Thinking Anglicans

South Carolina election voided

Updated Friday morning

The Diocese of South Carolina has published a statement:

Consents for New South Carolina Bishop’s Election Ruled Insufficient; Diocesan Leadership Confident About the Future

I received a phone call late this afternoon from the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori giving notification that she was declaring null and void the election of The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence to be bishop of The Diocese of South Carolina. Although more than a majority of dioceses had voted to consent to Fr. Mark’s election, there were canonical deficiencies in the written responses sent to us. Several dioceses, both on and off American soil, thought that electronic permission was sufficient as had been their past accepted practice. The canons which apply are III.11.4(b), pp. 101-102 in the newly published 2006 Constitutions and Canons that require the prescribed testimonial to the consent be signed by a majority of each standing committee.

I have also notified Fr. Mark of her decision. We offer our deepest condolences to Fr. Mark and his wife Allison who have navigated this time of process with class, dignity and courage. I know that it is toughest on Allison who has had to watch her beloved spouse suffer so many indignities. We hope that they will agree to continue to be a part of the Diocese of South Carolina’s pursuit of securing our next Diocesan. Fr. Lawrence has modeled exemplary patience and calmness by enduring a level of scrutiny and persecution that is without precedent in The Episcopal Church (TEC).

Our Chancelor, Nick Ziegler has been suffering with bad health for several months. Currently our acting Chancellor, Wade Logan, is out of the country. He is scheduled to return within ten days. Upon his return we will convene both the Chancellor and acting Chancellor to discuss our options within the canons of TEC. The Standing Committee will then plot a course of action for the near future. In the meantime the Standing Committee will continue our partnership with our acting Bishop, the Right Rev. Edward Lloyd Salmon in tending to the needs of our diocese as we have for over the past 8 months. Bishop Salmon will represent us this week at the House of Bishop’s meeting to be held in Camp Allen, Texas.

I hope that this tragic outcome will be a wake up call to both clergy and lay through out TEC as to the conditions in our church. I have been blessed and encouraged by the many clergy and lay people throughout the world that have worked tirelessly on Fr. Mark’s behalf making phone calls and communicating through the electronic media in an effort to secure a majority of consents.

As I write this release I am reminded of Christ’s words in Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Our hand is to the plow, and in faithfulness to our Christ, we will not look back.

—The Rev. J. Haden McCormick
President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

The Episcopal News Service has issued South Carolina election voided due to canonical deficiencies in responses – Lawrence invited to participate in second search process. This explains what happened in more detail. In particular it says:

Canonically adequate ballots were received by South Carolina from 50 diocesan standing committees. Several other standing committees were reported to have consented, but no signatures were attached to their ballots, or the ballot itself was missing from South Carolina’s records, Jefferts Schori reported. Any committee that did not respond is considered to have voted no.

Elsewhere, Kendall Harmon has stated on his blog titusonenine that in total 57 consents were notified to the Standing Committee, the last two of which were Colombia and Venezuela.

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Laurence RobertsC.B.Bill CarrollGöran Koch-SwahneJPM Recent comment authors
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JCF
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JCF

“I hope that this tragic outcome will be a wake up call to both clergy and lay through out TEC as to the conditions in our church.”

WTF???

[i.e., I guess, compared to Rev. McCormick—and on the 4th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq—I have a different scale of “tragic outcomes”!]

Frankly, I count this press release from Dio SC (the ones really responsible for this mess in the first place, in the EXTREMITY of their episcopal slate) as the *preliminary framing*. I await the Real Deal from the PB and the Episcopal News Service…

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Was there intense scrutiny? Yes. There were many attempts to get clear, unambiguous answers to basic questions like, “Will you keep yourself and your Diocese in TEC?” Clear and unambiguous answers would likely have resulted in enough consents to outnumber the invalid ones.

Was there persecution? Gimme a break.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Hot Dawg! Dang, next thang ya know, them thar LGBT Christians are gunna be gett’n hitched-up at Church.

Caelius Spinator
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Caelius Spinator

OK. This is ridiculous. Ignoring the question of Lawrence’s true willingness to accede to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of TEC, throwing out the election on a technicality is an operation of civil law as understood in the US and UK. The operative principle at canon law should be that “justice consists of living honestly, doing no harm, and handing over to each his own” as in the Institutes. Now, admittedly the Standing Committees were obligated by positive law to provide notification in a certain way. I’m a student. I know that if I submit a paper electronically and it… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

The incredible thing is that Lawrence would not have been acceptable to the Diocese of South Carolina and the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1807 and 1907.

