Global South Primates Steering Comm. Recognizes Mark Lawrence’s Oversight in S.C.and the Communion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, received a letter of support, dated December 14, 2012, from the Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion. The show of support, signed by The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East; The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria; The Most Revd Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean; The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia; The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar; The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone recognizes Bishop Lawrence's Episcopal orders and his legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican PrimatesEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & CanonsGlobal South Churches & Primates* Theology

Posted December 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

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1. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

I would submit that the expedient misuse of renunciation canons has the canonical downside, with the Communion at large, of defining Orders in TEC as ‘TEC special’ and so not remotely catholic (defying the logic of the BCP). So the PB renounces orders of Bishops from TEC and the wider Communion says this is effectively nonsensical.

December 16, 8:22 pm | [comment link]
2. David Hein wrote:

In short, a hell of a mess, with likely more problems caused than solved.

December 16, 9:29 pm | [comment link]
3. montanan wrote:

A quote from The Clash in their song, Should I Stay or Should I Go:

If I go there will be trouble,
and if I stay it will be double.

It can be found here.

December 16, 9:54 pm | [comment link]
4. David Hein wrote:

And the default setting of “Episcopal” (when, I assume, “episcopal” was meant) suggests the ambiguity and confusion of the whole business.

December 16, 10:10 pm | [comment link]
5. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

I read this as an extremely important statement, one of a number [the most recent of which is this one in October].  It is worth going through the carefully crafted and diplomatically expressed language very carefully:

We, the Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion

This is not just the statement of seven Global South Primates, but it is a statement from those Primates in their capacity of Primates serving on the Steering Committee of the Global South Provinces, and the Global South movement which bears its name.  They write for and on its behalf.  It includes the whole of the Global South Movement including the Gafcon Movement and the non-Gafcon Provinces of the Global South which comprise the majority of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

[We] were very sad to hear that the Presiding Bishop of TEC has interpreted your address to the Diocesan Convention on 17 November 2012 as a renunciation of your ordained ministry

We noted what the Presiding Bishop said but we give her word and her interpretation no credibility.

We want to assure you that we recognize your Episcopal orders

Further we do not recognize her authority to remove your orders as a priest or your orders as bishop.  We regard her act as a nullity and we are going to ignore it, and her.

...and [we recognize] your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.

Moreover, firstly we continue to recognise you and your diocese as the only bishop and Diocese of South Carolina; secondly we recognise only you and the Diocese of South Carolina as the only bishop and Diocese of South Carolina in the Anglican Communion and in communion with us and the Communion.

You and your Diocese of South Carolina are in the thoughts and prayers of all our congregations and our colleagues in the Global South.

We assure you we speak for all our congregations and our colleagues in the Global South in what we have said above and for all of us express our solidarity with you by assuring you of our continuing thoughts and prayers.

Please be assured of our prayers and support.


The Global South Primates do not speak often, but when they do, it is carefully and deliberately, and their words need to be taken note of carefully.  They are saying they do not recognize the Presiding Bishop’s authority to determine that Bishop Lawrence has resigned his orders, or indeed his Episcopal Orders.  They do not recognize the Presidng Bishop’s authority to remove him from ordained or episcopal ministry.  They do not recognize the Presidng Bishop’s authority to inhibit or remove Bishop Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina or to reconstitute an alternative group claiming to be the Bishop and Diocese of South Carolina.  They recognize him and the Diocese of South Carolina with him as bishop as the only bishop and Diocese of South Carolina in the Anglican Communion.  They recognise him and the Diocese of South Carolina with him as bishop as being in full and continuing communion with them.

What is left open is how these arrangements might be expressed more formally in the future, perhaps in some extra-provincial arrangement, but in the meantime they make clear that the Diocese of South Carolina stands in its own right as recognized and in communion with them.

That is I am afraid, just what happens, when people lose all confidence in an officer of an institution’s truthfulness and conduct; just like Matilda no one believes or takes seriously the Presiding Bishop when she and her lawyers from Goodwin Proctor tell such dreadful lies.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

December 17, 1:27 am | [comment link]
6. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Bravo! faithful Global South Primates.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

December 17, 1:33 am | [comment link]
7. Cennydd13 wrote:

Pageantmaster, I am surprised that you didn’t include a reference to a non-recognition of Jefferts Schori’s holy orders along with the comments about her authority to determine that +Lawrence had “resigned” from his.  I do suspect that they may indeed get around to that sooner or later.  And since the ACNA is affiliated with GAFCON and the Global South, I believe that it’s reasonable to say that we are also allied with +Lawrence in spirit.  +Mark Lawrence served a parish in Bakersfield here in the Diocese of San Joaquin before he was elected Bishop of South Carolina, and I remember him very well.  He has many friends here.

