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Episcopal Forum Members Initiate Attack on Bishop
By the Rev. Canon James B. Lewis, Diocese of South Carolina
“Now that the names of those responsible for bringing accusations against Bishop Lawrence before the Disciplinary Board for Bishops is known, it is instructive to consider what that list reveals.
1. All of the 14 are presently members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.
2. They represent six of a total of 21 current Board Members of the Forum.
3. They come from five parishes and one unaffiliated congregation, with half the lay members indicating they are parishioners of Grace Church, Charleston.
4. Of the 12 laity, eight represent four married couples.
5. The legal representative of the group, who presented their case to the disciplinary board for Bishops, is also a member of the Forum Board and is married to Forum Board member and fellow accuser, Bob Black. That means at least 1/3 of their Board was actively engaged in this project.
The picture painted is exactly the opposite of that portrayed in the press release by which their names were revealed.
Despite their assertions to the contrary, this is clearly a group comprised of the primary leadership of the Forum. To attempt to claim the Forum is not responsible for these actions is disingenuous at best.
It is also clearly not a group representative of a large portion of the diocese. It is representative of a very narrow slice of what is a small group in a handful of parishes. They have nothing like the broad, concerned constituency they proclaim.
Most troubling is the assertion that they have released their names voluntarily, as a courtesy, to avoid the scandal of secrecy. That is precisely what these actions represent. The diocese was dragged all the way through this process once already last Fall, before the Bishop was acquitted, without the Bishop ever being able to face his accusers. The likelihood of that being a separate group than the present accusers seems vanishingly small. Yet, only now are they graciously coming forward. The real reason is that the Canons require it. Upon the request of the Diocese, that information HAD to be revealed. There is nothing gracious at all about their actions. It is posturing that never should have even been allowed if the Disciplinary Board for Bishops and its President and Attorney had followed their own canons. Providing these names should have been proforma and immediate when the charges were certified in September. Instead it has required an entire month before that happened.
This goes to the heart of the essential sickness of The Episcopal Church in these days. It is a place of canonical chaos. Even when it has applicable canons, it does not follow them. At its own discretion it applies them capriciously or not at all. It is for good reason that the Diocese of South Carolina put in place the canonical and constitutional firewalls that now seal it off from such continued abuses.