Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Episcopal Church Vs South Carolina

The following was forwarded to me by a friend. It is an exchange of posts to the House of Bishops and Deputies mailing list concerning the Diocese of South Carolina.

I don't know her, but I believe Zoe Cole is an attorney. She should know the current state of the law as regards to who owns church property in South Carolina. The question is up for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but as of right now it has been clearly decided by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

I find the arrogance of many of the posters fascinating.

Here follows the exchange:

Ann Fontaine to HOBD
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)

Too bad there is no Calvary Church to oppose these moves --- my sense of the scene is some Episcopalians are alarmed that +Lawrence is about to give away the store and then follow out the door and hence have contacted the PB for advice on what to do next. Ann

The Diocese of South Carolina will votes on resolutions designed to further distance themselves from the rest of the Episcopal Church. Previously, Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan leadership set out on a path of separation from all Episcopal Church ministries and governance that, in their view, reinforce ideas contrary to their understanding of Holy Scripture, Episcopal polity and Lambeth resolutions. These four resolutions solidify that move.

The Rev. Ann Fontaine
Lander, Wyoming

Fr Dan Martins to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)
Ann, are you not over-reacting just a bit? I've read the resolutions and
don't see anything that would indicate a secessionist impulse. Rather, they
raise legitimate concerns about exactly what constitutes "the Episcopal
Church." Is it some reified abstraction represented by the Presiding
Bishop's office, or is it what is traditionally recognized as the enfleshed
presence of the church in a particular place: the community of the baptized,
their presbyters and deacons, gathered with their bishop at the altar and in
synod? The "pushback" that South Carolina is offering is not a sign of
rebellion or disloyalty; it is faithful participation in the life of the

Dan Martins+
Northern Indiana
Michael Russell to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)

The Denis Canon settled that issue. ALL property is held in trust for TEC which is the authorizing body for Dioceses to exist. The PB and EC have every right to warn a more than potentially rogue Bishop and Diocese. They also have every responsibility to protect TEC's assets and preserve them for future generations.

Mike Russell C04 08 San Diego
Fr Dan Martins to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)
Mike, it seems to me that yours is at the very least an overly-ambitious
interpretation of the Denis Canon, which is itself an overly-ambitious
interpretation of Episcopal Church polity, and about which there are still
serious unresolved legal issues. Now, I am not a supporter of secession, and
I grieve over those who have left our fellowship. But I am nonetheless
puzzled, and would appreciate being instructed, as to where the Presiding
Bishop derives authority to retain counsel to protect the interests of the
Episcopal Church in South Carolina, as if 815 is the Episcopal Church in
South Carolina in some more "real" way than the *actual* Episcopal Church in
South Carolina, which is, of course, the actual Diocese "on the ground"
there--i.e. the Bishop, Standing Committee, Diocesan Convention, and
congregations, and that the "interests" of the Episcopal Church are
something other than the "interests" of the only recognizable Episcopal
Church presence in the South Carolina low country--namely, the Episcopal
Diocese of South Carolina. Can you not see that the issue is at least

Dan Martins+
Northern Indiana
Ann Fontaine to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)
Dear Dan -- the Dennis Canon was written at the request of courts to have something written in our canon that reflected what they already knew - that there is only The Episcopal Church -- the dioceses are creations of General Convention -- even South Carolina has agreed to this. I find it interesting = the parallels with some Civil War history ----

Sound very familiar

January 1861 -- The South Secedes. When Abraham Lincoln, a known opponent of slavery, was elected president, the South Carolina legislature perceived a threat. Calling a state convention, the delegates voted to remove the state of South Carolina from the union known as the United States of America. The secession of South Carolina was followed by the secession of six more states -- Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas -- and the threat of secession by four more -- Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. These eleven states eventually formed the Confederate States of America.

February 1861 -- The South Creates a Government. At a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, the seven seceding states created the Confederate Constitution, a document similar to the United States Constitution, but with greater stress on the autonomy of each state. Jefferson Davis was named provisional president of the Confederacy until elections could be held.

February 1861 -- The South Seizes Federal Forts. When President Buchanan -- Lincoln's predecessor -- refused to surrender southern federal forts to the seceding states, southern state troops seized them. At Fort Sumter, South Carolina troops repulsed a supply ship trying to reach federal forces based in the fort. The ship was forced to return to New York, its supplies undelivered.

March 1861 -- Lincoln's Inauguration. At Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, the new president said he had no plans to end slavery in those states where it already existed, but he also said he would not accept secession. He hoped to resolve the national crisis without warfare.

