Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 12: TEC fauxilliary bishop eviscerated on cross examination; claims ignorance of significant disciplinary Canon

Charles vonRosenberg and unidentified canine cohort
Things went from bad to worse for The Empty Church in South Carolina (TECSC) during the twelfth day of the trial to protect the assets of the legitimate Diocese of South Carolina. Charles G. vonRosenberg, fauxilliary bishop of the rump diocese was exposed for the ecclesiastical non-entity he is when, upon cross examination by diocesan lawyer Alan Runyan, he claimed to have no knowledge of the Canon, adopted by General Convention in 2009 when he was still an active bishop, which prohibits any lay or ordained member of the national church from asking a secular court to interpret church law.

Ironically, the Canon in question was specifically adopted so as to prevent the Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence, the legitimate bishop of the legitimate diocese, from seeking judicial relief from the contrived disciplinary action brought against him by the national church. It was a classic "gotcha" moment which produced audible gasps in the courtroom.

In another bizarre twist in vonRosenberg's testimony, the make believe bishop said he had "re-confirmed" several persons originally confirmed by Bishop Lawrence in order to make sure they were "confirmed in The Episcopal Church." The implication was that since Bishop Lawrence, in the estimation of the national church, is an "unworthy" minister, any confirmations performed by him would not be considered legitimate. This is contrary to Article XXVI of the Articles of religion, which states in part:

Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.

Furthermore, confirmation is not a rite unique to "The Episcopal Church." While it may be called by different names in different denominations, it is a rite of the whole church and transferable from one ecclesiastical body to another. The concern that a person's confirmation be specifically "in The Episcopal Church" is indicative of the fact that "The Episcopal Church" is behaving more like a cult than a legitimate branch of the Church of Jesus Christ.

David Booth Beers, the national church's haughty legal counsel, attempted to rehabilitate his discredited witness by trying to introduce some kind of context to the Canon of which vonRosenberg claimed not to be aware. However, his question was shot down by an objection on the grounds that it lacked foundation since the "bishop" had already said he was not familiar with the provision.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein also re-emphasized, for the umpteenth time, that she would not be swayed by the national church's repeated attempts to introduce arguments pertaining to its supposed hierarchical nature, going so far as to say she was not convinced that such was the polity of the church, as nothing to that effect has been put in writing.

Here is the full report on the day's proceedings from the diocesan press office:
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 23, 2014 – On the 12th day of the trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, TEC attorney David Beers attempted to introduce the concept of church hierarchy once again into the trial, ignoring Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s repeated rulings that church hierarchy plays no role in this case.

Beers asked the first provisional bishop of TECSC, Charles vonRosenberg, to tell the court why the Bishop of San Joaquin, Ca., the Rt. Rev. John David Schofield had been removed as bishop of that diocese.

Judge Goodstein said, “It’s not relevant. For this reason: I don’t know what [that] state’s position is regarding the analysis of church disputes. I don’t really care. What I care about is the state of South Carolina. My Supreme Court tells me what I do when I analyze church disputes.’

She added, “In terms of whether or not the parishes in SC and the Diocese in SC were allowed to leave the national church – I’m going to make that determination on the basis of neutral principles of law under South Carolina law. I don’t care what happened any where else.”

Beers disagreed with the judge, saying that hierarchy is part of TEC’s polity or organization and the judge responded, “I’m not sure that’s your polity. I watched very carefully when Bishop [Clifton] Daniel testified and Mr. Runyan (attorney for the Diocese) popped up with the Constitution and Canons. There was nothing written that says, “You here forever.”

In response to her last statement coming out somewhat like Scarlet O’Hara, some in the courtroom laughed, drawing a reprimand from Judge Goodstein.

“I don’t say that to be humorous. It is a very serious matter,” she said. “You want to tell me this is the polity of the church? It’s not written. Seems to me it ought to be written. But it isn’t. It obviously happened to some folks. I’ve got that. But I’m not going to be bound by that. I’m just not. I’m going to be bound by South Carolina law.”

When cross-examined by Diocesan attorney Alan Runyan, Bishop vonRosenberg affirmed that he was familiar with that portion of the TEC canons commonly referred to as “the Dennis Canon,” which seeks to impose a trust in favor of TEC. He admitted, however, he was not familiar with the Canon which states “No member of the Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of the Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons.”

“That is precisely what TEC has sought every time it has prosecuted this kind of litigation,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “Its what Judge Goodstein emphasized today that she is prevented from doing under the law.”

Plaintiff calls rector as witness to dispute Rickenbaker testimony

The Rev. Gregory Kronz, rector at St. Luke’s on Hilton Head Island testified today that he was head of the search committee to find a bishop to replace Bishop Salmon.

Kronz said that he and another member of the committee, Paul Fuener, interviewed the Rev. Thomas Rickenbaker, one of about a dozen candidates that had made it to the interview stage. Henrietta Golding asked Rev. Kronz if he ever inquired as to whether or not Rev. Rickenbaker would be willing to take the diocese away from the national church, or if there were any indirect questions in that regard. Rev. Kronz said, “no.” Asked if Rickenbaker had removed his name from the search list, Kronz again said, “no.”

The rest of the afternoon was spent going over documents TEC sought to enter into evidence, relating to each of the individual churches involved in the dispute.

When Diocesan attorney Alan Runyan objected to the relevancy of one document, Judge Goodstein overruled him and added, “On documents, I understand why they’re being offered by the defendant (TEC). (However) They have relevance that also shows a very close relationship between parish and Diocese. How many times have I heard testimony say, ‘The diocese is important to us. We want to stay with the Diocese’... I heard time and time again, ‘the end of the road is the Diocese. We want to stay with Bishop Lawrence.’”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 11: More irrelevant testimony from TEC witness


Looks like The Empty Church in South Carolina (TECSC) tried to pass off some more testimony that didn't pass the smell test with Judge Goodstein.
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 22, 2014 – Attorneys for The Episcopal Church and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, spent the eleventh day of a trial to prevent their seizure of local church property attempting to introduce testimony that the Circuit Court has repeatedly dismissed as irrelevant.

The entire morning was spent with TEC’s lead attorney, David Beers, asking Mark Duffy, Canonical Archivist and Director of Archives for the national church to identify documents discussing TEC’s financial contributions to the Diocese, the denomination’s hierarchical structure that does not permit diocese to withdraw and other topics, attracting repeated objections from diocesan attorneys.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein sustained most objections to the TEC documents, repeatedly stating that they bore no relevance to the case.

In the matter of hierarchy, she again explained that South Carolina is not a jurisdiction that recognizes hierarchy in such cases.

