Bishop Lawrence Meets with Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina Following General Convention

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Note that this post was made "sticky" at the top of the blog for a good while in the summer of 2012.
Dear Brother and Sister Clergy,

On Wednesday, July 25th, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence met with the clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina at St. Paul’s Church, in Summerville, to discuss decisions made at General Convention 2012 and their significance for us as a diocese. In particular, he shared the address he made to the House of Bishops, while in executive session, announcing his decision to depart from Convention with five members of our deputation.

The central purpose of his presentation to the Bishops was to convey his understanding that with the passage of Resolutions D002 and D019 (making all possible variations of “gender identity and gender expression” protected categories in the canons of the church), and the adoption of authorized provisional rites to bless same gender relationships, the doctrine, discipline and worship of this church have been profoundly changed.

He told the Bishops that the magnitude of these changes was such that he could no longer in good conscience continue in the business of the Convention. In fact, he was left with the grave question of whether he could continue as a bishop of an institution that had adopted such changes. It was with that question on the table that he took his leave from the House of Bishops.

Since that time, and in the gathering of the Diocesan Clergy, the Bishop stated that he believes the Episcopal Church has crossed a line he cannot personally cross. He also expressed to the clergy that though he might act one way if he were a priest in a diocese, as a Bishop he feels deeply his vow before God to faithfully lead and shepherd the Diocese of South Carolina. Both dimensions of this dilemma weigh upon him at this time.

The Bishop has asked for a period of grace as he prayerfully seeks the face of the Lord, and asks for God’s direction (Psalm 27:7-9,14 or BCP Ps 27: 10-13, 18). He left yesterday evening, July 29, to begin several weeks of vacation. It will be a time spent on mountaintops and in deserts where the Bishop will seek refreshment and discernment. Upon his return at the end of August he will meet with the Standing Committee and the clergy of the diocese to share that discernment and his sense of the path forward.

In the interim, the Bishop has asked that we hold this process in our prayers and pledge that there will be “no golden calves” or departures during his absence. Those present heartily agreed to both requests. He would also encourage the clergy as they are able to gather in deaneries for prayer and intercession. I commend the prayers below as pillars around which to order your prayers for the Diocese in the coming weeks.

--(The Rev. Canon) Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

FOR BISHOP LAWRENCE:
O Father, give to our Bishop Mark, in the midst of the stresses of his position, a daily renewal in your presence, that upheld in your peace, enlightened by your Word, and strengthened by your grace, he may be a true shepherd, enabling your church to fulfill the mission you have given us, for Jesus’ sake. AMEN.

FOR THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE:
Almighty and everlasting God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift; send down upon our bishops and clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful spirit of your grace; and, that they may truly please you, pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

FOR THE PARISHES OF THE DIOCESE:
Almighty and ever living God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for our parish families. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF THE DIOCESE:
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. AMEN.

FOR THE DAYS AHEAD:
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Almighty God, give us a new vision of you, of your love, of your grace and power; and then give us a new vision of what you would have us to do as your church in this nation at this time, and an awareness that in the strength of your Spirit we can do it, to your glory, in Jesus name. AMEN.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC Bishops* AdminFeatured (Sticky)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

25 Comments
Posted July 31, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks for posting this, Kendall.  I will be one of many outside the diocese seeking to hold up Bp. Lawrence and the whole diocese in prayer in the coming days and weeks.  There is no finer bishop, nor a stronger diocese, in TEC.

Regardless of whatever decisions may eventually be made, I’m confident that +Lawrence and the SC diocese will steadfastly continue to make biblical Christians in a global age.

Alas, our foes on the left have no idea of the seriousness of the actions taken in Indianopolis.  +Lawrence is absolutely right that a fateful line has been crossed, and it’s impossible to continue with business as usual, as if nothing had changed.  I can only hope that other faithful bishops like Bill Love in Albany, Jim Stanton in Dallas, Greg Brewer in Orlando, or Dan Martins in Springfield, will display similar courage and stellar leadership.

David Handy+

July 31, 9:58 am | [comment link]
2. Henry wrote:

I’m glad to see +Lawrence has a clear understanding of what has happened and its magnitude…I only wish there were more like him.  Prayers ascending for the good bishop as he tries to discern God’s will for him.

July 31, 11:23 am | [comment link]
3. Karen B. wrote:

I so appreciate the stand Bp. Lawrence is taking and his call to prayer.  I will be joining in with all those praying for God’s clear guidance for +MJL and the Diocese.

I can relate well to being in a season of discernment.  We have undergone much change in our team and ministry in recent months, and there is much I need to hear from God about the way ahead.  So, as I pray for myself to be able to still my heart and be quiet before the Lord and listen for His voice in the days and weeks of August, I will be praying the same for +Mark and all the leadership of the Dio. SC.

I love these words of the prayer for Bp. Mark:
...a daily renewal in your presence, that upheld in your peace, enlightened by your Word, and strengthened by your grace,...

Amen and amen.  I may just include part of this prayer in my next prayer letter as my heart reads those words and says “YES, this is EXACTLY what I need and should be asking people to pray for me, and my teammates!”