April 1861 -- Attack on Fort Sumter. When President Lincoln planned to send supplies to Fort Sumter, he alerted the state in advance, in an attempt to avoid hostilities. South Carolina, however, feared a trick; the commander of the fort, Robert Anderson, was asked to surrender immediately. Anderson offered to surrender, but only after he had exhausted his supplies. His offer was rejected, and on

April 12, the Civil War began with shots fired on the fort. Fort Sumter eventually was surrendered to South Carolina.

The Rev. Ann Fontaine
Lander, Wyoming

Michael Russell to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)

Title I.3.3 designates the PB as the President of the DFMS. As such she and
the other officers have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the DFMS.
Please note that in Title 1.2.4.c the PB
"The Presiding Bishop shall perform such other functions as shall
be prescribed in these Canons; and, to be enabled better to perform
such duties and responsibilities, the Presiding Bishop may appoint, to
positions established by the Executive Council of General
Convention, officers, responsible to the Presiding Bishop, who may
delegate such authority as shall seem appropriate."

So despite Phil Turner's analysis and that of the ACI the PB has executive
responsibilities that include preserving the hierarchical nature of the
church. Prichard's recent paper helpfully places the movement to greater
centralization in 1919, not seized recently by the PB as her detractors
allege in their defamatory writings.

Furthermore, the US Supreme Court has not twice refused to hear appeals
based in some argument that localities own the properties, leaving in place
the CA Supreme Court ruling on these matters, including the ruling that TEC
says who is Bishop of San Joaquin. Bishop Lawrence I am sure is hoping that
the SC Courts will not rule the same way, and the VA cases may be the first
to step into the Federal arena. I expect, however that at the Federal level
the decisions will continue to go against the dissidents.

Between the unqualified accession clauses and the Denis Canon, I expect more
and more the courts will say to the dissidents what one judge said here
about accession, "Which part of 'forever' didn't you understand?'"

So this is not complicated at all Dan, it is reasonably simple and the only
useless litigation being undertaken is that initiated by the dissidents in
all these cases.

Bruce Robison to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)
It seems to me that the proper and canonical course of action would be for someone to bring a presentment against the ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, *if and when* it is determined that there is evidence that they *actually* have broken with fiduciary responsibilities as designated in the "Dennis Canon." For the Chancellor of the Presiding Bishop simply to engage counsel to act as "the Episcopal Church in South Carolina" is I think outside the boundaries of constitutional order. It is entirely appropriate that canonical measures be followed to ensure that dioceses function in good order. But it is entirely inappropriate to run an end-around and to make an effort to usurp the proper role of the diocese.

Bruce Robison
Pittsburgh C-4 2009
Paul Ambos to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (8 days ago)
Are you reading the same resolutions everyone else is, Dan?

These clearly would establish a "sovereign" fiefdom in South Carolina that
purports to physically exclude any representative of The Episcopal Church
from its territory. The Special Convention last October already purported
to declare "null and void" actions of the General Convention that the South
Carolina cabal disagreed with. They set up the Thirty-Nine Articles,
Lambeth Resolutions, and superseded Prayerbooks as their ruling texts in
lieu of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and have
purported to redefine the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Church to
which their clergy must swear conformity. Looking to the inevitable
deposition of Bishop Lawrence, they establish the Standing Committee as the
continuing baton-carrier.

Withdrawing from the life of The Episcopal Church is in no way a "faithful
participation" in it.

These actions bear every sign of a new chapter in the rebellion that started
with the Chapman Memorandum and is now being continued on the diocesan level
by those who claim scriptural fidelity to a bible that has sliced out (a la
"Choose This Day") Exodus 20:15-17 and Deuteronomy 5:19-21.

Who are the bishops who are willing to police their House?


Paul Ambos
Diocese of New Jersey (18.1%) L4 (2012)
======================================================================================================= to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (8 days ago)

Only individual clergy can have Presentments issued against them under Title IV, our disciplinary Canons. There is no provision for a Presentment against, for example, a Standing Committee, or any other "body" in the Church.

As for lay persons involved in conduct that could lead to a Presentment against a clergy person, it was proposed in 2006 that the disciplinary Canons cover lay leaders. That was objected to by many, many people around the Church and soundly rejected by the Canons Committee.