For the second day in a row, the witness admitted that he had not been shown any documents on contributions by the Diocese to TEC for the same period that TEC was claiming it had made contribution to the Diocese and its parishes.

The rest of the day was spent reading the deposition of Thomas M. Rickenbaker from Spartanburg, South Carolina, who was interviewed for Bishop of South Carolina but did not make it to the second round of finalists. Rickenbaker was not present for his testimony.

Rickenbaker, who was baptized by Tom Tisdale, Sr., father of TECSC’s lead attorney, said that when he was interviewed for the job of bishop that the first question he was asked in his interview was “can you lead us out of TEC?” Richkenbaker had never provided that information to anyone in five years and then only recalled the conversation after being contacted by a representative of TECSC. His statements are in dispute by those who interviewed Mr. Rickenbaker in 2006.

Trevin Wax on Bonhoeffer and cultural obsession with sexual identity

There are some revisionists who will not be satisfied until they have homosexualized every major figure in church history, from Jesus on down to Mother Teresa. The latest target is the German theologian and  martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The ammunition is a new biography which raises questions about Bonhoeffer's relationship with Eberhard Bethge, a long-time friend who later supervised the compilation of his works.

If revisionists had hoped this conjecture would shock evangelicals into banishing Bonhoeffer into the abyss, they are going to be disappointed, according to Trevin Wax of the The Gospel Coalition. The drive to insert sexual innuendo into the Bonhoeffer legacy says more about our over-sexualized culture than it does about Bonhoeffer or the culture which he bravely stood against at the cost of his life.

The facts in the case of Bonhoeffer are clear: he was engaged at the time of his execution, and he wrote about the fact he would die as a virgin. No biographer or scholar claims that Bonhoeffer engaged in a sexual relationship with anyone, male or female, whatever his attractions may have been.

I believe the conversation about Bonhoeffer’s sexuality tells us more about life in the sexualized culture of the 21st century than it does about Bonhoeffer. In fact, if we pay attention, we will see how Bonhoeffer’s life and legacy directly challenges several commonly held assumptions today.

Assumption #1: Life lived to the fullest must include sexual fulfillment.

Bonhoeffer lived faithfully – emphasis on fully – as a virgin. One should not miss the countercultural reality on display in his life.

Post Sexual Revolution, people often define themselves by their sexual identity. For this reason, many people see any restriction or moral restraint on how sexuality is expressed as oppressive, a dagger to the heart of a person’s life and dreams.

For the Christian, such an exaggerated view of sexuality is a pernicious lie. It feeds the falsehood that, without sexual fulfillment, it is impossible for someone to live a full and engaging life. In contrast, Christians believe celibacy is not a pitiable choice but a beautiful calling.

Bonhoeffer’s witness (along with evangelical heroes like John Stott, not to mention Jesus Himself) testifies against the assumption that self-actualization must include sexual relationships. His life challenges a culture that says you are your sexuality.

Sam Allberry, a pastor in the UK who experiences same-sex attraction yet believes homosexual behavior to be sinful, is familiar with the accusation often made against evangelicals, that adhering to Christianity’s sexual ethic contributes to teenage angst and suicide. His response is spot on:

“No, the problem is a culture that says your entire identity and sense of who you are is bound up with fulfilling your sexual desires. You are the ones who have raised the stakes that high. So that the moment you don’t fulfill your desires, you have nothing left to live for.”

Society’s view of a Forty-Year-Old Virgin is Steve Carrell. Christianity’s view of a forty-year-old virgin should be Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Assumption #2: Affectionate male friendships must be romantic in nature.

History is replete with examples of robust male friendships that are full of affection and expressions of love and yet are not sexual.

Unfortunately, the sexual revolution has made it more difficult to imagine passionate philos apart from eros. That’s why revisionist historians read romantic notions into Teddy Roosevelt’s affectionate letters to his closest friends. People wonder out loud about Abraham Lincoln’s sharing a bed with his friend, Joshua Speed. It’s hard for our society to understand how King David could weep so terribly over the lost love of Jonathan unless there was some sort of romance between them. And now, Bonhoeffer’s relationship with Bethge is put under the microscope of 21st century assumptions.

In fairness to the biographer, it is certainly possible that Bonhoeffer was attracted to Bethge, even though acting on such a notion was always out of the question. But it’s also possible, even likely, that Bonhoeffer’s friendship was, like many male friendships of the time, strong and affectionate, with a passion that did not include sexual desire.

The speculation about Bonhoeffer’s sexuality distracts us from the greater loss of slowly disappearing same-sex friendships, the kind of love we see in literature between Sam and Frodo, relationships that many today can hardly conceive of, apart from some sort of sexual longing.

Assumption #3: Sexual attraction must define one’s identity.

Because our society has adopted the notion that sexual expression is wrapped up in our identity, some may think that getting to the root of Bonhoeffer’s sexuality is the only way to truly understand the man he was. But I suspect Bonhoeffer himself would dispute such a notion, and so would most people throughout history.

When we assume sexual orientation is fixed from birth and unchangeable, the question of identity naturally comes to the forefront: “Was he gay or not?” But Christianity rejects such a reductionist view of sex and identity. Everyone is warped in sexual attraction, at least to some degree. We are all sexual sinners in need of the grace and mercy of God. We are marked by our need for grace, not our longing for sex.

Bonhoeffer’s identity was not defined by sexual attraction, but by his costly discipleship following in the footsteps of his King. Going beyond letters and writings and personal correspondence to speculate on the unspoken sexual longings of a figure from the past says more about us and our own preoccupations than about the person under scrutiny.

Conclusion

Evangelicals aren’t going to go crazy in responding the new Bonhoeffer’ biography. Why? Because the idea that Bonhoeffer may have experienced same-sex attraction doesn’t matter all that much in assessing his legacy. He was a faithful man of God who immersed himself in Scripture, read the signs of the times, stood boldly against the Nazi war machine, and died as a hero.

The best way to honor Bonhoeffer is to not to speculate about his sexuality, but to see how his example counters the errant assumptions of a sexualized culture.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eyewitness report from Day 10: Walter Edgar's not so expert testimony does little for TEC's specious argument

Walter Edgar
The trial to protect the assets and properties of the Diocese of South Carolina entered its third week today and I was finally able to witness the proceedings firsthand. The experience was a bit underwhelming, but that is most likely attributable to the dullness of the day's only witness, Dr. Walter Edgar, retired professor of history at the University of South Carolina.

