223rd Convention Votes to Accept Provisional Primatial Oversight from bishops in the Global South
The Diocese of South Carolina voted unanimously 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 during their 223rd Annual Convention held at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, March 14-15, 2014.
Nearly 400 people attended the weekend gathering where delegates and clergy 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 in March 2015.
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.
Convention Workshops Kick Off Weekend
The Diocese kicked off the weekend with four workshops open to the public. The Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Diocesan Canon Theologian unpacked “The Jerusalem Declaration: Owning our Faith and Call,” preparing delegates and clergy for the vote that would come the next day. The Rev. Canon Winfield Bevins of Kardia Church Planting and Re:Missioning Initiative spoke on Re:Missioning Your Church 10 Vital Signs of Church Health. The Rev. Dr. Joel Scandrett, Assistant Professor of Historical Theology & Director of the Robert E. Webber Center at Trinity School for Ministry spoke on Christian Faith Formation: Ancient Resources for Future Discipleship and Langdon Stewart, who is on staff at Church of our Saviour, Johns Island, spoke on Evangelism.
“Kendall did a superb job explaining the background of the Jerusalem Declaration,” said Bill McRee, a parishioner from St. John’s, Florence, who was elected to serve on the Advancement Society. “He explained how it came to be written and how it enables the Diocese to move forward working with other provinces making biblical Anglicans for a global age.” Download Canon Harmon's talk.
John Barr Preaches on “I am the Door.”
The Very Rev. John Barr, Rector of Holy Comforter, Sumter, who is retiring this summer, preached on John 10:1-10, focusing on Jesus’ words, “I am the Door. “ Barr told how as a young clergyman, he had visited a small country church and heard another man (who had gone through “the door,”) preaching. “I was staggered,” said Barr. “I’ll never forget. I said to myself, ‘What has to happen to a person to be a person like that?’ I know Paul Tillich backwards and forwards. I’ve been to these schools and all this stuff, and I’m not saying it’s wrong, but there’s something frozen inside – I could not do that…And I said to the Lord, ‘Whatever has to happen to me to get me to be able to be a witness for you, for your life to go down deep in those frozen places of resistance in my life – God please do it.’” Listen to John Barr's sermon.
A number of visiting Bishops from other Anglican denominations were guests at the Convention (see below) and, at the close of Barr’s sermon, Bishop Lawrence asked if the Bishops would be willing, during communion, to pray with anyone who wanted to come to Christ or renew their relationships with Christ in response to Barr’s sermon.
“I loved the Bishops praying for us,” said the Rev. Louise Weld, an Associate Rector at Saint James Church on James Island. It was very powerful. It gave you a real sense of the Anglican communion around the world, and the prayers themselves were so moving.”
Bishop Supports Oversight; Urges Diocese to “Advance”
Bishop Lawrence expressed his support of the resolution accepting primatial oversight during his address to the Convention. “There’s an African proverb that wisely states—‘If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far go together.’ This offer of Provisional Primatial Oversight does not come with colonial intent or to burden us with a cultural mandate other than that of the Gospel; but rather to assure us that we are not on this long Anglican journey alone… This Primatial Oversight will bring us an extra-provincial diocesan status, gracious oversight from one of the largest ecclesial entities within the Communion.”
Lawrence urged congregations to move forward, and “advance” rather than “consolidate,” He spoke of his dream of establishing an institute for emerging Anglican leaders who, for 4-6 weeks would come to the Diocese for residential study, prayer, renewal and reflection. “Imagine what a season— of building relationships of gospel affection and a missionary vision for reaching the secular and the religious cultures of the 21st Century—might mean for those who labor in demanding vineyards under great depravation and persecution.” (Read Bishop Lawrence’s address.. Listen to the address.
Congregations Engaging All Generations
A theme stressed during both Bishop Lawrence’s address and in a presentation by Peter Rothermel, the Diocesan Coordinator of Christian Faith Formation, and Dave Wright, Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator was congregations engaging all generations.
“We can and must be congregations of every generation,” Wright said. “We need to equip lay leaders to build relationships, open the Bible and pray together. This is how the faith is passed from one generation to another.”
Rothermel added, “We need to engage every generation to actively pass the faith from one generation to the next. This dream is happening, it’s doable and its’ worth it.”
Welcoming New Churches
The convention gave standing ovations when Bishop Lawrence introduced two new congregations and recognized their representatives. Grace Church, Waccamaw in Pawleys Island, a former congregation with Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), joined the Diocese and Grace Parish in North Myrtle Beach, a church plant, also joined the Diocese this year. The presence of members of the Church of the Resurrection, North Charleston, was also recognized.
Special Guests, Gifts and Participants
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 Mokiwa, Retired Archbishop of Tanzania. Bishop Lawrence thanked them for their partnership in the Gospel.
The Rev. Ted Duvall, Rector of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant and host of the convention, announced that Christ Church had raised $10,000 of the needed $20,000 to build a church in Marsabit, Kenya for one of our partner Diocese’s in faith. Before the end of the convention another church’s present made an anonymous pledge to provide the additional $10,000 needed.
Bishop Lawrence asked The Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Rhett, who had served as the Examining Chaplain in the Diocese for many years and has been a priest in the Diocese for the past 50 years to come forward. The convention acknowledged his faithful service with a standing ovation.
Mrs. Ann Holland, who in 1971 was the first female delegate from any parish to attend an annual convention of the Diocese, was honored, given a standing ovation and prayed for by Bishop Lawrence.
All Resolutions Brought to Vote Pass with Overwhelming Majority
All resolutions brought to the floor of the Convention passed by an overwhelming majority. R-2 Discernment of Provincial Affiliation and R-3 Response to Offer of Provisional Primatial Oversight both passed unanimously. View the resolutions.
During Saturday’s business meeting the following individuals were elected to serve in Diocesan offices and positions:
Standing Committee (three year terms): The Rev. Iain Boyd, The Rev. Mike Lumpkin, Karen Kusko and Rob Shelton;
Diocesan Council (three-year terms): The Rev. Janet Echols, The Rev. Bob Horowitz, Kathy Hamilton and Chuck Wilson;
Advancement Society (three-year terms): The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, Bill McRee and Mary Rife;
Trustees (six-year terms) Reid Boylston, Scott Poelker and for a one year (unexpired) term Karolyn Ohanesian;
Ecclesiastical Court (three-year term): The Rev. Linda Manuel, The Rev. Bill Oldland, John Acken and Ann Willis.
2015 Convention Announced
Bishop Lawrence closed the Convention with a prayer and blessing. The 224th Diocesan Convention will be held March 13 and 14, 2015 at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston and Charleston Music Hall.