(ACI) A Response to the reported Title IV Disciplinary process begun against Bishop Mark Lawrence

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recently announced disciplinary process against Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina is deeply disturbing on at least two fronts. First, it sullies the Gospel and the Lord of the Gospel; second, it promises to do serious damage to The Episcopal Church (TEC).

In the first place, the allegations against Bishop Lawrence, and the claim that they may amount to “abandonment” of TEC are so absurd as to cross the line into deceit and malice. The fact that these allegations are being made and taken seriously by the leadership of TEC in itself constitutes an affront to the commitments for which a Christian church stands – honesty, charity, care for the witness of the Church’s unity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* South Carolina

21 Comments
Posted October 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. David Hein wrote:

“To reward such a difficult pastoral accomplishment with allegations of disloyalty….”

Yes; that’s what gets me. A very sorry state of affairs.

October 5, 4:59 pm | [comment link]
2. c.r.seitz wrote:

We’ll get the link adjusted. The author (first-person) is Professor Radner. This is a concerned view shared by ACI.

October 5, 5:18 pm | [comment link]
3. Cranmerian wrote:

But more important: why would a Christian leader not have friendly and non-adversarial relations with other Christians especially those who have once been Episcopalians? Would that all of us engaged in relationships of charity and welcome!

And here is how South Carolina’s neighbors to the south, the Diocese of Georgia, treat the ACNA and other Anglican bodies:

“Anglican” or “Continuing” Splinter Groups not part of TEC

These groups undermine the geographical authority of the bishop as defined in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and observed in historic Anglican practice.  Therefore, no clergyperson from these groups may participate in any service of worship, and no joint services may be held with any congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.  Episcopal clergy of the Diocese of Georgia may not participate in any service held in or by these congregations except with written permission from the Bishop.

Though you may choose to notify the Bishop, attendance at a wedding or funeral held in such congregation, for reasons of previous pastoral or personal relationship, is an exception to this more general statement and requires no such permission.

The above comes from the Clergy Handbook

October 5, 5:20 pm | [comment link]
4. Creighton+ wrote:

Well said.
Thanks,
Creighton+

October 5, 5:24 pm | [comment link]
5. TexanByGrace wrote:

As the kids say, “Boom. Roasted.”

In more serious terms I think the author’s point is well-taken: TEC is showing itself to be intolerant of even the consideration of views counter to the prevailing wisdom of those in power. By suggesting that it is desirable or even possible to maintain a relationship with other Anglican bodies in North America the Diocese of South Carolina has committed a violation that TEC is apparently unwilling to allow.

October 5, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
6. A Senior Priest wrote:

Excessively authoritarian.

October 5, 5:35 pm | [comment link]
7. loyal opposition wrote:

Cranmerian,

Do you know if other dioceses have similar prohibitions on joint worship with Anglicans?  I’ll admit upfront to weekly and even semi-weekly offense.

Loyal Opposition aka not deposed yet

October 5, 6:12 pm | [comment link]
8. Cranmerian wrote:

#7
On the final page of the linked document above you’ll see that acknowledgments were made to the Dioceses of Olympia, Western North Carolina, Tennessee, Central Florida, and Mississippi and their respective clergy handbooks.  I have not checked those diocesan websites for any cross references to the above, but it would not surprise me for Olympia, and WNC didn’t have similar language in theirs.

Loyal Opposition is a lonely place at times, isn’t it?

October 5, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:

Dr. Radner seems to have the same level of feeling as others of us do [although naturally anyone who’s watched the current TEC leaders all expected this.]

The rich irony on all of this is that—with gritted teeth Lawrence has endured the loss of their single largest parish—and offended others within the diocese—and hung on for all he is worth within TEC.

It is *crystal* clear that he and the diocese were NOT leaving.

And with that clarity, the diocese’s reward is a bunch of juvenile charges to be heard by a Bonnie Anderson kangaroo court of mostly raging liberals and further crystal clarity that the current leaders of TEC would like nothing more than to bully the Diocese of SC into leaving.  That’s what they want.  And if they can’t have that then they’ll depose the man and vacate the Standing Committee.

What a great piece from the ACI, highlighting as it does the absurdity and intrinsic destructiveness of these actions.  I particularly like the last paragraph, and the three words “despite your folly” which is a perfect three words of disgust and outrage and sorrow.

What an unbelievable Destroyer TEC’s leaders have turned out to be.  They *want* The Episcopal Church completely fractured and pulverized—I can’t think of any other reason why they would pursue the actions they have over the past 7 years.  It’s like some sort of death wish for the church.