Sally Johnson


Diocese of Minnesota
Bruce Robison to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (8 days ago)
So we would understand that the canons of the Episcopal Church assign duties but without consequence for dereliction? That is an interesting aspect to consider as we reflect on the character of Episcopal Church polity. Nonetheless, certainly the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, the Bishop, is subject to presentment and discipline, as we learned here in Pittsburgh . . . . My question is simply whether there are individuals or bodies external diocese empowered by the canons to usurp the ordinary authority of diocesan governance without some sort of formal process.

Bruce Robison
Michael Russell to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (8 days ago)
There is actually great simplicity in this area with respect to people
attempting to sever their connections with TEC. The action of de-accession,
being an impossible action, voids the office of those attempting it. You
are no longer the Vestry in the very moment you vote to leave TEC, and no
longer the SC when you do likewise. When you abandon the unqualified
accession you may be a member of some other board or corporation, but you
are no longer a Vestry person or a SC person.

It is therefore the responsibility of the PB and EC to step into the vacuum
created by the abandonment and take charge. This is sad for the laity in
parishes misled by their priests, as they are now discovering in CA, but
that is an issue with the false shepherd who led them into the litiginous

And having now seen this pattern reproduced in several Dioceses, the PB is
well within her reasonable rights to give notice to South Carolina of the
immediate consequences of passing resolutions suggesting they will attempt
the impossible.

Michael Russell to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 11 (9 days ago)
Given the costs we are not incurring for litigating against those who
presume they can remove a Diocese, I think some pre-emptive warning is worth
while. It serves to put everyone on notice that secession is not an option.
Once "secession" has happened then the abandonment canon is apropos.

Joan R. Gundersen to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
Bruce, The problem with your approach is that TEC's interest in property
exists and therefore TEC has a right to defend it regardless of what the
bishop of a diocese thinks. As for South Carolina claiming sovereignty,
their deputies were seated at General Convention in 1789 after confirming
that they had been given full authority to approve a constituion that
included the accession clause. They furthermore agreed to a constitution
that included this as part of its second article:

"Art. 2 . . . And if, through the neglect of the Convention of any of the
churches which shall have adopted, or may hereafter adopt this constitution,
no deputies, either lay or clerical, should attend at any general
convention, the church in such state shall nevertheless be bound by the acts
of such convention. "

When the Rev. Robert Smith, William Ward Burrows, Esq., and William
Brisbane, Esq. of S.C. approved the constitution at that 1789 convention,
they bound S.C. to be under the authority of General Convention and be bound
by its acts - present or not, happy with the actions or not. This makes
them a subordinate unit of the church not a soveriegn entity.

Joan R. Gundersen, Ph.D.
Pittsburgh, lay deputy G.C. 2009
Bruce Robison to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
Thanks, Joan. I won't quarrel about the right of TEC to insure that the trust created in the canon referencing property is properly defended, and even to act independently if and when the body designated in the canon to maintain the trust--the diocese--fails in its duty.

My question is to ask whether there is transparency and due process. Is it the Presiding Bishop's role, acting as "corporate executive," to determine independently that the canonically responsible body has failed, and to initiate action independently? That would seem to make the PB essentially plenipotentiary. "If at any time any entity of the Episcopal Church shall, in the view of the PB alone, fail to meet the PB's expectations of canonical action, then it shall be the duty of the PB to undertake that action independently?"

It just seems to me that the canons, here the so-called "Dennis Canon" in particular, say that the entity of the Church responsible to defend the trust interest of the Episcopal Church in property is the diocese. If the diocese fails in this, then it should be subject to whatever coercive or disciplinary forces the Consititution and Canons of our Church would specifically provide. But it would seem to me that before independent alternative action was initiated, at very least the ecclesiastical authority would have a venue to defend its policies as canonical . . . .

Bruce Robison
Pittsburgh C-4 2009
Ann Fontaine to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
If members of the church in the Diocese of South Carolina are fearful that there is another FW, SJ or Pittsburgh in the making - and so it seems from actions to date (though we presume innocence until all the facts are in) and they have asked the PB's office to look into the situation - isn't it a good idea to look into these allegations?

If there is innocence of action by Mark Lawrence and his administration why are they so paranoid and refusing to allow full transparency to the rest of us? If all is well you would think they would be forthcoming in answering the requests by the attorney who was formerly their chancellor.


