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Bishop Lawrence addresses the 224th conventionThe following is the written version of the address given by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence to the 224th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina held Saturday, March 14, 2015 at the Charleston Music Hall. Listen to the audio version of the address.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7

In the opening chapters of 2 Corinthians St. Paul repeatedly contrasts his frailty and weakness with the majesty of Christ and the wonder of the ministry to which he and others have been called.  Having spoken of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ which has shone in his heart, he again acknowledges this contrast:  “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Similarly, I am struck by a contrast between the wondrous work to which God has called us in this diocese with our frailty and weakness as we gather today in annual convention for the 224th time. 

I begin by acknowledging a basic conviction that the most important ministry done by the Diocese of South Carolina is done in and by the congregations—our parishes and missions.  Yours is the real work; the important work; the lasting work.  The work and ministry of the diocese (that is, what we often call the diocese— diocesan staff, various committees, commissions and councils) exists primarily to help your ministry to be more fruitful.  It is we who are here to serve you; not you here to serve us.  I believe we serve you best by attending to details which are best handled corporately and by helping to keep the Big Picture before you.

It is the Big Picture that I will take up in this address keeping in mind that it is all for Christ’s mission in and through our congregations.  At a Clergy Day in 2013 not long after the disaffiliation with TEC I mapped out the challenges and opportunities that lay before the diocese—these included five categories:  filed as issues of Consolidation, Affiliation, Missionalization, Education and Litigation— if you prefer acronyms it spells CAMEL (but fellow clergy please note:  this is not a metaphor even though it may take us on a long journey).  It has been almost two years since that day and I want to share how the landscape looks now.

Consolidation


The question before us in early 2013 was which congregations would be with us since we had crossed over the river.  The last congregation to decide was Old Saint Andrews—how glad we are that you stayed!  Then at last year’s Convention we welcomed Grace Church on Pawleys Island, and Grace Church, North Myrtle Beach as new congregations of the Diocese of South Carolina.  Grace Waccamaw was an existing Church Plant in the Anglican Mission in America whose rector, Tim Surratt was a former priest of this diocese who has been received back into our fold.  They have merged with Christ the King, Waccamaw and today the two exist as a single parish—Christ the King-Grace, Waccamaw.  We received Grace Church in North Myrtle Beach as a mission congregation of this diocese served by its vicar, the Reverend Linda Manuel.  Now, at this 224th Diocesan Convention, we again receive two congregations as new missions—Resurrection, North Charleston and St. James, Blackville.  This brings our present number of congregations to fifty-four.

Just a brief word about these two: Resurrection, North Charleston was started with parishioners from St. Thomas, N. Chas who wanted to stay with the Diocese of South Carolina rather than return to TEC; but they have since added new members who were never part of St. Thomas.  They have been served over the last two years by Fr. Matt McCormick and Deacon Eddie Driggers.  St. Philip’s Charleston has assisted with financial support over the last two years.  And I am grateful for that.  The second congregation joining us is St. James, Blackville.  It has been a Church plant affiliated with the Anglican Catholic Church.  Having watched our disaffiliation from TEC with interest, they are eager to unite with us; not I must add from any theological differences with ACC but from a desire to be part of a diocese is closer at hand in order to have clerical and lay fellowship with other Anglicans of orthodox belief.  St. James is led by Fr. Russell Reed and Deacon Tom Cuny.  What a delight to welcome these “new” congregations as missions of the diocese.

Let us pray this trend continues in the coming years.  In fact I would suggest it is a worthy goal for this diocese—that we either welcome two new missions each year or celebrate two new campuses established by existing congregations each year or a combination of the two.  As I noted in last year’s Address, “The Holy Spirit never allowed [the early church] to let the need to consolidate what they had gained to replace the need to advance.  In fact advancement became the method of consolidation.”  May this become a defining ethos of the Diocese of South Carolina—Advancement as a method of Consolidation.  We shall know who we are by the fact that we are continually adding new congregations to our number. 

