South Carolina Episcopalians
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 The History of the    Episcopal Church  Schism
in South Carolina
by Dr. Ron Caldwell

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Episcopal Schism in 
South Carolina 
by Dr. Ron Caldwell
September 4, 2017
Mediation Report Roils Lay People on both Sides
Continuing Diocese waited six days to disclose Court-ordered negotiations

Last Friday Mark Lawrence's lead attorney set off a firestorm when he casually disclosed that lawyers for breakaways and the Church had agreed to a mediation of all Federal and state issues involved in Lawrence's attempt schism.

Not only were clergy and laity stunned at the idea of closed-door meetings to negotiate their futures ... many were furious that news of the Court-ordered mediation, under the direction of U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson, had been kept from them for over three days. 

In the case of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the story was not announced until today... six days after it had been agreed to on Aug. 30th.

The story broke as Lawrence's chief strategist, attorney Alan Runyon, asked the state Supreme Court for more time to prepare his petitions for a rehearing of a 2015 ruling by Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein awarding ownership of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina to its ex-bishop and freedom to leave the Episcopal Church to 36 congregations loyal to him.

As part of his request, Runyon mentioned that U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, who is presiding over the false advertising case against Lawrence in Federal Court, had ordered the mediation and that both sides had agreed to it.

SC Episcopalians received several emails and phone calls, especially from loyal Episcopalians who'd been ejected from their Lawrence-majority congregations nearly five years ago:  "We should have a say in our future and not have some deal forced on us," said one disaffected parishioner.

Members of breakaway congregations continue to remember the failure of Lawrence's attorneys to ask them about a settlement offer in 2015 in which they would have received full ownership of their parish properties.  

The first time lay people heard about the offer was after it had been rejected by their lawyers.  "Why are we the last ones to hear about things like this," said a friend of SC Episcopalians in a breakaway congregation, who still talks to us.

On the Church side, there was some anxiety that the Rt. Rev. Skip Adams, the legitimate bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina for the past year, might be too anxious to make a deal without fully appreciating the sacrifice and suffering of those rejected from their  parishes under Lawrence. 

Runyon broke the news Friday afternoon in Columbia which meant many loyalist and breakaway clergy were blindsided on Sunday morning when parishioners asked about it.

Mediation doesn't hold up other legal proceedings in either the state or Federal courts.  It can also fail.  In this case, the issues are so complex and emotionally charged that it would be divine intervention for sure if a satisfactory agreement is reached.

Dr. Ron Caldwell has written  an excellent summaryyof the suggested mediation process for Federal mediators. 



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