SOUTH CAROLINA: Episcopalians assert authority
By Adam Parker
October 16, 2010
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina took steps Friday at its reconvened convention to further distance itself from the "national" Episcopal Church by passing resolutions asserting its sovereignty.
The meeting held at St. Paul's Church in Summerville was a continuation of the March convention. Last year, delegates voted "to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them."
Friday's vote was the latest development in a drawn-out disagreement between the diocese and church leadership, which many local Episcopalians consider too accommodating to social trends and not substantially faithful to the authority of Scripture.
The diocese has made efforts to distance itself from its parent church since the 2003 consecration in New Hampshire of Gene Robinson, who is openly gay.
The convention vote among clergy and lay delegates was decisive, with only a few of the diocese's 75 congregations and clergy objecting to some of the changes, according to participants and observers.
The new set of resolutions was developed in response to what the diocese called "far reaching and polity changing revisions to the disciplinary canon of The Episcopal Church."
The resolutions amend the diocese's constitution, deleting reference to national church canon law, asserting diocese sovereignty and making it easier to change governing documents. It removes the "unqualified accession" clause that recognizes the supremacy of the Episcopal Church's constitution and canons, and deletes a section of canon law stating that property is held in trust for the Episcopal Church. For details, visit www.diosc.com.
In the weeks leading up to the convention, a minority group of about 500 local dissenters, the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, sent a letter to the national church offices in New York calling for an investigation of the diocese.
The forum, whose members wish to remain part of the Episcopal Church, argued that the diocese's actions violate or ignore established church law.
Bishop Mark Lawrence responded at length (see www.diosc.com), concluding as follows:
"It is increasingly clear that we are engaged in a worldwide struggle for the soul of Anglicanism in the 21st Century. ... We are called to resist what appears is a self-destructive trajectory by many within The Episcopal Church. We are called to stand our ground and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ until it is no longer possible; and at the same time to continue to help shape the emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century, which is increasingly less provincial, less institutional and more relational."
SOUTH CAROLINA: 219th Diocesan Convention Reconvened
Diocese Votes Overwhelming in Favor of Resolutions; Lawrence remarks on Opportunities and Challenges
October 16, 2010
"What a great time to be alive and to be about the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence in his address to the reconvened 219th Diocesan Convention held at St. Paul's in Summerville, October 15, 2010. "But make no mistake; there are challenges that await us at every turn."
Lawrence spoke not only of the opportunities currently unfolding to partner in relationships around the globe in fulfilling the vision of "Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age," but about the ongoing challenges the Diocese faces. "We still have a God-given vocation within this worldwide struggle," he said. "There is no risk-free way forward for us."
Of special note was the announcement that the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester in England, and one of the most respected figures in the Anglican Communion, has agreed to be Visiting Bishop in South Carolina for Anglican Communion Relationships.
Bishop Lawrence's remarks were met with an extended standing ovation.
All Proposed Resolutions Pass Overwhelmingly
All five resolutions proposed by the Diocesan Standing Committee were passed overwhelmingly. View resolutions.
Resolutions R6 and R7, which amend the Diocesan Constitution, passed on a majority vote on the first reading. Because they amend the Constitution, they will need to be further adopted by a two-thirds majority at the 220th Convention which will be held in February, 2011.
Resolutions R8, R9 and R10, which amend the Diocesan Canons, had to be voted on by orders. All three passed well in excess of the two-thirds majority required and go into effect immediately.
Resolution R11, which amended the Corporate Charter of the Diocese, needed to be passed by a majority vote in order to go into effect, and it was.
Of the resolutions done by orders, with votes recorded publically, the following are the results:
Resolution, R8 - Clergy: 87 supported, 10 opposed; Parishes: 40 supported, 7 opposed; Missions: 14 supported, 1 opposed.
Resolution R9 - Clergy: 86 supported, 11 opposed, 1 abstained; Parishes: 39 supported, 7 opposed, 1 abstained; Missions: 13 supported, 2 opposed.
Resolution R10 - Clergy: 89 supported, 6 opposed; Parishes: 42 supported, 5 opposed, Missions 13 supported, 0 opposed.
Creating a Safer Church
The Rev. Jennie Olbrych and the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary, brought a resolution to the floor which seeks to strengthen programs which insure the safety of children in the Diocese, preventing child sexual abuse. One aspect of the resolution is to have the bishop appoint a task force during the 2011 Diocesan Convention to concentrate on this issue. This resolution passed unanimously.
Bishop Allison Preaches on Encouragement
The Rt. Rev. FitzSimons Allison, the retired 12th Bishop of South Carolina, who preached during the Eucharist, focused on the word "encouragement," in his sermon, stating that it was an "indispensible key" to understanding the Christian gospel. We do not have a two person trinity he noted focusing on the Holy Spirit's power as the gift given to enable a genuinely renewed life. At the conclusion of the sermon, Allison told a moving true story of a friend who fought with and for the life of another friend involved in self-destructive behavior. It was "true encouragement," said Allison, because "the love characterized by the Holy Spirit was there."
The Convention adjourned just past 2 p.m.