Episcopalians has no inside knowledge that this is about to happen, but the justices have had the case for over three months and they seem to be dispensing with pending cases fairly quickly.
Meanwhile, here's a very good idea for people on all sides to consider: It would be very short-sighted to look at this decision in the context of winners and losers. We have all lost and there is little any court can do now to change that.
Friendships have been broken, ministries have be disrupted, and hearts of once joyful congregations torn apart. Millions of dollars for ministry have been hijacked to pay legal bills. Longtime members have walked away from our fellowship, while visitors looking for a spiritual home have been repulsed by the vision of the Body of Christ at war with itself.
Most sadly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has lost an eloquent and powerful witness in this part of the world, and it will not be easily reconstructed or revived.
During this season of giving, it might be helpful for all of us to imagine this pending Court decision as a gift.
Surely, clarity can be understood as a gift. So can an invitation, beckoning us forward onto paths untraveled or even yet imagined. To think otherwise would be to ignore all we understand about the nature of God and His Kingdom.
Of course, the Court's ruling will mean hurt and confusion for many. It will mean the end of that which is familiar and traditional for others, and inspire frustration with the courts, and disappointment with once trusted leaders and friends.
However, little of that will matter if we imagine this gift as a kind of roadmap for moving ahead in our spiritual journey, and a framework for refocusing our attention away from property and onto ministry.
Most importantly, this gift will give us the opportunity to reimagine ourselves in our true calling as a People of God - a uniquely divine Gift far beyond the reach of courtrooms, schisms, and church politics.