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The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence feels hand of God down journey through Episcopal Church schism

The following article, by Jennifer Berry Hawes, appeared in the Sunday, September 15, 2013 issue of the Post and Courier. We are grateful for their permission to reprint it.

Download a PDF. View it on the Post and Courier's website.

Four times, God could have called Mark Lawrence home. And didn’t.

From the moment Lawrence was born severely premature in a Catholic hospital, doctors warned he wouldn’t live.

The hospital’s nuns prayed otherwise. Lawrence went home, a shoebox his bassinet.

At six weeks old, he suffered a life-threatening blockage of his esophagus. Several years later, his appendix ruptured.

And as a grown man, his colon ruptured, bringing yet another dire prognosis. His wife sat beside his hospital bed.

“Are you going to go?” she whispered fearfully.


Frequently Asked Questions

Plaintiffs participating

Temporary Injunction

Temporary Restraining Order

Complaint for Declaratory Relief

A Letter from Bishop Lawrence  Download as a Bulletin Insert.

Rectors Speak Out: Statements from Rectors Requesting Declaratory Judgment

Stewardship of the Gospel - Stewardship of The Diocese - a Theological Reflection

Press Releases

Glossary of Terms.

Timeline of Events

Letters of Support/Articles of Interest

A Concise Summary

Download the full document.

JANUARY 4, 2013 <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} -->  The Diocese of South Carolina, after much prayerful consideration and reflection, has chosen to seek relief in the courts for the relentless challenges made to its integrity as a Diocese by The Episcopal Church (TEC).   Many of our parishes have joined in this request for justice because their own integrity is also at stake in these matters.  Indeed, the very integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it has been handed down to us through the ages, through the apostles and martyrs, is at stake.  

We believe our legal approach to be an essentially defensive strategy  one which asks a court to declare the parties rights & relationship once and for all; what has sometimes been called “legally binding preventive adjudication

This decision was first and foremost about Our Stewardship of the Gospel. Our governing reality is this: We do not believe that TEC owns the property in the Diocese of South Carolina; we do not believe that the Diocese of South Carolina owns it. God owns it. He will dispose of it in his sovereign wisdom.  However, as as stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) we have obligations.

Primary is our obligation to be stewards of the “deposit” of faith entrusted to us (1 Tim. 6:20 and 2 Tim. 1:14).  We, as the Diocese of South Carolina are stewards and servants of the Gospel’s truth.  That reality has further implications.   We are stewards of the Gospel identity which was launched centuries ago by the Diocese of London.   We cannot lightly set this precious gift and heritage aside. We are also stewards of our property.   Our buildings, chapels, carved pulpits, mission centers, kitchens, the places where generations of families have knelt together—all of this has a sacramental dimension.  They are places of encounter. And we are entrusted to make sure that the true Gospel is alive in these places. Finally, we are stewards God’s call, to make biblical Anglicans for a global age.  The paths of TEC and this Diocese have diverged in radically different directions.   Stewardship of our Gospel calling requires separation.

With so much at stake, we must consider carefully how scripture, tradition and reason can best inform and suggest a precedence for Lawsuits among Believers.   In 1 Corinthians 6:1-8,  Paul’s overall goal seems to be to lead these brothers to find wisdom, to discover a wise mediation to the problem. In Corinth, that was best sought within the community of faith.  With no viable ecclesiastical alternative, the civil courts (far different than those of Corinth) are our remaining viable alternative.  Paul was dismayed at the inner motives on display in this lawsuit in Corinth and its self serving character.  The declarative judgment we seek does not attempt to extort gain from the other party, but is simply a disciplined effort to establish justice.  Paul was dealing with a situation in which the matter is trivial or least in importance. This is worlds away from our situation.  Likewise, we do not find ourselves now in an inner parish setting such as the one Paul describes, but in one with the Gospel stewardship of many parishes at stake. Finally, this passage assumes a core and basic Christian brotherhood (6:6). We have lost the common ground.  Back beneath any legal contest stands a more massive fracture: we are in a desperate struggle to define the meaning of Christ himself and the truth and reliability of His Word.

While without question, gratuitous lawsuits are ugly and counter to our Christian witness, Christians may often find themselves in circumstances where justice and wisdom can be upheld nowhere other than the civil courts.  It is here that the ancient boundary stones which have been wrenched away might be restored again to their true place (Proverbs 23:10).  Such is our circumstance.

A Case for Just Legal Action can also be drawn from Christian tradition. The Just War Tradition has a long history in the annals of the Church beginning with Augustine of Hippo and delineated in a more extended form by St. Thomas Aquinas.  The classic articulation of its principles would include: Just Cause, Legitimate Authority, Formal Declaration, Right Intention, Probability of Success, Proportionality and Last Resort.  On the basis of all these criteria, we believe our recourse to litigation qualifies as a moral act.

Finally, the life of St. Paul (Acts 22-25) provides a final helpful Case Study of how the principles and concepts of Gospel stewardship outlined above can be applied in a context not dissimilar to our own.  Paul exercises his right as a citizen on three related occasions when facing potential harm and persecution. He does so first at the time of his arrest on the Temple grounds (Acts 22:25), then again when he learns of the plot to murder him (Acts 23:12-15) and most decisively when it appears Festus is about to give him to the Temple leaders for a trial (Acts 25:10-11).  