The Rev. Ann Fontaine
Lander, Wyoming
Richard F Brewer to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
Thank you Joan. Clearly, Bishops and Standing Committees and people in the
pews need a better understanding of our church polity and the Constitution
and Canons. I've learned much church history during this particular period
in TEC's life. I suspect, until now, no really thought what it meant to be
bound by the constitution and canons because no one thought there would ever
be such a conflict as we have now in some places. It is a cautionary tale
to consider as we review and evaluate the proposed Anglican Communion
Covenant, whatever edition, which may be brought to General Convention for

Richard Brewer
Long Island, C4 (2009)

C Bradley Wilson to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)

I wonder if you read your own postings. In a later posting you wondered
why SC is "so paranoid." And here you are fishing for some one in the
diocese to sue the bishop and diocese, seize papers, bills, etc. Others are
eager for the national church to invade the diocese with lawyers galore and
"guarantee" the property.

And you wonder why they might be nervy about the national church!!!

Kinda like the 19th century schoolmaster who similarly wondered why
some of his students didn't concentrate well; he beat them everyday.

As we say in Pittsburgh: Go figure.

Brad Wilson+
Ann Fontaine to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
Dear Brad ---

I am not fishing in either post - I am surmising the scenario of why the PB might have an interest in South Carolina and wondering why if they are innocent they do not provide the documents requested by a member of their Diocese.


The Rev. Ann Fontaine
Lander, Wyoming
Fr Dan Martins to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
South Carolina Episcopalians should probably bear in mind that just because
they're not paranoid doesn't mean somebody's not out to get them.

Dan Martins+
Northern Indiana
tbwsalinas to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (8 days ago)
Dan, to shift the metaphor slightly - if you were married to a person who proposed the kinds of changes in your marriage that SC is proposing in its marriage to the Episcopal Church, wouldn't you be a little more than concerned?

"Don't worry, Dan, just because I am no longer committed to supporting our obligations and our mortgage financially, that doesn't mean that I am withdrawing from the marriage. And don't be upset with me just because I am cutting off your access to our savings. And that pre-nuptual agreement which provided you with safeguards? I think I've located all copies of that and they are safely in - oops - the incinerator."

Somehow that doesn't seem to me to represent a commitment to the marriage.
Tom Woodward
Fr Dan Martins to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (7 days ago)
Paul Ambos asked whether I am reading the same resolutions as everyone else.
I'm beginning to wonder the same thing. I'm also beginning to wonder whether
everyone else is reading the same "Dennis Canon" that I am.

Here's South Carolina Resolution #1:

RESOLVED, That this 219th Convention acknowledges that for more than three
centuries this Diocese has represented the Anglican expression of the faith
once for all delivered to the saints; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that we declare to all that we understand ourselves to be a gospel
diocese, called to proclaim an evangelical faith, embodied in a catholic
order, and empowered and transformed through the Holy Spirit; and be it

RESOLVED, that we promise under God not to swerve in our belief that above
all Jesus came into the world to save the lost, that those who do not know
Christ need to be brought into a personal and saving relationship with him,
and that those who do know Christ need to be taught by the Holy Scriptures
faithfully to follow him all the days of their lives to the Glory of God the

Unless one uses some imaginative eisegesis, I don't see anything seditious
here. It's pretty classic Anglican stuff. With the exception of the "three
centuries" language, I could see many of the dioceses in TEC passing such a
resolution as a "no brainer" while yawning.

Here's #2:
RESOLVED, That this 219th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina
affirms its legal and ecclesiastical authority as a sovereign diocese within
the Episcopal Church, and be it further

RESOLVED, That this Convention declares the Presiding Bishop has no
authority to retain attorneys in this Diocese that present themselves as the
legal counsel for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and be it finally

RESOLVED, That the Diocese of South Carolina demands that the Presiding
Bishop drop the retainer of all such legal counsel in South Carolina as has
been obtained contrary to the express will of this Diocese, which is The
Episcopal Church within its borders

Apparently some are getting all in a twist over the word "sovereign," as if
that's a presumptive sign of rebellious intent. It's not. A little
anachronistic, perhaps, but not rebellious. Bishop Alexander Garrett used
that word in speaking of the newly-formed Diocese of Dallas in 1895. He was
hardly a secessionist; he died as Presiding Bishop in 1924. Also notice that
"sovereign diocese" is followed by "of the Episcopal Church." Sounds to me
like a veritable declaration of loyalty. The next two resolves are certainly
pointed, and matters of some contention, and worthy of rational discussion.
The salient point seems to be that, in a geographic area where the Episcopal
Church has a diocese, that diocese *is* the Episcopal Church in that
geographic area. The Episcopal Church (I say once again) is not some reified
abstraction. It is nothing other than the sum of its constituent dioceses.
This resolution is simply pointing out a fact that should be obvious to all.

