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Latest News
Bishop Lawrence Writes from Marsabit, Northern Kenya PDF Print E-mail
Allison with friends at Archers Post Anglican ChurchWhile the Imam’s call to prayer sounded earlier just below my full consciousness, it was the buzzing of a thick-bodied Wood Boring Bee that finally awakened me and ushered me into the various morning sounds of Marsabit—bird songs, cock crows, the wind in the trees outside my window, a faint voice or two from the town in the distance, and the ringing of the church bell.  Six o’clock.  I get up and freshen myself, make a cup of instant coffee and say Morning Prayer in the quietness of the house.  How I’ve missed this time alone with You, Lord, this past week [while at GAFCON].

Now after a pleasant breakfast with Bishop Rob, his wife, Sue, and Allison, I sit out on their porch enjoying the garden and the cool late morning breeze and scrawl a few sentences in this journal.  A white breasted Pie Crow caws from a tall thin-leafed tree where I notice a nest in the upper branches and a slightly moving head of a mother bird apparently brooding over her eggs or young.  Is this emblematic of Your Holy Spirit this morning brooding over us—I wonder?  The red bougainvillea beside the yellow-green flax,  the cane brake, and the purple and white Inpatients against the red earth might just as well be the Southwestern United States—but, “No”, I tell myself, “this  is Northern Kenya” and the tall, colorfully beaded women I saw yesterday at worship in Archers Post Anglican Church, stunning in their vibrant song and dance; the six various tribes and tongues represented in the small yet crowded church; the young African children delighting in our presence and reaching out their hands to greet us—even laughing as Allison put her white arm parallel with their black ones; the long arduous drive on the dirt road, the Land Rover jostling us about for hours; the herds of sheep, cattle and camels we passed along the way with the young African boys shepherding them, and the occasional warrior in colorful fabrics and feathers, dramatic against their lean bare black shoulders and chests, walking in stately stride with their weapon of choice at their side; all somewhat dream-like in my memory, yet calling me back to gratitude and prayer.

Read it all.

 
GAFCON II: "We are not alone." A Brief Q & A with the Rev. Bob Lawrence PDF Print E-mail

“They know us and pray for us: We are not alone”


The Rev. Bob LawrenceA Brief Q&A with the Rev. Bob Lawrence on day two of GAFCON II in Kenya

Q: I understand you traveled with Bishop and Allison Lawrence and Greg Snyder. How did the four of you find traveling together, any interesting travel moments or incidents?

A: Travel together was fun. We had layovers in both Boston and Amsterdam with opportunities to share meals, explore a few shops, and to guard one another's luggage while waiting.  In Amsterdam we ran into quite a few folks that were also en route to GAFCON so that provided a great opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones.
Read more...
 
Diocese of South Carolina Participates in GAFCON II PDF Print E-mail
Bishops and Archbishops attending GAFCON gather for official photograph

Please keep all who are attending the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON II) in Nairobi in your prayers. GAFCON is an international gathering of Christians representing the majority of the world's Anglicans. The first conference took place in Jerusalem in 2008, and became a rallying point for unity within an otherwise fractured Communion.There are over 1,300 Archbishops, Bishops, clergy and lay people from almost 40 countries attending. There are 331 bishops present, of whom 30 are Archbishops.

Bishop Mark Lawrence, his wife Allison Lawrence, the Rev. Bob Lawrence and the Rev. Greg Snyder are attending from the Diocese of South Carolina.

Links to several GAFCON news sources may be found here and here. Visit our Facebook page for GAFCON updates from our delegates.
 
SC Judge Rejects TEC's Request to Remove Injunction Protecting Diocesan Names and Seal PDF Print E-mail

Diocese's Names, Symbols, Seal are Protected by Judge, Who Denies the Denomination's Efforts to Seize Them


St. George, SC, October 11, 2013 – South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane S. Goodstein today ruled in favor of the Diocese of South Carolina’s position that her injunction, which prohibits The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) from using the names and seal of the Diocese of South Carolina, should remain in place.

