Monday, 18 September 2006

South Carolina episcopal election

Updated Wednesday evening

South Carolina is an ECUSA diocese that is part of the NACDAP or Anglican Communion Network, and one of those that has recently requested “alternative primatial oversight”. It is one of the fastest growing dioceses in ECUSA. There are 48 parishes and 27 missions with a total of 28,703 baptised members, and 105 active parish clergy.

The previous diocesan bishop, who had been in office since 1990, reached mandatory retirement age in early 2006. The episcopal election for his successor was originally planned for 2005, but was caught by the moratorium on approvals of elections that was imposed by the House of Bishops in its initial response to the Windsor Report. Last Saturday the election finally took place. Mark Lawrence from the diocese of San Joaquin was elected on the first ballot.

The diocesan press statement is here. The ENS report of this can be found at San Joaquin priest elected Episcopal bishop of South Carolina and explains the slightly unusual lay delegate election procedure.

The local newspaper has published a report of this election under the headline Bishop vote reflects schism. One of the persons interviewed, John Burwell, has strongly repudiated the quotations attributed to him.

You can however get a good flavour of the nature of this diocese by reading its own profile prepared for the election process, and available as a PDF file here. This includes the results of a survey of the diocesan clergy. You can also see the exact form of the survey document and read the answers of Mark Lawrence by going here (also a PDF file). His answers to other questions (mentioned in the ENS report) are here. Other remarks are here also.

The consecration of Mark Lawrence is scheduled for February 24, 2007. First, the consents of a majority of both bishops with jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must be obtained: some resistance is likely. It is unclear who will preside at this service.

Update Here is the Living Church report.

Update Tuesday
Fr Jake has published Consents and Covenant Considerations in which he discusses why some of Mark Lawrence’s statements will give concern to others in ECUSA.

Update Wednesday
Tobias Haller has also discussed this issue of consents in Consenting Adults.

There is a further news article by Associated Press Election of S.C. bishop could further divide Episcopalians

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 18 September 2006 at 3:20pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Beyond the scary slant of the questions, it's appalling that a diocese would boil itself down to a multiple choice questionnaire at any stage of selecting a bishop. "Agree with us on these issues or else."

Posted by: Aaron on Monday, 18 September 2006 at 7:29pm BST

Surely I am not the only person who is baffled at how a candidate for high office in The Episcopal Church can in conscience swear to obey the Constitutions and Canons while at the same time supporting Alternative Primatial Oversight (which has no practical meaning since the Presiding Bishop has no primatial authority but is a rejection of the authority of those same Constitutions and Canons through which the Presiding Bishop was elected and approved by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 18 September 2006 at 8:48pm BST

I fully concur with Prior Aelred when he writes:

"Surely I am not the only person who is baffled at how a candidate for high office in The Episcopal Church can in conscience swear to obey the Constitutions and Canons while at the same time supporting Alternative Primatial Oversight (which has no practical meaning since the Presiding Bishop has no primatial authority but is a rejection of the authority of those same Constitutions and Canons through which the Presiding Bishop was elected and approved by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church)."

It reflects poorly on the integrity of aspirants to the episcopal office in Network dioceses.

Yet their moral confusion is also caused by ++Rowan Cantuar undermining of the constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA by providing AC primates with score cards to evaluate the actions of the 2006 General Convention. Imagine PB Griswold presuming to interfere with the internal workings of the CofE's General Synod? This kind of behavior has never been deemed acceptable in the Anglican Communion until the installation of the present incumbent of the See of St. Augustine. Dr. Williams needs to go before he disgraces the office of Cantuar even further!

Posted by: John Henry on Monday, 18 September 2006 at 10:38pm BST

Will it be here? Will this be the election where the issue comes up, the issue that bounced among deputies at General Convention: does a predilection to take a diocese out of the Episcopal Church constitute a "manner of life [that] presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion?"

Some will see that as a silly question, but I assure you it was a major topic of discussion. It is not, perhaps, a "manner of life" in the same sense as being GLBT, or even having multiple divorces and remarriages. On the other hand, it certainly speaks to one's life within the Church; and speaks to how one might interpret the commitments in the ordination of a bishop to "encourage and support *all* baptized people in their gifts and ministries;" and to "share with your fellow bishops in the government of the whole Church;" and to "be merciful to*all*." On the other hand, the Ordinal is vague about what we refer to when we speak of the Church or the whole Church, even when we call for a new bishop to commit to "guard the faith, *unity*, and *discipline* of the Church."

