South Carolina — time to turn the page

The Special Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina has just concluded. Bishop Mark Lawrence summed it up:

“We have spent far too many hours and days and years in a dubious and fruitless resistance to the relentless path of TEC.”

Confusion or clarity in South Carolina?

From a ‘pastoral letter’ to South Carolina from TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

“Katharine, a servant of Christ, to the saints in South Carolina.

May the grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus our Savior be with you all. …

As the confusion increases, I would like to clarify a number of issues which I understand are being discussed…”

A S Haley, The Anglican Curmudgeon, offers some commentary on the Presiding Bishop’s letter:

“mimicking the style of one of St. Paul’s epistles… This is boilerplate for 815… The mantra about dioceses needing the ‘consent’ of General Convention to disaffiliate is based on no language in the Church’s Constitution or Canons whatsoever.”

And in his own ‘Message to the the People of South Carolina‘, Bishop Mark Lawrence writes:

“As I have stated at various deanery and parish forums in the diocese this present crisis was brought about through the convergence of three dimensions of our diocesan life and the national church’s leadership—theology, morality and polity. All three have undergone and continue to undergo revision within The Episcopal Church (TEC). This Diocese of South Carolina for well over a quarter of a century has steadfastly resisted these revisions as it has sought to remain faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.

…you need to know that the national leadership of TEC is taking steps to undermine this diocese. What we are faced with is an intentional effort by the ill-advised TEC organization to assume our identity, one that we have had since 1785. …

My reason in mentioning this last point, just days before our Convention, is to protect our parishioners and parishes from deception and confusion.”


Presiding Bishop backs ecclesiastical coup in South Carolina

“Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has declared the ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese of South Carolina vacant and has backed a faction within the diocese that is seeking to fill the ‘vacuum’ created by the suspension of Bishop Mark Lawrence.

The loyalist ‘Transitional Committee’ has also declared the South Carolina Standing Committee to be vacant and has formed a ‘steering committee’ to act in its place.

On 11 Nov 2012, the steering committee announced that it had taken charge of the diocese…”

George Conger at Anglican Ink has the latest.

And from lawyer A S Haley, The Anglican Curmudgeon:

“…the Diocese of South Carolina is organized as a corporation under South Carolina law. That fact guarantees its own independent, legal identity in the State’s courts and before all of its executive and legislative bodies, officers and agencies. For the Bandit Bishop and her minions to try to appropriate that identity for their own nefarious purposes is fully akin to what would be called ‘identity theft’ in any other context.”

(Photo: TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams last week in Auckland. ACNS, via ENS.)

FAQs on South Carolina and TEC

The Diocese of South Carolina has posted an FAQ to get you up to speed on what’s happening – with a timeline of events.

Global South to South Carolina: We’re praying for you

Letter from the Global South Primates Steering Committee to Bishop Mark Lawrence

“We thank God for your stand for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are proud that you are willing to suffer for the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Dear Bishop Mark Lawrence,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Several of the Global South Primates met recently as we gathered in Singapore for the Installation of Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah as the new Bishop of Singapore.

We were saddened, but not surprised, by the news of your inhibition and possible deposition by the TEC. We all want to assure you and the Diocese of South Carolina of our continuing prayers and support. We thank God for your stand for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are proud that you are willing to suffer for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Please be assured that we are with you, and that our Lord is also proud of you and our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of South Carolina.

May the Lord bless you!
Yours in Christ,
+ Mouneer Egypt

The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Primate of Jerusalem & the Middle East
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

+ Ian Mauritius
The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean
Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

Read more

South Carolina speaks out on TEC General Convention

The Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence, has requested that a letter be read aloud to all congregations in his diocese today, following landmark votes at the TEC General Convention during the week –

“Given these changes in the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church the question that is before us is: ‘What does being faithful to Jesus Christ look like for this diocese at this time? How are we called to live and be and act?  In this present context, how do we make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age?’”

Read the text of his letter below – Read more

South Carolina delegates leave TEC General Convention early

“The bulk of the deputation to the House of Deputies from the Diocese of South Carolina has left General Convention one day early, following the actions of the Convention thus far to (a) add transsexual persons to the list of people who cannot be denied work at any level in the Episcopal Church (USA); (b) adopt a rite for the blessing of same-sex unions, in violation of both the Book of Common Prayer and the ECUSA Constitution; and (c) refuse to act at this time on the proposed Anglican Covenant. …”

– Story from The Anglican Curmudgeon.

South Carolina statements here

“It is with heavy hearts that Bishop Mark Lawrence and the South Carolina deputation to General Convention must report the final passage and adoption of Resolution A049, the Resolution to Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships. The Bishop and our deputation, in both speaking and voting against its passage, remain united and unanimous in our support of the historic understanding of ‘the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.’…”

Related: Why is the Episcopal Church near collapse? – Beliefnet. (h/t

“This is no longer George Washington’s Episcopal Church – in 1776 the largest denomination in the rebellious British colonies. Membership has dropped so dramatically that today there are 20 times more Baptists than Episcopalians.”

Bishop of Tasmania’s letter to the Bishop of South Carolina

The Bishop of Tasmania, John Harrower, has written (October 14) to Mark Lawrence, the Bishop of South Carolina, to offer support and encouragement –

“Dear Brother,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I received with deep concern and sadness the news of formal allegations against you and your diocese with respect to some ill-defined sense of abandoning the faith of the Church.