December 17, 1:46 am | [comment link]
8. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#7 Cennydd - most of the Global South remains out of or impaired communion with much of TEC and its Presiding Bishop.  This won’t have helped them at all.

We are all in Communion with Bishop Lawrence and the wonderful Diocese of South Carolina.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

December 17, 1:54 am | [comment link]
9. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

It looks like quite a lot of the Communion is sending KJS to Coventry.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

December 17, 1:59 am | [comment link]
10. MichaelA wrote:

Also good to see that orthodox Anglicans around the world are supporting each other against liberal oppression.

And its not just the Global South (although as PM points out at #5, the GS by itself accounts for more than half the provinces in the Anglican Communion). 

Prominent leaders also attend the Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston each year, including many from western provinces, notably England.

December 17, 3:10 am | [comment link]
11. Stephen Noll wrote:

It seems to me this statement is a channel marker of a current that has been flowing over the past 15 years outside the official Lambeth establishment: the formation of an alternative voice of authority in the Anglican Communion. Let’s call it “the emerging Communion.” Note the following features explicit or implicit in the letter:

Independent : The Global South Primates through their Steering Committee are acting as an independent authority without reference to any of the four official “Instruments.” They have not formulated this letter as an appeal to Canterbury or the Primates’ Meeting or the ACC Secretariat and Standing Committee; indeed they seem not even to have copied the latter bodies.

In recognizing DSC outside the procedures of the ACC Articles and the Canons of TEC, they are in a real sense suspending their obligations under in these procedures of the former and over-riding the duly enacted canons of one of the latter.

Conciliar: They are writing as a council of bishops, with the sense to do so is more authoritative than a number of independent statements. In recognizing a single bishop and diocese, they could be seen as setting a precedent for understanding the diocese as the fundamental unit of Anglican polity. However, they are speaking as Primates of provinces, and it seems unlikely they would wish to recognize breakaway dioceses within their own boundaries. Therefore I think it is best to understand this case as an exceptional expedient.

Recognition: They are using “recognition” as the means of establishing communion among Anglican churches, in line with Orthodox practice (see also Lambeth 1930).

Confessional: The Primates do not mention the back story of heterodoxy in TEC, though Bishop Lawrence has made it quite clear that this is the basis of DSC’s actions, but the theological rift is implicit in their action and has been articulated elsewhere (e.g. the GAFCON Statement). Surely, they would not recognize a rogue liberal diocese that left TEC because it had not gone far enough in implementing the revisionist agenda.

There are many unclarities facing the Global South movement and GAFCON/FCA, but the fact that a new Communion is emerging seems undeniable.

December 17, 11:23 am | [comment link]
12. Cennydd13 wrote:

Yes, I believe it is undeniable that a new Anglican Communion is emerging, and it will be one which will be, God willing, free from the controversies and heresies now affecting us all.  Let it be so!

December 17, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
13. tjmcmahon wrote:

I don’t have much to add, given the excellent contributions of Dr. Seitz and Dr. Noll, and Pageantmaster.  It does strike me that this statement is a direct result of the failure of the ABoC and the ACO to carry through on the recommendations of the Primates at Dar in 2007, and shortly after essentially replacing the Primates with the Standing Committee run by western revisionists.  This time, the GS Primates (and Churches) have moved on their own, not waiting for “official” Communion apparatus to carry through (or not, as was the case post-Dar).
It also demonstrates that the fabric is indeed torn.  In a few weeks, KJS will convene an unconstitutional convention in S Carolina, and appoint a bishop.  We will then have a case where the majority of Anglicans (and it would appear a majority of Anglican provinces) do not recognize the authority of the TEC recognized bishop of the diocese, but continue to recognize +Lawrence.  In the past, many Anglican jurisdictions refused to recognize the bishop of New Hampshire, but they did not recognize someone else as the legitimate holder of that see.
Of course, the continued recognition of former TEC bishops in ACNA is much the same thing, but with the nuance that ACNA is a separate entity from TEC, and we have never before (to the best of my knowledge) had a statement such as this, which makes clear that +Lawrence, and only +Lawrence, is the recognized Anglican bishop within the borders of the diocese.  And as much as people want to see this as “just seven Primates,” these Primates are (as pointed out by Dr. Noll and Pageantmaster) representatives of an organization that comprises not only the majority of Anglicans, but the majority of Anglican provinces.
I would not want to the the poor ACO functionary charged with the dinner seating arrangements at the next Primates meeting.  Hopefully, the new ABoC pays more heed to the GS than the current holder of that see.