Most of the morning was spent arguing an objection brought by the diocesan legal team against Dr. Edgar's testimony. As a "lay witness," the professor had no background in canon law, church history, and church finances. Yet, the national church had paid him handsomely to pour over the journals of diocesan conventions from the late eighteenth century until 2010 and offer his "expert" opinion on the historical nature of the diocese's relationship with the national church. Ultimately, Judge Diane Goodstein limited the professor's testimony to summaries of his "research" of pertinent materials.

On direct examination by defendant's attorney Thomas Tisdale, Dr. Edgar offered a long and very boring lecture on the history of the relationship between the diocese and the national church, revealing nothing of particular legal relevance. The fact that the Diocese of South Carolina was once affiliated with a national body variously known as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, The Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and The Episcopal Church is, of course, not in dispute. Nothing in Dr. Edgar's testimony did anything to bolster the specious claim that once a diocese has voluntarily affiliated with the national church, it cannot, likewise, voluntarily disaffiliate.

On cross examination from diocesan attorneys Henrietta Golding and Alan Runyan, Dr. Edgar conceded his lack of expertise in religious history and church canon law and admitted he had not considered in his "research" the possibility that the diocese had been relatively self-sustaining with minimal financial assistance from the national church through most of its history.

A good portion of Dr. Edgar's testimony focused on financial assistance given to the diocese in the years 1866-67. As an historian of the Civil War era, Dr. Edgar would certainly have recognized the need for outside aid to churches in the old Confederacy after that bloody conflict (in which a number of churches were burned to the ground) would have been great. Yet, he made no mention of such an obvious historical anomaly during his testimony. That glaring omission, along with his admitted lack of knowledge of actual diocesan finances and his imperious boast that he and his wife always made sure they worshiped in a church "that is in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury," made his testimony less than credible.

Attorneys for the national church continued to engage in dilatory tactics, failing to provide the diocesan attorneys with documentation necessary for cross-examination. The courtroom behavior of these bandits in bow ties is truly mind-boggling. One wonders if the whole strategy of the national church is simply to plan an appeal of what seems to be an inevitably unfavorable decision on grounds of incompetent counsel.

Judge Goodstein, it must be said, is a particularly interesting character. Hardly the stern taskmaster that I expected, she was a jovial and affable presence, often engaging in lighthearted banter with counsel and witness. It was clear, however, that she has every intention of following long standing precedent in matters of South Carolina law, giving the Diocese and its legal team every reason to be optimistic about the final outcome.

Here is the official diocesan press release from today's proceedings:
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 21, 2014 – An attorney for The Episcopal Church on Monday acknowledged that – despite TEC’s repeated claim that dioceses may not leave the denomination – there is nothing in the group’s constitution that specifically prohibits such a disassociation.

“It’s true it doesn’t say whether a diocese in the U.S. can or cannot [leave],” said Mary Kostel, attorney for TEC. “It’s arguably ambiguous.”

The comment came during the 10th day of trial in suit to prevent TEC from seizing the property of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes. Much of the morning was spent in a discussion between attorneys and Judge Diane S. Goodstein about the admissibility of testimony by historian Walter Edgar, a professor at the University of South Carolina.

Though Edgar was not identified as an expert witness, TEC wanted him to testify about his expertise and provide opinions on the hierarchical nature of TEC and to demonstrate that it has authority over its dioceses and parishes. But Judge Goodstein denied that he would be allowed to.

This is the second time in this trial that TEC failed to follow the rules on the use of witnesses. “When he shifts from saying ‘this is what it says,’ to ‘this is what it means’ we’ve crossed into expert testimony,” she said.

Judge Goodstein acknowledged that she understands TEC’s attorneys want to introduce the idea of a hierarchical denomination in order to pave the way for an expected appeal. However, she made clear that the claim is irrelevant to the case under South Carolina law.

“Let me be very clear that in every way the defendants [TEC attorneys] have done everything within their ability to establish the hierarchal nature of this church. I accept that,” she said. “Our courts have said we will not enforce the hierarchical decisions. We’re a neutrality state.”

The afternoon was spent with Edgar literally reading highlighted excerpts from numerous journals of the Diocese of South Carolina, showing that the Diocese participated in TEC activities and adhered to its rules while the Diocese was a member of the denomination. The diocese has never disputed that fact.

In fact, during the morning discussion before Edgar even began his testimony, Diocese of South Carolina attorney Henrietta Golding said, “If you’re a member of a club or fraternity, you abide by the laws. …There’s no relevance that the Diocese followed the Constitution and Canons. They were together at that time. There’s no significance because a party to this action followed the rules. We were members then.”

Edgar also spent some time testifying about individual financial contributions TEC had sent to the diocese and its parishes through the years. While he never mentioned a total number, after reading page after page of excerpts, it was clear that the denomination had provided several thousands of dollars.

However, when asked in cross-examination by Alan Runyan, lead attorney for the Plaintiff, Dr. Edgar testified that he had not been asked to, nor did he attempt to, see how much money the diocese had voluntarily given to TEC during the same time TEC says the Diocese received grants and loans "It could even be 900 percent more than you testified TEC has given over the same period and you do not know because you did not ask?" Runyan said.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 9: Another TEC witness undermines TEC's argument


A brief day in court today, and apparently another bad one for the national church and its local rump affiliate.
The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III the Provisional Bishop of Pennsylvania, was the first of two witnesses called by the defense today,(July 18) the ninth day of the trial of the Diocese of South Carolina v. TEC and TECSC.

Bishop Daniel, had been Bishop Coadjutor of East Carolina, was vice-president of the fourth Province (a group of dioceses in the southeast), served on the Presiding Bishop's Counsel of Advice and chaired that group.

He testified regarding the General Convention and the fact it is held every three years, who attends and how voting is handled.

During cross-examination by Diocesan attorney Alan Runyan, Daniel was asked about the duties of a Bishop. Daniel stated that for a Bishop to go into another’s jurisdiction he or she would have to obtain consent (from the Bishop of that Diocese.)

Runyan asked if, in General Convention voting, Daniel could overrule his own delegation, simply because he was the bishop, and Daniel said he could not.

When Runyan asked if the witness would agree that no provincial synod has the power to regulate internal affairs of a Diocese, Daniels replied, “ Yes.” He further testified that a diocese did not need to get permission from TEC to amend its own constitution and canons.

Before asking his final question, Runyan placed the Constitution and Canons of TEC for 2006 and 2009 on the edge of the witness stand and asked Daniel to identify them.

Runyan asked the witness to turn to the page in those documents where it says the diocese cannot withdraw from the Episcopal Church and read it to the court. “Is there a page or a phrase, or a sentence, in either of those that says, quote, a diocese may not leave the Episcopal Church without the consent of the general convention?” asked Runyon. “I don't believe so,” answered Daniel. “But I may be wrong.”

