[OPEN THREAD] Upper South Carolina: Seen & Heard On the Ground Post General Convention
I thought I’d give a little thumbnail of what things have been like “on the ground” here in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina post-General Convention.
First of all, word got out mighty quickly as to how our clergy and lay deputations voted on the key resolutions at General Convention. Just for the sake of, er . . . history . . . I’m posting my comments about those votes below before I get on to the reaction. One thing has been generally commented on over the past four General Conventions [from 2003 to 2012]—and that’s that certain revisionist deputies prefer not to have their votes publicly known. I’ve always found that interesting, as have others; it’s been an oft-commented upon and rather odd thing.
My understanding—recognizing that things often get muddled there on the ground at Convention and in news reporting—is that our clergy and lay deputations voted “yes” on the two transexual canonical changes [D019 & D002]. The lay deputation also voted “yes” on the approval for the provisional same sex blessing rite [A049]. The clergy deputation vote on the approval for the provisional same sex blessing rite was “divided” which means two clergy voted against and two voted for approval. Our bishop voted “no” on all three of the key sexuality resolutions.
We know this because there was a vote by orders for all three resolutions in the House of Deputies [those votes are posted at the podium for viewing] and a roll call vote in the House of Bishops on all three key votes.
For a clergy or lay deputation’s vote to be recorded as a “yes” means that either all four clergy or all four laity voted “yes” or at least three of the clergy and three of the laity voted “yes.”
Here are the names of our clergy and lay deputies [excluding alternates]; knowing their stances & ideology over past years makes their votes fairly understandable:
CLERGY [the clergy deputation voted “yes” on the two transgender canonical changes, 3-1, and were divided on the same sex blessing vote, 2-2; fortunately, those who voted “no” have been open and public about their votes]
—Mike Flanagan, Holy Cross, Simpsonville
—Jack Hardaway, Grace Church, Anderson [stated that he unexpectedly voted “no” on the same sex blessing resolution]
—Sally Johnston, St. Martin’s in the Fields, Columbia
—Joseph Smith, St. Christopher’s, Spartanburg [public about having voted “no” on the two transgender sexuality resolutions, as well as “no” on the provisional rite for same sex blessings]
So we know that three of the above clergy voted for the transgender canonical changes, and two of the above clergy voted for the provisional rite for same sex blessings.
LAITY [the lay deputation voted “yes” on all three of the key sexuality votes; fortunately, the one who voted “no” has been open and public about his votes]
—Angela Daniel, St. John’s, Columbia
—Mary Ann Park, St. Bartholomew’s, Augusta
—Scooty Burch, Holy Trinity, Clemson
—Belton Zeigler, Trinity Cathedral, Columbia [public about having voted “no” on the two transgender sexuality resolutions; he was not present for the same sex blessing vote]
Here’s my sense—in some quick bulletpoints—of how the actions of General Convention have been received amongst conservatives and moderates, based on many many lengthy phone conversations with active laity in the diocese, and many many emails.
—People were really shocked at the transgender canonical changes; some of them hadn’t kept up with the 2009 General Convention and thus didn’t realize what was to come in 2012; they’re even more shocked once they see the propaganda video that Integrity promoted. That video has been our best friend, as it reveals lots of really large, deep-voiced men dressed up as women, in collars, claiming that they’re really women. It’s rather obvious that, um . . . they’re not women, but rather people who are enmeshed and encouraged in a bizarre fantasy—and they’ve been selected to lead Episcopal parishes as clergy.
The video is gold. The moment laity watch that video all the way through, is the moment that they start reaching for their pocketbooks and calling their lawyers to change their bequests.
—People are writing the letter.
—People are meeting with their rectors and trying to make the decision about whether they will be leaving or not. For example, one couple who is a part of a multi-generation membership of The Episcopal Church met with their rector, senior and junior wardens to explain what would be necessary for them to remain in The Episcopalian Church [answer: radical differentiation as a parish]. Their children and grandchildren have all left TEC—some 26 people. Nice work, TEC—yet another stark example of something that business people call “opportunity cost”—the cost of not gaining the benefits of making alternative choice “b” but instead choosing “a.”
—People are visiting other churches in other denominations—“just to check them out.”
In short—this is precisely what hundreds of people do after each and every General Convention. Every three years, this is what happens in DUSC, as The Episcopal Church shoots itself in the stomach again. And again. And again. And every three years, a certain percentage of those hundreds, leaves, or redirects their pledge, or engages in conscious distancing and detachment. And a fresh batch, from the ranks of the moderates, joins the throng of the “confused, and then exploring, and then digging, and then becoming really horrified” group.
It’s like a little three-year assembly line.
No great earth-shattering revolution. Just the quiet sounds of shifting, departures, redirecting, distancing . . . and fairly calm assessments about what they value, what they will fight for, and what they will leave behind. For each person or family it’s different.
—More than a hundred attended the Church of the Advent to hear from the deputation. The room was “packed” according to a text I received. I wasn’t there—I was thankfully traveling out of state. Based on reports from others who attended, the meeting was most notable for 1) Belton Zeigler—the sole “no” lay vote on the key sexuality resolutions—pointing out the rather embarrassing lack of knowledge of what Scripture says in the “debate” [really, that’s too kind a word] about the ESV translation, 2) the high number of clergy at the meeting, and 3) a hissingly outraged lesbian who had thought she was going to get her blessing asap and was angry that she might have to wait a few months.
“More than a hundred” sounds actually quite small—and it is. But it is a surprising number considering the below anecdote:
Prior to the meeting, I decided to send out a short poll to around 50 active laity and clergy in my diocese, asking them if they were planning to attend the General Convention followup meeting.
Of those active laity, not one emailed me back that they were attending the meeting. Instead, I received many emails explaining—mostly with great taste and reserve—that they would not be attending.
I knew then that if a group of people attended the post-convention meeting, it would be an interesting group of people.
Some told me they were not attending, with a little more detail or a little less decorum:
We are at the beach and will not be able to go to Spartanburg but thanks for sending all the info on the convention. We heard Bishop Lawrence’s letter read at Prince George Winyah in Georgetown last Sunday. He is an amazing, Godly man that we really, really admire. We’re waiting to hear what The Diocese is going to do.
Lots of people from DUSC were in the Lowcountry, getting an earful on Sunday at the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina.
No, I don’t care to hear the platitudes and baloney. I will NOT be going to S’burg.
... And so on and so forth.
How about you?
What are you hearing from people in your diocese?
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