Bishop Mark Lawrence—S.C. Diocesan Delegation Observers at ACNA’s Provincial Council

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many of you know I am at Nashotah House in Wisconsin at the Anglican Church in North America’s Provincial Council (which just concluded yesterday with a Festival Eucharist—an inspiring and joyful worship). This morning they will begin their House of Bishops Meeting. I am present as an observer. Joining me at the Provincial Council was The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson, Dean of the Cathedral, and Mrs. Suzanne Schwank, a member of our diocesan Standing Committee. They returned this morning to South Carolina and I will stay on for the House of Bishops Meeting and return on a late flight Friday in order to be at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center for its 75th anniversary this weekend.

As I told the Diocesan Council last month and said at various deanery gatherings, not to mention many parish forums, it has been my intention to attend various gatherings within what I’ve referred to as the Anglican Diaspora in North America to learn the various players and seek greater unity as may be appropriate. So when I met with Archbishop Robert Duncan at the recent New Wineskins Conference, he invited me to attend this Council as an observer and bring a delegation. This struck me as a good way to follow-up on my expressed intentions.

It has been an enlightening and, frankly, encouraging few days.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* South Carolina* Theology

27 Comments
Posted June 21, 2013 at 10:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Milton Finch wrote:

To me, it is a brilliant move not to associate at this time with anyone other than Christ.  That way, the courts cannot be told that the Diocese as been absconded with to any other jurisdiction other than the one founded pre-TEc.  Thanks be to God for Bishop Lawrence!

June 21, 12:04 pm | [comment link]
2. Chris wrote:

the reasons to affiliate with like minded Anglican brothers and sisters are to me rather apparent and obvious.  Besides the legal issue that Milton raises, what would be a reason (s) not to do this?

June 21, 2:27 pm | [comment link]
3. Marie Blocher wrote:

Chris,
I think it is a matter of discerning God’s will.

June 21, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
4. TomRightmyer wrote:

Once the courts have made their final decisions over the next several years and the Episcopal Church General Convention of 2015 elects a new Presiding Bishop will be soon enough for a long term resolution of the Anglican church(es) situation in North America.

June 21, 5:00 pm | [comment link]
5. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Besides the legal issue that Milton raises, what would be a reason (s) not to do this?”

From my perspective, while ACNA has some wonderful individuals in it, some of them friends of mine, the organization itself is intrinsically disordered and dysfunctional, from the deeply flawed canons and constitution, to the lack of due diligence in accepting partner and member parishes/clergy/bishops, to the “pointy hats for everybody” trend, to the blithely-asserted theological decisions, to the very very high percentages of clergy and bishops who are either 1) charismatic [and therefore experiential, which means we are treated to daily doses of the same kind of rhetoric we all came to know and love from TEC revisionists] or 2) low-church/seeker-sensitive/emergenty and completely disinterested in prayer books/hymnals/liturgy.

Various other alternate Anglican entities have equally unhealthy, deep flaws.

There’s been lots of conversation over the years about where people go who leave TEC—the comments and discussion at these threads are interesting:

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/42653/

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/41672/

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/40799/#453181

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/31820/

But at any rate, I don’t see why the Diocese of SC *would* join an alternate Anglican organization.  It is far healthier, more cohesive, stable, and ordered than any of the several options.  And of those options, the identity is “set” and there won’t be any changing it.  So whatever organization the Diocese of SC joined would merely suck the Diocese into its black hole.

That’s a pretty old organizational principle. An entity which joins an organization usually has little hope of “changing” or “improving” that organization, once the dye is set.  But there is every chance of the joining entity being brought down to the organization’s level.  I’d actually use the same principle for ACNA’s eventually being a part of the Anglican Communion, if it receives/accepts that.

My hope—speaking as a lay peon from the Upstate—is that the Diocese of South Carolina stands pat, grows in strength, and begins allowing mission parishes to enter its shelter from outside its diocesan borders.  Right now, there are plenty of Episcopalians who don’t consider ACNA an option, but most certainly see the Diocese of SC as one.

This is a huge opportunity for planting parishes and congregations and living into its long-time heritage as a diocese that pursues mission growth and outreach.