“I'm sure it will be pointed out if you are.“ answered Runyan.

The second and final witness for the day, Patricia Neuman was a former member of Trinity, Edisto, who had been a part of that parish’s vestry, but when they voted to disassociate from the national church she left the church.

Court is adjourned until Monday, July 21 at 9:30 a.m.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 8: Judge Goodstein lowers the boom on lawless TECSC attorneys

Was this supposed to be TECSC's "expert witness?" Hey, anything's possible with this bunch!
It's hard to imagine what kind of "expert" testimony a legendary stand-up comedian could have provided, but the lawless tactics of the attorneys for The Empty Church in South Carolina (TECSC) were no laughing matter for Judge Diane Goodstein.
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 17, 2014 –A normally unflappable South Carolina Circuit Court judge stopped the trial initiated by the Diocese of SC to prevent the seizure of local diocesan and parish property, to scold the defendants for their intentional disregard of three court orders dealing with disclosure of expert witnesses. The defendants, the Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) tried to present an expert witness, Robert Klein, into the trial without having followed court’s orders.

After reminding TEC attorneys that she had bent over backwards to provide them ample opportunity to identify expert witnesses, Judge Diane S. Goodstein said, “You have violated this court three times with regard to experts and now you think you’re going to bring in his (Klein) testimony through the back door? This is not a game! Court’s orders are to be followed! You are an officer of the court. I trust we will not have any more discussion about this witness.”

Goodstein then asked the TEC counselor when Klein was hired as an expert witness. The defense attorney admitted they had communicated with Klein prior to the last court order in June. Judge Goodstein, waving a sheet of paper without Klein’s name on it, said it was “unbelievable,” “remarkable” that his name was not on it and therefore ruled Klein’s testimony excluded. Further, Goodstein said she believed the many efforts to postpone and delay the proceedings of the trial had been a tactical decision by the defendants.

Attorneys for the defense argued at length about the propriety of excluding their witness and threatened to appeal her ruling. Goodstein finally ended the discussion by saying, “I want the courts to assume that I have done what I have done because the defendants failed to comply with not one, not two but three of this court’s orders.”

After the judge’s scolding, TEC presented another expert witness, Leslie Lott, a trademark attorney from Coral Gables, Fla., who had a portion of her testimony excluded because she had based her opinions on the work of Klein, the earlier excluded witness.

Lott was ill prepared to testify because the defendants had only provided her with their side of the case. She had been given no information, factual or legal, about the plaintiff, Diocese of South Carolina. It was apparent through cross examination that Lott’s defense attorney had only presented their side so that she could not render an informed opinion and she simply lacked the necessary information to testify credibly.

Her testimony was interrupted when an irritated Judge Goodstein adjourned for lunch after she realized during cross-examination that Lott had not brought her documents to court.

The other witnesses were parish witnesses who had left and formed other churches, and are now part of TECSC. Each witness testified that proper notice had been given to the congregation to vote as to whether their church remained with the Diocese of South Carolina or go with TEC and its newly formed TECSC.

Spin and projection: The alternate universe of TECSC

Spin!
After yesterday's courtroom disaster, the propagandists for The Empty Church in South Carolina (TECSC) apparently had to pull an all nighter to come up with a press release that portrayed their side in a positive light. For the sake of keeping your blood pressure low, I would only recommend reading it with A.S. Haley's accompanying commentary. Ultimately, the spinmeisters had to fall back on the tried and true tactic of making themselves look good by making their opponents look bad. The result was this gem of journalistic eloquence:
As cross-examination began, plaintiff’s attorney Henrietta Golding stood up and immediately began shouting at the professor seated in the witness chair, jabbing her finger in the air: “I think you need to tell the court where you go to church! …Or is this something you want to hide?” Counsel for the defense objected; Judge Goodstein did not intervene. “I don’t think she’s being impolite,” the judge said.
While I wasn't present in the courtroom, I think it safe to assume, based on Judge Goodstein's response, that the exchange between counsel and witness was nowhere near as belligerent as described in the press release. Hectoring, name-calling, and bullying are hallmarks of the national church and its local subsidiary. Projecting such behavior onto the attorneys representing the real Diocese of South Carolina is hardly surprising. It is very much in character for the minions of TECSC who, like their national counterparts, must continue to craft false narratives to sustain life in their alternate universe.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BUSTED! TEC witness admits diocesan constitution and canons trump those of the national church

You know you're trouble when your own "expert witness" undermines your own argument.
Facepalm
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 16, 2014 –An expert witness for The Episcopal Church (TEC) undermined claims by the denomination that its rules supersede those of local dioceses in the Diocese of SC, during day-long testimony in the trial to protect local diocesan and church property from seizure by TEC and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

Martin McWilliams, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, was called by TEC and TECSC to testify as an expert witness. McWilliams spent considerable time explaining his credentials as a corporate governance expert and said that because the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina incorporated the constitutions and canons of the national church in its own corporate charter, it is governed by those constitutions and canons.

However, on cross examination by the diocese’s attorneys, Alan Runyan and Henrietta Golding, he acknowledged that the diocese – while it may incorporate the national rules – is, in fact, governed by its own documents. He further acknowledged there is no rule in either the national canons and constitutions, nor in the diocese’s own constitutions and canons that prohibits the diocese from amending its corporate documents. He also said that the diocese was within its legal rights to amend its articles of incorporation.

McWilliams was the only witness called.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 6: Testimony shows Bishop Lawrence tried to keep diocese in the denomination, used “Intact and In TEC” as a slogan

Bishop Lawrence
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 15, 2014 –Countering Episcopal Church allegations that Bishop Mark Lawrence engineered the Diocese of South Carolina’s withdrawal from The Episcopal Church (TEC), a witness for the denomination on Tuesday acknowledged that the bishop was committed to remaining part of the denomination.

The Rev. Marshall Dow Sanderson of Holy Communion, Charleston, was called by TEC during the trial to protect the property of the diocese and its parishes from seizure by the national denomination. However, on cross examination, Sanderson admitted that Bishop Lawrence consistently sought to keep the Diocese intact within the national church before TEC attempted to remove him. He testified that, during a meeting of the clergy in 2009, Lawrence went so far as to coin the phrase “Intact and In TEC”.

TEC has repeatedly suggested that Lawrence had engineered the diocese’s withdrawal from the denomination over several years, conspiring with members of the clergy to separate from the national church. However, the “Intact and In TEC” slogan was used by Lawrence until the national church tried to remove him in 2012 – as he was still trying to work out differences between the Diocese and the denomination.

