Earlier Postings in 2018
Episcopal Church Moves to Consolidate Schism
Issues in Pending Federal False Advertising Case
March 1, 2018
March 1, 2018
Annual Meeting of Breakaway Group Promises
Heartache and Delusion
February 22, 2018
Smoking Gun Shows Lawerence Still
Putting His "War" against the Church Ahead
of Best Interests of his Parishes
February 21, 2018
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South Carolina Episcopalians
May 17, 2019
Presiding Bishop to Receive Top Broadcasting Award for Royal Wedding Homily
Sandford St. Martin Trust: "American Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church, is to receive the 2019 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award in recognition of the huge media impact generated by his royal wedding sermon which helped to bring a better understanding of religious belief and its modern relevance to a new audience." Read more here from Episcopal Cafe
May 3, 2019
Bishop Skip and Standing Committee Announce Transition Planning to New Diocesan Leader
Provisional Bishop Adams has served twice as long as his original commitment; Standing Committee is working on selection process without a specific deadline
Two remarkable retired bishops -- Charles vonRosenberg of East Tennessee, and Gladstone "Skip" Adams of Central New York -- have served loyal Episcopalians in eastern South Carolina since their duly-elected bishop abandoned his vows and fled the the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion in 2012.
Both have provided the Episcopal Church in South Carolina with exceptional spiritual leadership and direction, while enduring relentless insults and attacks from former Episcopalians who followed ex-bishop Mark Lawrence out of the Church.
Adams is meeting with Diocesan clergy this week at Kanuga where he will likely discuss his future plans. He has not set an official date for his departure, but the Standing Committee has initiated conversations with Presiding Bishop Curry's office to explore its options.
A key question will likely be whether the Diocese is ready to elect a permanent, full-time Diocesan bishop.
April 18, 2019
April 12, 2019
Breakaway Lawyers Defend Confused Judge
Orangeburg judge is right to delay implementing decision, dissidents tell State Supreme Court
Lawyers for former Episcopalians, demanding Church property and financial assets valued in the millions of dollars, returned to the state Supreme Court today to defend the failure of an Orangeburg circuit judge to implement its August 2017 ruling favoring the Church.
Repeating unsuccessful arguments made in other courts, the lawyers argued that the high court's decision was unclear and too confusing to be implemented.
Church attorneys have argued that the ruling was very clear in spelling out which parishes could leave and which were legally bound to the Church. The state court's decision was allowed to stand by the nation's highest court last June, when it rejected an appeal by the breakaway group using the same arguments.
The breakaway group was responding to a motion filed last month by the Church’s legal team asking the justices to force S.C. Judge Edgar Dickson to go forward with implementation of the ruling which decreed that 29 of 36 parishes that wanted to leave with ex-bishop Mark Lawrence belong with the Church.
Is judge's foot-dragging intentional?
Dickson was assigned the job in the fall of 2017 but has shown little interest in doing anything about it. Church attorneys are asking for something called a "writ of mandamus".
Dickson's foot-dragging has played perfectly into the breakaways' strategy of delaying any progress in the case. Today's filing with the high court was largely a re-hashing of rejected arguments they made in 2017, and later to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In meetings with attorneys in the case, Dickson has variously complained that he was too busy with other cases or that he was confused by what the high court expected him to do. The question of whether Dickson is intentionally delaying the case or simply out of his depth is an open one.
For example, last summer, in spite of seven years of litigation, tens of thousands of pages of legal filings, and a weigh-in by the United States Supreme Court, Dickson still felt the need to ask both sides to give him a short list of what they thought he should do. Now, more than nine months later he has done of none of the things requested by either side.
Last fall, the judge held another hearing, apparently to give the dissent side an opportunity to re-try the substance of the case, and attack the opinions of the three justices who voted against them in 2017.
Last month he finally scheduled a hearing on a nuisance lawsuit filed by the breakaway group, only to cancel it abruptly days later after his law clerk reported that all the lawyers in the case apparently didn’t notify him that it was convenient for them. Church lawyers were among those who did respond, but the incident raises the prospect that the judge may be willing to delay the case indefinitely as long as breakaway lawyers are too busy to agree to a convenient time to appear before him.
Delays are hurting both sides
As far as SC Episcopalians can see, this intentional delay strategy is damaging both sides, but especially the remaining breakaway groups that are hesitant to abandon the buildings to which they are laying claim, but increasingly can no longer afford to maintain or operate in them. Many have contingency plans to move to new spaces that have come and gone with each legal delay.
