South Carolina Anglican

March 13, 2017

Diocese of South Carolina Votes to Join Anglican Church in North America

A diocese formerly affiliated with the Episcopal Church voted Saturday to pursue affiliation with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The Diocese of South Carolina, one of the nine original founding dioceses of the Episcopal Church, severed its connection with that denomination in October 2012. It was the fifth diocese to do so.

Delegates to the Diocesan Convention held at St. Paul’s Church in Summerville, South Carolina voted unanimously to pursue affiliation. The vote follows a period of discernment and question-and-answer sessions about diocesan affiliation around the lowcountry of South Carolina during the past year.

The ACNA Provincial Assembly, meeting June 26-29 in Wheaton, Illinois, will next take up the diocesan request to affiliate. South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence has participated in the ACNA College of Bishops gatherings in recent years, and a delegation from South Carolina has participated as observers at the annual Provincial Council.

Affiliation by the Diocese of South Carolina will significantly grow the size of ACNA: the diocese counts nearly 23,000 members, which will increase ACNA’s 114,000 existing members by 20 percent. South Carolina will be – by far – the largest diocese in ACNA.

Both ACNA and the Diocese of South Carolina have strong connections to the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) a traditionalist reform movement within the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the Global South, a grouping of 24 Anglican Communion provinces (national churches) ministering among mostly developing nations in Africa, Asia and South America. The vast majority of an estimated 85 million Anglican Christians worldwide are connected with the Global South.

During its final years as part of the Episcopal Church, South Carolina was one of few dioceses to regularly report growth in both membership and attendance.

The diocese is still engaged in litigation with the Episcopal Church about ownership of property. A majority of members in 49 churches voted to sever their ties to the Episcopal Church and remain affiliated with the diocese following disputes over the redefinition and reinterpretation of Scripture.

On February 3, 2015, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the departing diocese was legally entitled to the property and use of the name “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”. The ruling affects more than $500 million in diocesan and parish properties. The decision was appealed by the Episcopal Church and arguments were heard before the South Carolina Supreme Court in 2015. A decision from the court has yet to be handed down.

The Diocese of South Carolina was founded in 1785 by the former Church of England parishes of the former South Carolina colony. The Diocese is one of the oldest religious districts in the United States and counts among its members several of the oldest operating churches in the nation.


  • Nutstuyu

    Hallelujah. Anglicanism is not totally lost. Time for UMC to do the same thing.

    • SCBluCatLady

      Get like-minded individuals together and make it happen! It took the first GAFCON held in Jerusalem in 2008 to make ACNA a reality.

  • john

    I agree with Nutstuyu. It is past time the UMC moved on and allowed churches to separate and form a more traditional scriptural path if desired. I suspect there will be a LOT of litigation as the UMC attempts to hold on to property and $ as that is their main concern. Yet, all of us joined the UMC back in the 50’s and 60’s and brought with us our property. Now that the UMC has decided to abandon scripture, we should be able to abandon the UMC.

    • Jeff Walton

      Sometimes separation becomes necessary, but as a member of ACNA — and a cradle Episcopalian before then — I would caution that all other options should be exhausted first. The Diocese of South Carolina did their best to remain faithful while connected to the Episcopal Church, and only departed when there was no longer an ability to remain. While ACNA does have an open door to former Episcopalians, our purpose is to reach the unreached in a way that we were hindered from doing so in the Episcopal Church, not to simply discover if the grass is greener on the other side.

      • john

        I agree with you Jeff and that is exactly what the Wesleyan Covenant is trying to do. Unfortunately, the UMC has not really sought input from the more traditional/conservative members of the denomination and the Council of Bishops have basically ignored a great chunk of membership in favor of a “progressive” march away from scripture. Some of us have been frustrated for too many years and annual conferences to work very hard anymore at staying connected. There is no anticipation of the grass being greener on the “other side.” Only a desire to be connected to a Christian Church that honors the teachings of the Holy Bible and maintains discipline intended to provide Bible-based teachings that lead people to the right path. Leadership is not easy (I am retired Air Force commissioned officer and management in Federal Law Enforcement) but I see too many leaders of our denomination choosing the easy path. Thanks for the reply.

        • jerseycitysteve

          Sorry the situation in SC isn’t comparable to what ails the UMC. Our trust clause is even stronger than what prevails in TEC.

          Now, if a whole Annual Conference wants to leave, that might work. Otherwise, we stay within the connection or leave.

          • SCBluCatLady

            Lots of people including entire dioceses have left TEC. The ACNA was formed by those who left TEC. It took an international conference in Jerusalem to get the shove to go ahead and form another province/church for North America. So the ACNA is an entirely different group than TEC which are recognized by different sets of Anglicans around the world. ACNA is recognized by far more Anglicans around the world than TEC is.

        • pegleggreg

          there are multiple versions of Wesleyan theology existing in various congregations why not join them

          • john

            Because I like my local church and have been a member for about 40 years not to mention my family has been attending this church over 100 years…so, I am not attending this church because I am a UM, but am a UM because I am attending this church. Most of our members feel the same way. They love this church but have little to no loyalty to the UMC. Keep in mind the UMC is rather young having come to its current configuration in the late 50’s/early 60’s so some older attendees are very upset with the direction of the current UMC.

  • SCBluCatLady

    Just an FYI….., the picture at the top of this article is from March 2013 when our diocesan convention voted for the second and final time (also an unanimous vote) to leave TECUSA. The video and pictures following the text are from this year’s convention that was held this past weekend, March 10 and 11.

    • Jeff Walton

      Thanks for the correction! I’ll adjust the photo caption.

      • SCBluCatLady

        Thank you, Jeff!

  • Shalom

    The Episcopagans are definitely the winners in the Liberal Membership Loss race. They don’t just lose individuals and congregations, they lose entire dioceses.

    • SCBluCatLady

      Diocese #5- gone in 2013.

  • apriluser

    My husband, a UMC elder, and I have joined an ACNA church in our area. Our Anglican Church is full of various evangelical folks who wanted a different type of connection and worship experience. We both grew up AG, migrated to UMC, and now are ACNA. It’s been a wonderful journey and we haven’t looked back!