There is another way we have advanced through consolidation.   Two canonically established committees of Diocesan Council, defunct for a decade were reconstituted this past year—the Evangelism Committee and the Liturgy & Worship Committee.  At last year’s Renewal of Vows I preached a lengthy sermon based on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well, entitled “The Church as Evangelist”.  Afterward there was a growing interest among our clergy in the ministry of Evangelism.  This produced the impetus to resurrect this diocesan committee to be a spark plug for this work.  Under the chairmanship of Hal Fenters, and working with Langdon Stewart, a lay evangelist linked with Our Savior, Johns Island and with a ministry known as Evangelism Explosion this committee has taken the bit in its mouth and is charging forward.  The Evangelism seminar yesterday is a fruit of their efforts; so too is their sponsorship of a 3-day event later this spring at Resurrection, Surfside.  Their “Train the Trainers” Workshop is scheduled for April 30th—May 2nd. (Video)

The other canonically prescribed committee of Diocesan Council re-started this past year is the Liturgy & Worship Committee.  This committee has co-chairs:  The Reverend Ted Duvall, rector of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant and Mr. Chuck Wilson, Organist and choir director of Holy Comforter, Sumter.  They are working with several of the musicians throughout the diocese eager to raise the profile of traditional and contemporary music in our common life and will also take up a variety of liturgical concerns.  Retreats focused on liturgy and music are being planned to encourage best practices for large and small congregations.  Here again we are looking at consolidation through advancement.

Another working group of which you should be aware is the diocesan Task Force on Marriage. It is chaired by Canon Jim Lewis.  To say that this diocese owes a debt of gratitude to Canon Lewis would be an extreme understatement.  He has labored tirelessly on many fronts.  Marriage and related gender issues is but one of them!  With changing legal and social understandings afoot at federal, state, and city levels regarding marriage, and gender identity rights, it is no time to be asleep about societal trends.   The Marriage Task Force has brought resolutions forward to prepare the diocese and our congregations to respond to various possible legal challenges to our belief and practice.   These resolutions are coming before this convention because of realities emerging in the civil realm not from developments within the Church.  These are issues that may impact how we carry out our ministry in an increasingly Post-Christian era.  

Affiliation


Our diocesan vision—Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age (helping to shape emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century) — quite naturally leads us to consider not only strategic missional relationships across the Anglican Communion but to also to grapple with the question of our provincial affiliation.

Last year this Convention chose to accept the offer of Provisional Primatial Relationship from the Global South’s Primates’ Steering Committee (GSPSC).  We have received communication from the The Most Reverend Mouneer Anis and The Most Reverend Ian Earnest that our acceptance has been received.  In May of this year The Most Reverend Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop of the Province of South America and Bishop of the Anglican Church in Chile will visit us.  He will be visiting on behalf of the Global South Primates.  Our relationship is not with one individual Primate but with the entire committee. Thus, when Bishop Zavala visits it will not be on behalf of the Province of South America, but as a representative of the Global South Primates’ Steering Committee.  There are many leaders we have to thank for bringing this relationship about but this might be an appropriate moment for me to express my gratitude for the work of the Anglican Communion Institute in assisting this diocese both in this relationship with GSPSC and also in our litigation challenges with TEC.  ACI has been a real friend of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Another resolution passed last year was our affirmation of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), otherwise known as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA).  Our passing this resolution brought a visit from the retired Archbishop of Sydney in June of 2014, The Most Reverend Peter Jensen, General Secretary of GAFCON.  He met with the diocesan clergy for a morning session and the next day with our Standing Committee.  It was a helpful time for many of us, and I believe he left with a clearer understanding of our diocesan life and the role we seek to play in emerging Anglicanism. 

Last year’s convention also passed a resolution which asked me to establish a Task Force on Affiliation.  I appointed the Very Reverend Craige Borrett as the chair.  This Task Force has been meeting since early last summer.  You will hear a brief report from Dean Borrett later at this Convention.  Frankly, there are at this point three primary options which they have identified for the diocese.  One is to continue as we are with our provisional relationship with the GSPSC and wait to see what emerges on the larger stage, recognizing that the landscape in global Anglicanism is quite fluid and solidification something in the distant future—a reality signaled by the fact that at present a Lambeth Conference is not scheduled for 2018 nor for any alternative date yet announced.   A second possibility as Canon Harmon has suggested is to recognize the provisional nature of where we are but instead of waiting passively to note that ours is a vocation that requires proactive shaping of the future.