June 21, 6:51 pm | [comment link]
6. David Wilson wrote:

When is the regularly scheduled annual diocesan convention of the Diocese of South Carolina?

June 21, 7:12 pm | [comment link]
7. ClassicalChristian wrote:

I understand the hesitancy on the part of the Diocese of SC to join up with ACNA, but it needs to be said, pace Sarah1 and others, that the diocese *needs* to be in communion with the larger Church. One diocese does not make a church. I mean, how is the bishop to represent the Church to the diocese and the diocese to the Church (TWR), if he and the diocese are not institutionally connected to the larger Church through some synod? Sure, SC is “in communion” with Anglicans in Africa and elsewhere, but relationships with other Anglicans overseas are not such that they can provide the accountability, support, and practical resources, let alone regular personal presence, that a larger fellowship of believers here in this country can provide. When Bp. Lawrence decides to retire, is the diocese going to ship over bishops from oversees to consecrate a new bishop? That does not sound to me like a wise long-term strategy. My sense from SC is that they are not in any rush to unite with other Anglicans (for reasons Sarah1 articulates), but they do not intend to go it alone forever ans will eventually put in with some group. If I am mistaken in this, and they intend to be an independent diocese forever, I would think a lot less of the diocese than I do.

June 21, 11:40 pm | [comment link]
8. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: ” . . . the diocese *needs* to be in communion with the larger Church.”

Being a part of an organization doesn’t make them any more “in communion” with the larger Church than it is now. 

RE: “One diocese does not make a church.”  There is no reason for them to *remain* one diocese.  With their missionary heritage they could grow dioceses, just as they did more than a hundred years ago.

RE: “I mean, how is the bishop to represent the Church to the diocese and the diocese to the Church (TWR), if he and the diocese are not institutionally connected to the larger Church through some synod?”

I see no logistical problem with representing the Diocese to the Church and vice versa.

RE: ” . . . relationships with other Anglicans overseas are not such that they can provide the accountability, support, and practical resources, let alone regular personal presence, that a larger fellowship of believers here in this country can provide.”

First—they *do* have “a larger fellowship of believers here in this country”—within their diocese.  They have a very nice-sized diocese, and its ASA probably dwarfs that of any other diocese in ACNA.

Further, I sure didn’t hear much of the whole “don’t rely on relationships with other Anglicans overseas” back in 2000 when the AMiA was formed, or even back in 05 or 06 when various dioceses were affiliating directly with Anglican Communion provinces.  It was all the rage—until it wasn’t, and until the ABC put massive pressure on provinces to withdraw from those formal oversight connections.

RE: “When Bp. Lawrence decides to retire, is the diocese going to ship over bishops from oversees to consecrate a new bishop?”

That’s been the accepted MO for years.  Why stop it now?

RE: If “they intend to be an independent diocese forever” . . .

I see no reason why they should remain so even for ten years much less forever.  The ACNA is whipping out dioceses every six months or so, so there’s no reason why the Diocese of SC can’t whip out three dioceses within a ten year period, and hopefully with a higher requirement of congregations and ASA before such dioceses trot out and get a bishop.

June 22, 12:46 am | [comment link]
9. Ralph wrote:

I see ACNA as inherently unstable, since it’s made up of those who would depart a province over important matters of the Faith. In contrast, it seems that DioSC left TEC only when TEC malevolently forced them to do so.

The Current Unpleasantness, which includes denial of the authority of Holy Scripture and ancient core doctrines of Christianity, is of course important. But, in the past, the Church has faced many important matters of the Faith, and held together. With ACNA, I’m watching 3 things: 1) How will Anglo-Catholics fare? 2) How will the filioque tempest play out? 3) Will DioSC affiliate with ACNA?

The one ACNA group within a reasonable distance from me doesn’t seem to value traditional liturgical practice and music, or excellent preaching. A friend who visited an ACNA service conducted on the premises of a certain northern TEC seminary was astonished to hear BCP 1979 Rite I done informally, praise music with a “keyboard” and instrumentalists, and what he described as a tediously long sermon.

