The Diocese of South Carolina Formalizes Wordwide Anglican Ties at 2014 Convention

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South.

The convention’s nearly 400 delegates also voted to create a task force to explore more permanent affiliation options for the diocese. The task force will offer recommendations at the next Convention, which will be held next March.

Local critics of the Diocese’s 2012 separation from The Episcopal Church had said the disassociation would isolate the Diocese from the Global Anglican Communion. While the Diocese has maintained many informal relationships with organizations that are part of the communion, this formal primatial oversight arrangement makes clear that the Diocese is officially part of the greater Anglican Church.

“There’s an African proverb that wisely states ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,’ said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese, in his address to the Convention. “This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within in the Communion; one which includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* South Carolina

29 Comments
Posted March 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

Well done!

March 16, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
2. Sarah wrote:

Very cool!

March 16, 4:36 pm | [comment link]
3. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Yep, it was an unanimous vote for primatial oversight by the Global South primates council. Now, we will have to wait patiently and with trust as to exactly how this primatial oversight works. Interesting days ahead for the diocese!

March 16, 4:50 pm | [comment link]
4. tjmcmahon wrote:

This is, no doubt, a prayer answered for many in South Carolina.  I hope that ACNA accepts this humbly and recognizes that there is an opportunity here for us as well.  If nothing else, this is a case where ACNA should follow the lead of the GS.  Perhaps a good first step would be a moratorium on planting any more ACNA/PEAR/AMiA, etc. parishes within the boundaries of the Diocese of S. Carolina.

Now, lets pray that the ABoC sees the wisdom of what the GS is doing, and chooses to openly endorse it.  The train is leaving the station. If he doesn’t get on soon, he will be running down the tracks trying to catch it.

March 16, 8:05 pm | [comment link]
5. Luke wrote:

4.  Your first point is, I think, a very good one.

I doubt seriously your second point will come to fruition.

March 16, 9:36 pm | [comment link]
6. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Oddly enough, TJ, it was announced at our convention that one parish that has just joined us this year in the Diocese of SC is a former AMiA congregation that voted to join us.  Who knew? Anyway, Church planting should be for the spread of the kingdom and it does not matter whether AMIA, ACNA, Diocese of SC or REC or even another denomination does it. We all should be glad when a new Christian church is planted and the kingdom grows.

I do agree that Archbishop Welby would be wise to start understanding what is going on in the Global South.  Whether he wants to be “on the same train” he will have to decide for himself. The question becomes- Will he realize that his office could be an instrument of unity within the communion despite the ineffectual state of his office currently?  That could happen if and only if he comes around to the view of the Global South and realizes that the important relationship is the one where we stand with other faithful Anglicans in relationship to each other and our Lord Jesus Christ. THAT  is much more important than any historical relationship to the Church of England IMVHO.

March 16, 9:51 pm | [comment link]
7. Milton Finch wrote:

The one that, to me, seems to be anointed and wears the mantle cannot be questioned.  It is no doubt, Bishop Lawrence.  There.  I said it.  Preaching and people hearing and all that. 

IMVHO

March 16, 10:50 pm | [comment link]
8. Milton Finch wrote:

Welby accolades Schori.  Duncan photo bombs Baucham/Welby.  Lawrence gains Major Providential Oversight via Vast Majority of Anglican Communion.  This question honestly feels like the easiest multiple choice test of which I’ve ever been involved.

March 16, 11:15 pm | [comment link]
9. RobSturdy wrote:

I was happy to hear of such a unified diocesan convention in S.C. and pleased at the courtesy they extended to the Bishops of the ACNA to celebrate the Holy Communion with Bishop Lawrence.  Some of the comments here are, to say the least, interesting.

