Monday, 4 December 2006
Mark Lawrence answers
There has been a great deal of discussion concerning the confirmation of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina. See, for example, here.
He has written a document, addressed to bishops and standing committees of ECUSA dioceses, containing his answers to various questions that have been put to him.
You can read this document in full here.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Monday, 4 December 2006 at 11:06pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
He certainly is long-winded and pompous. That should suit some places. He seems to think we need to 'obey' Windsor. Glad he is not headed our way.
Well, that settles it, I'm afraid.
I've been consistently neutral on Father Lawrence, but in reading his responses, it all becomes clear:
Fr Mark Lawrence makes some interesting and thoughtful observations
He concentrates on his dilemmas on how we live together with such divergent views.
If, as he says, the elasticity of TEC has passed the breaking point for him in 2003 then it is a strange matter that he should now be seeking episcopal orders within that church.
Stranger still in that he wants the elasticity to prevail in the case of his ordination and that means not wanting the Presiding Bishop to be chief consecrator – although he will presumably accept her delegate.
Although there is much that is good and worthy of further thought in what this priest writes – he clearly sees himself at odds in a deep way from the majority of his fellow bishops within his local church.
That he sees himself at one with other bishops in other places might suggest that he should seek a ministry there. I too thought this a matter that should be allowed to pass, having read his thoughts I now see sound reasons why consent should be withheld.
This is 4693 words and I don't know what he is saying.
seems like a reasonable, faithful man - like I have said bere - an ordinary Anglican
I prayed that my "instincts" were wrong about Fr. Lawrence as I read his earlier/carefully chosen words/answers as candidate for Bishop of South Carolina.
Then I prayed that if I was in "denial" about the Bishop elect Lawrence I would see ANY treachery because I had over wished us to be a happier and more friendly, spiritually/emotionally healthier Episcopal Church Family.
I now read/see clear and deceptive double-speak and note a cheerie toned/edged flavour of smugness of "I know better" and the twisting of words into a pending treachery.
Withold consent please so "we all can be one" within OUR very Blessed Christian family as we work out our problems together with well intentioned spirit of UNITY.
I agree with JCF; Consents Denied.
Leonardo - pls go for it, forge this unity in a TEC Global.......
liberals have too scared to make their own organisation (because it will be small?) for so long......
I am hoping we are seeing the birth of TEC Global for everyone's peace of mind (on both sides)
Well, at least he was somewhat honest in his answers, tho' they were surrounded by a sea of "Episcobabble" (conservative variety).
It's now abundantly clear that Fr. Lawrence has absolutely *NO* business being a bishop in TEC...
Nothing new here, I think.
I have all along that I simply do not understand how anyone can take an oath with any integrity when one has already promised to violate it.
Consent should be withheld.
Mark Lawrence+ writes:
"I too am a member of a diocese that has asked for Alternative Primatial
Oversight. . ."
Yes, namely The Diocese of San Joaquin, which just took a first vote overwhelmingly in favor of effectively seceding from the Episcopal Church. I cannot help but wonder how Mark Lawrence voted.
He avoids answering the hypothetical question #2 -- one asking simply if he would support The Diocese of South Carolina if they voted to secede -- by hedging against a "future crisis that could send any of us into a conundrum of canonical contradictions." The future is now, I'd say.
He further writes that our Presiding Bishop is somehow "compromised" in her ability to function as Primate by her "violation" of WR and therefore admits he would marginalize her if approved to serve as bishop in South Carolina. This is just as specious as appealing to the WR as a precedent for "Alternative Primatial Oversight" -- a phrase that appears not even once in the lengthy document.
Mark Lawrence acknowledges that ++Katharine Jefferts Schori was duly elected as our Presiding Bishop. To dimiss the PB on the one hand and to appeal for extra-canonical authority on the other (namely, for APO from Primates who have no direct canonical authority in this Province of the Communion) does not express to me a willingness to fully engage in the unity of The Episcopal Church -- something that, as bishop, he would vow to safeguard.
He flags most dangerously in not acknowledging the spirit of our constitution and canons, however bent they are by our authorities (both “progressive” and “conservative”) in various places for pastoral reasons. . .That they set the boundaries of our common life most precisely when we are in conflict. . .so that we keep a common life by "fighting fair.” Threats of divorce are kept off the table (as in any healthy marriage -- an analogy that Mark Lawrence uses). . .a common life that reflects our unity in God even when we strongly disagree. . .a common life as the Body of Christ expressed in our core sacramental practices of Communion and Baptism, and yes, around Scripture, as heated as our differing interpretations and understandings may get.
