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Bishop's Messages
A Message from Bishop Lawrence at the Close of the Trial PDF Print E-mail
Bishop Mark LawrenceJuly 27, 2014
St. George, Utah

Dear Friends in Christ,

“… suffering produces endurance and endurance produces hope and hope does not disappoint us for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit….” Romans 5:3-4

Having spent much of the last three weeks at the Dorchester Courthouse in St. George, South Carolina it is rather serendipitous to be sending this from a Starbucks in St. George, Utah (a gateway to Zion National Park).  Allison and I will be traveling during the next few weeks in Utah, Nevada and California on vacation.  She’ll have some much needed time for relaxation and fun and I’ll be climbing the mountains and hiking the trails.  Nevertheless, I want to send you this report on the last three weeks.

Firstly, I’m glad to say our legal team led by Mr. Alan Runyan and Ms. Henrietta Golding, supported by a stellar cast of attorneys from the various congregations across the diocese, presented a strong case and did so in a professional, forthright, and convincing manner.  The teamwork was marvelous to observe and was only exceeded by what seemed to be the outstretched arm and the mighty hand of God moving again and again in a most timely manner.  I was proud to have them representing us from the Diocese of South Carolina. Frankly, having sat through all fourteen days I have to say it was a trial of tediously presented evidence by TEC fortunately punctuated during cross-examination by our attorneys with moments of sheer drama and stunning admissions. 
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Bishop Charges Clergy to "Do the Work of an Evangelist." PDF Print E-mail
Bishop Lawrence with clergy at renewal of vows service“Do the work of an Evangelist!” charged Bishop Mark Lawrence in his sermon to the 75 clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina who attended the annual Renewal of Ordination Vows service, held April 1 at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston.

“The clock is ticking,” said the Bishop. “There are seven billion people in the world – three times as many as when I was born – Seven billion trying to eke out a living and experience a meaningful life. Can you digest a fact like that and not hear the clock ticking?”

Teaching from the Gospel passage John 4:5-35, known as “the woman at the well,” the Bishop urged the clergy to follow Jesus’ example and:

  • Cross Boundaries
  • Make Contact
  • Cultivate Curiosity
  • Touch the Deepest Need or Place of Pain
  • Bring People to a Place of Personal Commitment
  • Unleash New Converts - the Best Evangelists

“That’s our job!” said Lawrence. “We may not have the gift of evangelism but we have to lead the church to be God’s agent for evangelism. Everything else we do is like rearranging the furniture when the house is on fire—everything else pales.”

“Give us a passion and desire to reach the lost,” prayed the Bishop at the close of the service. “Set a fire within us!”

The sermon is available online at http://your-cathedral.org/bishop-lawrences-sermon-at-the-clergy-reaffirmation-of-vows/
 
Bishop Lawrence's Address to the 223rd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina PDF Print E-mail
The following address was given by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina, at the 223rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina held at Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Download a printable version. Listen to the address.

Bishop’s Address to the 223rd Annual Diocesan Convention


“The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.” So wrote the Swiss theologian, Emil Brunner, several generations ago.  And it was clearly under the burning fire of the Holy Spirit that the apostles moved out to engage the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.  For what God had done in Jesus Christ for the world must be made known to the world.  “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?” wrote St. Paul. “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!’ … faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10: 14-17) So these early Christians sent out and so they went out.  Pressing on, as one missionary statesman has written, “… going from city to city as heralds of the King, not staying to argue with gainsayers….” We spend too much time arguing with those within the church who do not believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be proclaimed to all people while we remain in guilty silence about the Gospel in the presence of its many cultured despisers.  It was not so for the early disciples.  Inflamed as they were with a saving message and filled with an unspeakable joy they brushed off the dust of those who had rejected their message and moved on looking for the next opportunity.  The Holy Spirit never allowed them to let the need to consolidate what they had gained to replace the need to advance.   In fact advancement became the method of consolidation.  I am gripped by these words from Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, writing about the church’s need to press forward “… both to the ends of the earth and the ends of the world, rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God.”  Of the Church’s need to press on in the strength of the Holy Spirit, living by grace, turning outward to engage the world, resisting the constant temptation to play it safe, he writes:
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Mice in the Palace - Sin in the Heart; An Ash Wednesday Reflection from Bishop Mark Lawrence PDF Print E-mail
MouseI read once — but cannot remember where — a children’s story of a king who had an infestation of mice in his palace.  He went to his counselors who advised him to hire some cats.  Soon the cats cleared the palace of the mice but the cats multiplied. He returned complaining about his infestation of cats.  So his wise men counseled him to get some dogs.  Well the dogs soon supplanted the cats, sleeping upon the king’s bed and being a general nuisance—howling at night and barking at his guests.  So returning again to his counselors to get rid of the dogs they all agreed that lions would scatter the dogs—which of course they did.  But before long the lions were lounging on the beds and couches and eating his store of fine meats.  “What am I to do now?” he quizzed his wise men?   They said, “Get some elephants!”  Well the elephants drove out the lions but then they played havoc with his Great Room and hallways, leaving unseemly droppings and crushing furniture.  “Now what?” he asked his advisers.  “Bring in some mice” said the wise men, “they will scare the elephants away!”  Far too often we try to deal with our problems with solutions that only lead to other problems and we end up back with the mice because we never bothered to ask the question, “Why are the mice in the palace in the first place?”
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Bishop Lawrence's Address to the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina PDF Print E-mail
The following address was given by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina at the 222nd Annual Convention of the Diocese held at the Francis Marion Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, March 9, 2013. It has been edited slightly for readability.  Download a printable version.