1) In the Diocese of the Carolinas our church planters compose their plant teams in partnership with area churches and grow their churches exclusively with non-Christians, unchurched, or dechurched.  In fact, we make them pledge not to poach active members from other churches, Anglican or otherwise.  Church planting for us is a work of evangelism.  We would equate a moratoria on church planting with a moratoria on evangelism.  This has not been a problem (thus far) between the ACNA Diocese of the Carolinas and the Dio of S.C.  In fact, St. Michael’s Church (Dio of S.C.) and the Dio of the Carolinas partnered to plant St. Thomas’ in Mount Pleasant with Rev. Hamilton Smith.  Over this past weekend, at Bishop Lawrence’s invitation some 20 Dio of S.C. churches signed up to work on remissioning with W. Bevins, team leader for Kardia, the Dio of Carolinas (ACNA) church planting and remissioning group.  Far from a moratoria, I would encourage Dio of S.C. and Dio of Carolinas to think of more collaborative initiatives, not less.
2)  It should be remembered that the Global South was instrumental in calling for the formation of the ACNA through GAFCON over six years ago.  Though separate entities there is significant overlap. In fact, Archbishop Duncan presided at the Holy Communion for the Global South to South encounter in Singapore. 
3)  Diocese of S.C. has provincial oversight through a province in the Global South.  The ACNA is a province recognized by the FCA and Global South. 

All that to say, it will do us very little good to pit the ACNA against the Dio of S.C.  Not only can it play fast and loose with the facts, but it also obscures the very nice season of shared mission and fellowship between these two groups.  I’m quite happy for the Dio of S.C. and they have my prayers as they discern a more permanent provincial affiliation.

March 17, 11:39 am | [comment link]
10. Sarah wrote:

RE: “it will do us very little good to pit the ACNA against the Dio of S.C.”

I’m not certain what that means.  It’s pretty much impossible for people not to take note of their preference for the identity and values and ethos of one entity over the other.  If that’s “pitting one against the other” than I guess that’s been going on for years now—as for example, what existed 6-7 years ago when the AMiA was around at fuller strength.  People preferred one over the other, despite the two’s existence within the same geographical borders.

The Diocese of SC has a lot of important decisions to make over the coming years and the fact is that various people have *competing* hopes for those decisions—that is, some hope that the Diocese chooses one thing over another and others, vice versa.

March 17, 11:50 am | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:

Just to be clear, I’m all for both entities—as well as the many Continuing Anglican churches in the state—to continue planting churches with all zeal wherever they please. There are plenty of available parishioners, seekers, Christians, and pagans with various beliefs/values/goals that can choose among the various church plants and parishes.

March 17, 11:52 am | [comment link]
12. RobSturdy wrote:

Sarah,

Thanks for the call for clarification.  Stating preference is certainly not what I had in mind, as it is a necessary thing and as I said, I’m very happy for the Dio of S.C.  What I meant was that I don’t see the need to (a) mischaracterize or disparage either group or (b) call for one group to cease its mission in favor of…what I don’t know.  As for competing interests, I certainly have my preferences but I’m not in the Dio of S.C. so my preferences will matter very little there.  My preferences for future affiliation aside, S.C. is full of competent, godly, wise Christians and I look forward to seeing them inhabit the future God is calling them into.

March 17, 12:19 pm | [comment link]
13. Ralph wrote:

I see SC’s decision to be very appropriate in the short-term, as they discern long-term options. They are affiliating with a body that nobody can say is not Anglican, and further TEC attack on a diocese formally associated with GFCA would be unwise.

Kudos to the lay and clergy leadership of this diocese.

March 17, 12:41 pm | [comment link]
14. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

“Diocese of S.C. has provincial oversight through a province in the Global South.”

The Global South Steering Committee announced the formation of a Provincial Oversight Council. The POC is not limited to a single Province’s oversight but spans the GS’s own constituency.

March 17, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
15. Catholic Mom wrote:

With all due respect, I, as an onlooker, wonder how “primatial oversight” of the Diocese of South Caroline by the Global South differs from the fiction of “primatial oversight” of AMIA by Rwanda?  By which I mean that the “oversight” seems to be intended to create credibility and a link to the larger Anglican Communion but does it actually involve any exercise of authority on the part of the Primates providing “oversight”?  In other words—exactly what does “oversight” consist of in this context?  If it means “fraternal affiliation” with no obligations whatsoever, why not call it that?

March 17, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
16. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

#15. I suspect, with due respect, you will have to be patient to see what those offering oversight will mean by it in more detail for those who have requested it in the Episcopal Diocese of SC (it would look different in other cases). For now you could have a look at the statements the GS Steering Committee itself refers to, where such a polity was under discussion and vote in past Primates Meetings. Your other language (‘fiction of “primatial oversight” of AMiA’ etc) is not so clear in what it conveys or what it means to contrast itself with. AMiA is in a state of flux at this time.