The more I consider Mark Lawrence's writing, the more I understand the unease many have with the thought of his becoming bishop in The Episcopal Church.
He has one definite characteristic of a bishop in today's heated environment: the ability to speak and write fluently in double-speak and fudge.
My initial opinion was that he was validly elected and the clear choice of the diocese, and should be confirmed. Now, I think he would be just one more can of gasoline on the fire, and should be moved away. (of course, the very act of denying consecration is another incendiary act, but possible the lesser evil).
Consents denied, what will happen? Outrage on the part of the usual suspects. A knight in shining armor, a GS primate, will come to the rescue, and consecrate Mr. Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina, with the Network bishops as co-consecrators.
After all, Constitution and Canons don't matter anymore. All that matters is biblical orthodoxy and the support of the imagined majority of the Anglican Communion.
I agree, and it saddens me, that Fr. Lawrence persists in the misrepresentations of the Preamble to the Constitution, and uses that as an excuse for his inability to commit to the discipline of this church. To use his faulty marriage analogy in the right way, nothing in the marriage vow suggests one has the power over the faithfulness of one's partner, only one's own faithfulness to that partner. This is part of the meaning of "for better, for worse." Lawrence seems here to want to make a conditional promise: I will remain faithful until either my own judgment, or some other judgment extrinsic to the Episcopal Church (the Primates, or some of them?) allows me to sever the relationship. That is not a Covenant or a Vow, it is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
Father Lawrence’s response can be summarized with this statement:
“I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.”
If we look carefully at this statement, I think we can find the answer to the question of his loyalty. He is first loyal to the AC. For him, TEC is a distant second.
Here is the problem with that: The AC is not and never has been a church. It is a communion made up of many churches. So, when he is asked at his ordination “Will you guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church (meaning TEC)?” can he honestly reply with an unqualified “I will, for the love of God.”? No. He cannot. If he were honest, he would need to reply with, “Maybe. It depends on how things turn out with the AC.”
To those considering consent, I would ask, “Do you really want to consent to someone whose honest answer is ‘Maybe’?”
NP, I don't know what "an ordinary Anglican" is anymore. Don't get me wrong: I know the arguments about the "consensus" of the larger Anglican Communion, but I know the variety of shades of opinion, and of church-person-ship within the American church, and I expect, based on my theological anthropology, the same basic spectrum in pews across the larger Communion.
Reasonable? He is certainly rationale; and if he tone expresses a certain frustration, he doesn't lose it in ad hominem attacks. He is clear, and has arguments for his position.
Faithful? Undoubtedly. I disagree profoundly with his opinions about "disregard of Scripture" for those of us who believe there is more in Scripture than simplistic literal usage; and with his estimate of the relative importance of Scripture vs the prophetic possibilities of the Holy Spirit; but I don't doubt the integrity of his faith.
Episcopal? Now, that's a harder question. He has been elected in due process (arguments notwithstanding that the process was manipulated). But, many have argued clearly that standard was not sufficient for the election in New Hampshire in 2003. I have been a priest voting in an election of a bishop (now retired) who proved neither a pastor to the clergy nor a testimony to God's loving grace. Did the Holy Spirit miss? We trust the process, understanding that it can go awry. That's what bishops and standing committees should be praying about right now.
As a man divorced and remarried, who did for some time live in one house but two bedrooms, I question his analogy. After all, the wife is not asking for the car to take the kids to a ball game, but to the home of cousins out of state, potentially beyond the possiblity of negotiation. Reconciliation may not be well served by continuously rubbing shoulders already bruised and chafed. I know from painful experience that it becomes impossible if either party leaves town.
Episcopal? Perhaps he is called to the episcopate in some context. Episcopal, as in faithful to The Episcopal Church as it is, and not as he hopes it might be eventually? That's a different question.
Well TEC is already global, because we are all already global.
Hence, in our global village, everybody else should all be able to agree to disagree with Bishop Lawrence - he must have freedom to practice his markedly conservative Anglican religion, not least by making dubious or forced conformity demands on the rest of us; but he has no equal obligation to agree to disagree with us while we think and live, alternatively to his particular conservative Anglican ways. He does not have to continue to worship with us, let alone let us attend and participate as baptized believers in any of his special conservative sacramental activities. If we are ever welcome, it is as tainted visitors, maybe, spectators who might get a glimpse of holy conservative truth in holy conservative living.
See you, maybe, at the global soup kitchen down the road, so long as you alternative thinkers get settled into some other church. Or none, since you really do not have a real faith.
Alternative views to his need to be conformed, disciplined, repented, and so forth. His views are stellar, simply all bright and polished.
Apostolic, preaching eternal truth to all ages.