December 17, 8:52 pm | [comment link]
14. tjmcmahon wrote:

In case anyone had any doubts about Uganda, I don’t think I am going out on a limb to think they are in full support of the statement, given this-

December 17, 9:02 pm | [comment link]
15. MichaelA wrote:

Thank you for that link, tjmcmahon at #14. 

I had not realised that ++Duncan was the preacher at the investitute of the new Primate of Uganda.  Wow.  Good to see that ++Sentamu was a witness also.

December 17, 10:28 pm | [comment link]
16. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Like TJ in #13, I too applaud the insightful comments of Dr. Seitz, Pageantmaster, and Dr. Noll, but I would especially like to highlight the important observations by Dr. Noll in #11 and try adding a few further observations of my own, sparked by his.

I agree that this brief letter by the GS Primates’ Standing Committee is more significant than it may first appear.  Not least because it does indeed reflect a new and welcome authority that is starting to emerge within the ruins of the former Anglican Communion.  Dr. Noll is correct that part of the tremendous significance of that emerging authority within a new emerging Communion is that this new authority is independent of the current international structures of the old Communion, and that it is both conciliar and implicitly confessional in nature.

To all that, I would add that my hope and earnest prayer is that this new emerging authority and the new emerging (though diminished) Communion that it represents will continue to evolve into something that is truly global and truly conciliar.  We desperately need that kind of New Anglicanism to develop, but I’m encouraged that we can already see hopeful signs of it starting to happen.

Let me explain.  Over the last 150 years or so, Anglicanism has outgrown its roots in England and gradually become more and more of a global and conciliar church, but there is still a long way to go.  The amazing growth and vitality of Anglicanism in the Global South has been partially offset by the disastrous decline of Anglicanism in the Global North and not least in the CoE, which is only a shadow of its former self.  These two contrasting trajectories, along with the two contrasting gospels and worldviews now striving for supremacy within global Anglicanism, have been among the most important factors creating the great crisis we face today in the Anglican world.  A crisis, which as +Lawrence has rightly noted, has at least three dimensions that have to do with meeting the challenge posed by those self-deluded advocates of “progress” who are fomenting catastrophic forms of unbiblical innovation in theology and morality, along with uncatholic forms of polity.  But a crisis provides a golden opportunity for positive change along with the dangers that are more obvious.

So let me here express once again my characteristic call for Anglicanism to evolve into a new 21st century form that is both truly global and truly conciliar.  The old colonialist Instruments have fumbled the ball and forfeited the right to lead by fostering disunity rather than the authentic unity that is grounded in the common confession and living out of biblical truth, as we Anglicans have historically received and understood it.

The formation of the Lambdeth Conference, and later the ACC and the Primates’ Meeting, were important steps along the way toward becoming a truly global and conciliar church.  But they were hampered by the fact that the booming GS regions were drastically under-represented, and that all three Instruments were by design limited to a merely consultative role.  Lambeth, the ACC, and the Primates could pass Resolutions, but these had no binding force on the various national and regional provinces whose autonomy was simply taken for granted as a given and a perpetual necessity.  I submit that such assumptions must be critically re-examined.

To be blunt, we Anglicans simply MUST get over our past obsession with “national churches” and evolve into a truly global church.  That will doubtless take lots of time, probably several generations, but it’s absolutely necessary, I believe.  For we can’t become a fully global church unless we also evolve into a genuinely conciliar church.  That is, any church council worthy of the name is capable of doing what councils and synods do, which is to pass legislation, set policy and issue canons, all of which are binding.