The diocese completed its arguments on Tuesday and TEC and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) began to present its case.

They called Armand Derfner as an expert witness on constitutional law to instruct the court on how it should apply the law. South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein, who is presiding over the trial, quickly reminded Derfner that she was the one sitting on the bench. She limited Derfner’s testimony to four points on how civil issues and religious issues should be treated the same in court.

Goodstein also disallowed most of the testimony by Warren Mersereau who had been a member of Church of Our Savior, Seabrook, then became a member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Charleston. Mersereau’s testimony reflected the opinions of a disgruntled witness and had no bearing on the corporate issue being decided by the court.

Earlier in the day, the Diocese reinforced the fact that it and its parishes predate TEC. Myron Harrington, Jr., witness called from St. Philips in Charleston, spoke about the history of his church, one of the oldest continually operated churches in the United States. He explained that his church was founded in 1680 as the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Philips in Charleston and was moved to its current location at 142 Church Street in 1723 – nearly 70 years before TEC was created.

Harrington, a decorated veteran of the U.S. Marines, spoke about his parish’s growth to 2,500 members and its acquisition of real estate around the church. Today, St. Philips owns approximately a square block of land in Charleston. The parish grounds include two cemeteries, a parking lot, parish hall and Sunday school, as well as a separate ministries hall and a tea garden.

Harrington’s testimony again demonstrated that the diocese and its parishes existed independent of TEC before the denomination’s founding – and has grown since then without TEC’s support.

The judge adjourned the day and informed both Plaintiff and Defendants that she would possibly extend the trial through next week.

During the morning, the court heard testimony from witnesses representing Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant; St. John’s, Johns Island; Holy Trinity, Charleston; Old St. Andrew’s, Charleston; St. Philip’s, Charleston, and Trinity, Edisto.

Monday, July 14, 2014

South Carolina Trial Day 5: Rump group tries to renege on stipulation

ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 14, 2014 –Day Five for the Diocese of SC v. The Episcopal Church (TEC) began with a slight hiccup. To speed up the testimony of the 36 witnesses, Judge Diane Goodstein Friday asked attorneys for both sides to meet over the weekend to go over testimony that could be stipulated.

When attorneys for the plaintiff told Goodstein that the two parties had agreed that proposed stipulates would include the facts the witnesses would testify to in lieu of live testimony, attorney Tom Tisdale, who represents the rump group that now goes by The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), tried to qualify stipulation, effectively diverging from what the plaintiffs had agreed to. Judge Goodstein told the defendants that , “Stipulations…they are agreements. I’m hearing from you we don’t have a Stipulation.” She told both parties she would give them 10 minutes to huddle and determine if they had agreement to stipulations.

When they returned from their meeting, both sides had agreed to all the facts that the witnesses would testify to, but also agreed that any conclusions of law would be the sole province of the court.

The stipulations speeded testimony significantly. While only 18 persons testified during the entire first week of the trial, 12 witnesses testified on Monday. Testimony continued with issues covered the previous week including by-law changes and resolutions, clearly demonstrating that the national church, an unincorporated association, was a distinct entity with which they had no connection and has no legal claim on them. Witnesses also testified that permission was never given to TECSC to list their church on the website.

One witness, Robert Armstrong from St. Paul, Summerville, testified that his church had donated more than $1 million to various charities during recent years. Plaintiff’s attorney Brandt Shelbourne, reflecting the line of questioning pursued by TEC, asked Armstrong whether he believed the $1 million in donations effectively gave St. Paul ownership rights over the charities. Armstrong drew a chuckle when he said “no.”

On Monday, witnesses testified on behalf of Holy Cross, Stateburg; St. Paul’s, Bennettsville; St. Jude’s, Walterboro; Good Shepherd, Charleston; Church of our Saviour, Johns Island; St. Matthew’s, Fort Motte; St. Michael’s, Charleston; St. Matthias, Sumerton; Prince George Winyah; St. Paul’s, Summerville; St. Paul’s, Conway, and Church of the Cross, Bluffton.

Those churches remaining to provide testimony for the Plaintiff are: Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant; St. John's, Johns Island; Holy Trinity, Charleston; Old St. Andrew's, Charleston; St. Philip's, Charleston and Trinity Edisto.

Friday, July 11, 2014

South Carolina Trial, Day 4: Judge Goodstein seeks to expedite proceedings

Judge Goodstein
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 11, 2014 – After listening to testimony from 18 parish witnesses in the trial to protect Diocese of South Carolina assets from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), the judge asked all parties to help expedite the proceedings by working together to determine a set of undisputed facts. This follows the parishes effort to secure stipulations of the facts of their witnesses over two weeks ago which was rejected by TEC and TECSC.

The last two and a half days of trial were spent hearing virtually identical testimony from witnesses representing 18 parishes –half of those involved – who were all asked similar questions. During those two and a half days, neither TEC nor TECSC has objected to the introduction of evidence or exhibits.

Following Friday’s testimony, Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein asked all parties to meet and stipulate to undisputed facts. The net effect of such an effort will be to dramatically reduce the amount of time witnesses will testify. In essence, witnesses will be expected to testify only on matters which are contested by one side.

”What I have been listening to for four days is subject to stipulations,” said Judge Goodstein. “It may not have been appropriate to stipulate earlier, but there’s absolutely no question in my mind today. I can almost testify for everybody,” she said. “Start with corporate documents, then go to By laws, deeds, then quit claims, then marks. I’ve got it down.”

She allowed the attorneys time to discuss the matter. They agreed to meet on Sunday to go over testimony that can be stipulated.

This effort to reach consensus on basic facts should allow attorneys to spend more time probing the issues their side thinks is important to their case. The Diocese and attorneys for TEC and TECSC agreed to work through the weekend to identify the undisputed facts and documentary evidence. As a result, the trial should next week move quickly to the real issues in dispute.

Judge Goodstein said she wanted the trial completed next week. The Court had originally scheduled the trial to take place between July 7 and July 18. “We are grateful the judge has provided us an opportunity to focus our energies on the issues in question here,” said Jan Pringle, spokesperson for the Diocese. “Our goal is to protect the Diocese’s property and that of its parishes. We believe anything that permits the court to focus on the critical issues will protect the rights of our members.”

On Friday the Plaintiffs presented testimony from Trinity, Pinopolis; St. David’s, Cheraw; St. Helena’s, Beaufort; St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville; Trinity, Myrtle Beach; St. Matthew’s, Darlington, and Saint James, James Island.

During Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach’s testimony, the defendant’s attorney David Booth Beers asked the witness Frank Sloan repeatedly why they removed references to the national Church from their corporate documents.