God is clearly at work when/if he as a conservative bishop lays hands on a conservative priest to ordain (him, only?), but not at work when GC gets together to do provisional best practice discernments.
So he repeats false accusations, going on and on about what is wrong or suspect about the human sciences or democracy or modernity. TEC is just one extra occasion when a foppish people decided to sacrifice their biblical and traditional uprightness to a well-meant but deeply erring cult of cultural sensitivity. I guess being all too hip to the Silly New Queer is supposed to get you invited to the White House or something.
This bishop wishes us to innovate wildly now to transform worldwide Anglicanism into nothing but a conservatively conformed institution, with people just like him exercising the only institutional powers allowed. But he cannot yet accurately repeat the newer consensus of our human sciences concerning queer embodiment and relationships, not yet, nor repeat back accurately what progressive believers believe, nor why they generally say they believe it.
God is clearly at work when/if he as a conservative bishop lays hands on a conservative priest to ordain (him, only?), but not at work when GC gets together to do provisional best practice discernments.
It's hard to imagine the diocese actually wants consents. What's the point afterall if you find yourself in - complete - disagreement about what Anglicanism and hence TEC constitutes. This has got to be a set-up.
“Consents denied, what will happen? Outrage on the part of the usual suspects. A knight in shining armor, a GS primate, will come to the rescue, and consecrate Mr. Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina, with the Network bishops as co-consecrators.
“After all, Constitution and Canons don't matter anymore. All that matters is biblical orthodoxy and the support of the imagined majority of the Anglican Communion.”-- John Henry
We couldn’t possibly be so lucky, could we John Henry? I mean that would allow us to can the whole lot, wouldn’t it?
I would think if elected an Episcopal Bishop you would most certainly be loyal to your church and to your leader even if you disagree on issues. As a country we love this United States because it is ours. Even though we might not like our President or state senators, we don't get up and leave. Ex. I'm not a Bush supporter but I have to respect the office and that he is the lawfully elected president. I don't sell him out to say, the Nigerians.
I'm not sure I've made the point clear but I thought IMHO is was worth the shot.
An enlightening Advent to all,
Of course he should be refused. I too long for TEC Global!
We are all “ordinary Anglicans” as far as I am concerned.
And part of that ordinariness is that in this part of the local Church that makes up part of the Anglican Communion people like Peter Akinola would never get approval of Holy Synod here even if by some miracle he was elected.
Also certain of a Holy Synod’s thumbs down would be the bishop Schofield and his ilk, Peter Jensen and his sort, and - now I think of it – most of the Primates of the Global South. Also not getting approval (for the next two years) would be TEC’s Presiding Bishop and her sisters. Certain of rejection would be Mersey Mike! Just a little while ago two of our current bishops would also have had the thumbs down too. A century ago none would have qualified for approval – far too Catholic!
I could go on …..
That’s what being an “ordinary Anglican” means for me.
It seems that part of this changing pattern is that now Fr Lawrence is also on the very doubtful list within his local church and that seems very ordinary and very Anglican to me.
I agree with Robert Christian. It’s like saying you are loyal to the USA but only if the USA remains part of NATO. It is a qualified commitment. The ordination vows require more than a qualified commitment.
People - please realise that there are higher priorities than TEC or its rules - or particular groups agendas.
TEC and its status quo should not be anyone's primary allegiance
NP: "TEC and its status quo should not be anyone's primary allegiance."
NP, you are so right! Which is why Mark Lawrence, if he wishes to serve a higher calling, probably ought to find another church within the Anglican Communion where he will not be tempted or encouraged to break his episcopal vows.
perhaps Pisco - he will have have a home in the AC for sure but will TEC?
[P]erhaps Pisco - he will have have a home in the AC for sure but will TEC?-- NP
I think the more relevant question, NP, is will the AC continue to exist at all? If significant national Churches such as Canada and the United States depart, an internation fracturing/fragmentation will not be far behind. Even the UK will not be immune.
NP, I've seen nothing but the deranged fantasies of a few that think that TEC will not be in the AC. TEC existed before the AC. When push comes to shove, the CoE will stick closer to its Western partners and several international partners will choose Canterbury over Abduja.
At the moment, there *is* no facility to eject a member from the Communion. The only group which has a process to accomplish that is the ACC which involves amending its Constitution which will require a 2/3rds vote. Don;t hold your breath there.
If it means that Nigeria and a few other provinces choose to "walk apart" for a time, then that is their choice.
The repeated fraught choice between living TEC and living worldwide AC is false, at bottom. It depends on the very range of varied definitional/presuppositional differences which are the crux of our disagreements.
That is not to say that institutional forces, including the overt realignment campaign, are not in play.