And so to #3:

The Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese is the Bishop. If there is no
Bishop, the Standing Committee is the Ecclesiastical Authority. The
Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese, with the advice and counsel of the
Chancellor, is the sole and final authority with respect to any dispute
concerning the interpretation of the Constitution and Canons of this Diocese
and its interpretations shall be final and binding in all respects.

I'm too lazy at the moment to drag out my copy of the "national" canons, but
to the extent that my memory serves, this resolution seems not only
congruent with them but substantially redundant. At any rate, it is quite
similar to canons in other dioceses in which I have served.

Finally, #4:

Resolved, that the following Section be added to Canon XXX.
Section 6. "It is within the power of the Ecclesiastical Authority of this
Diocese to provide a generous pastoral response to parishes in conflict with
the Diocese or Province, as the Ecclesiastical Authority judges necessary,
to preserve the unity and integrity of the Diocese."

So, I surmise, reading between the lines, that this is interpreted by some
as creating space for Bishop Lawrence to "give away the store" in his
negotiations with parishes in his diocese that may wish to separate
themselves (and their property) from the diocese and TEC. My opinion of the
wisdom of the Presiding Bishop's general legal strategy varies from the
majority on this list, so I will not go down that rabbit hole. Suffice it to
say that Bishops Diocesan and Standing Committees routinely alienate church
property for a variety of reasons, and in a variety of ways, and entirely at
their discretion, without 815 looking over their shoulder, and without
anyone suggesting that they are violating the Dennis Canon. As long as the
Diocese of South Carolina has not seceded from TEC, despite what anyone
guesses about their desires or intentions in that regard, they remain the
sole legal and public presence of the Episcopal Church in their geographic
territory. The congregations hold their property in trust for TEC *and the
diocese* (per the Dennis Canon), and, for the foreseeable future, both TEC
and the Diocese (i.e. the beneficiaries and fiduciaries of the implied
trust) are represented by Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee, and
cannot plausibly be represented by anyone whom they do not engage, because
there is no other plausible "interested party." As beneficiaries and
fiduciaries, the terms under which any property may be alienated are at
their sole discretion.

Dan Martins+

Northern Indiana
Joan R. Gundersen to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 13 (7 days ago)
Bruce and Dan, If my brother and I both have interests in an estate, each of
us has a right to separate legal representation. I don't have to wait until
the attorney hired by my brother botches the case or acts against my
interests. The same is true with the TEC and a diocese. EACH can seek
separate legal counsel to represent their interests. There are plenty of
indications that TEC interests are NOT being considered in S.C. As for the
"benign" nature of the resolutions. Given the distorted interpretations of
TEC polity that has been put forward based on the diocese as the sovereign
unit in the church, (such as the materials by the Anglican Communion
Institute), that word is definitely "loaded" in ways that raise all sorts of
flags. You also say that S.C. has not done anything wrong, but their
redefinition of "doctrine and discipline" in the resolution at their special
convention is at odds with definitions included in Title IV of TEC canons
(both 2006 and 2009).

Joan R. Gundersen, Pittsburgh L3 G.C. 2009
Michael Russell to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 12 (7 days ago)
Dan, obviously the shenanigans of Duncan and Schofeld provide sufficient
cause to be "tender" about resolutions 2-4. Schofeld argued right along
that he had not left the church and Duncan created dummy corporations to
mimic being the Episcopal Church. So when I read generous pastoral
response, I read give away the farm. Resolution 3 seems to forget the
unqualified accession clause to the C&C of TEC. And THAT accession provides
a platform upon which the PB as head of FDMS can put a person on the ground.
In essences she is doing the same thing Calvary did in Pittsburgh.


On Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 2:02 PM, Fr Dan Martins wrote:
Robison to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 13 (7 days ago)
The interest of the Episcopal Church that I can see is that fiduciary duties be performed in accordance with the canons by a duly constituted diocese of the Episcopal Church.

As Dan points out, real estate and other assets are purchased and sold by duly constituted parishes and dioceses of the Episcopal Church all the time.

The analogy here in Pittsburgh is that the interest of the Episcopal Church was expressed in the recent actions related to the 2005 Stipulation settling the Calvary Church lawsuit by asking the court to recognize that our "Episcopal Diocese of the Episcopal Church" was "the Diocese" entitled to be entrusted with the stewardship of diocesan assets. That is I think an appropriate expression of interest.

If Bishop Lawrence and other duly constituted officers of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina were to leave the Episcopal Church, I would of course expect the Episcopal Church to act in that context as well to be sure that a remaining "Episcopal Church" diocese continued as trustee-owner of diocesan assets.