Others that want to remain in their buildings in spite of belonging to the Episcopal Church but do not feel they can move forward with conversations with Episcopal Bishop Skip Adams until the legal status of the buildings is finalized by Dickson.
The impact of the case - now in its seventh year - has had a profound impact on membership and finances in the breakaway congregations. Many are routinely running deficits and postponing capital campaigns to add to or otherwise improve their declining buildings and campuses.
Continued news coverage of the case is a reminder that the dissidents left the Church because of its inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians as regular people, its equal treatment of men and women in leadership roles, and its failure to reject understandings of Holy Scripture inconsistent with their own narrow literal interpretations.
(Statement of the breakaway group not yet available)
March 26, 2019
The following was received this morning from Judge Edgar Dickson's law clerk: "Good morning. The Court sent a hearing date of March 27, 2019 at 10:00 am. However, we did not receive any confirmation that the hearing date and time was acceptable to a majority of the parties. Since we did not hear back from counsels and since we are unable to get a court reporter, the hearing is cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date. Thank you for your time in this matter. Additionally, please tell your clients that the hearing has been cancelled. We would hate for them to drive all the way to Orangeburg and there is not going to be a hearing."
March 25, 2019
Orangeburg Judge Likely to Rule on Nuisance LawsuitWednesday
Church attorneys have asked him to dismiss the case as irrelevant since there is no dispute over who owns the parish properties
The circuit court judge charged with implementing the state Supreme Court’s 2017 rejection of a lawsuit by former Bishop Mark Lawrence has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on a nuisance lawsuit brought by lawyers for dissident congregations affiliated with him.
The speculation is that is that S.C. Judge Edgar Dickson is convening the hearing to rule on the Church’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by breakaway lawyers under the state's obscure “betterments” statute, seeking compensation for parish properties and assets they were not awarded as a result of the losing their case in 2017.
According to the state Supreme Court, the 29 parishes are and have always been part of the Episcopal Church. Seven parishes were allowed to leave the Church, after the justices determined that there was no "written" evidence that they agreed to be governed by the Church's Constitution & Canons.
Betterments laws are intended to provide compensation to people who create improvements on properties they mistakenly believed they own.
In South Carolina, only defendants on the losing side of a legal action can ask for compensation, and they must argue convincingly that they didn't know they did not own the property in question.
On both counts, the breakaways' positions don't hold water.
First off, they were the plaintiffs in the lawsuit through which they claim they found out they did not own the property. In other words, they lack the legal standing to bring a betterments lawsuit, which is sufficient grounds on which a judge can dismiss it. That's why SC Episcopalians describes it as a nuisance. as its only purpose appears to be to further delay implementation of the high court ruling.
Secondly, neither the Church nor the Supreme Court is arguing that the congregations don’t own the properties in question. The high court's August 2017 decision is not about who owns the parish properties in question… but whether they are operating them in trust for the benefit of the Episcopal Church.
This is something Lawrence's attorneys have known since the get-go. In the Episcopal Church, congregations hold parish properties in trust for the benefit of the Church. When the Lawrence congregations voted to sever all ties with the Church in November 2012, they effectively violated their obligations as trustees of these properties and were no longer entitled to occupy the buildings.
Judge Dickson has before him a motion from Church attorneys to reject the betterments lawsuit and get on with implementing the court decision. All sides in the case have filed their arguments on the matter with Judge Dickson so there should be no reason to think this aspect of the case will drag out.
Ironically, the Church does appear to have standing to bring a betterments case against the seven breakaway parishes that were allowed to leave. The Church was the defendant in the Lawrence lawsuit and "mistakenly" believed they were being held in trust for the Church and Episcopalians.
March 20, 2019
Church Asks State Supreme Court to Force Circuit Judge to Implement its August 2017 Ruling
Breakaway congregations repeatedly rebuffed Bishop Adams' attempts to negotiate a mutually advantageous resolution
Their patience worn out, the Episcopal Church and its Diocese in eastern South Carolina have asked the state’s Supreme Court to order Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson of Orangeburg to implement its August 2017 decision, declaring that 29 parishes once-loyal to breakaway Bishop Mark Lawrence belong to the Church.
The justices had sent their ruling to Dickson nearly a year-and-a-half ago, but he has given no indication that he is even working on the matter. Judge Dickson had two somewhat aimless sessions with the lawyers from both sides last year, but has since given no indication that he’s even thought about the case.
