(Along with the bishop's message a list of some of the many rectors who endorse his message and stand with him appeared. Originally only rectors were being listed, but as additional clergy have asked that their names be added to the list, we are updating the page.) View the ad.
A Message to the People of the Diocese of South Carolina
from the Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence, XIV Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina
November 14, 2012
Consecration of Samuel Seabury
Dear Members of the Diocese of South Carolina,
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful and underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or tamper with God’s word….” 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
In just a few days, on November 17th, the Special Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina will meet at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston. By God’s grace and providence we will step more fully into the vocation that awaits us—taking, as we have done in the past, the Good News of Jesus Christ across the oceans and across the street. This is and shall remain our highest purpose.
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. While the “national” Episcopal Church has married yesterday’s fads and is quickly becoming today’s widow, declining in membership and resources, we have grown our parishes and diocese in faithful and relevant ways. When we have had large parishes separate from us, such as All Saints’ Pawleys Island and St. Andrew’s Mt Pleasant, it has been because of disagreement with TEC not the direction of the diocese. We have sought to conserve the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles while embracing both innovative and traditional ways to make him known and worshipped in today’s world of the 21st century. We shall continue to do this in keeping with our diocesan vision— To Make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.
It should give all our members profound encouragement to know that we have heard from Archbishops, Presiding Bishops, and diocesan bishops from Kenya to Singapore, England to Egypt, Ireland to the Indian Ocean, representing the overwhelmingly vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion that they consider me as a faithful Anglican Bishop in good standing and this diocese as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They have also called for the leadership of TEC “to repent and return to the Lord.” The majority of our congregations and members of this diocese join the Provinces of the Anglican Communion in this call. May God grant The Episcopal Church to heed this call and even now return to him. May we in this diocese also seek God’s grace to cleanse our hearts from all unrighteousness that the Fruit of the Spirit may permeate our lives.
Nevertheless, 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. Pastorally it is hard to imagine what would drive former parishioners to such lengths except an agenda put forward by TEC’s national litigation strategy team which has been used in other locations in similar ways when faithful dioceses and parishes have left TEC. While I am saddened that several are friends with whom I have worked side by side in various committees or projects, I cannot agree with their decision to undermine the life of this Diocese of South Carolina or my leadership as bishop. This misuse of the diocesan seal and the diocesan name is a denial of the good faith and fair dealing expected of all institutions engaging either in public communication or commerce. It is especially disconcerting for those who profess and call themselves Christians. Not only is it morally questionable; it is something for which they can be held accountable.
My reason in mentioning this last point, just days before our Convention is to protect our parishioners and parishes from deception and confusion. One of our deacons in secular employment assumed that a meeting this group called for the clergy of the diocese was scheduled by our diocesan staff. He was planning to take a day off work (costing him much needed pay). Imagine his chagrin when he discovered the truth that others impersonating the diocese had called it. So be alert. I assure you, we continue to be The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, known also to our parishes and the wider community as The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and more simply, the Diocese of South Carolina of which I am the XIV Bishop in succession. We are still here and by God’s grace we shall not only endure we shall prevail.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Mark Joseph Lawrence
South Carolina XIV