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Anglican Bishops Express Strong Support for Bishop Lawrence and Diocese of South Carolina
Watch the video. Listen to an audio file or view a transcript of the press conference. View the photo album of the gathering.
Amidst allegations that Anglicans worldwide do not recognize the Diocese of South Carolina and its Bishop, Anglican Bishops from East Africa strongly announced their support for the Diocese’s dissociation from The Episcopal Church Tuesday during comments at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston.
The Bishops from Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania proclaimed unqualified endorsement of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese. Their comments seemed to dispute the claims of Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the newly elected Bishop of the recently formed Diocese - The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In January, vonRosenberg announced that the Anglican Communion has not acknowledged Lawrence’s Diocese, even though it represents the vast majority of local Anglicans. However the four Bishops, all members of the Anglican Communion in good standing, specifically recognized the Diocese during the gathering.
The four were guests of the Diocese following their participation in the New Wineskins Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, the largest Anglican missions conference in the world.
“We came to encourage Bishop Mark Lawrence to stand firm in the faith,” said the Rt. Rev. Abraham Yel Nhial, Bishop of the Diocese of Aweil in the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Bishop Nhial was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan whose story aired recently on 60 minutes.
“The people of South Sudan have suffered for 50 years. We’ve died because of our belief in Christ, our identity as Christians. I want to assure my brother Mark that suffering is part of our belief in Christ. We came here tonight not only to discuss what we’re doing in Christ, but also to encourage you to stand up and stand firm in your own faith.”
The Rt. Rev. Robert Martin, Bishop of the Diocese of Marsabit in the Anglican Church of Kenya, said that the Kenyan Church does not recognize The Episcopal Church any more. “Any contact I have with The Episcopal Church may cause me problems in Kenya because we are so shocked and horrified by what is going on and therefore any actions by The Episcopal Church have no validity as far as we’re concerned, ” he said.
Bishop Martin told those present how because of the religious conflicts in his country Christians in Kenya know that Christianity and suffering go together. “As my brothers have said we cannot expect peace in this world in terms of standing for the truth. The more I hear about what Bishop Mark is doing the more I respect him and the more I am pleased and delighted to be in fellowship with him and give thanks for the fellowship we have.”
The Rt. Rev. Elias Mazi Chakupewa, Bishop of the Diocese of Tabora in the Anglican Church of Tanzania, added, “I have read many things on the internet about what is happening here and I have been really praying for Mark and for all the Christians with him in this Diocese. As a Bishop of the Church of God I really pray for God’s intervention during this.”
The Rt. Rev. Nathan Kamusiime Gasatura, Bishop of the Diocese of Butare in the Anglican Church of Rwanda told how his Diocese was the first to provide support for clergy who left the Episcopal Church nearly 12 years ago. He compared the genocide suffered by his country to a “spiritual genocide,” taking place in the Church. “Because of the Rwandan genocide we suffered when the whole world stood by and no one … came to its rescue, we decided as a church we should never keep quiet while the church of Christ was seemingly undergoing a spiritual genocide so we stretched out our hands and we said, “Brothers, we know America is a great country, but this is a moment to stand for Christ no matter what the consequences.”
Note: The Bishops will be in the Diocese, speaking in various churches over the next several weeks along with the Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke (Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, Ireland) and The Most Rev. Mouneer H. Anis (Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East).
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