Episcopal leader says S.C. diocese can’t secede

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Thursday (Nov. 15) that the Diocese of South Carolina can’t unilaterally secede from … Continued

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Thursday (Nov. 15) that the Diocese of South Carolina can’t unilaterally secede from the national church, and urged conservatives to stay despite sharp disputes over theology and homosexuality.

“The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina continues to be a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, even if a number of its leaders have departed,” said Jefferts Schori, who heads the 1.9 million-member denomination.

Leaders in the Diocese of South Carolina announced Oct. 17 that disciplinary actions taken against their bishop, Mark Lawrence, triggered their disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. On Sept. 18, the denomination’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops found Lawrence guilty of abandoning the Episcopal Church and renouncing its rules.

The split escalated a long-running feud between the national church, which has approved gay bishops and same-sex marriage, and South Carolina conservatives who oppose the moves.

Four dioceses — in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois — have split from the Episcopal Church since its consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003. In each case, Episcopal leaders rebuilt the diocese while insisting that church rules allow people to leave, but dioceses must take additional legal steps to separate.

In an open letter to South Carolina Episcopalians on Thursday, Jefferts Schori cited two examples of “legitimate separation”: The Episcopal Church in the Philippines, which left to form an autonomous province in the Anglican Communion, and the Diocese of Liberia, which left to become part of the Province of West Africa.

“Nothing of that sort has transpired in Diocese of South Carolina,” said the presiding bishop.

Departing dioceses require approval from the General Convention, the denomination’s triennial legislative body, Jefferts Schori said. The next General Convention will not convene until 2015.

Still, conservatives in South Carolina, who vastly outnumber liberals, plan to meet on Saturday to finalize their split with the Episcopal Church.

“I assure you, we continue to be The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” Lawrence said in an open letter to local Episcopalians. “We are still here and by God’s grace we shall not only endure we shall prevail.”

Meanwhile, Episcopalians who wish to remain with the national church have already begun to rebuild, appointing a steering committee to begin selection of a new bishop. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, 12 of the 70 parishes in the diocese, which covers the eastern half of the state, plan to stay with the national church.

Jefferts Schori urged more Episcopalians to join the ranks of the remaining parishes.

“Disagreement about a variety of issues is normal in this church, and has historically been considered a healthy sign of diversity,” she said. “Please know that The Episcopal Church wants you to remain!”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

  • Gimlet Eye

    We parishioners of the Diocese of South Carolina stand with Bishop Mark Lawrence, and for the Gospel as it has been handed down for millennia. The apostate Ms. Schori will fail in her attempt to subvert this Diocese with her heretical, and heavy- handed, ploys. She, like her soul-sister Nancy Pelosi, is nasty, vicious, and, ultimately, none too bright.

  • annio

    I will pray for you and the rest of the diocese. There is a middle way.

  • Gimlet Eye

    With respect. There is no compromising with heresy.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.