October 5, 6:46 pm | [comment link]
10. Brian from T19 wrote:

While there is no equivalency as regards intent, aren’t the charges of abandonment similar to those leveled against +Duncan?  I am not suggesting this lends the claims any credibility, it certainly does not.  However, is this such a major departure as Dr. Radner suggests or is it “business as usual.”  Certainly, at the very least, the new Title IV was written and passed to allow such allegations.

October 5, 7:02 pm | [comment link]
11. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

“It’s like some sort of death wish for the church”.

Either that, or some get jollies out of appearing petty, vindictive, and eventually downright goofy.

October 5, 10:39 pm | [comment link]
12. Clueless wrote:

“constitutes an affront to the commitments for which a Christian church stands – honesty, charity, care for the witness of the Church’s unity.”

And those qualities, were always what was the best part of the Anglican ethos.  It is why we have all loved the Anglican church.  She was, above all else, a kindly witness for the Gospel.

Sin is spiritual madness.  This is like watching a beloved parent or friend aging into a demented, paranoid and kindless stranger.

October 6, 10:36 am | [comment link]
13. TomC wrote:

I seem to remember Bishop Howe being told by Archbishop Williams that, indeed, the diocese is a preeminent entity and, therefore, Central Florida should be comfortable with things because it had a bishop centered in the truth of Christ. Maybe I am wrong in remembering that when a number of churches were leaving the Diocese of Central Florida because of TEC’s issues.

October 6, 11:05 am | [comment link]
14. Connecticutian wrote:

Sarah, the irony is even more biting, and damning to TEC, when one recalls +Lawrence’s statement that he would “work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in the Episcopal Church as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping the Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.”
He has far exceeded them, and that has to sting.

October 6, 12:25 pm | [comment link]
15. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

A fine, short statement by Dr. Radner, especially that last paragraph that minces no words in rebuking the nefarious PB, who has presided over the worst dismantling of TEC in its entire history.  When even the noble and irenic ACI team gets so exasperated with the wretched TEC leadership that those fine scholars use such vehement language (though it’s still a lot milder than I’d use myself, but I’m not half so polite as Dr. Radner), well, then you know just how intolerable things have gotten.

Let me point out here, as I already did on SF, that this is the first publication by any of the ACI team since May 24th, when Dr. Turner posted his splendid essay on the Achilles Heel of TEC.  It’s certainly unusual, perhaps even unprecendented, that the ACI went for over four months without churning out any more additions to their massive collection of articulate and cogent essays relating to the Anglican crisis.  Well, they deserved a break after doing yeoman service for a number of years (and without pay, of course).

But maybe, just maybe, they had come to realize that all their hard work had sadly made very little practical difference in the outcome of events in the disintegrating Anglican world.  Now, I know, God has assured us, via Paul, that we are to “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.”  So I don’t want to suggest that all their arduous labors have been totally in vain.  And they will doubtless get their eternal reward someday from the Master.

But meanwhile, as grateful as many of us on the orthodox side are for their courageous and carefully reasoned witness, the fact remains that the Covenant on which they pinned all their hopes is virtually dead on arrival, a frail reed that can bear no weight when such moderate promates as ++John Chew and ++Mouneer Anis have finally abandoned all attempts at working with the current Instruments that have so spectacularly let us all down.  Maybe they’ve needed time to come up with Plan B.

Regardless, even if my speculations are off-based or just idle and useless, I am grateful for this forthright and devastating critique of this latest reckless move by the fanatical leadership of TEC.  As I’ve noted on a parallel thread, “there are none so illiberal as hardcore dogmatic liberal activists.”  There is indeed such a thing as the Fundamentalism of the Left, and I think it’s manifestly worse than the Fundamentalism of the Right.

I just hope that many of the Communion Partner bishops and rectors issue public statements in the days to come that are equally candid and courageous.  By now the handwriting on the wall should be plain for all to see, the self-deluded leaders of TEC will brook no opposition, loyal or otherwise.  Remember Martin Niemoller’s famous lament, “...Then they came after me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

David Handy+

October 6, 3:30 pm | [comment link]
16. Karen B. wrote:

David+, you wrote:

I just hope that many of the Communion Partner bishops and rectors issue public statements in the days to come that are equally candid and courageous.  By now the handwriting on the wall should be plain for all to see, the self-deluded leaders of TEC will brook no opposition, loyal or otherwise.  Remember Martin Niemoller’s famous lament, “...Then they came after me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

I too hope other orthodox bishops, clergy and lay men & women still within TEC will speak out.  But I confess I’m not optimistic.

