By Joy Hunter, Director of Communications, Diocese of South Carolina
“'If you want to go fast travel alone. But if you want to go far travel together.'” The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina, quoted this African proverb in his address to the 221st Convention to the Diocese held March 9-10, 2012. He intends for the Diocese to go far in “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age,” and he doesn’t intend to go alone.
The convention, attended by over 450 and held in Charleston at both St. Philip’s Church (on Friday) and the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul (on Saturday), had a decidedly global emphasis, with speakers and video messages from Anglican partners around the world.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester and current Diocesan Visiting Bishop for Anglican Communion Relationships, gave a pre-convention seminar on “The Uniqueness of Christ in a Pluralist World.” Nazir-Ali invited participants to see Christ through the lens of various cultures, showing how those from regions and religions different from our own, see Christ in a totally different way. On Saturday, he updated convention participants on the state of Anglicanism in the various regions in which he ministers. (Download audio: Part 1, Part 2)
The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Area Bishop-elect for the Horn of Africa and current professor of Biblical Studies and Mission at Trinity School for Ministry, preached Friday during the service of Holy Eucharist. He confronted those present with the challenge of mission – stating that westerners often relegate missions to the back burner, while Christians he encountered in Africa did not compartmentalize their faith. He and his wife, Wendy, will soon be leaving the United States for a region in Ethiopia in which most of the clergy “eat one, perhaps two meals a day.” “Heaven is a place where there will be no hunger, no thirst, no tears” he said. “Mission is about God’s concern for the whole world…. He wants us to join him to show forth his love.” (Download LeMarquand sermon)
Saturday’s program included video messages from The Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke, the Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in Ireland, as well as the teens from that Diocese. Participants also saw a video message from partners in Uganda. Both groups stressed the impact the partnership between the Dioceses has made and the importance of our ongoing work together. Of special note was a video message from Matt Marino, Canon for Youth and Young Adults in the Episocpal Diocese of Arizona who praised the exemplary youth ministry in our Diocese and the far-reaching work of our Youth Ministry Coordinator, Dave Wright.
Convention Election Results
The following individuals were elected to three-year terms of service to the Diocese. Elected to the Standing Committee were the Rev. Tripp Jeffords, the Rev. Ken Weldon, Mr. Bill Lyles and Mrs. Elizabeth (Boo) Pennewill. Elected to serve on Diocesan Council were the Rev. Wey Camp, the Rev. Tyler Prescott, Mrs. Lydia Evans and Mr. Bill McRee. Elected to serve on the Ecclesiastical Court were the Rev. Canon Mike Malone and Mr. Bill Howle. Mrs. Libby Lewis was elected to serve as a trustee of the University of the South. The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson and Mr. Stan Winder were elected to the Advancement Society. View detailed election results.
Budget Approved; Resolutions
The proposed 2012 Budget was approved as presented. No resolutions had been provided to the delegates prior to the Convention and the single resolution presented from the floor was tabled after brief discussion. .
Unpacking “Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age”
“What is my dream (for the Diocese)?” asked Bishop Lawrence in his address to the Convention. “It is that each congregation whether large or small is fulfilling our call to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age. If you ask, ‘What does a Biblical Anglican for a Global Age look like? How would you describe such a person?’ I will say, ‘He or she is a disciple of Jesus Christ who embraces the Apostolic Teaching of Holy Scriptures, endorses Catholic order and practice, has encountered afresh the renewing and gifting Presence of the Holy Spirit, is equipped with Evangelical truth and fervently engages in missional ministry in the world.’ If that sounds to you like the Great Commission with an Anglican twist you have heard correctly.”
The Bishop had participants take a hard look at current realities in the Episcopal Church, running through a series of charts prepared by the Episcopal Church statistician, Dr. Kirk Hadaway. The charts showed an alarming decline in the health of the church in nearly every area. “Face reality as it is,” said the Bishop. “Not as it was or as we wish it were but as it is. The reality is that as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina we have unique opportunities and unique challenges.”
He noted that the Diocese is taking steps to combat declining church health by offering a workshop entitled, “The Future and Your Church,” which examines causes for church decline and looks at ways to reverse the trend. The workshop was held twice in 2010 (in the Florence and Orangeburg Deaneries) and will be given in the Charleston Deanery in April. The Bishop urged clergy, vestries and parish leaders in the Charleston Deanery to make attending the workshop a priority. The Bishop also highlighted the transformation of All Saints, Florence, a parish which experienced severe distress and was near closing, but has now experienced revitalization.
He also highlighted a recent week-long event held at St. Michael’s, Charleston, in which $300,000 was pledged for mission and 300 parishioners pledged themselves to be personally involved in mission. “Such apostolic witness for Christ and his Church is still alive and breathes with the breath of Christ among us.”
The Bishop closed his talk reflecting on the historic Beaufort Revival which had a “transforming influence not only on St. Helena’s Parish, but upon this diocese, and even from there the larger Episcopal Church and places as far away as China. It can happen again,” he said. “God is no respecter of persons. He loves to do great things in unexpected places. Why not here? Why not now? Why not with us? Revive thy church Lord, beginning with us!”
Following Bishop Lawrence’s Address to the Convention, the Bishop’s Address Committee submitted seven resolutions, all of which positively received and adopted by the Convention. They may be viewed here.
Download a PDF of the entire Hadaway presentation here.