Judge Goodstein issued the injunction and temporary restraining order in January.

“I’m not going to disturb the injunction,” she said.  The judge said it will remain in place to protect the diocese’s duly registered marks. Under South Carolina civil law those are entitled to protection.
Read more...
 
The Real Story Behind Our Split with The Episcopal Church PDF Print E-mail
By the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of South Carolina

The Charleston Mercury ran the following article in its October 2 2013 issue. We are grateful for their permission to reprint the article here.

Much has been written about the Diocese of South Carolina’s separation from The Episcopal Church (TEC) – and most of it has been wrong.

Virtually all the articles suggest our diocese left because TEC ordained a gay bishop. That’s just not true. The diocese separated last year, nine years after TEC elected its first, noncelibate, gay bishop – and only after the denomination tried to strip all authority from our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.

Though media insist our motive for leaving is our difference with TEC’s policies on the ordination of gay bishops and same-sex marriage, the real issues are rooted in the 1970s, well before Gene Robinson became the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003.

It’s About God, Not Gays


To understand the situation in South Carolina, you need to understand the history of the Episcopal Church, which is an American expression of the Anglican Communion. We have a unique view of the denomination since the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the nine pre-existing dioceses that founded TEC in 1789. The denomination has been redefining itself since the 1970s effectively evolving into two churches under one roof – a traditional one that embraced historic Anglican doctrines and a modernist one. By the 1990s, the modernist faction was gaining dominance within the denomination. For example, TEC’s then-Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, proclaimed that “truth,” is “pluriform.” This meant the church recognized no single truth, no single theology, no single pathway to salvation.

He effectively said that one person’s truth is as good as another’s. And many of us found that to contradict everything we believe as Anglicans.

It’s true that we live in a nuanced, multicultural world, but traditional Anglicans believe in the authority of Scripture. For us, a belief in Christ is fundamental to the faith, not one of several optional paths to salvation. It is why we are Anglicans, rather than Unitarians or Buddhists or Hindus or something else.

In a 2006 interview with Time magazine, the Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori, a strong pluriform proponent claimed that to believe, as Jesus said, that He is “the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but through Him,” was to put God in an “awfully small box.” That denial of Jesus' essential role clearly displayed the difference between traditional and modernist or pluriform Anglicans/Episcopalians.

Many Leave TEC.


The denomination’s embrace of relativism has increased under Jefferts-Schori’s leadership. As the newly elected presiding bishop, Jefferts-Schori presided over the General Convention in 2006 that failed to honor the requests made by the Anglican Communion. In response, seven dioceses – including the dioceses of South Carolina, San Joaquin, Calif.; Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Springfield, Ill., Dallas and Central Florida – asked the
Archbishop of Canterbury to grant them oversight by someone other than TEC’s presiding bishop.

When no action took place, an exodus began. San Joaquin left TEC in 2007. The Diocese  of Quincy, Ill., voted to leave in 2008. Pittsburgh and Fort Worth left in 2009. Between 2000 and 2010, TEC church attendance dropped by 23 percent – and some dioceses lost up to 80 percent of their attendees at Sunday services. Beyond the four dioceses, more than 100 individual parishes left the denomination.

But the Diocese of South Carolina stayed, trying to work with TEC. We took the steps necessary in good conscience to differentiate ourselves from the positions and actions of the TEC leadership while still remaining in the denomination. It’s true that our people were torn about TEC’s shift away from historic Anglican beliefs, but we remained part of the denomination, until last year, when it ruled that Bishop Lawrence had “abandoned”
the church and took steps to remove him from the leadership role to which members of the diocese had elected him.

Strong Support to Leave


The denomination’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops claimed that Bishop Lawrence abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.” We believe the decision stemmed from the bishop’s consistent efforts to protect traditional voices and beliefs. The charges laid against him were for actions taken by our Diocesan Convention and its duly-elected leaders.