So, will this address the issue of "manner of life?" Personally, I had expected this to come from another election; but this may be the first after all.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Monday, 18 September 2006 at 11:11pm BST

Speaking of the new bishop's answers (the PDF file linked above), how can he disagree with BOTH questions 8 and 30? His answer to 8 suggests that he believes the Holy Spirit retired in 367, and his answer to 30 implies that he thinks Mark 10:11-12; 1 Cor 7:12,27; 1 Ti 3,2,12; and Ti 1:6 are no longer operative at this point in time.

Posted by: Steve Lusk on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 1:20am BST

While I'm as puzzled as the good Prior, what would one really expect from the Diocese of South Carolina ? It's not Kendall Harmon's home turf for nothing, you know...

But sad, yes - *terribly* sad.

Posted by: David Huff on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 1:59am BST

One of the greatest Cantuars ever, William Temple, would have flunked South Carolina's 'litmus' tests.

Too, the outcome of last year's papal election would have been entirely different had a 'litmus' tester from South Corolina applied the same questions to Dr. Joseph Ratzinger's University of Tuebingen lectures, published as Introduction to Christianity (1970).

Posted by: John Henry on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 2:31am BST

Imagine seeking TEC consents for your election at the same time you are seeking APO. Just the tip of the realignment iceberg folks, so stay tuned.

Until ACC and GC consider and establish APO, it ain't. No matter what dicey new definitions try to talk it into absolute, eternal existence.

Ditto for that oft mentioned covenant. ACN ain't it. NACDAP ain't it either.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 2:41am BST

As to what Canon Lawrence actually meant by his responses, I think the way forward might come from wise words uttered by an Anglican deacon about a century and a half ago:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."
Lewis Carroll (aka The Rev'd Charles Dodgson)
Alice Through the Looking Glass

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 3:37pm BST

Thanks to the new bishop of SC for briefly acknowledging in passing that at least some of the typical new conservative false legacy negative witness against Queer Folks is questionable.

I sometimes suspect that using Queers as the most effective wedge issue is a conscious choice/effort, and that many of the more introspective and honest necon church leaders know more or less exactly what they are doing, but, hey, the godly ends justifies the dodgy means. As the Sanhedrin put it so long ago: It is fitting that some particular nobodies get sacrificed for the greater good of the chosen people.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 3:39pm BST

There is no need to call on B033 in this regard. The sole issue is whether the views expressed by the bishop-elect constitute an impediment (in this case defective intent) to taking the Oath of Conformity. Those standing committees giving consent are only required to state they "know of no impediment" to the ordination. Lawrence should be given ample opportunity to explain himself and clarify whether or not there is any impediment --- on a surface reading there appears to be one; I worked with him on the legislative committee at this last Convention and perceived him to be a man of high principles and conscience. I trust he will do the right thing.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 11:28pm BST

Tobias I assume you refer to page 513 of the American Prayer Book:

... I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the [Protestant] Episcopal Church [in the United States of America].

This seems fairly vague to me...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 11:48pm BST

Simon, you have a copy of the "Proposed" Book of Common Prayer! In the final version the words in brackets were removed. These are as scarce as hens' teeth, so hold on to yours. I've misplaced mine, so I can't check my memory to see if it was from this or the "Draft Proposed" that the final version changed the opening address of the episcopal ordination rite from "Reverend Father in God" to "N., Bishop in the Church of God" in order to accommodate the possibility of a woman Presiding Bishop! (These were among the very few changes between the Proposed and the Adopted.)
The word "discipline" is the touchy one here: the canons define the "Discipline of this Church" as found in its Constitution, Canons, and Rubrics. Certainly anyone who advocates separation of a diocese from the church, or is unsure about his own intent to remain within it, would come under the area of "discipline." I would say it is expansive rather than vague -- though again, whether expressing such views constitutes an impediment or not remains to be seen.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 12:12am BST

At a minimum, discipline would include the Constitution and Canons.

Posted by: Bill Carroll on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 2:37am BST


Some may find it vague on "doctrine," but surely "discipline and worship" are not so vague. They must at least hold one to General Convention and the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and to the rubrics of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. That's what I understood when signed my name to it twice, when ordained as a deacon and as a priest.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 3:38am BST


My "proposed" copy says "N, Bishop in the Church of God.". Thanks for drawing our attention to the length of time that the American BCP (to which loyalty is required of all American clergy) has provided for the possibility of a female Presiding Bishop. Did conservatives raise any complaint about this change at the time of its approval?