During one of those sessions, Dickson made it clear he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with the assignment and even asked the lawyers for their suggestions.
In the other session, he appeared to want to retry the case, even allowing the breakaways’ lead attorney to present his arguments for overturning the court ruling. The attorney, Alan Runyan, also was allow as much time as he wanted to attack the opinions of the three justices who voted in the majority, with a particular aggressiveness toward that of Chief Justice Don Beatty. Ironically, it was Beatty’s opinion that kept the Church from winning a complete victory.
Read official announcement by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. (Response by Bishop Lawrence will be published when it is available)
In the view of SC Episcopalians, the high court should reassign the case to a more credible judge. Not only has Dickson stated publicly that he has no idea what he is doing, he formerly practiced law with the most politically influential law firms Lawrence has retained to help with the case.
Attorneys for the Church and the local diocese did not offer any explanation why they chose this time to file their request. There have been reports of some of the Lawrence congregations taking things out of their church buildings, failing to maintain the buildings, and using the buildings to borrow money. Most have had financial troubles since trying to leave the Church with Lawrence
The leader of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Skip Adams, has tried repeatedly to engage dissident congregations in dialogue to explore their futures either in or outside the Church. His last such attempt was Saturday in Florence where only seven members of breakaway congregations showed up.
February 13, 2019
Sluggish Federal Court May Be Waking Up
It took eight years for the San Joaquin case to be resolved by the courts and Church property transferred back to its rightful owners. South Carolina is just beginning its seventh year.
Slightly more than six years after it was filed, the Federal case of "false advertising" against former SC bishop Mark Lawrence may finally get its day in court. VonRosenberg v. Lawrence is a lawsuit claiming that the breakaway cleric is impersonating an Episcopal Church bishop even though he left the Church in late 2012.
The case is focused on the corporate "marks" of the legitimate Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina that Lawrence insists he -- not the Church's duly elected bishop -- leads. If you are scratching your head over what that means, consider that the real purpose of the case is to decide who is the legitimate owner of the corporate entity known as "The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina."
The case was scheduled to be heard next month, but we learned today it has been rescheduled for May. Courts don't have to explain these things, but we think the fact that both sides have told the judge they are willing to forgo a trial and have him rule directly is probably the reason.
The case was originally assigned to the late Federal Judge Weston Houck in Charleston in April 2013, but he refused to hear it until a seemingly related case in state court was resolved. That state case was resolved in August 2017 and, after several miscues following Houck's death, the Federal case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel.
The legal momentum behind the case is clearly with the Church.
The courts in California ruled in a similar schism in Lawrence's home diocese of San Joaquin that the breakaways' claim to owning a diocese of the Episcopal Church was ludicrous. Several years ago, Gergel's colleague, Federal Judge Michael Duffy ruled in a related insurance case that the Diocese led by then-Bishop Charles vonRosenberg was, in fact, the legitimate "Diocese of South Carolina."
However, the most immediate cause for worry for Lawrence and his crowd is that the South Carolina Supreme Court believes the corporate "Diocese of South Carolina" belongs to the Church. In their August 2017 decision, the justices ruled that only seven parishes of the 36 plaintiff parishes in that lawsuit could leave the Church with their properties, leaving it to the Federal court to oversee the disposition of the corporate entity.
Beyond a shared fear of gays, lesbians, and women in positions of spiritual authority, ACNA's African founders rarely seem happy with their American and Canadian proxies
The struggle between out-sized egos that lead ultraconservative provinces of the Anglican Communion and their western offspring has erupted again. This time it’s the Anglican Church of Nigeria apparently clashing with the leadership of its American protégé, the so-called Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).
Last month Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh and his College of Bishops announced the appointment of four new missionary bishops in the United States and Canada to operate independently of the Nigerians’ already-established missionary presence.
The move was an apparent snub to Foley Beach, the leader of ACNA and its Anglican primatial look-a-like. Read full story
Can Lawrence's crumbling parishes afford his promise of years of litigation? Latest filings in Federal court little more than a cutting-and-pasting of rejected legal arguments and debunked half-truths.
Last month lawyers for what remains of the Mark Lawrence breakaway organization unloaded 38 motions on Federal Judge Richard Gergel as part of a request for summary judgment in the six-year-old "false advertising" lawsuit facing former Bishop Mark Lawrence. They contained little more than a rehashing of silly ideas without a factual grounding and old legal arguments that have been rejected by other courts.