Reading the article written by +Mark Lawrence a year ago, published in the Living Church and also the Beaufort Tribune, is a bit eerie… +Lawrence proved all too accurate in his “prophecy” of the continued indiscriminate “axe-swinging.”  Here’s part of what +Mark wrote:

The axe swinging to rid TEC of its troublesome clerics isn’t working. It is becoming an environmental disaster. The presiding bishop and her unelected chancellor intruding into diocesan independence; Title IV revisions that undercut due process and the constitutionally given right of a diocese’s ecclesiastical authority; depositions hurried for litigious convenience, while never addressing the deeper theological problems: all of these are strokes of the axe hacking at the stately grove of TEC. Just maybe, somewhere, an ecclesiastical John Muir will emerge, but if so, he’d better find his voice soon. For the sound that’s coming from TEC these days is the sound of falling trees.

from here: http://beauforttribune.com/archives/46307
(this article is included as page 38 of the 63 pages of attachments document the charges against +Lawrence).

And so, to speak out is very definitely to invite the axe.  I pray there will be those who will speak and act fearlessly for the sake of the Truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ anyway, as Tyndale and the other martyrs did.

October 6, 3:40 pm | [comment link]
17. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Karen B.,

You’re right that the stakes are higher than ever, so I’m not waging any large sums on how many CP bishops and rectors will speak up now, when they didn’t for Bob Duncan a few years ago.  But “hope springs eternal…”  I’d love to be surprised in this case.

David Handy+

October 6, 4:50 pm | [comment link]
18. c.r.seitz wrote:

#17—At SF you will see the response of +W-LA and others to Duncan’s ‘deposition’ via the link to ACI. It’s at the thread on ACI.

October 6, 6:43 pm | [comment link]
19. Sarah wrote:

NRA—I don’t know what you’re talking about.  As I recall there were stubborn and impassioned speeches from the floor of the HOB about Bishop Duncan.

There seems to be an awful lot of revisionist history going on.  What that tells me is that even when people did stand up for departing Episcopalians . . . some of the departers don’t seem to have noticed or cared.

October 6, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
20. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Dr. Seitz and Sarah,

You’re both right.  I’m sorry.  I was getting carried away by emotion, I guess.  I should’ve remembered that my own former bishop, Bill Love of Albany, was not least among those CP bishops who very publicly scolded their colleagues in the HoB for their outrageous and scandalous actions in deposing not only +Duncan, but also some retired bishops like +McBurney, retired bishops who posed no threat whatsoever with regard to leading a diocese or large numbers of Episcopalians out of TEC.

Of course, as a priest in the ACNA, I do have an axe to grind and a strong bias in these matters, which I freely concede.  My gripe, naturally, is that the CP bishops didn’t later back up their words with sufficient actions.  But regardless, we do need to keep the facts straight, and I did indeed misrepresent the historical facts in my comment above.

Just for the record, I remain deeply grateful for the courageous witness of orthodox Anglicans still within TEC.  I see the “inside” and “outside” witness as complementary, not as somehow mutually exclusive, although their strategies are incompatible.

Alas, it’s now all too clear, that the days are numbered when an inside witness is even possible within TEC.  The handwriting is now sadly on the wall for all the world to see, and it’s not in some strange language (as in Dan. 5).

Let’s face it.  The Titanic is going down.  Too many compartments in the hull have been pierced and the supposed unsinkable luxury liner is doomed to go down to the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker.  But I respect those who feel called to remain on board as long as possible, and even to go down with the ship, in order to rescue (or at least comfort) as many passengers as possible.  That is honorable and highly commendable.

Respectfully, and with some chagrin
David Handy+

October 7, 12:29 pm | [comment link]
21. pendennis88 wrote:

The ACI piece says:

“And unless we have entered a Kafkaesque realm of canonical jurisprudence, one cannot be found to have “abandoned” The Episcopal Church if one has unarguably complied fully with the Constitution and canons and one’s ordination vows. But this appears to be the realm in which Bishop Lawrence now finds himself.”

It is, and it should be no surprise.  Abandonment of communion as the actionable charge for the thought crime of associating with global south Anglican representatives has been so frequent a misuse of the canons in the clergy situation in the past that it is now the norm.

October 12, 11:14 am | [comment link]
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