I agree that "vague" is not the right word here. The canonical definition is helpful.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 8:42am BST

Thanks Simon. I unearthed my "Proposed" version which had found its way to another shelf. It now rests where it belongs, next to my copy of the "Draft Proposed." When the "Draft" was adopted in 1976 (for the three year Proposed-use period leading up to final adoption in 1979) it was at the same Convention that gave approval to the ordination of women to all orders via the clever addition of a single amendment that simply said that wherever the canons used male pronouns they were to be understood as generic! "Reverend Father in God" created more difficulty, however, and so the change was made to "N...." I don't know if this was met with a great deal of opposition. My recollection is that it passed without much fluster. Perhaps someone older and wiser can offer correction?

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 2:31pm BST

This movement to deny consent looks like a disaster in the making. It would certainly cause howls from around the Communion if this bishop-elect were unable to receive consents because of a few one word answers to vague questions on a questionnaire while VGR received consent from GC. Before consent to VGR was granted, people on the other end of the spectrum asked as well how he could swear allegaince to the doctrine of this church. It will be portrayed as a proof of the claim that "orthodox Anglicans" have no room in this church because of an opressive, revisionist majority.

When VGR was granted consent, the talk was all about how this was a vote on whether the canonical procedures for election were being followed and not a vote on him as a person. The statment made at the time was the the diocese knew exactly who they were voting for. I say the same is true for SC. This movement belies the claims made while VGR's consent was pending as rank hypocracy.

Posted by: ruidh on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 2:43pm BST

The only answer to the new conservative realignment/split campaign - really - is to go way back to the beginning, affirm the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral as the continuing boundaries of Anglican comprehensiveness - and tell people they will have to figure out responsibly together how they will agree to disagree while living in peace, and continuing in common worship/witness and common Tikkun.

The only way out of the dubious new conservative definitional or presuppositional boxes is to step out - you cannot freely inquire into their self-proclaimed exclusive authorities by best practices reasoning and investigating, solely from inside them. That familiar exit from the crowded theaters of high controversy, agreeing to disagree, has been bricked shut. By their closed and backward looking absolute definition of true revelation.

Unless we all help one another change the channel, no lasting good can come out of these crisis advertisements.

The sky isn't falling in on us, just because women get graduate degrees and do science, or because God blesses us through a woman's sacramental or other leadership, or because the language of the creeds (and of much of ethics and theology) is non-literal, or because we discover we have queer folks in our families, or because the empirical nature of the cosmos and our own animal-human natures is quite a bit different than we have believed it to be for long, ignorant centuries of muddling through and guessing at what the provisional facts might really be.

The real Crisis? A large (but still not exactly total) one for the time being in our palpable lack of an integrated empirical knowledge of all reality, including ourselves, post-Einstein. Nobody can run, nobody can actually hide, from that passing dissolution of so many of the old certainties. Rushing to adopt a closed view of settled and unquestionable Revelation is not a substitute for continuing to do our homework on this one, I am guessing.

But do split the Anglican communion. And by all means treat people who are different from you as meanly as possible - through words, deeds, and every institutional source of authority or leverage to maintain your special, exclusive domination over them. That will keep us all busy while the truth works itself out, maybe.

We may not now have real, effective choices about knowing the total, exclusive, closed and final truth about everything important. That does not in any way necessarily keep us from following Jesus of Nazareth, an irreducible risk that can apparently only be taken by virtue of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 at 6:14pm BST

This Questionnaire puzzles me. How could anyone think of asking an other Christian if God has created?

Questionnaire 4. “The miracles attested to in Scripture actually took place as described.”

“As described”? Surely this is too American, too 20th century, to be taken seriously.

Questionnaire 7. “Scripture is God’s coherent revelation to us of Himself, of our nature and of His plan and purpose for human life and for salvation.”

“coherent” seems to be Calvinist Integrism cum 20th century American “literalism”. The rest is best described as Neo Platonist philosophical speculation. Not in the Bible.

Questionnaire 9. “The only context established and approved by God for sexual relationship is between a man and a woman in a committed marriage.”

Questionnaire 31. “Human life begins at conception and should not be aborted unless the pregnancy has put the life of the mother in imminent physical danger.”

Both these points are late 20th century American Social Politics. Not in the Bible.

Questionnaire 30. “Being divorced and remarried should preclude one from being a bishop.”

The good committee doe not think alias 1 Tim 3:2 is about divorce, do they?

Questionnaire 33. “The supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (including prophesy, healing, tongues, interpretation etc.) are valid for use in the church today.”

Questionnaire 34. “The church suffers today of a lack of clear manifestations of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit as seen in the Book of Acts.”

Do these 2 really represent received, traditional, whatever, teaching in Anglican churches? If put in a blind test, no one over here would think this was anything but Pentecostal. And how is this compatible with the XXXIX Articles?

To me the sum of it is Bibliolatry and Subjectivism.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 21 September 2006 at 7:58am BST
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