July 31, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
4. Ad Orientem wrote:

This is very significant news. I have wondered how long before Bishop Lawrence came to the conclusion that TEO has gone beyond the point of recall. While he hasn’t (for very understandable reasons) declared that he is bolting from TEO, he has made it clear that such is now under consideration.

If he takes SC out of TEO where would he/they go? The only realistic destination I can see is the ACNA. Perhaps someone thinks otherwise.

And what I wonder is going on in 815 today? A speculative guess would be that the phone lines to their lawyers are burning up. And maybe someone is trying to figure out if they can depose him quickly to forestall South Carolina’s possible secession.

July 31, 2:57 pm | [comment link]
5. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

No. 4,
Who knows? I imagine 815 has already gamed out contingency plans for something like this. After +Lawrence called their hands on previous attempts, I think the ball is in his court. Until he does something one way or another, I doubt 815 will try anything overtly. My only concern is that they will try something underhanded while he’s on vacation. Given their penchant for scorched earth policy, I wouldn’t put it past them.

July 31, 3:17 pm | [comment link]
6. Country Vicar wrote:

Although I have viewed this site for quite some time, this is is first time that I have joined in the conversation.  Over the last several years, I have watched with great dismay the direction that the Episcopal Church has taken.  Bishop Lawrence expresses my sentiments—a line has been crossed.  As a serving priest, my heart and my soul ache.

July 31, 4:19 pm | [comment link]
7. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Perhaps someone thinks otherwise.”

Quite a few of us in TEC hope that, should they leave, they will sit tight and not join anything, as they would make a credible, functional, and healthy “center that holds” for others, not to mention that they would be stronger on their own rather than attempting to become a part of alternate organizations that already have their own settled identities which are quite quite different and far weaker and less healthy.

July 31, 4:58 pm | [comment link]
8. David Wilson wrote:

Sarah:

Are you saying the Diocese of SC is quite different, far stronger and healthier than the ACNA?  If so, please explain as these are very provocative assertions if that’s what you are saying.

David Wilson

July 31, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
9. The_Elves wrote:

Commenters are encouraged to avoid getting over excited and from indulging in off-topic or lurid speculation but to stick to the thread topic bearing in mind the appeal for grace which it contains - thanks - Elf

July 31, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
10. The_Elves wrote:

#6 Welcome to the world of commenting and to Titus One Nine, Country Vicar.

July 31, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
11. David Hein wrote:

DioSC is in an awfully tough situation; I wish them well.

July 31, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
12. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Are you saying the Diocese of SC is quite different, far stronger and healthier than the ACNA?”

Well actually—far stronger and healthier than *any* alternate Anglican entity, of which there are quite a variety. I’m not certain why we should limit ourselves to only the ACNA.

I explained my specific thoughts about ACNA—as I have done for some years now and in various other places in the blogosphere—over on this thread:
http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/42653/

I recognize that many think that the Diocese of SC joining another Anglican entity is a “realistic assumption”—I’m just being clear, as I’ve been for many years now—that I don’t think it is.

I have no intentions of trying to convince anyone of anything—or of engaging in a skirmish over it on this thread—simply to communicate clearly what I believe.

I don’t mean to indulge in “lurid speculation”—of course I have all sorts of hopes and preferences, but at least half of those are more about my own convenience, though some are about the Diocese of SC’s health and identity.

I hope that Bishop Lawrence and the clergy and laity of the Diocese will be able to discern and follow God’s will.

It’s certainly sad that the national structures of TEC and our current leadership don’t believe or promote the Gospel. All of those who believe the Gospel in TEC will hurt because of that—there are present consequences to us for the actions of these leaders.

July 31, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
13. MichaelA wrote:

“Alas, our foes on the left have no idea of the seriousness of the actions taken in Indianopolis.  +Lawrence is absolutely right that a fateful line has been crossed, and it’s impossible to continue with business as usual, as if nothing had changed.”

Fr Handy is right.  Dio SC and its bishop have not said what they will do, and there is no point speculating at this time. 

But what is clear, is that many Episcopalians at all levels and all over the country have been profoundly affected by the foolish and short-sighted actions of the delegates at GC.  There are already credible reports of congregations packing bags and handing the keys of the church to their bishop.  In all likelihood there will be more, and for every congregation that leaves there will be other individuals or congregations who stay, but drastically change the way they relate to their diocese and province.

How could the leadership of a national church get it so wrong?  Its one thing to disagree with your members - its entirely another to be entirely unaware that many of them will disagree so profoundly with your actions that they are prepared to take very drastic action in response to it. 

These “leaders” don’t know the first thing about leadership.

July 31, 11:51 pm | [comment link]
14. Sherri2 wrote:

I imagine there are many parishes and individuals going through their own discernment right now. Praying for the Diocese of South Carolina, which has been a beacon for many of us, and for all who are seeking guidance through these rough waters of change.