Throughout, he is not averse to defending himself by appealing to the legal apparatus of his day.   He has rights as a Roman citizen, which from time to time, he will exercise (c.r. Acts 16:37-40).  He does so in a fashion that focuses on his present and future ability to proclaim the gospel. All this on his part is done in a fashion that does no material harm to anyone.   There is, however, the clear assertion of his truth over that of his accusers.   Paul is able to stand on his conscience with complete integrity as a steward of the Gospel.

The analogy to our circumstances here in the Diocese of South Carolina is striking.  Our action is in response to over 3 years of steadily escalating attempts to interfere in our Gospel life and ministry by TEC.  Now, like St. Paul, we have exercised our right as citizens and "appealed to Rome" for relief from those who seek to do us harm.   Our request for a declaratory judgment seeks nothing but the affirmation of the truth:  that we, like Paul, have done no wrong.   We believe our actions to date have been legal, moral and justifiable.   

For the sake of our stewardship of the Gospel; for the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them; for the preservation of the ministry of our parishes in the Lowcountry, we can do no other than defend our Diocese and its ability to spread the Good News of God’s Kingdom.
July 20-1921 – October 8, 2012

Nick ZeiglerEugene Noel Zeigler, Jr., lawyer, legislator, historian, civic leader, and former Chancellor of the Diocese, died in Florence on October 8.  He was 91.

Zeigler was born in Florence on July 20, 1921, the son of Eugene Noel Zeigler and Helen Livingston Townsend Zeigler.  

After graduating from Florence High School in 1938, Zeigler attended Sewanee, from which he received his B.A. in 1942.  While at Sewanee, Zeigler was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the Guerry Medal in English.

Zeigler served as an officer on four aircraft carriers during the Second World War, received his JD from Harvard Law School in 1949, and returned to Florence, where he practiced law continuously until 2007, and was widely regarded for his skill and eloquence as a litigator and advocate, as well as his willingness to do what he considered his duty to represent those on the wrong side of the social and economic dynamic of his time.  In the 1950s, Zeigler was intensely involved in civic life in Florence and the Pee Dee.  He became President of the Florence Museum in 1951 and orchestrated and oversaw its move into its present building in 1953.  He founded the Pee Dee Big Brothers, the first Big Brothers organization in the South, in 1953, and the Florence Fine Arts Council in 1954.  

Zeigler was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1960 and the South Carolina Senate in 1966.  During his time in the General Assembly, Zeigler promoted a progressive agenda, and was among the “Young Turks” seeking to reform state government.  He served on the West Commission, which formulated the Home Rule Amendments to the South Carolina Constitution, and chaired legislative committees that reformed the juvenile justice and corrections system.  He helped create the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, and wrote and sponsored the legislation that created the South Carolina Arts Commission.

A proponent of civil rights for African Americans and desegregation of public schools, while in the General Assembly Zeigler authored and promoted legislation that desegregated the Florence Public Library and ended racially exclusionary School Board election practices in Florence School District One.  Zeigler sponsored the legislation to create Francis Marion College in 1970, and taught political science as a member of that institution’s first faculty while still serving in the Senate.

Zeigler was the Democratic Party’s nominee for the US Senate in 1972, but lost in the election to incumbent Strom Thurmond.  Zeigler also ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1974.

After leaving elective politics in the 1970s, Zeigler remained active in statewide governmental affairs, serving as Chairman on the newly created Human Affairs Commission, and was a member of the South Carolina Board of Corrections from 1975 to 1990, serving as its Chairman during much of that time.

A member of both the South Carolina Tricentennial and Bicentennial Commissions, Zeigler also served for several decades as President of the Florence County Historical Society, and was Secretary of the St. David’s Society of South Carolina from 1977 to 2003.

Zeigler was a lifelong member of St. John’s Florence, serving on its vestry on several occasions, and was Chancellor of the Diocese of South Carolina for over twenty years.

A prolific writer and skilled story teller, Zeigler was the author of six books, including Florence, A Renaissance Spirit, Barnwell Blarney, Village to City: Florence, South Carolina, 1853-93, Refugees and Remnants: The Story of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Pee Dee and St. John’s Episcopal Church, and a memoir, When Conscience and Power Meet.  Zeigler’s sixth book, In Disgrace With Fortune and Mens’ Eyes, profiles forty-seven forgotten, ignored, or unpopular South Carolinians, and was published several weeks before his death.

Zeigler received numerous awards in recognition of his achievements and contributions, including the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award in 1971;  the Order of the Palmetto in 2003; the Governor’s Award in Humanities in 2004, and the South Carolina Bar Foundation’s DuRant Award for distinguished public service in 2005.   He received honorary degrees from both Sewanee and Francis Marion University.

He is survived by his wife, the former Anne Marion Lide, four children, and eleven grandchildren.  His son Belton is Chancellor of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.
Funeral Services will be at 3:00 on Thursday, October 11 at St. John’s Florence, with burial immediately following at Mount Hope Cemetery, directed by Waters-Powell Funeral Home.  The family will receive friends at the Fellowship Hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church immediately following burial.
Memorials may be sent to the Florence Museum, Florence County Library, or St. John’s Episcopal Church.

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