The false choices being pushed as our only choices are like being in a family, and being asked to choose between your straight brothers/sisters and your non-straight siblings. Best discernment asks me to inquire further into why, exactly, I have to choose, and cannot just continue to prayerfully let each walk with God, even when I cannot intellectually or emotionally reconcile their possible differences. Staying open and together in common worship/witness is the higher road here, and no amount of dirt or danger narratives from the right can fully obscure the resounding shimmer of the false notes being struck in the press for realignment.
Alas. Lord have mercy.
One day the Anglican Communion will consist of the western Churches (TEC, Canada, Austraila, England, etc.) while the Nigerias and Southern Cones of the world split off to form their own group. Bishop Akinola and friends will not be subservient to the Rowan Williams's of the world forever. The American conservative extremists will then be in the funny position of having to "walk apart" from the Anglican Communion in order to stay with their new friends and avoid the leper TEC. And walking apart from the Anglican Communion is supposed to be the unforgivable sin.
Just wait and watch....
oh right....so, a tiny minority in the AC rebels and everyone else is going to leave the AC in protest.......you guys read Windsor? It is not saying what TEC has done is reasonable, fair, proper, acceptable....good....TEC does not have the moral high ground having deliberately torn the fabric of the communion when asked not to do so.
I don't think the ABC wants to be the man who took the AC from 77m to 5m ........
so I think we will see the AC continue with 90%+ of existing members and without many of its revisionist rebels and TEC Global will be born - if liberals are finally brave enough to go it alone and are not afraid of being a small organisation.
Why does NP equate liberal theology with poor congregational attendances? I think this view is flawed. Two examples from my town may help to illustrate.
One of the best attended churches in Melbourne is a bastion of *post-Christian* "theology" (it happens to be Uniting Church - result of a union of the former Methodist, Congregationalist & Presbyterian groups for those not in the Australian scene); it has a high turnover of members, but at the end of the day it certainly has posteriors in constant contact with pews. It has virtually no outreach program, the standard of the worship is so bad as to be subterranean, but the parish owns an office block in a lucrative part of the city. By Np's logic, on numbers and revenue alone it should be more influential than it actually is.
One of the most stratospherically Anglo-Catholic parishes in Australia is up the hill from this hotbed of liberalism; it too is booming. The preaching could scarcely be described as conservative, and the liturgy for the most part remains old-fashioned and a tad Tridentine. The parish runs a breakfast program for homeless people, among a wider range of outreach activities that cater to a wide socio-economic strata. This place has a lower turnover of members, and retains a good proportion of new people. In a word, the place is growing. It also has an influence that extends well beyond the regular congregation.
The theological flavour of both is basically *liberal*. What makes the difference is how they relate what happens in church to the world beyond the sanctuary step.
I think NP's argument on numbers alone is false. It's yet another mathematical ruse to distract us from the fact that he's not really interested in what the Gospel is really about, beyond negative statements. It's a silly test that proves absolutely nothing. This is the same problem I see with Fr Lawrence. There doesn't seem to be much gospel beyond the sanctuary step there - obviously way too precious to actually do anything with it, other than playing frivolous number games...
The consent should be denied on the grounds that he doesn't intend to keep his vows.
The destructive dynamics at play within the Anglican Communion will come to a head one way or another, no matter what is decided about this consent. The bishops and standing committees should focus on the discernment required of them in the canons. I said the same thing about the Robinson consent, which should have been given and was given. The only relevant question is whether there is a known impediment to his ability to take the vows and execute the office. There was none for Bishop Robinson. There is one for Father Lawrence. The lesson of Bishop Iker's consent should be instructive here.
I fear that consent will be granted, but if it is it will be because of codependency rather than any real conviction. Any candidate for the priesthood who made light of her/his commitment to uphold doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church would be denied, except perhaps in places like South Carolina and San Joaquin, which have adopted torturous misunderstandings of the ordinal and the Constitution and Canons to support their schismatic agenda.
“[S]o I think we will see the AC continue with 90%+ of existing members and without many of its revisionist rebels and TEC Global will be born - if liberals are finally brave enough to go it alone and are not afraid of being a small organisation.”-- NP
Hey, NP, do you roll that stuff with tobacco, or just smoke it straight?
The process of change could be the introduction of a Covenant. In order to try and encompass many, in order to recognise the "gap" historically and culturally regarding the creeds (said Rowan Williams, recently) the Covenant will not be strong enough for some Anglican Churches and they would introduce their own. Others would then develop their own light touch Covenant. Some Anglican Churches by and large will pick the light touch Covenant, with some parishes dissenting, like US, Canada, Scotland, Wales; the opposite process with others; and something like the Church of England might be all over the place.