After Plaintiffs objected Judge Goodstein said, agreeing with the objection, that the questions asked “goes to justification of why the entities did what they did. My concern is more the structure of the government-are we pre 1900 or after, when was the incorporation, what were the By-Laws? There’s been too much focus on the justification for why they did what they did. As it stands we're not a hierarchical, state, we are for neutrality. The justification is interesting but not what I think should be the focus of this court.”

Suzanne Schwank, testifying for the Parish Church of St. Helena’s, Beaufort, brought a 1728 Prayer Book in which references to the royal family had been crossed out, a parish registry with an entry dating back to 1706 and parish vestry minutes dating to 1724. The Vestry minutes requested and empowered one Mr. John Kean to “procure a clergyman of the Episcopalian Church for the town of Beaufort SC” in 1784 prior to the formation of either the Diocese of South Carolina or The Episcopal Church.

The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

Anglican Curmudgeon catalogs lies and distortions in South Carolina trial

Seasoned attorney A.S. Haley, a.k.a. the Anglican Curmudgeon, offers a detailed refutation of the myriad of misrepresentations, distortions, and outright lies being propagated by the national church (PECUSA, ECUSA, TEC, or whatever its name happens to be this week) in the South Carolina trial, which will be concluding its first week of proceedings today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

South Carolina trial, Day 3


(St George, SC) – Testimony continued today for the third day of the trial between the Diocese of South Carolina vs The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

Witnesses for the Plaintiff were called from The Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston (pictured), St. Luke’s on Hilton Head Island, Holy Comforter in Sumter, Resurrection in Surfside, Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg and St. John’s in Florence.

In testimony after testimony witnesses testified that their church was a registered South Carolina non-profit corporation - several chartered in the mid-1800s. None of the Parishes legal corporate documents had any reference to the national church.

Church representatives also explained how their governing documents, or By-Laws, had been amended several times since the churches’ inception. Each witness testified that they had adopted a resolution to remove all references to The Episcopal Church and to clarify they no longer have any relationship or affiliation, direct or indirect, with the national church.

When probed as to why, Alonso Galvan, who testified for The Cathedral, explained that it was in response to the actions TEC was taking against the Diocese of South Carolina and its duly elected Bishop. He said their church was committed to Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina.

Other parish testimony came from Allie Walker from St. John’s, Florence, questioned by Tom Tisdale, attorney for TECSC, about the use of Episcopal in their name and she explained that the word “Episcopal” meant Bishop (a point made several times during the proceeding).

One of the more light moments came when attorney Mary Kostel asked Pinckney Thompson from Orangeburg if he could explain a legal document to which he replied, “I’m a farmer, Ms. Kostel, not a lawyer.”

Twenty-Six more parishes are scheduled for testimony before TEC will present their case.

Anglican conflict survival guide: Simplistic templates vs. actual history (South Carolina edition)


Terry Mattingly has written a helpful piece at GetReligion about the ongoing conflict within the Anglican Communion, which is hitting home here in South Carolina this week, providing a wealth of historical background which the secular press often overlooks in the interest of advancing a simplistic template in which homosexuality is the inevitable common denominator.

Of particular historical interest to the South Carolina case is a 1992 incident involving then Bishop FitzSimons Allison, which Mattingly would later recount in a 1999 article for "On Religion."
It’s been seven years since Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison faced the fact that some of his fellow bishops worship a different god than he does.

The symbolic moment came during an Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in Kanuga, N.C., as members met in small groups to discuss graceful ways to settle their differences on the Bible, worship and sex. The question for the day was: “Why are we dysfunctional?”

“I said the answer was simple – apostasy,” said Allison, a dignified South Carolinian who has a doctorate in Anglican history from Oxford University. “Some of the other bishops looked at me and said, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Many Episcopalians, he explained at the time, have embraced the work of theologians such as Carter Heyward, a lesbian priest, seminary professor and author of books such as “Touching Our Strength: The Erotic as Power and the Love of God.” Allison asked the bishops how they would deal with those who say they serve a god that is “older and greater” than the God of the Bible.

Some of the bishops said they either shared this belief or could not condemn it.

When the time came to celebrate the Eucharist, Allison knew what he had to do in this particular circle of bishops. He declined to share the bread and the wine, but didn’t publicize his act of conscience.
Obviously, everything in the simplistic template is present in this story, including the writings of "a lesbian priest." But, for Bishop Allison, the "apostasy" at the root of his church's dysfunction did not revolve around sexuality, but idolatry: the worship of "a god that is 'older and greater' than the God of the Bible." The connection between "exchang[ing] the truth of God for a lie and worship[ing] and serv[ing] the creature rather than the Creator" and the slide into sexual deviancy (cf. Romans 1:18-32) was there even at that time, but the catalyst for Allison's decision to refuse communion with the wayward bishops was the former, not the latter.

In the ongoing conflict within the Anglican Communion in general, and in South Carolina in particular, the disease which must be cured is idolatry. Deviant sexuality is merely a symptom.

Mattingly makes favorable mention of an Associated Press article on the South Carolina trial which, he says, at least starts out on the right note.
ST. GEORGE, S.C. – About 50 conservative Episcopal churches in South Carolina are in court this week, trying to keep their name, seal and $500 million in land and buildings after they broke away from the national denomination in a wide-ranging theological dispute.

The breakaway group, the Diocese of South Carolina, said it had to leave the national church not just because of the ordination of gays, but a series of decisions it says show national Episcopalians have lost their way in the teachings of Jesus and salvation.
That's fair enough. However, I wish Mattingly would also have cited the article's final two paragraphs, in which a reputed "professor of religion" makes an outrageous and cynical statement.
The secession by South Carolina Episcopalians is ironic, said Frank Kirkpatrick, a professor of religion at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and author of “The Episcopal Church in Crisis: How Sex, the Bible and Authority are Dividing the Faithful.” While church leaders 150 years ago defended slavery on Biblical grounds, some of those breaking away from the national church body over homosexuality and marriage prefer to accept the authority of conservative African bishops rather than U.S. bishops who support the ordination of gays, he said.

“The arguments you hear about seceding from the Episcopal Church sound remarkably similar to the arguments you heard in 1860-61 from the secessionists in South Carolina who wanted to split away from the Union,” Kirkpatrick said.
This kind of nonsense fits well with the artificial narrative which the national Episcopal Church would like to impose on the story, but it does not fit with the actual facts.