A third option is for us to seek affiliation with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).  There are constitutional and canonical details we need to explore with the leaders of ACNA, as well as concerns regarding overlapping jurisdictions which have no immediate solution in sight; yet there are also dimensions of life within an Anglican Province, especially here in North America, which could help us to more effectively fulfill our vision of Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age and also assist us in planting churches, engaging  the growing secularism of American society, and to assist our congregations with engaging every generation with the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Let me give a personal testimony for a moment.  This past January I attended a meeting of their College of Bishops in Orlando.  It was a refreshing time of fellowship with other bishops involved in the work of leading their dioceses and seeking to reach the culture of their communities.  The life of a bishop can be very isolating unless one intentionally seeks to find ways to engage across the boundaries of diocesan life.  I thank God that we are finding ways to partner with ACNA dioceses and their Provincial initiatives that can be enriching for our mutual life and mission.  One such example will be an upcoming ACNA gathering in South Carolina hosted by the Reformed Episcopal Church to focus on African-American Issues in Church and Society.  I am grateful for Archbishop Foley Beach’s invitation for me to participate in this gathering.  These are just two ways among others that I have found this sharing with ACNA to be helpful for me as well as for issues we face as a diocese.  A decision of affiliation, however, should never be guided merely by what we might gain from such relationship but also by what we might offer.

Missionalisation


While this is a novel word I have tweaked to fit with the other suffixes in this address it is hardly a novel concept.  Indeed it may well be the most important thrust of our diocesan life.  While our clergy and lay leaders are rightly grappling with how to become more attractive to the unchurched or God-Seeker, what is often referred to as the “Attractional Church Model” of growth, increasingly they are focusing on becoming more missional as well.  Becoming more missional does not mean taking mission trips to Third World countries or to poorer neighborhoods in our communities, as important as these are.  Missional in today’s church parlance means recognizing that becoming an attractional church is no longer sufficient.  Many people are not seeking a church and have no reason to consider why they should.

As our society becomes increasingly secular, pluralistic, and multi-cultural, we as the Church, the Body of Christ, can no longer assume that people will seek us out and join us if we just “do church better”.  As I often tell vestries or parishioners at Bishop Forums—“Jesus never told the world to go to church.  He did, however, tell the church to go into the world.”  To be missional is to meet others on their turf, on their terms, and in their needs.  It is what the missionary does when he or she takes the gospel to unreached people.  Frankly, this is what growing segments of North America have become in the last several decades—unreached people. 

I still remember a letter I received as a young rector.  The letter concluded with, “Always remember, Fr. Mark, the Church primarily exists to serve the needs of its long-time members.”  Even in the relatively more churched-culture of the late 1980s it struck me as shocking statement.  Former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, wrote in the 1930s that the Church is the only institution in the world that exists to serve the needs of those who are not yet its members.  But there is something more foundational than the recent debates about Missional vs Attractional.  The Church by its very nature is missional.  It is not that the Church one day decided to have a resolution, brought it forward and voted to be missional.  It was the Risen Jesus Christ, whose mission we continue, who commands us—“As the Father has sent me so I am sending you.”  The only thing left to ask is to whom, and where, and how He would have us go!

Missionalisation on a diocesan level also means to intentionally create a culture within the diocese that cultivates a missional approach to ministry and life.  Cultures, as it has been observed, cultivate.  To initiate outward thrust in congregational life and witness; to celebrate that which goes out in creative ways to where people gather rather than hunker down in Christian circles; to interact with the unchurch, unreached, uninterested is the challenge we face in today.  It is to recognize that Jesus often crossed boundaries in his ministry and once he crossed boundaries he made contact, cultivated curiosity and then touched the place of need in the other person’s life which they hardly knew they had or could even whisper to others.  It is, among other things, to take pre-evangelism, as well as evangelism, seriously.  What is pre-evangelism?   It is conveyed well by what an agnostic said upon the death of Pope John XXIII: “Pope John has made my unbelief uncomfortable.”  Missionalization is to have such an aroma of Christ that when we go into the world meeting others we graciously make the agnostic and religiously unaffiliated uncomfortable in their unbelief. 