August 1, 7:57 am | [comment link]
15. David Wilson wrote:

Sarah

I wasn’t trying to entice you into a skirmish but wanted you to clarify what I thought was a provocative post.  Thank you for doing so.
BTW, your post came to me in email but somehow didn’t make it on the T-19 blogsite?
David

August 1, 8:07 am | [comment link]
16. Sarah wrote:

Well, I guess there was something in it that either Kendall or the elves didn’t want posted—hard to believe it was off-topic since you’re commenting away and AO and your original comments are still there.

[On the basis of David Wilson’s comment #15 that this will not be taken further, Sarah’s original comment has been restored.  This thread is not about the merits and demerits of alternative Anglican bodies - although there may in an appropriate thread be a place for that, it is not here.  Please would all commenters not divert this thread off topic and observe our requests clearly stated at #9 - thanks - Elf]

August 1, 8:41 am | [comment link]
17. Jill Woodliff wrote:

A new prayer for a new day.  God is good.

August 1, 9:29 am | [comment link]
18. Albany+ wrote:

Radner’s+ “After the Fall” requires a prayerful read.  There is no place to go, no righteous evasion of judgment. “All Israel… .”

“Feed my sheep… .”

[link: After the Fall - Elf]

August 1, 9:34 am | [comment link]
19. Jill Woodliff wrote:

South Carolinians, I know very little about your diocese.  If there are musicians writing new music, please encourage them to compile it and share it with a wider audience.  It will be a blessing.

August 1, 10:38 am | [comment link]
20. MichaelA wrote:

Jill, at #19, very good point.

August 1, 7:02 pm | [comment link]
21. CBH wrote:

The weight of the sins of the Church (and ourselves) weigh heavily upon us all – every day of our prayerful lives.  Dr. Radner’s recent piece was a beautiful offering to help all bear that weight and persevere. And it was Bonhoffer who said, He who believes does not flee. Yet, I would imagine from my own experience that it is the discord and rancor from within the local family of parish individuals that wound so deeply the heart of Bishop Lawrence and those of who support him and defend the faith.  As an outsider in a much more difficult situation than the Diocese of SC, to catch glimpses of disloyalty and lack of gratitude within Bishop Lawrence’s own community of Christians wounds most deeply my heart.  To not have the eyes to see and the ears to hear so great a defender of souls is occasionally quite terrifying. 
  The “line” we have been warned of has been crossed and actually has been crossed for years. Those of faint heart and mushy thinking do not stop to realize that with each new stripping of the “onion skin” of secular expedience, we are soon to arrive at the core - and that core is the very essence and being of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
  From the 1960’s forward we of my generation have much for which to be repentant.  May God forgive us and mightily defend and befriend his servents who labor to protect our souls.

August 2, 7:42 am | [comment link]
22. Karen B. wrote:

Jill has very helpfully posted a compilation of all the recent prayers for South Carolina which have been posted at Lent & Beyond here:

http://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/collection-of-prayers-for-south-carolina-and-the-faithful-remnant/

One of the prayers she linked was from a post I wrote back in October 2011, a prayer based on Psalm 36, especially vs. 9 “in your light, we see light.” I’d forgotten about that blog entry, but I was very glad to reread it today.  It seems an apt prayer as Bishop Lawrence and others in South Carolina are in a season of discernment.  Additionally, my colleagues and I here in Africa are also in a period of waiting on the Lord for guidance as well in regards to direction for a new season of ministry. So, I’m very glad to have “rediscovered” this prayer I wrote 10 months ago!  Thanks Jill! wink

Lord Jesus, may Bishop Mark Lawrence and all the diocesan leaders in South Carolina rejoice in You as their fountain of life today, as the wellspring of truth and joy. May Your light be their light as they stay in close fellowship with You, being quick to throw off any sin that hinders or entangles. You promise that Your Word is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path. Enlighten the eyes, minds, hearts and path of Bishop Lawrence and all in the diocese of South Carolina. As they meditate on Your Word would Your light flood their hearts and guide their steps. In Your light that the darkness can never overcome, may they see light, light that brings clarity and truth in the midst of confusion and obfuscation. Amen.

August 6, 8:33 am | [comment link]
23. MisterDavid wrote:

Greetings all - I’m new here.

Having recently moved to the States and to SC, it has been a pleasure and a relief to find myself under such a good bishop: humble, graceful, clear-minded, pastoral - so many boxes to tick.

Part way through General Convention, with all thatbhe was up against, I decided to email him, just to say what a privilege it is to be under his leadership. And in the midst of all that was going on, he sent me a lovely reply.

What a good man. Let’s not tire in our prayers for him.

August 7, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
24. The_Elves wrote:

Amen.  Welcome to Titus One Nine MisterDavid.

August 8, 12:05 am | [comment link]
25. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Jill,
As you asked about South Carolinians writing new music,  I must mention well known composer, Robert J. Powell.  A native of Mississippi but Bob has lived in SC for over 40 years. Bob is now retired but still composing new music and taking commissions. BTW,  Bob just celebrated his 80th B-day in late July.

At the other end of the age spectrum is our 18 year old music ministry intern who will be going off to USC (that is University of South Carolina) soon to study organ performance at their music school. He has also written some music. A choral piece or two as well as new organ music.  Let me know privately via SFIF pm system if you want more info on either.

August 13, 9:06 am | [comment link]
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