Editor's Note: When Barbara Harris was elected bishop, conservatives on Standing Committees were told that the only thing they could adjudicate is whether or not the process that elected her was canonical. Liberals, being the consistent people they are, changed the standard when Bishops Iker and Ackerman were elected. Both are against women's ordination, and the liberals tried to prevent their consecrations. While the issue is different, this is exactly what is happening to SC.
From The Living Church
The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence, rector of St. Paul's Church, Bakersfield,
Calif., recognizes that he is in a difficult position. Elected Bishop of
South Carolina Sept. 16, Fr. Lawrence must receive consent from a majority
of standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction within 120 days from
Nov. 9, the date they were formally notified of an election.
Some Episcopalians note that Fr. Lawrence has supported the Diocese of South
Carolina's decision to request alternate primatial oversight (APO) and are
concerned he will attempt to lead the diocese out of The Episcopal Church.
Others have not forgotten that he helped write the minority report
recommending against the New Hampshire consecration during the 74th General
Convention in Minneapolis. Two groups have written to the standing
committees and bishops expressing reservations.
"I don't take this personally," Fr. Lawrence said in a recent interview.
"This whole question about consent has never been about Mark Lawrence. It's
about APO. It's about uniformity. It's about what boundaries we will accept
Fr. Lawrence said he has responded to everyone who has contacted him seeking
clarification of his views, but he admits he has struggled with what to say.
"I don't want to needlessly inflame the situation or hedge who I am," he
At the age of 23, Fr. Lawrence "stumbled into" St. Paul's, the church where
he has served as rector for the past nine years. For the first time since he
had given his life to Christ two years earlier, he felt he had found a
spiritual home. He fell in love with The Episcopal Church, its structured
liturgy, its historic catholicity and its passion for scripture.
"It spoke to the depth of my soul as a sinner and yet saved," he said. "It
began to answer for me the question, 'How do I know I am part of the one,
holy, catholic and apostolic faith?"
Most of the questions he has been asked by those charged with granting
consent aren't about what drew him to The Episcopal Church or why he
continues to love it. Instead he said he is usually asked for promises that
he will remain true to his ordination vows.
He resists being drawn into canonical "what if"' questions posed to him by a
reporter. During 26 years as a priest, Fr. Lawrence said he has always
obeyed the discipline of The Episcopal Church and if granted consent to be
consecrated, he said he would continue to do so as bishop.
However, "it serves none of us well to ignore the developing crisis and take
refuge in polity which is proving to be no longer sufficient for the
challenges we presently face," he said. "I've sought, however inadequately,
in several of my writings not only to identify the problem, but to go beyond
merely admiring the complexity of the crisis.
"I should also continue to be cognizant that upholding the doctrine,
discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church includes the essential fact
of it remaining a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. No one knows
where we will end up. Anglicanism is in a profound state of transformation
"The people of South Carolina followed the process, and I was overwhelmingly
elected on the first ballot. Does anyone really think by rejecting me as
bishop that they can force Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina to
choose someone more to their liking? Is that going to help convince the
people of South Carolina that they are still respected and their voice
listened to by the majority?"