The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is seceding from the
national denomination -- likely setting the stage for legal
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
"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
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
"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
Lawsuits are expected to follow over control of assets.
An attorney says that In failing to discipline a clergywoman who
"married" her lesbian partner, the Presbyterian Church USA is
sending a clear message to the denomination.