He calls himself Father, holds ritualitic views and also agrees to the ordination of women.

Thus showing that Anglican orthodoxy is as pick and choose as Liberalism.

In fact at least the liberal agenda is clear.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Although more than a majority of dioceses had voted to consent to Fr. Mark’s election, there were canonical deficiencies in the written responses sent to us.” But the trouble is that some were not written responses. McCormick explains “Several dioceses, both on and off American soil, thought that electronic permission was sufficient as had been their past accepted practice”. However, this statement conflicts with Canon III.11.4 (b) (pp. 101-102 in the Constitutions and Canons 2006 ed.), which does not talk of “electronic permission” but requires the written Consents to be s i g n e d by a majority of… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

TEC – you are looking good to the rest of the AC!

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“I’m a student. I know that if I submit a paper electronically and it says on the syllabus that such submissions are not acceptable, I’m at the mercy of the professor and may receive no credit for the paper.” Here’s a better analogy. I’ve just handed back a set of student papers. I invite but do not require rough drafts. Those submitted I read carefully, mark, and return to students with suggestions for improvement. Students usually make the suggested changes and earn a higher grade than they would have otherwise. What if I accepted drafts, looked at them, and send… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Good decision. Now, let’s have the necessary rejection of the homophobic conditions expected of TEC and move forward.

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

On T19, Kendal Harmon said that the last two consents were from Columbia and Venezuela. It seems that some of dioceses did not adequately document a rightly “convened” meeting of the standing committee with the necessary majority signatures showing approval. Faxes are acceptable for this purpose but E-mails are not. This is not a new requirement. SC did not provide the minimum documentation necessary. Why??? There are those even at T19 who will admit that the standing committee was not diligent enough. Why? Harmon even states that 815 was very helpful in verifying consents!!! The Standing Committee did not do… Read more »

Weiwen
Guest

I have to say, it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth that (so they say) 57 standing committees clearly demonstrated an intent to consent, even if they didn’t technically follow the rules. I am, of course, not saying I approve of Mark Lawrence’s views – I think I blasted him on this board, and I definitely emailed my Diocese’s standing committee and asked them to prayerfully consider not consenting. I’ve noted a considerable amount of vitriol on the comments boards, among the liberal posters. Göran asks if perhaps SC’s standing committee is spinning the issue so they can leave… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

It has been suggested (by “conspiracy theorists”?) that the extraordinarily incompetent handling of this matter by the diocesan Standing Committee was in fact intended to invalidate Fr. Lawrence’s election precisely so they could “prove their point” (just as some “conservative” retired bishops BOAST of voting for ++Katharine to “force a crisis”).

I think it shameful that enough standing committees are trying to “be nice” when an entire diocese intends to leave the church unless its requirements are met. You would think that after Schofield & Iker & Duncan they would have learned.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Yes Weiven, this looks bad and leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. But the real issue is the establishment of the new North American Province, which has been in the making for most of 15 or 20 years now. There is no reason the consenting process (how many times have episcopal elections been consented to since 1789?) should founder like this. There is no reason the Requests should have been sent out so late, there is no reason the Bishop elect should not have answered the questions put to him in the affirmative, there is no reason the Standing… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

“But the real issue is the establishment of the new North American Province, which has been in the making for most of 15 or 20 years now.”

Really? This is all just church politics?

David H.
Guest

The Rev. McCormick said, “Fr. Lawrence has modeled exemplary patience and calmness by enduring a level of scrutiny and persecution that is without precedent in The Episcopal Church (TEC).”

Oh, please. Could we turn down the volume on the hyperbole just a bit ? While this was a close vote, Fr. Lawrence has had to endure *nothing* like the calculated, vitriolic criticism & conniving leveled at Bp. Robinson.

When you have to wear a bullet-proof vest to your investiture – *then* come talk to me about “persecution.”

Tobias Haller
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Tobias Haller

Please note as well that a subsequent press release reveals that only 50 of the 57 consents were valid. Given that Faxes were acceptable, this failure must be attributed in lage part to the lack of competence on the part of the SC Standing Committee — even given the three day extension. Even a round-robin fax circuit to a sufficient number of members of each consenting standing committee would have worked. “Original documents” are not required, but signatures are. I assume a scanned PDF would also have worked. Remember, they had 123 days — including a three day “grace period”:… Read more »