Our fixation with “national churches,” which is written into our classic formularies like the 1662 BCP and the 39 Articles (e.g., Art. 34) is part of our Erastian and Constantinian past.  It is inherent of course in the old Christendom marriage of State and Church and axiomatic to the heritage of the CoE as an established church.  But we still haven’t faced the fact that this old Christendom mentality is now wholly obsolete and counterproductive in our post-Christendom age in the Global North.

Which leads me to my final observation, which has to do with the ongoing business of recovering our confessional heritage as Anglicans.  Here I simply want to strike a cautionary note, warning of a danger that hasn’t been widely perceived yet by many orthodox Anglicans.  In brief, while I celebrate the attempt to retrieve and reassert the permanent worth of the classic Anglican formularies, as stressed especially by the FCA segment of the Global South and by all of us who’ve signed the Jerusalem Declaration, I don’t think that most “traditionalists” have recognized that those classic formularies are also in clear need of being updated and revised to suit our new 21st century context.  I’ll simply point to two aspects of that precious heritage that most obviously call for such updating.  First, there is the excessively Protestant nature of the 39 Articles which renders them grossly inadequate to express what Anglicanism stands for today (since the Catholic Revival that started at Oxford in 1833).  Second, there is the fatal flaw of the fixation with “national churches” that is inherent in those documents that take for granted the Constantinain assumpptions on which the CoE was based.  On both counts, merely reasserting the classic formularies unchanged is a recipe for disaster.

That is why I continue to hope that we are witnessing not only the mergence of a new Communion in our day, but the quiet and obscure beginnings of nothing less than a New Reformation.  Mere renewal isn’t enough.  Nothing less than a full-fledged second Reformation will do,  With all the bitter divisienss, but also all the great promise of new life and fruitfulness, that such a radical reformation implies.

David Handy+

December 18, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
17. Vatican Watcher wrote:

The comments here and in other places have talked about what the long term plan is for DSC since being ‘provinceless’ is exceptional.

What would need to happen for DSC to be in a province consisting only of itself?  Would that be canonically possible?

December 18, 1:02 pm | [comment link]
18. pendennis88 wrote:

We also have the enthronement of Welby next March.  Among the things I wonder is whether he will invite Bishop Lawrence or the faux TEC bishop.  In fact, it would seem that he needs to come down on one side or another with the invitations, unless he wants to invite everyone.  But right now, if he invites the TEC bishops including Schori (and Glasspool would seem an issue, though I gather that Robinsons will be retired by then), but leaves off Lawrence and ignores the ACNA, then I suspect a lot of the global south will not bother to attend.  And that is what Williams would do, and be fine with it, as he was at Lambeth.  Whether Welby wants to continue to walk the Williams path and further thumb his nose at the global south is something we may know soon.  (Williams did try to treat Lamb as a special case, but remember that Lamb was essentially only invited once it was known he would not attend and the TEC bishop would, and then it was left unclear whether Lamb’s invitation was still good or not.)

December 18, 1:18 pm | [comment link]
19. Don C wrote:

pendennis, do you mean Bishop Schofield?

December 18, 1:59 pm | [comment link]
20. tjmcmahon wrote:

#17- I think it is the expressed desired of +Lawrence and the SC Standing Committee to let the dust settle a little before doing anything “permanent.”  And I think perhaps the GS is giving them the space they need to do that, while making the communion connection with the diocese quite visible and official.  The structural stuff is merely man made bureaucracy anyway- even the current ABoC has put forward that the real “communion” in “the Communion” is that between diocesan bishops and through them, their dioceses, and the rest of it is just overlay for political or structural convenience.  Nowhere in the Pastoral Epistles does it mention standing committees, the ACC, “presiding” bishops, or national churches.

December 18, 2:15 pm | [comment link]
21. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#17 Vatican Watcher

being ‘provinceless’ is exceptional.

Not really - the Church of Ceylon is a twin diocese which stands outside a province, although it does have a metropolitan, being extra-provincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury, just as the Falkland Islands are.

Yes, it is a bit messy, but there is plenty of precedent, and at the end of the day, the Provinces decide who they are in communion with.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

December 18, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
22. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Interestingly, the Church of Ceylon with 30,000 members is only 1,000 members larger than the Diocese of South Carolina.  In many ways they are comparable.