To begin with, the Diocese of South Carolina was hardly at the forefront of any movement for "secession" from the Episcopal Church. Bishop Allison's early salvo notwithstanding, the diocese was, if anything, late to the game when it came to disaffiliating from the national body. Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Quincy, and a host of individual parishes in various locations had already bailed long before South Carolina even considered the possibility. Among all the entities which have disaffiliated, South Carolina stands alone as the one ecclesiastical body which literally bent over backward trying to find some way to remain connected before the leadership of the national church made continued affiliation impossible.

It should go without saying, of course, that the issue which brought matters to a head was not homosexuality, but the truth of the Gospel and worship of the one true God. Is the god who is worshiped and proclaimed by the Episcopal Church at the national level the same God, revealed in his Son Jesus Christ, who is worshiped and proclaimed in the parishes, missions, and pulpits of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina?

Even moreso than on that day in 1992 when Bishop Allison performed his silent act of conscience, the answer can only be a resounding NO!

What, then, is the rationale behind Professor Kirkpatrick's statement? The sad fact is, a boilerplate statement like this needs no rationale. It is nothing more than a bunch of thoughtless words thrown together to dazzle a secular press eager to portray simple believers in the most negative light possible. It scores high for shock value, but its only practical effect is to add bearing false witness to the national church's ever growing ledger of transgressions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

South Carolina Trial, Day 2

Canon Jim Lewis
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 9, 2014 – The morning was a cross examination of Canon Jim Lewis. Lewis testified yesterday how more than 90 percent of the convention clergy and delegates voted to disassociate from the national church (TEC).

The Plaintiffs called Robert Kunes, Treasurer of the Board of Trustees for the Diocese of South Carolina, to testify about the corporate governance of the Trustees.

The rest of the day was spent calling representatives from individual churches in the Diocese who voted to stay in the Diocese. Issues of by-law changes and resolutions and demonstrating that the national church, an unincorporated association, was a distinct entity with which they had no connection and has no legal claim on them.

Testimony of other parishes will continue tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

South Carolina: Trial to protect diocesan assets begins

ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 8, 2014 – After 18 months of delays, a long-awaited lawsuit to protect Diocese of South Carolina assets from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local subsidiary went to trial in a South Carolina courtroom today.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein, who presides over the bench trial, asked attorneys for the Diocese, TEC and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) to sidestep opening arguments and dive into the fundamental issues of the case.

Two witnesses testified, Diocesan Chancellor Wade Logan and Canon to the Ordinary Jim Lewis. Logan testified about how the Diocese governs itself without the involvement of the national Church, clearly demonstrating that it is a corporation and that TEC, an association, was not involved in the Diocese’s election of officers, the calling of convention, or selling of property among other day to day operations.

Lewis testified that the votes to withdraw from TEC passed with 90 percent or more support of the convention clergy and delegates. He also testified about the misuse of Diocesan symbols and seals by TEC and TECSC, and their intention to present themselves as the Diocese.

Lewis also shared with the court copies of historic documents that showed that the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina existed in 1785 – and that the Diocese was one of several post-colonial diocese to establish The Episcopal Church in the new United States. TEC has repeatedly claimed that the Diocese cannot exist outside the Episcopal Church – even though it did historically.


The Diocese of South Carolina disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October 2012 after TEC tried to remove its duly elected bishop, Mark Lawrence. Following the Diocese’s decision, 49 churches representing 80 percent of the Diocese’s 30,000 members voted to remain in union with the Diocese and not with TEC.

The Diocese has consistently disagreed with TEC’s embrace of what most members of the global Anglican Communion believe to be a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes following Christ’s teachings optional for salvation.

South Carolina fauxilliary "bishop" grants permission for same sex blessings

Timing, as they say, is everything. So, as the trial to protect the assets of the real Diocese of South Carolina finally gets underway, what better time for Charles vonRosenburg, fauxilliary "bishop" of "The Episcopal Church in South Carolina," to invite his "diocese" officially to embrace total apostasy?
A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.

The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of [sic] South Carolina.

South Carolina does not permit same-sex marriage, and any such blessing offered by an Episcopal priest will not constitute a "marriage," Behre said.

No priest is required to offer the blessing, vonRosenburg said in a letter to clergy.

"I do want to be clear that the permission does not define an expectation for clergy," the letter states. "In your own life of prayer and within community, you will decide how to respond to this statement of permission."

Priests who wish to perform a blessing will not be required to receive further permission to do so from the Bishop, but priests who wish to perform the ceremony in a church building must first seek permission from the church's vestry or mission committee, Behre said.

The Episcopal Church authorized same-sex blessings for "provisional use" in 2012 in a resolution at the 77th General Convention, according to a release from the church. Since then, more than 60 of the 110 dioceses of The Episcopal Church have allowed some form of liturgy for blessings of same-sex relationships, the release states.
So, in case you still need to be reminded, even after reading the above article, of just who is and is not honoring their ordination vows, the Anglican Curmudgeon offers this concise summary.
Over at his blog Preludium, the Rev. Canon Mark Harris asks the question at the start of the trial in South Carolina today: "What part of the ordination vows did Mark Lawrence not understand?"

The question is a facile one -- easily stated, but not simple to answer. Ostensibly the question refers to the oath of conformity taken when one becomes a bishop. As I explained in this post long ago, the oath of conformity to the Church replaced the oath of conformity to the Crown when PECUSA broke off from the Church of England, and could no longer recognize Britain's monarch as its head.

But the oath of conformity was not the chief oath made in the ordination process, as I also explained in that post. Ever since 1550, every Anglican/Episcopal ordinand on both sides of the Atlantic has vowed "to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of CHRIST, as the LORD hath commanded, and as this Church ... hath received the same, according to the commandments of GOD", or words to the same effect. (The current version has it this way: "Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them?")

Now, then, let us return to Canon Harris' question. As he himself appears to recognize, Mark Lawrence eventually was forced, by the course of events leading toward same-sex marriage in ECUSA, to choose between "the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church" and "the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received it" (my bold emphasis).

And from whom did this Church receive the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ? Why, from the Church of England. And from whom did the Church of England receive it? From the Roman Catholic Church. And from whom did the Roman Catholics receive it? From the original Church going back to the Apostles.

Note that the celebration or blessing of same-sex unions forms no part of the "doctrine, discipline or worship of Christ" as so received by ECUSA. Instead, it is a manufactured doctrine, one fashioned for the sake of the times. Indeed, its present implementation within ECUSA involves a serious violation of the very Canons which Mark Lawrence and all the bishops in ECUSA swore to uphold and obey upon their ordination, as I pointed out in my last post.

So I put his question right back to the Rev. Canon Harris: Just what part of their ordination vows did James R. Mathes, J. Jon Bruno, Mark Andrus, and Marvil Thomas Shaw III, SSJE, not understand?