Dallas Bob
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Dallas Bob

It is a little strange that in the election of a bishop, for conservatives the rules really don’t matter. Bishop Gene Robinson and Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori were duly, legally elected, yet we are told somehow that doesn’t matter. But with Fr. Lawrence, even though the rules weren’t followed we are still supposed to recognize his election. I wish the conservatives would just drop their pretense and honestly say that rules and elections don’t matter. All that matters is that the “right” person be installed. This is a major difference between progressives in TEC and the conservatives – frankly in cynical… Read more »

Caelius Spinator
Guest
Caelius Spinator

I appreciate Cynthia Gilliatt’s analogy, especially in light of the ENS item on this issue. It appears that the Presiding Bishop could not be sure of the decisions of 7 Standing Committees because of poorly executed or missing paperwork. While I believe the Standing Committee of South Carolina was making an honest count, they deserve some criticism for allowing 7 consents to be on their honor. We hope and trust in the name of the Lord, all others should provide proper documentation. We shall see what they do. I think Weiwen is right. They should hold another election and re-elect… Read more »

Doug Simonsen+
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Doug Simonsen+

I don’t know what McCormick means by “past accepted practice.” I DO know that the requirements for properly certifying a standing committee’s consent have long been clearly prescribed. They can be checked at Canon III.16.4(a)[2003] or III.11.4(b)[2006]. (The numbering has changed but the text is the same.) The prescribed form may be submitted by post or fax, but it must always be “signed by a majority of all the members of the Committee.” This is far from being a technicality. It is the crucial documentation needed to demonstrate that a valid vote to consent was in fact taken. It is… Read more »

The Anglican Scotist
Guest

Caelius, Canons are essential to the life of the church; no human organization–including the church–can proceed here below without procedural fairness. As you surely know, the church has a long tradition of turning to canons in its common life, especially in times of controversy. Canons become important in times of controversy in part becuase they set up standards for what counts as fair and unfair that factions which would otherwise be tempted to treat each other unfairly can agree to live by. To my knowledge, Lauwrence and SC agreed to live by those rules when they went into the election… Read more »

Bill Carroll
Guest

The procedure was followed, more or less. There was quite a bit of effort by the leadership (even to the point of bending the rules) to get this consent done, mostly out of fear. Better to act from principle than from fear. SC now has two options. The better course is to accept that the election is null and void, elect someone who can give the rest of us sufficient assurances that he will keep his vows as a bishop of the Episcopal Church, and get on with their lives. The other course will only prove that we were right… Read more »

John-Julian, OJN
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John-Julian, OJN

Canon Mark Lawrence held the confirmation process literally in his own hands. How? Two simple statements from him: (1) “I will not lead the Diocese of SC out of the Episcopal Church” (2) “I invite the Presiding Bishop to serve as chief consecrator if my election is confirmed.” I guarantee these two statements would have brought in dozens of confirmations – maybe even 80-90%! It was entirely and completely up to him. Of course, the Standing Committee of S.C. might even have boned up on their canon law. That would have helped! (Note: the canon governing the confirmation processes was… Read more »

Reverend Ref
Guest

“I’m a student. I know that if I submit a paper electronically and it says on the syllabus that such submissions are not acceptable, I’m at the mercy of the professor and may receive no credit for the paper.” Or another analogy . . . I am a priest. During my ordination process I had to jump through many hoops and I had a canonical checklist that needed to be complete for the ordination to take place. There was a file in the diocesan office with my name on it that held all of those items. The Commission on Ministry… Read more »

James Edward Mackay
Guest
James Edward Mackay

The big red flag that went up in my mind is that the chancellor of the Diocese of South Carolina was out of the country during the final days of the election consent process. The second even redder flag is that the proper form for securing the consents had not been followed to the letter. After all the hullabaloo about canonical this and canonical that concerning who does what, where, when, why, and how in re the ordination of gay men and Lesbians, or the blessings of their relationships, it seems to be that the least thing that can be… Read more »

Caelius Spinator
Guest
Caelius Spinator

I will admit that seeing the ENS story changed my opinion of the case. I was under the impression that some Presidents of Standing Committees had given notice by e-mail or something contrary to the Canons, which require forms to be sent out and mailed to New York. This is why there are so many lawyers on Episcopal governing boards. Attention to detail is important. The Scotist asks a fair question. Why did I say that the Canons should be bent if the Presiding Bishop had sufficient though non-canonical evidence that the necessary consents were received? First, I was assuming… Read more »

Harvard Man
Guest
Harvard Man

The tone of this thread is very disappointing. The SC of SC put forward this man, and the consent was withheld by our church in a heated political climate. A few ‘hanging chads’ does not disguise that a large number of SC denied consent to the man called by this diocese. And much of that denial was due to candid answers that didn’t say he’d take this diocese out of TEC, but did not bow and scrape to TEC’s wandering from the Communion. It wasn’t so long ago that VGR was consecrated with many of these same SC and bishops… Read more »