March 17, 5:25 pm | [comment link]
17. Catholic Mom wrote:

What I meant by “fiction” was that, based on my limited knowledge which has been obtained from what I’ve read here,  the AMiA was never under any real authority whatsoever except that of its American leaders.  And as soon as any actual oversight or exercise of authority was attempted by the Rwandans, the AMiA just walked away.  So I am asking if the Diocese of South Carolina is in the same relationship with the Global South—in other words, is it the case that the Global South will not actually exercise any authority or oversight over the actions of the Diocese of South Carolina whatsoever, and the Diocese of South Carolina will continue to be, effectively, completely autonomous?  And further, if this is indeed the case, why do they use the word “oversight” when they mean “nominal affiliation”?

March 17, 5:36 pm | [comment link]
18. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

Is the Episcopal Diocese of SC’s relationship to the GS Primates the same as AMiA was with Rwanda? Obviously not. Not materially, historically, or in almost any other way. The early history of AMiA involved 2 Provinces, went through two phases, lost one Province, saw the transition of 3 Primates in Rwanda, and is now where it is.

The only person using the language ‘nominal affiliation’ is, so far as I can tell, you.

ACI hosted the full range of GS Leadership in Toronto last Fall. You might try to read some of that material. It is available in numerous contexts.

March 17, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
19. SC blu cat lady wrote:

How exactly the offered/provided primatial oversight to the diocese will work, no one quite knows.  At his presentation on the Jerusalem Declaration, Kendall+ made it clear that the situation requires trust on our part as well as by the Global South primates. Trust- a very old fashioned virtue in this global age. However, this situation requires it.

March 17, 6:31 pm | [comment link]
20. Luke wrote:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said…“it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)

The answer will be forthcoming from the two participants, over time. Patience. It is not our concern, nor within our purview, to attempt to parse what these good folks are doing. They are comfortable with where they are, and I’m sure the Good Lord is pleased with them.

March 17, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
21. MichaelA wrote:

“The Convention recognized a number of individuals during the gathering.  Bishops from other denominations who participated in the opening worship service included: The Rt. Rev. David Bryan, Bishop Ordinary of the Southeast Network of PEARUSA, the North American missionary district of the Anglican Church of Rwanda; The Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Sr., Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Southeast Reformed Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev. Paul Hewitt-Diocese of the Holy Cross (Forward in Faith—Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas); The Rt. Rev. Steve Wood, Bishop of the Carolinas for the Anglican Church in North America, and The Most Rev.  Valentine Makiwa, Retired Archbishop of Tanzania. Bishop Lawrence thanked them for their partnership in the Gospel.”

Great to see.  One thing as Protestants we appreciate (or should appreciate) is the importance of real unity over institutional unity.  The latter is important, but must be built on the former. 

I do believe there will one day be a single Anglican jurisdiction in the USA (and also a single jurisdiction in Canada, whether or not it is the same one).  The precise shape that will take is not yet apparent, but however it turns out, the building of ties like these are its fundamental sinews.

March 18, 5:28 am | [comment link]
22. MichaelA wrote:

“I do agree that Archbishop Welby would be wise to start understanding what is going on in the Global South.  Whether he wants to be “on the same train” he will have to decide for himself. The question becomes- Will he realize that his office could be an instrument of unity within the communion despite the ineffectual state of his office currently?  That could happen if and only if he comes around to the view of the Global South and realizes that the important relationship is the one where we stand with other faithful Anglicans in relationship to each other and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Never a truer word, SC Blu Cat Lady.

March 18, 5:30 am | [comment link]
23. MichaelA wrote:

“They are affiliating with a body that nobody can say is not Anglican”

Ralph, whatever Dio SC does there will be people, probably many of them, who say that it is not Anglican.  In particular, many liberals hate Dio SC precisely because it stands for the truth. 

The same jibes that the liberals threw at Dio SC last month will still be thrown at it now.  The same jibes that they would have thrown at it if it joined ACNA will still be thrown at it now.