So it is easy to imagine a noticeboard saying Saint Margaret's, Church of England (Continuing), Southern Covenant; Saint Hugh's, Church of England (Maintained), Canterbury Covenant; Saint Daphne's, Episcopal Church of England, Open Covenant.
Probably why a looser federation is better before all this; why the Anglican Communion is an odd concept other than a historical legacy and some similarities in culture and approach.
"I don't think the ABC wants to be the man who took the AC from 77m to 5m ........"
I don't know where you are getting your figures. The commonly quoted number of 77 million Anglicans wouldwide counts the CofE at 25 million, Nigeria at 15 million and the Episcopal Church up in the top 10 of 39 provinces. Most provinces are tiny with Southern Cone, home of Windsor non-compliant archbishop Venerables, at a few tens of thousands. Losing Nigeria, Rwanda and the rest of the Usual Suspects will carve out 20 million from the 77 million at most.
But it's not about the membership figures.
Nigeria wants to start a new Southern Anglican COnvention with himself as its leader. He's a little POed at the Network in the US lately becasue they are much more inclined to stick to Canterbury than to him. Sometimes, you just ahve to call a bully's bluff.
Martin Reynolds --
Excellent post about "ordinary Anglicans."
Mark Chapman pointed out that the Church of Engliand's separation from Rome was justified on the basis of "provincial autonomy" & having that ecclesial vision grow into a world wide group (of automonous provinces) is pretty much a guarantee of sowing the seeds of one's own destruction.
Am I mistaken in understanding that for the Church of England itself to sign an Anglican Covenant that was in any way binding would take an act of Parliament?
I have also been told by someone who has more contacts with the C of E than I (OK, not hard) that about 1/3 of the C of E bishops have told ++Rowan privately that they support The Episcopal Church & wil go public if TEC is ostracized.
As to numbers -- TEC is already international & has never been more than 1.5% of the American population -- numbers has never been a deciding factor.
Bill Carroll is, of course correct (as I have already said), consent should be withheld from Fr Lawrence since he is promising to break his vows -- what could be more straighforward than that?
Prior Aelred -- only when the "autonomy" of all becomes "hegemony" of a few.
The Anglican Communion has an excellent chance of splitting into "western" and global south churches. Rowan Williams or his successor will be powerless to stop it - It will not be their decision to make. The global south wants to "run things". Why should they report to an evil European?
One year ago the London Times ran an article that should open everyone's eyes. Today it is the USA and Canada. Tomorrow it will be England. Check out this excerpt:
"Church of England evil, say archbishops
By Ruth Gledhill
Rowan Williams’s views on homosexuality are under attack
THE Anglican Church came closer to schism last night after 14 evangelical archbishops condemned the Church of England as evil and singled out the Archbishop of Canterbury for personal attack.
The “Global South” primates are headed by the ultra-conservative Nigerian archbishop, Dr Peter Akinola. They include the influential Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev Drexel Gomez.
In a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, on the opening day of the General Synod in London, the Global South primates criticise his leadership and urge him to rethink his personal, liberal views on homosexuality.
They suggest that his “personal dissent” from the consensus of the wider Church that “same-sex sex is unacceptable” has prevented him from taking the necessary steps to confront the US and Canadian churches."
TEC will be happy to remain in an Anglican Communion with the west, if that's what it comes to. If necessary, we will go it alone. If the price of membership in the AC is to become "Baptists with liturgy" then include us out!
kieran crichton - the reason I equate liberalism with small, shrinking congregations is that every year we have to spend millions of pounds on English synods to pay for the housing, wages and pensions of "liberal" vicars who "include" fewer people in their churches all the time- also, note how TEC is not self-confident enough to say, "Network, go and take your property" - even when the Network churches built property themselves - TEC knows it will be needing all the assets it can keep to fund its decline going forward - or they would be in line with the NT which is against law suits and encourages radical generosity even to enemies....
Kurt - follwoing your comment - maybe I am smoking the same stuff the ABC was smoking when he dealt with the J John affair?? I guess the great thing about being a revisionist is that even defeats can be revised into victories.....but you can see the ABC did not let the CofE splinter for the sake of the agenda of a few liberals.
“…but you can see the ABC did not let the CofE splinter for the sake of the agenda of a few liberals.”— NP
You don’t “get it” do you, NP? Williams won’t be able to prevent the fracturing of British Anglicanism, either. It will be part of a world-wide disruption of the Communion’s unity. These splinterings have a dynamic of themselves that, ultimately, no one can control. Not me, not you, not Rowan Williams.
which are more important, Episcopal vows, or the scripture?