December 19, 2014

October 22, 2012


The Bishop of Springfield on the Diocese of South Carolina

Kudos to Bishop Dan Martins for his speed and courage in response:

Of course, we know from the experience of recent years roughly how the scenario will play out: the Presiding Bishop will convene an extraordinary “convention” of “loyal Episcopalians” from within the diocese, which will announce that it is the legitimate continuing Diocese of South Carolina, and choose a Provisional Bishop. Then that bishop and diocese, along with attorneys representing the Presiding Bishop, will spend millions of dollars suing in secular courts to recover control of church buildings and financial assets. To this point, the reorganized dioceses and the Presiding Bishop have been generally successful in their legal efforts (though important cases in Texas and California remain undecided). However, there is already a history in South Carolina that heavily favors those who will continue to actually occupy those properties.

This is a very serious, and a very disturbing, turn of events. Bishop Lawrence is a longtime personal friend, and a man whose intellect, love for our Lord, and passion for the gospel is without peer. While I am not fully on board with the some of the positions taken and decisions made by the conventions of the Diocese of South Carolina, and while I could find reasons to criticize the tone of much of the rhetoric coming from their direction, I am in essential theological sympathy with the witness made by that diocese as it has attempted to remain faithful to historic Anglican–which is to say, historic Episcopalian–faith and practice in a time when the majority in our church appear to be turning away from that tradition. More to the point, it strains every notion of common sense to apply the charge of “abandonment” in this case. This is a provision that is in canons to make it expeditious to deal with a priest or bishop who has openly decamped to another ecclesial body, or none; a cleric who stops showing up for meetings, stops worshiping as an Episcopalian, and disavows any association with the Episcopal Church. By contrast, since I became a bishop in March of last year, Mark Lawrence has attended every meeting of the House of Bishops except one, which a great many bishops also missed because it was held in Ecuador. He was present at General Convention. He has continued to lead a diocese that uses the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer in its worship. He has abandoned nothing, and to accuse him of doing so is ludicrous on its face.


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20 comments

Not to detract from +Dan’s other remarks, but there’s a case in Illinois that also remains undecided.

[1] Posted by Jeremy Bonner on 10-22-2012 at 08:02 AM · [top]

Important news break - the PB and the Disciplinary Board were just spotted near Springfield, Illinois.  Bishop Dan take warning!

[2] Posted by jamesw on 10-22-2012 at 11:45 AM · [top]

+ Martins’ comments demonstrate a desirable balance between reason and righteousness. I can speak for many in saying we are pleased have this shepard leading our flock here in Springfield. All of the faithful, in Springfield and beyond, should keep the + Lawrence, the clergy and laity of the Diocese of South Carolina in their thoughts and in their prayers.

[3] Posted by ILAnglican on 10-22-2012 at 11:47 AM · [top]

I meant to say we are pleased to have this <i> shepherd <i> leading us in Springfield.

[4] Posted by ILAnglican on 10-22-2012 at 11:53 AM · [top]

I meant to say we are pleased to have this shepherd leading us in Springfield.

[5] Posted by ILAnglican on 10-22-2012 at 11:54 AM · [top]

Not to detract from +Dan’s other remarks, but there’s a case in Illinois that also remains undecided.

Also, The Falls Church Anglican awaits word whether the Virginia Supreme Court will hear its appeal of Judge Bellows’ decision awarding the church’s property and a substantial financial sum to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

[6] Posted by the virginian on 10-22-2012 at 12:45 PM · [top]

Seriously though - if the last 8 years has shown us anything, it is that there is a multi-stop process involving orthodox bishops in TEC:
1. Bad-mouthing of them by liberal activists suggesting that they are disloyal problem-causers.
2. Suggestions from liberal activists that they should be charged with some sort of ecclesiastical offense for opposing the designs of the PB or GC.
3. Some sort of initial test action, which is often a feint that is then withdrawn.
4. A coordinated attack carried out with the full approval of the PB.

Dan Martins has already gotten to step 3.  He was already strongly opposed in his approval as bishop by the PB’s most extremist faction, and only barely tolerated by the rest - SAME position as Mark Lawrence was a few years ago.

Furthermore, Dan Martins and others have put their name to legal documents asserting the traditional TEC polity and have, thereby, at the same time put their name to paper opposing the PB’s unconstitutional power grab.

The PB has been acting with increasing force against increasingly lesser offenses.  It is becoming progressively easier for her to remove bishops she doesn’t like.

[7] Posted by jamesw on 10-22-2012 at 01:28 PM · [top]

IL Anglican,
You all in the Diocese of Springfield are indeed blessed to +Dan Martins as your bishop.  I do think that Springfield or Central Florida will be next.  I suspect Central Florida before Springfield but who knows?? No doubt the mission statement of TEC could easily be: To know conservatives and destroy them. To know Homosexuals and affirm them!