Best to make the decision on the basis of what is right, and don’t go chasing universal recognition or popularity.  Dio SC seems to be doing that, so support them for that reason.

March 18, 5:38 am | [comment link]
24. Ralph wrote:

GFCA is Anglican, without question. Any challenge would be ridiculous. In my opinion, ACNA is also Anglican, but that opinion can be, and has been, challenged.

It’s harder to say what DioSC became, after separating from TEC. In my opinion, Anglican. But an argument could be made that Bp Lawrence became an episcopus vagans upon the separation, even though a lot (I don’t know the number) of brother bishops continued to recognize his diocese as Anglican.

Does such recognition matter? Our ecclesiology, to the limited extent that I understand it, suggests that it does.

March 18, 10:39 am | [comment link]
25. Jeff Walton wrote:

A note about church planting: a rising tide lifts all ships. In Northern Virginia, the Falls Church was constrained in its ability to plant new churches because the Episcopal diocese required permission from existing parishes in the deanery. There was a fear that TFC would pull parishioners away from these parishes. Following the split and the planting of churches, most seem to be comprised of people recently relocated to the area or sent out from Falls Church. Anecdotally, I can only think of three people out of over 400 in my congregation that are recent transfers from local Episcopal parishes.

Separately, there were few vibrant church plants within the District of Columbia when I arrived in 2001 (there was one big Assemblies of God congregation, but that was about it in the city). Today, there are dozens of successful plants—Anglican, PCA, Assemblies, SBC, Etc—they are benefiting from each other’s ministry.

Contrary to TEC fears, church plants usually grow the church, not cannibalize it. Lifeway had a study 3-4 years ago showing that 40 percent of new believers enter the church through new plants. I’m thrilled that DioSC and the ACNA Diocese of the Carolinas are cooperatively planting - this will benefit everyone involved.

March 18, 11:14 am | [comment link]
26. SC blu cat lady wrote:

I agree Jeff Walton. Church plants should be considered God’s work and we need to check our pride at the door about what our little piece of the kingdom maybe doing.

March 19, 11:54 am | [comment link]
27. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

I’ve come late to the party, but let me add my hearty BRAVO to the brave and skillful leaders of the wonderful Diocese of SC, including their bold and admirable bishop.  And like SC blu cat lady, I too commend Jeff Walton of IRD, and RobSturdy earlier, for their stout defense of vigorous church planting everywhere, even in SC.

The fact is that thee are so many unchurched, unconverted folks out there, even in the Bible Belt or in Charleston itself, that worries about cannibalizing existing churches are largely groundless.  It’s like mice fighting over the carcass of an elephant.  Or the captains of two fishing boats worrying about whether the other boat will capture all the fish in the ocean.  Rob is right when he insists that positive attitudes mean everything.  Church growth isn’t a zero sum game, and a rising tide tends to lift all boats.  Indeed, a new church nearby can even galvanize a complacent older church into action, or inspire it by showing that many people are more open to the gospel than we might suppose.  The only real limit on what’s possible in terms of planting new churches that take root and thrive is the lack of skilled church planters who are up to the challenge.  To paraphrase the Master:  “The harvest is plentiful, but the church planters are few…

That being said, overlapping Anglican jurisdictions are a scandal.  I rejoice to see the new levels of cooperation and goodwill among the various Anglican groups in SC.  May that encouraging trend increase and spread throughout the continent.

David Handy+

March 19, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
28. Charles52 wrote:

Well, count this outsider evangelized by the unanimity and the joy displayed by the folks of South Carolina in this decision. After reading many comments by you folks, and the blogging John Burwell does from General Convention, and, of course, Kendall Harmon’s blog, one theme comes through, which is joy.  That bears witness to the world, and to your brothers and sisters outside of your own immediate family. God is blessing you and you are blessing us.

March 19, 5:22 pm | [comment link]
29. SC blu cat lady wrote:

#28. Even to a life long Episcopalian/Anglican like myself, the joy here in this diocese is palpable and quite amazing having not seen/experienced such traits in other places.  This diocese is a special place indeed! I am thankful to be here.

March 29, 5:55 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.




Next entry (above): (Local paper) Diocese of South Carolina accepts provisional oversight from Global South primates

Previous entry (below): A Prayer to Begin the Day

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)