Missionalisation also means for us to practice Big Picture thinking.  As your bishop I have been mindful of the need to look at the big picture within the emerging Anglican world. Through the 2008 Lambeth Conference; the Global South gatherings in Singapore or elsewhere; the various GAFCON conferences; and from bishops or primates who have come to us from abroad to sojourn a few days or weeks in the Diocese of South Carolina the challenges and opportunities have been kept before me.  Certainly the Anglican Communion Development Committee (ACD) has been a diocesan committee which has strategically looked at the larger world seeking to address what we could do to help shape the Anglican scene in the 21st Century.  I am heartened that some of our larger parishes, such as St. Helena’s, Beaufort and St. Michael’s Charleston (which has a vital missional thrust through its Global Impact Celebration) are now seeking input from the ACD Committee as they rethink their missional relationships around the world.

Nevertheless I am often troubled by a recurring personal concern regarding the Big Picture. I have served on a number of school, seminary and conference boards.  These boards often remind themselves that their job is to be looking at the life of their institutions from 30,000 feet.  These boards do not run the day to day operation.   Their task is to ask and answer questions regarding direction—such as where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going—and not just for the next year or so, but for the next five, ten even twenty years.  They are proactively looking at and evaluating realities and trends on the ground, always seeking to keep the big picture in mind.  Frequently I come away from these meetings asking the question “Where is the entity within the diocese appointed, elected or canonically tasked with this sort of work?”  Is it only the bishop and his staff whose job it is to do this?  If so it is an ill conceived assumption.  The Standing Committee is often too bogged down with day to day tasks defined by canon to be able to carry out this role—or at least in the past this has often been the case.  The Diocesan Council is far too big a body to carry out such an important work and it too has its own set of duties outlined by canons and past practice.  Nevertheless the visioning work from 30,000 feet needs to be done, and done effectively.   I will bring this before the Standing Committee at our upcoming retreat.  But I believe it should be brought before this Convention so that you know my desire for us to become a missional diocese that is proactively cultivating conversation and prayer about the future.  I am committed to finding a way to respond to this need and will come back to you next year with a plan.

Education


This leads quite naturally to my next area of concern—Education.  As I noted earlier, one concept floating around alert church, business and leadership circles these days is the recognition that cultures cultivate.  Some cultures within churches and businesses cultivate a learning and growing organization that is able to receive feedback and information from a variety of sources and then effectively adapt to change in their environment.  Some cultures within organizations cultivate systems that get stuck in past ways of doing things and are unable to receive or adapt to new realities.  I believe it is accurate to say that before and after World War II the mainline denominations were effective engines for reaching the culture of mid-20th Century America.  Many fruitful innovations came from these denominations.  They built new churches in the burgeoning suburbs and grew large impressive downtown Churches that were a vital part of the civil and religious life of our nation.  In many ways this mirrored the large corporations of the business world during those decades.  But in the 1970s and 80s this all began to change.  This didn’t happen all at once or everywhere at the same pace.  Yet change it did.  The denominations soon seemed out of touch with society. 

Innovators arose elsewhere and usually not from denominational leaders—neither those on the national level nor among local judicatory heads.   Most effective innovators were either outside the mainline denominations or were entrepreneurial pastors within the denominations who more often than not were at odds with the corporate denominational leaders.  There are many reasons for this but one significant one is that judicatory leadership all too easily become removed from changes in society.   It gets stuck—caught in a system it needs to break out of but doesn’t realize it.  When it does finally recognize its “stuckness” and tries to respond it does so in wrong ways— too often discarding that which it thinks the world has rejected, the timeless truths of the Gospel, and  marries itself to today’s fads and issues which only leaves it as tomorrow’s widow. 

Clearly I am not suggesting we suddenly begin giving the world what it wants—whether that be morally, spiritually or theologically.  As Archbishop Michael Ramsey wrote forty years ago, “The Church is called to serve without ceasing, but never to commend itself to the world by providing what the world would most like or approve on the world’s own terms.  When the Church tries to commend itself in this way it can do good, it can win admiration for a while, but it can lose the power to lead men to repentance, to divine forgiveness, and to the God of the Resurrection.”