The filioque thread at Stand Firm has been quite entertaining.

As for DioSC, I see no need for it to affiliate with a province, until they hear and discern God’s call to do so. +Mark and his diocese seem to be aware that God speaks with patience, with a still, small voice. The devil starts softly, but then shrieks with urgency.

June 22, 6:33 am | [comment link]
10. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

From my perspective…the organization itself is intrinsically disordered and dysfunctional… to the “pointy hats for everybody” trend, to the blithely-asserted theological decisions… of clergy and bishops who are .... charismatic…and therefore experiential..  or low-church….

Reminds me of the verse in Jn. 1:46, “can anything good come from Nazareth”

Does the ACNA have flaws?  You betcha!  In fact, it’s chock full of sinners.  Is there massive room for improvement?  Yes.  Could it have been done better?  Yes. 

But of course, it need not exist at all except for the heretical melt-down of TEC.

Jn. 1:46,,,“Can anything good come from Nazareth”

From the just released Provincial report we learn: 300 new churches have been planted in ~3.5 years and while 1000 in 5 years is the goal and seems a stretch, the DNA for planting seems to have taken hold in ACNA.

New BCP and Catechism are getting closer to reality.  Both should be more faithful to the historic doctrines and traditions of the Church as well as the historic foundational precepts of Anglicanism.  We pray this will come to pass.

Four years of the Province are in the black from an operational financial standpoint.

For 2012, our congregations reported that 2,382 individuals were baptized and 1,758 were confirmed. For every two children baptized, one adult was baptized. Additionally, the number of adult confirmations in 2012 increased threefold compared to previous years. Finally, more than 1,900 conversions for Christ were reported for 2012.

Seven new dioceses approved and another is in formation [oh, oh, more pointy hats…...but more members too]

ACNA plans to send 130 delegates to GAFCON II.
—————————————

And while Bp. Lawrence should carefully consider what is best for his diocese, I hope his time at Nashotah as an observer was fruitful and thought provoking.  And who knows, maybe he learned something new while there.  And I hope he enjoyed the fellowship of some of the fine folks I know where there.

June 22, 9:56 am | [comment link]
11. Pb wrote:

been

June 22, 10:00 am | [comment link]
12. Pb wrote:

Much of what has been criticized in ACNA already exists in DSC. There is a active Cursillo Movement and seeker sensitive services are found there. But there is only one gospel. The growth speaks for itself.

June 22, 10:05 am | [comment link]
13. Sarah1 wrote:

Hi Capt. Father Warren, ACNA is great for people for whom it is great.  I’m sure that those within ACNA who are pleased with ACNA’s choices are happy.

But I think I answered adequately what some possible reasons would be for individuals or organizations to choose not to be a part of ACNA—and that was the question posed above.

RE: “Much of what has been criticized in ACNA already exists in DSC.”

I don’t think the diocese itself is intrinsically disordered and dysfunctional, I don’t think it has deeply flawed canons and constitution, I don’t think it has thus far lacked due diligence in accepting partner and member parishes/clergy/bishops, I don’t think it’s got a “pointy hats for everybody” problem, I don’t think it offers blithely-asserted theological decisions, and I don’t think it has very very high percentages of clergy and bishops who are either 1) charismatic [and therefore experiential, which means we are treated to daily doses of the same kind of rhetoric we all came to know and love from TEC revisionists—and “Cursillo,” which I have attended, doesn’t hold a candle to what I’m talking about] or 2) low-church/seeker-sensitive/emergenty and completely disinterested in prayer books/hymnals/liturgy.

So no . . . not much at all like ACNA.

RE: “The growth speaks for itself.”

Not at all.  I’m familiar with some of the congregations that would be counted as a part of the 300 church plants.  And so are a whole lot of other people.  I’m indifferent to such definitions of “growth” and of course, if we’re going to make decisions based on “growth,” even if we all agreed on what type of growth we consider to be valid “growth,” then we may as well trot on over to some other options entirely.