All I'm saying is that if there is a concern of the Presiding Bishop that the Ecclesiastial Authority of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is not meeting its canonical responsibilities, then she should do what she did in Pittsburgh or San Joaquin and bring her evidence to the House of Bishops in accordance with Title IV, let Bishop Lawrence present any defense he would choose to present, and let the bishops vote for whatever discipline they feel is appropriate.

I don't agree with the notion that dioceses are autonomous and "sovereign." I believe they are subject in the conduct of their ministries to the authority of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, as adopted by General Convention. But I also believe that the Constitution and Canons specify due process of orderly governance, and the officers of the Episcopal Church have a duty as well to follow those processes.

Bruce Robison
Pittsburgh C-4 2009
Elizabeth Kaeton to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 13 (7 days ago)
Thank you, Dan, for posting your annotated version of the resolutions here
for everyone to read. I'm no canon lawyer and I don't play one on TV, but
if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck . . . .

Of all the comments posted here, the one that raised a giggle in my heart
was that old saying, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean 'they'
aren't out to get you." I giggled because that same chestnut could be
applied to both the party of the first part and the party of the second

There's another, wiser, old saying: "Where there's smoke, there's fire."
There's been lots of smoke over many years from the great state of South
Carolina. Succession is in both the state governmental DNA as well as in
the theological DNA of the Office of the Episcopacy.

I imagine a couple coming into my office for pastoral counseling and one
says, "I really disagree with the way my spouse is raising our children. We
have very different philosophies and methods of parenting, but, for the sake
of the children, I'll continue to stay. However, I've moved out of the
bedroom and I will not contribute to the running of this household as long
as the children will not be brought up in accordance with my philosophy of
child rearing which, for more than three centuries, has represented sound
principles of family values which have been recognized as such by everyone
in my family. I further declare that my spouse has no authority to retain
legal counsel in this matter, and that I have the sovereign right to be
generous to our relatives in order to preserve the unity and integrity of
our family."

I think you would agree with me, Dan, that this marriage is over except for
the divorce. If it walks like divorce and sounds like divorce . . . .the
only question is: Can this marriage be saved? I think we know the answer to
that question.

If it walks like succession and sounds like succession . . . . the Presiding
Bishop's office has every reason to seek legal counsel in these matters.
Indeed, I'm glad she has.


(the Rev'd Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul
200 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928

973 464 8018 (cell)
Paul Ambos to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 14 (6 days ago)
I missed, Dan, your analysis of the four Special Convention resolutions
passed last October. Since they no longer appear in their former place in
the Diocese of South Carolina website, you can find the text of them here,
along with the fifth one that was tabled until the regular Convention (and
about which I have seen no further news):

Make sure you address the part in Resolution 2 that says "Further resolved
that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of
this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and
void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan
canon (XXXVI sec.1)" and how that relates to and helps implement the
Accession Clause.


Paul Ambos
Diocese of New Jersey (18.1%) L4 (2012)
Fr Dan Martins to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 14 (6 days ago)
Paul, that's a no-brainer. Unless they involve constitution or canons, GC resolutions are effectively nothing more than expressions of the "mind of the house" at a particular moment. I again cite the Righter court on that score. Non-binding resolutions define neither the doctrine, discipline, nor the worship of this church. A diocesan convention's disavowal of such a GC resolution isn't even on the same planet as abrogating the accession clause.

Dan Martins+
Northern Indiana
Lilith Zoe to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 14 (6 days ago)
And Lambeth resolutions function the same way - only perhaps less so, since
they represent the minds of only one order of ministry within the body?

God's Peace, Z
L. Zoe Cole, Lay, Colorado
Pierre Whalon to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 18 (2 days ago)
One question I have is that since a diocesan convention has no power to rule on a doctrinal question--that being the purview of General Convention, and even that--why were these doctrinal affirmations not ruled out of order?

I am recalling the story of the Baltimore Declaration... a diocese should never rule on whether "Jesus is Lord." That is a given in acceding to the *doctrine* of the Church.

Bp Pierre Whalon

Paul Ambos to bishopsdeputies
show details Mar 18 (2 days ago)
Evidently they were not ruled out of order because the chair of the meeting
was Bp. Lawrence.

And Dan Martins has still not given his "no brainer" response to the other
October South Carolina resolutions, including the redefinition of "doctrine,
discipline and worship" that is blatantly at variance with the Canons of The
Episcopal Church.


Paul Ambos
Diocese of New Jersey


End exchange
I apologize for the sloppy format. I'm posting it as I was given it. I do believe it to be accurate.