I write so that my recognition and support of you as a Brother Bishop in the Anglican Communion may be clear and unambiguous, and to assure you of my prayer for you and your leadership team at this time.

It has become clear over recent years, and it was certainly my experience at the Lambeth Conference of 2008: not only are the revisionist pursuits of certain parties clearly no longer bounded by the fundamental witness of the gospel in Scripture, but the means of that pursuit seem no longer bounded by the common human wisdom of good grace and fairness. The fact that current events demonstrate a willingness to impugn the fundamental character of Episcopal polity is a demonstration of their intransigence.

Nevertheless, please be encouraged in the Lord Jesus in whose sufferings you share and in whose resurrection hope we live and minister.

I note the words at the top of your diocesan website – “…that all may come to know Him…” Our Lord Jesus is indeed our sole focus, our joy, our salvation; and the knowledge of him our goal for ourselves and all those we meet. He is the head of the church and his promise to his people is secure.

May his grace and peace be with you and the faithful saints of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Yours sincerely in the bonds of Christ,

John Harrower
Bishop of Tasmania.”

– Also as a PDF file on the Diocese of Tasmania website. (h/t Will Briggs.)

An ecclesiastical coup d’état?

Bishop David Anderson, President of the American Anglican Council, writes further in his weekly newsletter about TEC’s expected moves against South Carolina –

“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

I want to continue my comments on the dire state of affairs in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and draw upon some expert legal and procedural analysis by the “Anglican Curmudgeon,” which we have included in this Update.

I would like for you to stop here at this point, and read the Curmudgeon article titled “Bishop Henderson: It’s ‘business as usual’ in the church.” When you are finished, come back to this analysis of what happens next. Read more

South Carolina Bishop and Clergy meet to discuss ‘serious charges’

From the Diocese of South Carolina:

“the Episcopal Church is in a constitutional crisis in which its own polity is being radically altered in violation of its history and founding documents”

“In an atmosphere of prayerful solemnity, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina gathered at Saint James Church, James Island, S.C. for more than two hours on Tuesday, October 12. In focus were the “serious charges” that have been made against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese under the new Title IV canons.  Read more

A curious document from Charleston

In his weekly e-mail update, Bishop David Anderson, President of the American Anglican Council, wonders about the allegations against South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence –

“When one sees the incredibly detailed and ridiculous document comprising the list of charges that was supposedly submitted by a group of loyal (to the Revisionists) people in South Carolina, it certainly doesn’t look like something a group of casual Charlestonians threw together while preparing shrimp and grits on the side.”

Read more

Allegations of ‘abandonment’ against Bishop of South Carolina

Some action by the Episcopal Church against the Diocese of South Carolina has long been expected. Here’s a report from the Episcopal News Service.

The Bishop and Standing Committee of the diocese have sent this call to prayer –

October 5, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Thursday, September 29, 2011 the Bishop received communication from the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops that “serious charges” have been made under Title IV of the canons of The Episcopal Church. These are allegations that he has abandoned The Episcopal Church. Read more

The die has been cast

“With my perspective as a canon lawyer, I cannot believe that ECUSA is barely four months away from precipitating a wholly unnecessary constitutional crisis, which can only weaken it further, and drive its constituent pieces yet further apart.

My appeals to the other canon lawyers who drafted the changes to Title IV, to explain what they thought they were accomplishing, and where they derived the authority to transform the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA into a metropolitan, have gone completely unanswered. At the same time, I see zero inclination on the part of those actually in control of the Church to avoid this donnybrook — so be it. It must be what they want — so that is what they will get.”

– A S Haley, The Anglican Curmudgeon, reflects on why the Diocese of South Carolina has moved to ‘spell out that the Canons of the national Church are no longer recognised as binding’ in their Diocese.

A Conservationist among Lumberjacks

“I have space to raise three concerns, and these briefly: the presiding bishop’s threat to our polity — litigious and constitutional; the revisions to the Title IV canons; and, finally, a passing word about inhibitions and depositions to solve our theological/spiritual crisis…”

– Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina writes in The Living Church about some of the radical changes in the way The Episcopal Church is being run. (h/t Anglican Mainstream.)

South Carolina defiant

At the 219th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina yesterday, Bishop Mark Lawrence didn’t mince his words:

“It would be insufferable to see this great Diocese of South Carolina come under the sway of the same false gospel that has decked so much of The Episcopal Church with decorative destruction and dreadful decline.

Like those in the Church at Corinth with whom St. Paul was confronted, many within the leadership of The Episcopal Church have grown willful. They will have their way though it is contrary to the received teaching of God’s Holy Word, the trustworthy traditions of the Christian Faith, and the expressed will of the Anglican Communion—that rich multicultural body of almost 80 million Christians around the world, from many tribes, languages, peoples, and nations.…”

– and that was just the warm-up. Worth reading in full.

See also the text of key resolutions approved – including this one –

RESOLVED, That this 219th Convention acknowledges that for more than three centuries this Diocese has represented the Anglican expression of the faith once for all delivered to the saints; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that we declare to all that we understand ourselves to be a gospel diocese, called to proclaim an evangelical faith, embodied in a catholic order, and empowered and transformed through the Holy Spirit; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we promise under God not to swerve in our belief that above all Jesus came into the world to save the lost, that those who do not know Christ need to be brought into a personal and saving relationship with him, and that those who do know Christ need to be taught by the Holy Scriptures faithfully to follow him all the days of their lives to the Glory of God the Father.

(Photo of Bishop Mark Lawrence: Diocese of South Carolina.)

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