The Diocese’s Standing Committee announced that the action of TEC’s Disciplinary Board triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions that simultaneously disaffiliated us from the Episcopal Church and called a special convention of the diocese.

The disaffiliation was affirmed by the vast majority of members who attended the special convention in November 2012. It has since been confirmed again in votes by congregations within the diocese. In all, 49 parishes representing 80 percent of the diocese’s 30,000 members voted to leave TEC, exercising our right to freedom of association.

Anglican leaders from around the world have sent messages of support for the diocese. Many members of the global Anglican Communion feel as we do that TEC has departed from historic Anglican beliefs. Most agree TEC has embraced a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes following Christ’s teachings optional for salvation.

The diocese has also been visited by numerous Anglican bishops to demonstrate their support. Easily a dozen from around the globe have been our guests since our departure with more each month. There are vastly more Anglicans in Communion with the Diocese of South Carolina right now than with TEC.

Preventive Lawsuit


In January, we filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court, asking for legal protection of the diocese’s property and identity from takeover by TEC. Critics suggest that our suit was unusual. Some even say that the litigation was unprecedented – and “un-Christian.” To be clear, however, the only thing unusual about the lawsuit was that we managed to file before TEC.

The little-reported fact is that TEC has filed more than 80 lawsuits seeking to seize the property of individual parishes and dioceses that left the denomination. TEC itself has admitted to spending more than $22 million on its legal action. These efforts have largely succeeded when TEC attempts to seize the property of individual parishes. Parishes across the country have been evicted from their churches.

TEC’s policy is simple and punitive: No one who leaves TEC may buy the seized church buildings. In several cases where TEC has succeeded in seizing a church, it has evicted the congregation and shuttered the building. In some cases, the church has been handed over to remnant groups that remained loyal to TEC. In other cases, the church has been sold to another religious group.

However, TEC has had less success with the lawsuits it has filed against dioceses. Recently, an Illinois Circuit Court judge decided that TEC had no grounds to seize the endowment funds of the Diocese of Quincy. The Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision supporting TEC over the separated Diocese of Fort Worth. And in South Carolina, a federal district court judge decided that the Circuit Court of South Carolina is the proper court to decide the fate of our property, upsetting TEC’s efforts to get the case heard by the federal judiciary.

It’s About Religious Freedom


We are not thrilled about turning to the courts for help but believe we had no other recourse for our protection. Much like St. Paul's appeal to Rome (Acts 25), we feel confident the courts will give us a fair hearing. While TEC attempts to portray us as bigots, the real issue is religious freedom.

Members of the diocese who voted to leave TEC feel the denomination has moved away from the authority of Scripture and their historic Anglican beliefs. They left us. You may agree with us about this, or you may find that TEC’s revisions are appropriate. But whatever you believe, those personal opinions should not prevent us – or others – from practicing our faith.

And, since that religious freedom is constitutionally guaranteed in the United States, we believe that the people who built and paid for the disassociated parishes and dioceses have a right to their property. Obviously, TEC wants to keep those millions of dollars in  property – an attractive prize for a denomination that is losing members and closing churches.

Irony of Reconciliation


Local media have devoted significant attention to the claims of TEC’s representatives that they hope for reconciliation between the denomination and the diocese.

It is difficult to imagine what form that reconciliation might take. After all, Bishop Lawrence spent years trying to keep us within TEC – only to be found guilty of abandonment while in the very midst of attempting negotiation. We were effectively fired upon under a flag of truce. Individual parishes that separated from TEC around the country have been spurned when they attempted to buy their church buildings from the denomination. In one case, a church was actually sold to an Islamic community group at a price significantly lower than the congregation had offered.

That said, we do not wish malice against anyone who wishes to embrace TEC’s vision of faith. But neither will we allow them to impose their vision on us.

 
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