So, what am I suggesting?  It is two-fold:  First, is simply this— for us to find ways for our bishop, clergy and lay leaders to look effectively at the challenges of a world that is changing at an ever faster clip.  In the last decades of the past century a seminary dean told his Cardinal coming to speak to the students, “I feel I must tell you the students of today are living in another world than we did.”  The same dean a few days later went back to the Cardinal to say, “I think I was mistaken.  These students are not living in another sort of world—they are on another planet.”  Well now, in this year of 2015, we might just have to say—the irreligious, the unchurched, and the religiously unaffiliated are often living in another galaxy or even another universe from many of us in the local parish.  Several years ago we held deanery workshops called “Reality Therapy”.  It is past time to revisit those deaneries with part two:  “Applying the Cure”

My second conviction is that as a diocese we need to find ways to make leadership development part of our diocesan life and culture.  Harvey Firestone once stated that “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”  If we want to become a diocese that grows and develops leaders—lay and ordained—we need to:

•    Make leadership development a part of the culture
•    Invest time and money to this end
•    Identify promising leaders early
•    Choose assignments strategically
•    Develop leaders with their current positions
•    Be passionate about feedback and support

We presently have a fine diocesan training program for those who are called to the permanent diaconate.   Canon Mike Malone works with the clergy of the diocese to hold classes for those men and women as they prepare for their call.  This two year program is formational for their preparation. 

In a similar vein I am convinced that we have in our diocese experienced priests, who could provide effective teaching, coaching and support for our recently ordained transitional deacons and priests, as well as for new vicars and rectors within the diocese.  I have dreamed of instituting this from my first years as your bishop.  But much to my dismay I have allowed other demands and challenges to distract me from this.  But no more!  Just a couple of weeks ago in a meeting with the Reverend Shay Gaillard the question of a Post Ordination or new Rector’s Coaching model came up in our conversation.  So we have booked a date in June at St. Christopher for this gathering.  Our younger clergy and those who have recently stepped into positions as rectors or vicars will be invited.  Experienced clergy will be recruited to share their wisdom and experience at this and future sessions.

Now to a related but different initiative: In last year’s address I shared an embryonic dream of establishing a “St. Augustine School for Anglican Leadership Development”.  While the issues of the trial and the day to day challenges of diocesan life has held this in abeyance I’m delighted to say that just recently Bishop Allison, Bishop Hathaway, the Very Reverend Dr. Peter Moore, and I met to initiate the next step in realizing this vision.  A member of the diocese has offered us $1,000,000 toward this project.  While it will take more than this to fully carry out this plan it is certainly enough to launch this project.  It is yet another means of fulfilling our diocesan vision of Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age enriching emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century and deepening and blessing the clergy and congregations of the diocese in immeasurable ways.  I refer you to last year’s Bishop’s Address for a brief sketch of this.  More details will become public before long.   We have projected January 2016 as the goal for hosting the first group of young global leaders here in Charleston, aiming it to overlap with next year’s Mere Anglicanism Conference.  Speaking of younger global leaders and Mere Anglicanism, in the last several years this ministry has grown exponentially under the leadership of the Reverend Jeffrey Miller, accompanied by the hospitality of the members St. Helena’s Beaufort.  It is now one of the premier conferences in the Anglican world.  Last year it attracted over 900 people from across the nation to Charleston with renowned speakers who challenged us to bold Christian witness in an aggressively secular age.  

You have heard me articulate several key initiatives.  How, you may ask, will we carry out these new opportunities while undertaking our normal diocesan work?  Well first let me say this summer I will be taking “a mini-sabbatical”.  Three weeks of it will be my normal vacation time.   The other seven weeks or so will then be a sabbatical.  I have entered my eighth years as your bishop.  In thirty-five years of ordained ministry I have never taken a sabbatical or even close to this much time away from day to day ministry. Frankly that has been neither prudent nor responsible stewardship of the ministry to which God has called me.  My family, the ministry, and I have suffered from this.   May God forgive me for this neglect of Sabbath rest!  As I am determined to finish well: In order to do so, and to gain perspective on how best to accomplish the visions and goals I have outlined here, I need to get away for a season of prayer, rest, renewal, study and consultation with others who are carrying out fruitful ministries.  I have presented this sabbatical plan before the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council and they have affirmed this decision.  As many parishes prefer not to have a bishop’s visitation during mid-July through early September this is when I’ll be away.  I ask your prayers for this season away.  It is time to recharge my batteries for the next chapter.