The avalanche of meaningless filings with Gergel is more evidence the Lawrencians have abandoned any real hope of reversing the state Supreme Court's August 2017 ruling in the Church's favor. Read more
December 13, 2018(rev. 12-15-18)
Lawyers' Lukewarm Defense of Lawrence's "False Advertising" Offers Nothing New, Ignores Courtroom Defeats
At the heart of the case is ownership of the corporate entity, known as "The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina"... and, uh, yes that same question has already been decided by Federal Courts, and the State and U.S Supreme courts. Read on.
December 6, 2018
Tear It Down! Anxiety Rises Among Lawrence Clergy as Reality Closes In
St. Philip's clergyman prays God will destroy historic St. Philip's rather than allowing false gospel Episcopalians to continue to own it
As if it was needed, last month St. Philip's in Charleston gave us yet one more insight into why the Mark Lawrence schism is in shambles. It also helped us understand how the historic "mother church" of Anglicanism in South Carolina has lost more than half its membership since Lawrence became Bishop of South Carolina in 2008. Read full story here.
The Vestry of St. Jude's Episcopal Church in Walterboro is apparently moving forward with the sale of what it calls "miscellaneous property" in spite of a 2017 ruling by the state Supreme Court that it has no authority to dispose of any property without the consent of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
Thumbing its nose at the high court, the vestry told the members of the congregation this week that it is moving ahead with plans to offer the properties for sale ... and, if they need anyone's consent, they will get it from ex-bishop Mark Lawrence's breakaway organization.
"Parish Property Sale - Charles Lucas recommended that certain miscellaneous properties owned by the Church be offered as a bundle for a price of $29,900 with a hope to receive possibly $15,000‑$20,000. The Vestry agreed to send a letter to the Diocese to seek permission if any is needed. The Vestry approved a motion to adopt the recommendation with the limitation that St. Jude's would only give a limited warranty deed." Read the full story
The Episcopal Church, its continuing Diocese in South Carolina (TECSC) and those representing Mark Lawrence and parishes once aligned with him are heading to court tomorrow in Orangeburg to make oral arguments before state Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson, who's been charged by the state Supreme Court with implementation of its August 2017 decision declaring that 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher are part of the Episcopal Church.
November 9, 2018
Mission Accomplished: The extraordinary journey of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina comes to an end as its legacy lives on
With the same thoughtful, dignified, and hopeful tone with which it began 15 years ago, the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina announced today that its work is done. In a letter to EFSC members, President Warren Mersereau reported that the organization was closing its doors, and transferring the remaining $2200 balance in its bank account to the Episcopal Church of South Carolina. Read more
October 23, 2018
Judge Schedules Hearing on Implementation of Supreme Court Ruling for November 19th
First Judicial Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson of Orangeburg will preside over what many believe will be beginning of the end for ex-Bishop Lawrence's schism. SC Episcopalians will be there and posting all the latest news as it happens.
October 22, 2018
No Word on Hearing by Orangeburg Judge Charged with Implementing Supreme Court Ruling
South Carolina's judicial system continues to get a failing grade for its incompetent handling of the January 2013 lawsuit brought by ex-Bishop Mark Lawrence.
First Judicial Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson was charged by the state Supreme Court with implementing its largely pro-Episcopal Church ruling in the case nearly a year ago... and has not even held a hearing. Last August he told lawyers on both sides that he would schedule a hearing on the case before the end of October, but so far nothing is scheduled.
October 16, 2018
Lawrencians Throw Everything plus Kitchen Sink at Judge Hoping to Force Re-Opening of 2013 Lawsuit
In court filings today in Orangeburg, breakaway lawyers continued to bash the state's 2017 Supreme Court ruling, while furiously battling the Church's request for a full accounting of Diocesan and parish finances.
October 11, 2018
Bishop Adams, Diocesan Leaders Take to Facebook to Talk Reconciliation & Legal Cases
South Carolina Bishop Skip Adams and his leadership team took to social media tonight to ramp up their reconciliation efforts with followers of former Bishop Mark Lawrence, while offering insights into his vision for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Read more.
September 24, 2018
Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson has only been authorized to implement the August 2017 state Supreme Court decision that ended Mark Lawrence's aborted schism, but that has not stopped breakaway lawyers from pummeling the Orangeburg jurist with demands that he overturn key parts of the decision.
In routine filings in Dickson's court today, Lawrence's lead attorney Alan Runyan continued his attacks on the Court majority, using quotes from the opinions of the losing side to hammer away at what he argues is a ruling that is too vague to be enforced. Read full story.