A. S. Haley said...

And I find the canonical ignorance of those responding to Dan Martins+ appalling. It is why ECUSA is in such a mess right now. These people think that they can charge Bishop Lawrence with dereliction for failing to enforce the Dennis Canon when the South Carolina Supreme Court -- the highest court in his State -- has ruled the Dennis Canon a legal nullity in that State! They just don't get it, and I don't get them, either.

Thanks for putting this up, Matthew. I may have to stuff it for my "Canonical Absurdities of the Left" collection.

Ann said...

Dear Billy Ockham -- it is a breach of the rules of HOBD to post off list without asking permission of the posters. I find it interesting that you who demand adherence to what you believe is truth cannot obey a simple guideline.

Matthew said...


Allow me to explain an essential legal concept. It's called privity of contract. You may agree with a friend to do or not do something. If you meet the appropriate legal thresholds that can be a contract and may be legally enforced. I, as a third party who is not a party to your contract, am not bound by your agreement.

If you and a friend agree that you will only shovel snow on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, why then you can not restrain my actions by that contract. I may shovel snow when I please, or not at all.

In some ways the situation in South Carolina is analogous. You have passed a rule, the Denis Canon. Most of the many lawsuits filed to uphold it have agreed with your posture that the DFMS owns all the property. South Carolina's Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of all matters in South Carolina law, has stated that it does not.

Now your able attorney, Mr Beers and his staff have filed a desultory appeal to the US Supreme Court on thin grounds. They may hear your case. Until they do, the law in South Carolina is dramatically different than what you wish it to be.

You are faced with two alternatives. You can accept the South Carolina rules as they are or deny that they exist. On the first path lies sanity and peace, on the second insanity. The choice is yours.

Similarly here, you can berate me for not doing a duty that I do not have, or accept that your statements should have best been left unsaid and move on. The choice is entirely yours.

I hope you learn the correct lesson from this, that the world is not made the way you wish it to be, and are able to profit therefrom.


Ann said...

By joining HOBD you have agreed to the rules of the listserve -- so your explanation does not hold. Thanks for your thoughts. You or whoever shared the notes from the list are in violation of the contract. I guess it is too much to expect 2000 people to all keep confidentiality. But your anger at TEC has blinded you to your own principles.

Ann said...

The Dennis canon was passed at the request of the courts to reflect their rulings throughout the history of this country on the nature of hierarchical churches. US law upheld this principle before the Dennis canon. Fiduciary responsibility is part of the Presiding Bishop's responsibilities. If the courts decide in favor of VA (the only case in doubt right now) - so be it. The cases are not piling up in that direction- but one never knows. Other hierarchical churches are joining the case. It is our duty to follow our canons. I am sorry you are angry about the direction of the Episcopal Church. It is always sad when there is such division - I wish you well in your future. Blessing of Lent and the Resurrection.

Matthew said...

As I am not a member of the HoBD list, I'm not bound by any of its rules.

Any anger I may have felt towards the Episcopal Church has long since dissipated.

I will continue to pray that you and your fellows may one day repent and find salvation. Christ is well worth following. He will save your life.

Ann said...

I know this about Jesus - and He has -- I continue to follow him. If you have ceased caring and have no anger why do you continue to write about it? Thanks for sharing - no you are not bound but whoever reads and sends it to you is bound and you are abetting his lawbreaking.

Andrew said...

This illustrates some of why I no longer contribute to ECUSA. They act in a manner that is rude, illogical, and vindictive.
Far from being 'inclusive' and 'tolerant', they exclude and deride anyone unwilling to fully embrace their political agenda.
I find the analogy to divorce very interesting and apt. Even more interesting is the ECUSA does not recognize that IT is the abusive spouse.

Wilf said...


You really should go read A.S. Haley's blog on the Dennis Canon and you will find that the courts did not request this. A judge, in a rather odd moment, offered TEC some pro bono legal advice about what might be possible, when they were attempting something which was not possible.

You should really do something about that HOB/D listserv. So many people fuming about things with little basis in fact - I used to kibbitz years ago but the whole thing made me sick sick sick, and I'm sure it's rather morally blighting for all involved, whether they are aware of it or not. Self-delusion is one thing, but becoming morally outraged over such delusions is neither pretty nor conducive to a healthy moral outlook.

Wilf said...

ok Ann that comment above is a bit persnickety and I hope you forgive me

but please try this:

Ask yourself honestly - is this participating on the HOB/D helping me out spiritually, does it have an effect on my life with God? And in what way?