Bishop’s Address – 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina


 “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and wither it goest: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8 (Jesus speaking to Nicodemus.)
       
A young rabbi once asked an older rabbi, “What do you have to do to make God smile?”  The wise elder replied, “Just tell Him the plans you have made!”  Indeed. Who could have envisioned all that has transpired in the Diocese of South Carolina since our Annual Convention on March 10, 2012 at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul?   Frankly, since last summer’s General Convention of The Episcopal Church there has hardly been a week in which the landscape has not changed in significant and dramatic ways. This week was no exception. On Thursday afternoon I was served a summons to appear in Federal Court as the defendant in a civil suit brought against me by the Rt. Reverend Charles von Rosenberg. You are most likely aware The Episcopal Church has agreed to the state court’s injunction not to use the name of our diocese. Yet now in a self-contradictory move, Bishop von Rosenberg, the Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has used our name, the name of our diocese in bringing a lawsuit against me. I will leave it to our legal counsel to respond to these matters further. It is, however, an opportunity for us to remember that this legal road will take us down many twisting turns. There will be many ups and downs before it is concluded and at times it may test our resolve. We need to remain steadfast in our faith, firm in our conviction and resolute of will as God gives us strength. None of it however should dissuade us from our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ to live in confidence of the good news of his death and resurrection, to continuously put our fingers in the nail prints in his palms; our hands in his side – Do not doubt but believe – to remember his glorious ascension to the right hand of God the Father exalted over all principalities and powers that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father – remembering  his promise to come again in Glory at the close of the age. None of it should detract us from being obedient to Christ’s Great Commission – to Go and make disciples. So undeterred we press on.
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Bishop Lawrence Addresses the 221st Diocesan Convention PDF Print E-mail
Bishop Lawrence Addresss the 221st Diocesan ConventionThe Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina, addresses the 221st Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, The Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, March 10, 2012

Listen to the audio version of this address. Download a printable copy. (Note the charts referred to in the talk are included in this version. In the version below they are available by link only.)




When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
Then were we like those who dream.    Psalm 126:1

I preached recently at Voorhees College for their Annual Absalom Jones Eucharist.   Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina was the celebrant.  It was the first occasion in memory that both bishops of South Carolina were present and participating in a worship in St. Philip’s Chapel.   I believe it was a positive show of support for this historically black college.  As the preacher I wanted to offer a word of hope to these students preparing for life in a world of challenges.  While writing the sermon I was stirred by words of the psalmist assigned for this feast day; his remembering the power of a dream—or perhaps more accurately stated, the freedom to dream.  Here in the 126th Psalm a faithful petitioner in Israel, after returning from exile to the Promised Land, now finds that he and the people of God are again experiencing misfortune perhaps through drought, threatened crops, or even enemy encroachment.  But regardless of the cause, he turns to God in prayer and at once remembers a past deliverance.  Memory for him leads not to nostalgia for the past but hope for the future.  By remembering the dreams of God he holds on to hope, if only by one thin thread of thanks!  And he trusts that God is faithful.  
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Bishop Lawrence's Address to the Clergy, April 14, 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Listen to an audio version of Bishop Lawrence's Address to the Clergy at the Clergy Renewal of Vows Service held at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul on Thursday, April 14, 2011.
 
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