Litigation


Finally, Litigation.  The one fact of diocesan life that every delegate at this convention knows is that we have been in litigation with TEC for our diocesan identity and property, as well as for the identity and property of the parishes.  This has been— however necessary (and indeed it was) — an expensive and, I believe, spiritually costly enterprise.  The hours spent by our diocesan staff, parish staffs, clergy and laity in discovery and preparation for depositions was enormous.  The distraction to our parish and diocesan ministry and mission, as well as the ministry that has gone unfunded because of legal costs (even when at greatly lowered costs from normal hourly billing), is I suspect laden with collateral damage that God alone can redeem.  But I do believe the God who promised Israel through the prophet Joel that he would restore the years the locust had eaten is still sovereign over our affairs and to him we shall make our entreaty to do so again in our day.

As bishop of this diocese it was my dubious yet real privilege to sit through all three weeks of the trial.  I was often moved by the testimony of our parishioners and the labors of our legal team—they were stellar in every way imaginable.  (I would ask those members of the diocese present at this convention, whether those who worked on matters of discovery, took a deposition, testified, personally contributed to the financial costs, or were involved in the litigation to please stand. Let us express our gratitude to you for this work).  

It hardly needs to be said again that we are grateful for Judge Diane Goodstein’s ruling and for her timely denial of TEC’s request for reconsideration.  Unfortunately, based upon TEC/ECSC‘s past practice we are expecting they will appeal this order.  Thus, with the help of Dr. Peter Mitchell, who helped spearheaded the previous ventures for the Legal Defense Fund we have sought to assist our smaller parishes in meeting their share of the litigation expenses.  To that end we have just initiated The 1785 Society.   You will hear more about this during our convention.  It is my hope that this society will evolve into something which will continue to help this diocese with its ministry by furthering our consolidation through the advancement.  Perhaps it may even lead to joint efforts with the Advancement Society.  This is a day for innovation, and sometimes the best are mothered from necessities born to meet one need and then morph into creative responses for entirely new opportunities. 

Still I hasten to add that this current legal victory should not be seen as a divine vindication of our position in this struggle; any more than a loss would have been God’s judgment upon our stand.  We give thanks to God for this recent ruling, but to make it God’s vindication would be to yield to a false security.  We need to remind ourselves, again and again, of those apostolic words of St. Paul, “It is not ourselves we preach, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”   Anything else would be “to lapse into trying to make the Church credible on grounds other than those of the God of the Cross and the Resurrection.” Consider these words from Archbishop Michael Ramsey: “When therefore we say that we believe in the Church, we do so only and always in terms of our belief in the God who judges and raises up.  The mistake of ecclesiasticism through the ages is to believe in the Church as a kind of thing-in-itself.  The apostles never regarded the Church as a thing-in-itself.  Their faith was in God, who had raised Jesus from the dead, and they knew the power of the Resurrection to be at work in them and in their fellow believers despite the unworthiness of them all.  That is always the true nature of belief in the Church.  It is a laying- hold of the power of the Resurrection.  And because it is that, it is always on the converse side death:  death to self; death to worldly hopes; death to self-sufficiency; death to any kind of security for the Church or for Christianity, other than the security of God and the Resurrection.”

So my dear friends He and He alone is our security.  We live our lives, and carry out our ministry under the God who judges and raises up.  Anything less would be to find our diocesan and parish security and, yes, even our own security in false ways.  So this ruling is not our vindication even should it be final— and regardless of how heartened we are by it.  As Archbishop Michael Ramsey has rightly noted, “… woe to the Church if it thinks it can justify itself to the world, and find its own security….  It was such a justification of His own mission which our Lord decisively rejected as He moved towards the Cross for which he had been sent for the world’s redemption.”

So in conclusion as I finish this overview of the big picture—these matters of Consolidation, Affiliation, Missionalisation, Education and Litigation—with a return to St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians.  He puts before us in chapter two an imposing call and a probing question:   For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  Who is sufficient for these things?”  ( 2 Corinthians 2:15-16) He eventually answers the question in the next two chapters, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.” This is the larger context of his statement of having the treasure of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in earth vessels, in jars of clay.  It also serves as an answer to his question of sufficiency.  I am all too aware of my insufficiency to accomplish such a vision for this diocese.  Yet I often find myself recalling Bishop Alf Stanway’s words to me and others as young seminarians—“Aim at nothing and you’re bound to hit it.”  I am asking the leaders of this diocese to aim high; and while recognizing our frailty, as mere jars of clay, to trust boldly in the God who judges and raises up as we seek with one heart and one mind to lay-hold of the power of Christ’s Resurrection.  May God grant us such grace in our day!

 

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