And ask yourself that a few times during the course of the next week.

God loves you too much to want you to be caught up in all that HOB/D Listserv stuff.

Ann said...

I have read A.S. Haley -- and find him unconvincing - there are much better writings on this subject. The other point is if people are not happy with the canons - they should put forth a resolution and change them - that is how it works in the Episcopal Church. I did not like something - I put forth a resolution - lobbied people to support it - had my facts and reasons. General Convention passed it.

Matthew said...

Alas, when church law conflicts with secular law, church law loses.

So there really isn't any need to petition the General Convention in this matter, except for the 48 states that are not named Virginia or South Carolina.

Bruce Garner said...


Are you aware that the friend who forwarded you the discussion on the House of Bishops/Deputies List violated the terms of the list in doing so?

Bruce Garner

Ann said...

Here is a study of the nature of TEC and the Dennis Canon- much better research than A.S. Haley

Matthew said...

Sometimes I think the entire history of progressives in the Episcopal Church can be summed up as "TL;DNR".

Matthew said...


I've read the Dator study. I read it in its turgid entirety quite a while back.

I've often found that if I'm curious about the law it's wise to consult attorneys. Of course, as I am one that means I sometimes talk to myself, but that can be good too.

I'm glad that you found much that appeals to you in the Dator study. Unfortunately Mr Haley does a better job of construing the law on the subject. Which is not especially shocking as he is an attorney.

When attorneys consider the merits of a case they look not only to the parties' agreements but to the law of the relevant jurisdictions.

Oddly enough, that's what judges do as well when they rule on lawsuits.

If I want to know the merits of the Episcopal Church litigation positions, I read the pleadings filed by its attorneys. Which, in fact, I have done. I don't read theses by PhD candidates, which I have also done, and that is time I will never regain.

The executive summary: When interpreting law, consult an attorney.

Galletta said...

I looked over the Dator study. If it was written in 1959, it seems unlikely that it would talk about the "Dennis Canon", at least in its current form. I understand the canon was passed in 1979. If that is correct, I would think the Dator study would have no mention of the Canon. Matthew or Mr. Haley, can you shed some light on this for me?

Wilf said...


If you actually read anything which seriously brought into question the analyses of A.S. Haley, you would not be telling us silly things here like TEC was requested by a court to create the Dennis Cannon. This is the type of thing you are hearing from your colleagues on the HOB/D listserv.

Small communities egging one another on with circular reasoning create insular mind maps. You're used to reading the same stuff over and over again and then needing to tell your colleagues it is "challenging," "englightening," "bravo" etc. etc.. the more you see it taking jabs at "the other side," but have been blinded to various moral aspects of what goes on there, some of it which would be called hatemongering by any TEC loyalist if the same terms were used for LGBT people or your own faction. You're picking old wounds and going on ad nauseum about the Barfoot memo, the Chapman brief, that old video the AAC once made "Save the Day", etc. etc.., I know from my days kibbitzing that listserv years ago, but I bet you're STILL doing that over there since this is what I see TEC loyalists still making an enormous show about, while I've read each probably five times to try to figure out exactly what it is that TEC find so loathesome about these. And then once in a while ole Bishop Righter weighs in about how he was abandonned. Someone ought to give him a medal or something and then maybe he'll be happy. What you are doing there is very very very unhealthy, you are creating victim attitudes amongst yourselves and creating your own little world of truth shared mainly by HOB/D Listserv folks, diehard TEC loyalists, and the folks that follow them.

Do yourself a favor and get off the HOB/D listserv, and I do mean this seriously, it will improve your mental and spiritual well-being. I'm sure you enjoy it, but it has become an addiction - try looking at it impartially and look for signs of the circularity typical of addictive processes, and you might spot what I mean.

Matthew said...

Galletta, that's correct. The Dator thesis deals more with the classification of teh organizational structure of the Episcopal Church as it existed in 1959.

Wilf, I used to belong to the HoBD. I gave it up more than two years ago when I abandoned it, the Anglican list and the Magdalen list as well. They just were not edifying. The Christians read and respond (rarely) to the latest set of talking points offered by the progressive majority and the progressives counter the Christian arguments by not reading them and restating their talking points.

I daresay the HoBD mailing list has done more to both destroy faith and drive people out of the Episcopal Church than any other modern tool. Even more so than EFM.

I've been assuming that the Ann who is posting these comments is Ann Fontaine, priest in the Diocese of Wyoming. My apologies if that is not the case