I am not sure from what I have read that South Carolina envisages being a separate stand-alone diocese in the long term, but they are taking a breath having been expelled by the action of the Presiding Bishop in automatically triggering their dissociation by her attack on the Diocese and its bishop.

How strange, that a church like TEC, run by the lawyers from Goodwin Proctor, has no regard for its canons and the truth.  What does that say about the standards of honesty and probity of firms like Goodwin Proctor, when that is the sort of advice they apparently give their clients?  What does it say about Americans in TEC, whose national constitution elevates truthful witness, the rule of law and equality before the law in civil society, when Episcopalians are content to remain silent in the face of such abuse by the Presiding Bishop and her lawyers?

We are seeing the consequences of that in this letter from the Global South.  If it would but realise it, with its tyrannical and lawless leadership, TEC has lost face and credibility with the Communion.  It won’t come back however much money they spend on bribes or funding Canterbury programs.  I don’t think TEC has any idea what it has lost from its Presiding Bishop’s actions [apart from almost 30,000 members in one fell swoop of utter incompetence from KJS].

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

December 18, 2:42 pm | [comment link]
23. pendennis88 wrote:

#19 - yes, I got Lamb and Schofield reversed (Lamb was the TEC replacement).

December 18, 5:10 pm | [comment link]
24. Vatican Watcher wrote:

20. and 21.
Thanks for the replies.  My statement about it being exceptional just came from someone farther up the comments who mentioned it.

My scenario was more for the long term as I am familiar with the strategy to let the dust settle in the short to medium term.  Just wanted to know if there was anything expressly forbidding such a striking out on one’s on within the communion.

December 18, 5:57 pm | [comment link]
25. tjmcmahon wrote:

“apart from almost 30,000 members in one fell swoop of utter
incompetence from KJS”

At the risk of coming across as argumentative, I am not inclined to see this as incompetence.  Granted, KJS miscalculated the response from S Carolina. (For whatever my analysis is worth, my best guess is that her plan called for S Carolina to take action only when +Lawrence was deposed, by which time she would have had all her pieces in place. Instead, they took action upon the notice of inhibition. So she resorted to plan B- the “renunciation” stratagem).  But ridding TEC of the bishop and diocese certainly appears part of a plan, particularly given the intrigue involved in the faux negotiations with Waldo as mediator. 
Now, she is, of course, following the WRONG plan (the destruction of that part of the Church entrusted to her care), but she is proceeding quite effectively in her effort to remove any bishop with a backbone from “her” house.  And force out of TEC any diocese, parish or individual willing to stand in her way.
Note that, to date (to the best of my knowledge, I would love it if someone can correct me), no TEC bishop has dared to raise his or her head above the parapet with any public statement along the lines of the GS letter of support.  Which means, I think, that KJS has, indeed, achieved a desired objective- the ability to exercise unconstitutional power within the church without vocal opposition from anyone in the HoB.  It may be evil, or ill conceived, but not incompetent.

December 18, 6:18 pm | [comment link]
26. TomRightmyer wrote:

Did any of the members of the House of Bishops vote against the deposition of Bishop Cox (suffragan of Maryland and later Assisting in Oklahoma)?  If I remember correctly this was the first deposition when the whole number of bishops entitled to vote was read as the number of bishops actually voting.  I think that was the first time the present Presiding Bishop read the canons in a way different from past precedent.

December 19, 12:00 am | [comment link]
27. tjmcmahon wrote:

TomR- My recollection is that indeed a fair number of bishops did vote against the “deposition” of Bishop Cox (quotes used since heterodox bishops cannot, by definition, depose an orthodox bishop, but in reality further ex-communicate themselves from the Church) , but there was no protest at the time over the issue of “whole number of bishops entitled”- although I do recall that being pointed out by one of our canon lawyer friends.  I believe the first time there was an attempt to correct this was the +Schofield “deposition” the PB ruled the question out of order and was backed up by the “parliamentarian”.

December 19, 9:30 am | [comment link]
28. tjmcmahon wrote:

As a follow on to 26 and 27- under the PB’s way of doing things, it theoretically requires fewer bishops to “depose” than it requires to elect, a bishop.  So, someday we could see a case where a bishop is deposed at the first HoB meeting after his or her election, based on who happens to show up at the HoB meeting.

December 19, 9:37 am | [comment link]

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