[8] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 10-22-2012 at 04:29 PM · [top]

“While I am not fully on board, etc.” ...I cannot help but wonder what the specifics here are…Having met this bishop and heard him speak, and knowing that my rector stated he and this bishop share a common view of the church, I cannot help but conclude the differences are about ecclesiology.  There are those who while sticking to the catholic faith, will never challange the church. 
What it appears SC did was, knowing that their time was up, prepared their faithful for the eventual circumstances of divorce.  IMO, this would be the matters of disagreement Bp. Martins subtly refers to in his commentary.  He disagreed with the directions taken in SC to openly distance themselves from TEC, before TEC came to take control.  Was this so wrong?
Make no mistake, even the most loyal to TEC clergy are now mouthing the obvious, the TEC of the past is dying.  The approach of carrying on, without preparing for the eventual, is akin to taking an army to war and not counting the costs and preparing for the aftermath.
It is maddening because it leaves the laity, who depend on their spiritual leaders for protections, vulnerable…Why is it that the laity is not being fully prepared for what is inevitably going to befall them?  Orthodox catholic clergy are eventually going to be gone, then what?
Consider the common belief that Bp. Martins is in fact exposed to the level of step three as speculated above…. whither the Laity in the diocese, if TEC leadership decides to try for the daily double, and also pursues charges against him?...Are they prepared?  Or, as I sense from some of the commentaries above, are they basking in the false sense of security a faithful clerical leader can provide?
While I have the highest regard for BP. Martins or Bp. Brewer or any other of the remaining few, I respectfully disagree with any approach that is critical of what SC did, notably allowing their laity to take all reasonable steps necessary to safeguard their heritage…

[9] Posted by aacswfl1 on 10-23-2012 at 09:22 AM · [top]

aacswfl 1,
Good point. I too saw that phrase from Bishop Martins and it made me wonder what the differences were…..  I have NO idea what they may be.

I think Diocese of South Carolina has a very large independent streak in their thinking. Remember this is where the Civil War is called the “Late Unpleasantness” or the “War of Northern Aggression”. Whether Dio Springfield has that same attitude I don’t know.

I too respectfully disagree with crititsm of the diocese’s approach to putting “firewalls” in place (to borrow wording from Canon Lewis) to protect us from further destruction by TEC. Whether the steps taken by this diocese could be repeated in Springfield, I don’t know. Perhaps being a founding diocese, our constitution is different….. have no idea.

[10] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 10-23-2012 at 10:34 AM · [top]

I think that the Diocese of South Carolina was and is unique.  I doubt very much that the Diocese of Springfield would prepare itself in the same way, and I doubt very much that Dan Martins would try.  My take on Bp. Martins’ words “While I am not fully on board…” is that he is referring to the DSC’s moves to distance itself from TEC via things such as quitclaims, rejecting the new disciplinary canons, etc.  The problem is that none of these differences will save him in the end.

Most likely, the DSC is the last diocese that can depart in the way that it did.  I suspect that from now on, when the PB does a hit on an orthodox bishop, that diocese will not have erected the necessary firewalls and will be paralyzed, which will be followed by a rancorous split and decimation, with end result still being a severely reduced liberal rump (which is good enough for the PB).

The only thing that can save bishops like Brewer and Martins is if they manage to outlast the current PB, and TEC decides in 2015 to replace her with a “live and let live” liberal.

[11] Posted by jamesw on 10-23-2012 at 10:55 AM · [top]

Hmmm…maybe it will be happening faster than we think.

Perhaps the PB will exchange her sniper’s rifle for a machine gun?

[12] Posted by jamesw on 10-23-2012 at 11:20 AM · [top]

The only thing that can save bishops like Brewer and Martins is if they manage to outlast the current PB, and TEC decides in 2015 to replace her with a “live and let live” liberal.

I don’t think there are any “live and let live” liberals left.

[13] Posted by slanehill on 10-23-2012 at 11:44 AM · [top]

Everybody, you have raised considerable points that deserve to be responded to individually.

First, SC blu cat lady, on behalf of my Diocese, I wish to thank you for those kind words. It is difficult under present circumstances to find much to take comfort in. I will continue to keep your Bishop and Diocese in my prayers. With respect to your statement regarding our diocese’s constitution, you may be correct. Originally, the Diocese of Springfield was actually part of the Diocese of Illinois until 1877 when the statewide diocese was split into three new dioceses: Chicago, Quincy and Springfield. Incidentally, the Bishop of Chicago was present at our annual Synod last weekend. Under our present constitution, the Diocese is not immune from the possible Title IV issues that have been a source of division. South Carolina, may have demonstrated wisdom in having prepared for this eventually, though I suspect that this eventually is not of primary concern on + Martins’ line of thinking.

