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Bishop Mark Lawrence, photo by Sue CarelessCummins Theological Seminary, Summerville, SC, is pleased to announce the election of the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, to the Board of Trustees of the Seminary.  Bishop Lawrence was unanimously elected by the 44th Annual Synod of the Reformed Episcopal Diocese of the Southeast, meeting in Charleston, SC, on Friday, September 16, 2016.

This is an historic moment in the reconciliation of these two dioceses.  The Reformed Episcopal Diocese began in 1874 when former slaves, after the Civil War and Reconstruction, were not allowed to worship in the parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina.  They sought refuge in the newly founded (1873) Reformed Episcopal Church (REC).  These former slaves wrote to the Rt. Rev. George D. Cummins, founding bishop of the REC, and the General Council, asking for a church home in the REC.

In 1875, Bishop Cummins himself travelled to South Carolina where he organized four parishes and ordained three black men into the ministry of the REC.  Shortly after the Diocese was established, the Seminary was started by the Rt. Rev. Peter Fayssoux Stevens, who became the first bishop of the Diocese, and was a former Superintendent (President) of the Citadel from 1859-1861.  The seminary was named Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary in memory of Bishop Cummins who died in 1876.

Beginning with Bishop FitzSimons Allison and Bishop William Jerdan in the 1980s there has been a growing rapprochement and fellowship between the two dioceses.  The Diocese of the SE is a founding diocese of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).  The Diocese of South Carolina is in the process of considering joining this Province.  If this takes place it will help cement reconciliation between our two dioceses within the Anglican Communion.

After his election, Bishop Lawrence said, “I am honored to accept this nomination and election to serve on the Board of Cummins Theological Seminary.   I look forward to helping where I can to further the training of clergy and laity to serve our Lord whether within the Anglican tradition or elsewhere within Christ’s Kingdom.”   Cummins Seminary is the oldest active theological school in the Lowcountry.


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