The Diocese of SC has an unbelievable heritage and history of stability, order, liturgical worship, missionary zeal, faithful, reasoned, thoughtful theology, and so much more.  I hope that they reproduce many more such dioceses like them—and that will be far far far more difficult tethered to a vastly less stable, ordered, functional, healthy organization that has made many bad decisions [again, not in the eyes of some of its members] that have set its identity at the foundational level.  I understand that many people quite like those decisions, and that’s fine—but that simply reveals why those Anglicans who are appalled at such decisions shouldn’t be residing together in one organization with those who are pleased with those decisions.

June 22, 12:00 pm | [comment link]
14. Pb wrote:

I agree with much that has been said and was apparently misunderstood. My DSC congregation contains members from other traditions, “charismatics”, evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics, Calvinists, former Roman Catholics and others. We are united in our effort to spread the good news of the gospel. My point was that ACNA is probably made up of a similar mix. The assertion that a church which is seeker sensitive abhors tradition and liturgy is the equivalent of the the war on women charge. This can be as simple as printing the liturgy so that new comers may more easily participate. Forming a committee of newcomers to share their experiences and make recommendations as to how do a better job. My congregations has four different services to serve different needs. Finally, I would note that previous commentators have seen the growth in DSC and positive and not a problem. One of our congregational statements of belief is that healthy things grow.

June 22, 12:51 pm | [comment link]
15. Chris wrote:

I sense a “let the perfect be the enemy of the good” mindset with ACNA.  These are solid Christian people, so many of them are our friends as well.  Long term it would seem rather strange to not be formally aligned.  I’ll try to canvass tomorrow (St. Luke’s HHI) to see what others think.

June 22, 1:05 pm | [comment link]
16. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “My point was that ACNA is probably made up of a similar mix.”

I agree—but not in the same percentages.  In the old days, TEC was made up of 1) broad church liberals, 2) charismatics [not speaking about Cursillo here], 3) evangelicals, 4) Southern Formals, 5) low church seeker/emergenty/don’t like liturgy/etc, 6) AngloCatholics, and 7) raving revisionist activists.  Obviously, the *percentages* of those groups is now wildly different in TEC, and of course in ACNA.  Revisionist activists are in massive ascendancy in TEC.  And I’ve already mentioned which groups I see in massive ascendancy in ACNA.

RE: “The assertion that a church which is seeker sensitive abhors tradition and liturgy . . . “

I agree—but I did not make such an assertion.  That is why the segment to which I referred encompassed *all* the criteria: low-church/seeker-sensitive/emergenty and completely disinterested in prayer books/hymnals/liturgy.  Certainly a church may be “low-church” or “seeker-sensitive” and *not* be completely disinterested in prayer books/hymnals/liturgy.  But I wasn’t referring to *merely* “low-church” or “seeker-sensitive.”

June 22, 1:12 pm | [comment link]
17. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “I sense a “let the perfect be the enemy of the good” mindset with ACNA.”

Not from me you don’t.  You merely see a person who doesn’t like the foundational decisions that ACNA has established as a part of its identity.  Some people do—and they think ACNA is “good enough.”  Others don’t.

RE: “These are solid Christian people, so many of them are our friends as well.”

Here I completely agree.  I have good friends in ACNA whom I respect greatly. We have good conversations about these issues.

RE: “Long term it would seem rather strange to not be formally aligned.”

To some, who either value ACNA’s decisions and identity as an organization, or don’t have enough information about them.

But it doesn’t seem strange to me at all, nor to many of my friends.  It would seem strange—and sad—for a formal alignment to occur at all, rather than the opposite.

Obviously the Diocese of South Carolina will do what it wills and as its leadership discerns.  I’ll be very sorry if it chooses unwisely [in my opinion], but that’s the freedom that we all have here in this country, and each individual and organization must do its own research, and make decisions in keeping with its own identity and foundational values.  If the Diocese of SC thinks that joining ACNA *is* in keeping with that identity and foundational values, I’ll certainly be sorry and believe it to be a mistake it will come to regret, but that will be their choice.