In 2015, his colleague rendered one of the most reckless and costly decisions ever handed down in the state's First Judicial District, so perhaps Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson should not be cussed too much for being painfully careful in implementing the state Supreme Court's 13-month-old decision in Lawrence's lawsuit.
August 8, 2018
Lawrence's Last Hurrah Tour Leaves Followers with Confusion about the Future, & Blame for Everyone Else
Rambling commentary touches on 2015 settlement offer, revisionist history, human genitalia, and questionable legal advice
August 3, 2018
Church, Breakaway Attorneys Lay Out Concerns over Implementation of S.C. Supreme Court Decision
Judge had asked them to come up with a list of their expectations for his work ahead; Each list reflected positions taken in prior filings
Part III (Aug 2):
Lawrence Plays the Victim Card
In Walterboro former SC bishop demonizes Church leaders, refuses to admit any blame, then urges his supporters to raise money for lawyers. He appears to be more aware of his own legal culpability than in the past.
Adams Actually Tried to Help Nearly Insolvent Breakaway Parish in Binghamton Buy its Building
Lawrence is trying to smear Bishop Adams during his tour by exploiting the sale of a vacant parish building in Adams' former Diocese ten years ago. Court records shows Judge was infuriated by financial irregularities and apparent hiding of assets when controversial rector was in charge.
Even Lawrence loyalists are confused over his insistence the lawsuit is still alive; His high command still can't prove there was ever any threat to the Diocese from the wider Church (This link takes you to our July 1st response to each FAQ)
July 20, 2018
Lawrence's Allies Lash Out at Reconciliation Initiative
Letter from Peter Moore is one of the milder attacks; SC Episcopalians offers comments on anti-Muslim prejudice, GAFCON, Sin, Anglican Jesuses, Matt Kennedy, and much more
July 18, 2018
Bishop Adams Upbeat about Reconciliation Initiative after Meetings in Conway, Bluffton, & Charleston
'Three Conversations' to help heal broken Diocese were well-attended and productive, in spite of pharisees' efforts to undermine him
July 11, 2018
Church Attorneys Demand Full Accounting, Audits of Lawrence Organization & Parishes
Worst kept secret of the Lawrence schism was that its leaders were attempting to hide assets from the courts in the event secession effort failed; Judge sets July 26 for status conference in the case
June 28, 2018
Three Charleston parishes have lost half their members, but still say they'll continue fighting the Courts and the Church. Wardens at St. Michael's, St. Phillip's, & St. Luke & St. Paul blow off S.C. and U.S. Supreme Courts: "We have a far different perspective."
June 19, 2018
Despite Unprecedented Deficit, High Flying Lawrence and Guests are Jerusalem-bound
Out of control spending suggests Lawrence knows the party's over; Breakaways won't say who's paying for last hurrah with GAFCON
June 19, 2018
Lawrence Team Struggles with Unreality as Church Presses Forward for Implementation of 2017 Ruling
In spite of rejections from the South Carolina and United States Supreme Courts, Lawrence still "confident that the law and the facts of this case favor our congregations."
Diocesan Chancellor says focus now shifts back to Dorchester County for implementation of Court ruling
June 11, 2018
Part I: Supreme Court Rejects Appeal
Without comment, Justices leave South Carolina's pro-Church Supreme Court ruling intact; From near death in 2009, Church's Dennis Canon is now the law in South Carolina
Part II: Angry Lawrence Promises to Fight Implementation of the Court Ruling
Stung by back-to-back losses, ex-Bishop Mark Lawrence rejects the August 2017 ruling of the state's Supreme Court and plans to fight its implementation in the Dorchester County court.
April 17, 2018
Judge Expands False Advertising Case to Include 54 Pro-Lawrence Parishes & Trustees as Defendants
In January 2013, hubris led the attorneys for ex-Bishop Mark Lawrence to make a foolish blunder in their legal strategy to leave the Episcopal Church. Today, it came back to haunt them in spades.
April 5, 2018
Texas Appeals Court Finds in Favor of Episcopal Church and its Diocese in Fort Worth
If it is possible that another schism in another diocese could be more bitter and more of a mess than ours, it would be in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Read Dr. Ron Caldwell's comments on the decision
Today loyal Episcopalians got long awaited good news as an appeals court in Fort Worth reversed a lower court ruling favoring the breakaway cousins of our former bishop, Mark Lawrence, making it clear that they own their own Diocese and its property.
Read the full story