Weiwen
Guest

“When you have to wear a bullet-proof vest to your investiture – *then* come talk to me about “persecution.” “ David, excellent point. My chaplain offered me a different interpretation of Lawrence’s election being voided. ++KJS has put her foot down (she was technically correct to void Lawrence’s election, I never disputed that). Now, SC has to make two choices. Either play by the rules of the rest of the church, or secede. If they invite Iker, Duncan, Schofield or some combination thereof to do an irregular consecration, then they’re ALL in really hot water. If they play by the… Read more »

obadiahslope
Guest
obadiahslope

If, as Doug reports, the requirements for lodging a standing committee’s assent have not changed for some time, can anyone recall a standing committee’s assent being ruled out of order before? I am not saying this has not happened, but it would be good to know that the application of the rules have been consistent.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Even if we are so uncharitable as to characterize them as a group misguided by schismatical characters, it doesn’t change how anxious they must be for the future. Posted by: Caelius Spinator on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 10:21pm GMT with reference to the South Carolina Standing Committee and Diocese And how anxious are gay people in Nigeria and the 39 other countries that execute gays, and the many that imprison? How anxious are gay people in TEC,Canada and sround the AC in the present climate of primate driven hatred ? How anxious was New Hampshire and Gene Robinson and… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Harvard Man, if South Carolina had handled this matter competently, they would have a new bishop right now and Lawrence would have a pointy hat.

This doesn’t have as much to do with Lawrence’s so-called “orthodoxy” as it does with the failure of the folks in Charleston to get on the phone and make arrangements with the dioceses that sent in the unsigned consents.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“…had given notice by e-mail or something contrary to the Canons, which require forms to be sent out and mailed to New York. “

No, they are sent to the Standing Committee of South Carolina which, having checked and double checked them, forwards them to the Presiding Bishops (who is not a Primate) Office.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Harvard Man wrote: “The SC of SC put forward this man, and the consent was withheld by our church in a heated political climate. A few ‘hanging chads’ does not disguise that a large number of SC denied consent to the man called by this diocese.” Consents are based on both proper procedure having been followed by the Search Committee and on the presence of personal suitability. No diocesan Bishop or Standing Committee is under any obligation to consent. Consents are active, positive, which means they must be given. No consent is no consent. Only given consents count. They must… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Obadiahslope asked: “If, as Doug reports, the requirements for lodging a standing committee’s assent have not changed for some time, can anyone recall a standing committee’s assent being ruled out of order before? I am not saying this has not happened, but it would be good to know that the application of the rules have been consistent.”

I would say very probably ;=) but then, if you have the Consents, a few extra void ones don’t matter…

Bill Carroll
Guest

Let them reelect Lawrence and provide the proper assurances. He didn’t have the consents at all until a great deal of pressure came from Stand Firm folks. If anything, we have erred on the side of grace here. Next time, if there is a next time, the canons must be strictly followed from day one, with no grace periods…120 days is enough. And the Standing Committee needs to do its job and round up the consents. Network affiliation alone is grounds for extra scrutiny. We shouldn’t pretend that South Carolina’s affiliation with the ACN is some kind of innocent fact.… Read more »

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

And Mark Lawrence’s latest words in the press confirm that he intends to be a wedge issue to bring schism rather than the opposite.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

And Mark Lawrence’s latest words in the press confirm that he intends to be a wedge issue to bring schism rather than the opposite. Posted by: C.B. on Saturday, 17 March 2007 at 7:43pm GMT Yes Mark Lawrence has made it clear that he is completely unsuitable. A useful confirmation, surely. By which I mean in particular that he already has that archiepiscopal tone of the worse prelates (think Scott-Joynt; think Nazir Ali; think Wright;think Akinola). This tone (and content) of invincible Knowledge and superiority does not augur well. This is combined with his contempt for TEC and its people.… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Correction / finer tuning : – I should have said (above)for the sake of clarity ‘some anglican evangelicals’. This I thought was implied in ‘care nothing…’ but on seeing it now, it lacks this clarity. Plenty of evangelical anglicans do not fit my desciption. But enough seem to. Among some,there seems to be a lack of reason and a nasty tone that sets in. (I know none of us can be immune).I think it is brought on by fear of theological death, and the passing of a paradigm –this is where some kind of belief in life after death (or… Read more »