Episcopal churches reaching 'breaking point'

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is seceding from the national denomination -- likely setting the stage for legal action.

Walton, Jeff (IRD)First, the diocese voted to disassociate in October. Now, Jeff Walton of The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD) reports that in a special convention this past weekend, the diocese voted to amend its constitution and canons to remove references to the national church.

"This is the fifth diocese in as many years to leave the Episcopal Church," Walton reports. "They have done so largely for reasons of theological disagreement that came to a breaking point because the Episcopal Church's national leaders really had it in for Bishop Mark Lawrence, who is the diocesan bishop of South Carolina."

According to The Christian Post, Lawrence's criticism of the pro-homosexual stance of the denomination's hierarchy ultimately brought a charge of "abandonment of the communion of the church" from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Consequently, the denomination has sought to strip Lawrence of his Episcopal duties, as national leaders want to place their own leadership in control of the diocese. But as Walton points out, there might not be much left to govern.

"There [are] about 70 parishes that form about 29,000 members, and the vast majority of those parishes are going to follow Bishop Lawrence out of the Episcopal Church," the IRD spokesman asserts.

"It looks like of the 70 or so, probably only about a dozen are going to stay with the national Episcopal Church. They have said that they are going to seek to remain part of the Canterbury-led Anglican Communion."

Lawsuits are expected to follow over control of assets.

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