June 22, 1:19 pm | [comment link]
18. Cennydd13 wrote:

I would respectfully remind everyone that we of the ACNA would never have left TEC if it hadn’t been for the fact that we felt we had no choice but to leave their apostasy and heresy behind us, and I know I’m going to catch some flak for having said that.  Sure, we have problems that we need to work through, and I feel confident that we will do just that, but probably not to everyone’s satisfaction.  We can’t satisfy everyone, after all.  We serve the Lord, and HE alone will be the Judge.

June 22, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
19. Cennydd13 wrote:

Oh, and I didn’t mention that I’m a Cursillista, did I?

June 22, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
20. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Heh, heh, you did now.  As a former cradle-Episcopalian, it was a long and difficult decision for me to leave TEC and to renounce my orders.  And yes Cennydd 13 the ACNA is not perfect nor close to it.  But I for one appreciate that I don’t have to pay any attention to the ravings of the heretics at 851, worry about bizarre disciplinary canons, nor wonder if my bishop will have heartburn tomorrow and then decide to be for gay marriage [excuse me, same-sex-blessings].  And although we have had some adverse publicity in ACNA for a few things, at least no bishops I know of have been in gay pride parades and no one in the clergy has announced how abortion is such a blessing.  I still have lots of lay and clerical friends in TEC and I pray for them all daily because I know they are fighting the good fight under duress.  I just woke up one day and finally realized, God was calling me to do other things with the time he has given me in this part of His good Creation.

June 22, 6:46 pm | [comment link]
21. Cennydd13 wrote:

Well said!

June 22, 7:24 pm | [comment link]
22. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “I still have lots of lay and clerical friends in TEC and I pray for them all daily because I know they are fighting the good fight under duress.”

Thank you for these words.  I am also very happy—and have been from the beginning—that people who 1) believed they were required in conscience and by the will of God to leave TEC and 2) wanted to worship in an Anglican organization with their common foundational values were able to form ACNA.  There were plenty of conservatives who stated they didn’t understand why there needed to be the formation of a “divisive” ACNA and or why people needed to “jump the gun” on possible Communion discipline by the ABC [heh], but it was clear to me that it had to happen for those conservative Anglicans who had certain values and theologies.  Though it’s not an organization that is right for me and a lot of others I know in TEC, I am happy that it is right for others and that they have a place to go.

June 22, 9:30 pm | [comment link]
23. Cennydd13 wrote:

There are those whom I know who believe that things might change for the better in TEC once the current PB leaves office in 2015, but is anyone willing to bet that this will happen?  In all candor, I submit that it will happen when pigs learn to fly.

June 22, 11:26 pm | [comment link]
24. SC blu cat lady wrote:

David#6. Our (Diocese of South Carolina) regular annual convention happens in either late February or March- more often March. This year’s convention was in March (8-9th) in Florence. Usually there is a Friday night eucharist followed by the convention on Saturday.

June 24, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
25. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Agree with you Cennydd. When pigs fly! I suspect things will continue down the road in TEC to eventual irrelevance.

June 24, 11:35 pm | [comment link]
26. David Wilson wrote:

#24 Thanks for responding to my #6.  I would expect there may be a vote taken at the SC Diocesan Convention in March.  As for those conservatives that have stayed in TEC “to fight the good fight”—most of them have turned turtle.  The so-called Communion bishops with the exception of Mark Lawrence have either been silent or have caved to Schouri’s conciliation panel.  Ephriam Radner and Philip Turner are the only clergy to take a stand.  The conservatives in my old Diocese of Pittsburgh (TEC) are so compromised that the diocese is about to approve SSBs.  It already has approved of gay ordinations. So much for the Little Stone Bridges strategy.  I cannot fathom why any Christian would remain in TEC.  It is toxic.

June 25, 7:23 am | [comment link]
27. SC blu cat lady wrote:

David Wilson,
Perhaps but there would need to be a lot of info given to parishes so delegates could consider what to do and how to vote. Truthfully, I don’t see that happening next March but I could be wrong. I would expect the Diocese of SC to make a decision in the next few years but we won’t know until happens. Remember this is the south and the diocese disaffiliated once before during the “Late Unpleasantness” and remained outside PECUSA for several years.  No matter when it happens, it will only happen in convention. This will not be an one person decision. never.

June 28, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
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