As the old saw has it, "You pays your money and you takes your choice." The bishops I just named chose same-sex unions over the Canons and the Rubrics of the BCP. Bishop Lawrence chose the doctrine and discipline of Christ over the false doctrine (and associated phony discipline -- phony, because it is abused in order to advance false doctrine, as many posts here have detailed) of the Episcopal Church (USA).
Indeed, we can now ask: Just what part of his ordination vows did Charles vonRosenburg not understand?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Diocese of South Carolina joins Twitter

The Diocese of South Carolina (the real one, not that rump group) has joined Twitter. No doubt this account will be quite active over the next two weeks.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence

The following letter was read aloud in congregations across the Diocese of South Carolina on Sunday, July 6, 2014.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 1:3

I write on the eve of the upcoming trial between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church scheduled, God-willing, to take place in St. George, SC from July 8—18, 2014 and under the jurisdiction of the Honorable Diane S. Goodstein. Much work by our legal team under the leadership of Mr. Alan Runyan has already been done. The staff and members from many of our parishes, as well as the diocesan staff, have logged countless hours in the detail work of discovery. Much prayer has been invested by our clergy, vestries, intercessors, and the rank and file members of our congregations. For all of this I am profoundly grateful.

The path that has brought us as a diocese to this hour has been long and winding. Yet through it all we have been guided by a desire to be faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as we have received it ever striving to be mindful that we have been entrusted with this Truth, this Good News and rich heritage, in order to share it with those who have yet to come into the reach of Christ’s saving embrace.

Certainly we seek to protect our members and the legacy of former generations who under God’s sovereignty and grace have established this diocese and built our churches, more than a few even preceding the founding of The Episcopal Church; but it is of fundamental importance to keep in mind that ours is more than a clinging to heritage for the sake of the past. It is also for the sake of our future mission. It is so that our congregations, their buildings and properties, as well as such places as Camp St. Christopher, may continue to be beachheads and missionary centers for making known the redemptive power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So once again I write to ask for your help—for your prayer—for our attorneys and for those who will testify on our behalf, as well as for me your bishop. I also ask your prayers for Judge Goodstein who will preside over this trial. I offer for your use a prayer crafted earlier by the Very Rev. John Barr, soon to be retired rector of Holy Comforter, Sumter, which I have slightly adapted for this present trial:

Gracious and Sovereign Lord, we pray that your will be done during July 7—18th. May we want what you desire. Guide and be mightily present with Alan Runyan and the other attorneys who represent us and with those who testify on our behalf. May the courtroom be filled with the pleasant aroma of Christ, and at the end of the day, protect this diocese and its parishes that we might bring the redemptive power of the biblical gospel to the South Carolina Low Country, the Pee Dee and beyond. Let not our fear of outcomes tarnish our joy or deter us from the mission you have given us. Enable us to bless and not to curse those on the other side of this conflict. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And in the power of the Holy Spirit make us victorious over-comers wherever this road leads us. For we ask all in the name above all names, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It remains a great privilege to travel around this diocese, among her various congregations and clergy, and to witness the remarkable sacrifice and ministry being done by and among all sorts and conditions of folk—and to see the rhythms of grace that God has woven into the tapestry which is the congregations and Diocese of South Carolina.

Faithfully yours,






The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
XIV Bishop of South Carolina

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day Special: George Washington's Farewell Address

Friends and Fellow Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom the choice is to be made.

I beg you at the same time to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, while silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal of your future interest; no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of and continuance hitherto in the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been an uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea. I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that in the present circumstances of our country you will not disapprove of my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more; that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is to terminate the career of my political life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as instructive example in our annuals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead—amidst appearances sometimes dubious—vicissitudes of fortunes often discouraging—in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenances the spirit of criticism—the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans, by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing wishes, that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence—that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual—that the free constitution which is the work of your hands may be sacredly maintained—that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue—that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsels. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former, and not dissimilar, occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of our hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquility at home; your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed; it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immoveable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and to speak of it as a palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principle. You have, in a common cause, fought, and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess, are the work of joint councils, and joint efforts—of common dangers, sufferings, and success.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every potion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The north, in an unrestrained intercourse with the south, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise, and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The south, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the same agency of the north, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the north, it finds its particular navigation invigorated—and while it contributes in different ways to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The east, in like intercourse with the west, already finds in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, and will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The west derives from the east supplies requisite to its growth and comfort—and what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions, to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the west can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While therefore every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts, greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries, not tied together by the same government, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues, would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which under any form of government and inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is, that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue of the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the cause which may disturb our union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations—Northern and Southern; Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson on this ratification by the senate of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the general government, and in the Atlantic states, unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi. They have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them every thing they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which alliances at all times have experiences. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government, better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concern. This government, the offspring of your own choice, uninfluenced and unawed; adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation; completely free in its principles; in the distribution of its powers uniting security with energy, and containing within itself provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government, pre-supposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberations and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of party, often a small, but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common councils, and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite not only that you steady discountenance irregular opposition to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretext. One method of assault may be to affect in the forms of the constitution alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments, as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitutions of a country; that facility in changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember especially, that from the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the dangers of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them upon geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternative domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and, sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of the public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasional riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself, through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true; and in governments of a monarchial cast, patriotism may look with indulgence if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From the natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking, in a free country, should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres; avoiding, in the exercise of the powers of one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominate in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian on the public weal against invasions of the other, has been evinced by experiments, ancient and modern; some of them in our country, and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers, be, in any particular, wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way in which the constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation, for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance, in permanent evil, any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexion with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it, is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering, also, that timely disbursements to prepare for danger, frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives; but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should particularly bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects, (which is always a choice of difficulties,) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all: religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt but that in the course of time and things the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be Providence has connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! it is rendered impossible by its vices!

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies, against particular nations, and passionate attachment for others, should be excluded; and that in the place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is, in some degree, a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.

Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to the projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes, perhaps, the liberty of nations has been the victim.

So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and the wars of the latter without adequate inducements or justification. It leads, also, to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which are apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions, by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupt, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation to a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence, in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the art of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public counsels! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter. Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealously, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike for another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence, she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitude of her polities, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation, invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world: so far I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But in my opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the stream of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and natural opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time, abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish—that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit; to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue; to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me; uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aids of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct, will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and constancy, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortune.

Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error; I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probably that I may have committed many errors whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness is this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate, with pleasing expectation, that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws, under a free government; the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors and dangers.