Second, jamesw, his [+ Martins’] concern appears to be more focused upon attempting to grow the Church from within the diocese. I suspect that his plan is that if he can grow the Church within Springfield, this effort can serve as an example for how to keep the traditional Catholic faith in existence within the Episcopal Church (TEC). However morally satisfying it may be to simply take Springfield out of TEC, it probably does not appear to be his first desired course of action. During the discernment process, he told the diocese’s clergy and laity that he would not take the diocese out of TEC. This does not proclude the possibility that Springfield may leave TEC, only that + Martins will not be the cause of such actions.

Lastly, as to your point of + Martins and + Brewer simply outlasting the Presiding Bishop until her departure in 2015 and being replaced with at least a ‘let and let live’ liberal, while I can hope and pray for such an outcome, my observation would lead to conclude otherwise. The single commonality between all of these efforts to depose bishops and clergy and to seize property appears to be power clothed in arguments about justice. Though, I find this rhetoric of justice to fall considerably short when compared with its intended ends. I will continue to pray for + Lawrence and everyone within the Diocese of South Carolina as I continue to pray that devoted servants of Christ like + Martins and + Brewer are allowed to continue to preach God’s holy word and ordinances and to propagate the Catholic faith.

[14] Posted by ILAnglican on 10-23-2012 at 12:35 PM · [top]

Wasn’t blood letting discovered to be a rather foolish approach to bringing a sick patient back to health?

[15] Posted by Fr. Dale on 10-23-2012 at 12:44 PM · [top]

Yes, Fr. Dale. I fear that these efforts by the national church to advance its efforts to make the church a more just place is also helping to make it an empty one.

[16] Posted by ILAnglican on 10-23-2012 at 12:52 PM · [top]

slanehill and IlAnglican:  I suspect that one of the big battles in TEC in 2015 will be between the liberal-purist party of KJS (i.e. those who angrily advocate purging the church of their opponents) and the live-and-let-live liberal party.  The latter party is not currently well-defined, because to raise this flag would be to paint a target on your back.  But I suspect that not a few TEC bishops are getting a little war-weary at this point, and I further suspect that they are also becoming a little bit concerned over the costs of litigation and the horrible PR it brings to TEC.

These live-and-let-live liberals have no intention of reversing course, not at all.  And they may be very willing to continue the purge several years from now.  But I do think that there are quite a number of TEC liberal bishops who, if they could secretly vote to do so, would stop some of the over-the-top belligerent insanity and power grabbing that is coming out of the PB’s office.  They would never stand up to her, but when time comes to replace her (that is, unless she appoints herself PB-For-Life), I suspect that they may vote for someone more like Frank Griswald.

That said, I don’t know at this point the relative strength of the various factions are within TEC’s liberal leadership.

[17] Posted by jamesw on 10-23-2012 at 12:59 PM · [top]

Jamesw, I share your lack of clarity as to the relative strength of the various factions within TEC. As to your overall assertion, while I grant you that their may be some war-weary members, I cannot support your whole line of assertions. There is little evidence to support the notion that there is any desire to ‘slow down.’ TEC’s collective leadership has reached something of a ‘point of no return.’ At the present rate of membership decline, they do not appear to have the luxury of waiting long in hopes that the few remaining bishops and dioceses not supportive of TEC’s ‘innovations’ to be enacted either within their dioceses or within the Church more broadly will simply reach advanced age and die out to be replaced by persons more in line with the metaphoric program.  While the leadership has the organizational strength, time and present demographics are working against their stated interests.

[18] Posted by ILAnglican on 10-23-2012 at 01:24 PM · [top]

Actually IL Anglican, I was thinking of the “peculiarities” of the SC diocesan constitution being a founding diocese and all. I know the diocese’s constitution did not have any accession clauses in it until fairly recently. Why would it as the diocese pre-existed the national church?

It was always my hope that the Diocese of SC would outlast TEC and play a part in reviving TEc “remains”  but that possibility is no more.

Jamesw, Agreed. Me thinks that the Episco-leftists are not as unified as many believe. Some are truly getting weary of the lawsuits and other pogroms of the PB. Those “true believers”  though are just getting jazzed at the possibility of a *purifed* but smaller church. I know a few people like that. They call it being *prophetic*. right-oh or whatever…......

Will there be anything left for a new PB in 2015? At this rate, one truly wonders….......

[19] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 10-23-2012 at 02:47 PM · [top]

It is so good to finally hear an Episcopal Bishop defend a fellow Bishop who has been unjustly accused.
Thank you Bishop Daniel.

[20] Posted by Betty See on 10-23-2012 at 08:15 PM · [top]

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