Saturday, 10 March 2007

The saga of South Carolina

Updated Tuesday morning
Still at 55 and Holding is the headline from Kendall Harmon.
The Bakersfield Californian has a report Local pastor hoping to take role of bishop.

The next few days see the conclusion of the current South Carolina election process, as the deadline for Standing Committee consents is passed. The diocesan website is being updated frequently with the latest count: 52 as I write this but for approval 56 are required. If these are not received, a new election has to be held. Scroll down for the full text of the letter from Mark Lawrence dated 7 March, or read it more conveniently here.

Press reports:
Charleston Post and Courier Adam Parker Episcopal bishop-elect confirms loyalty
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Episcopal nominee at center of storm
The State (Columbia SC) Carolyn Click Bishop-elect debate mirrors larger struggle

ENS had SOUTH CAROLINA: Bishop-elect again clarifies his stance on Episcopal Church membership last Thursday.
The Living Church had South Carolina Nears Necessary Consents for Consecration of its Next Bishop on 3 March.

A mid-February ENS report was SOUTH CAROLINA: Standing Committee asks other dioceses to reconsider withholding consent to Lawrence.

There is strong campaigning going on, see for example Sarah Hey’s Open Threads here and here at Stand Firm or on the other side from Lionel Deimel: A New Urgency.

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Bishop-elect Lawrence's essay for Living Church is quite informative. I think he makes himself quite clear. He cannot be in the same Anglican Communion with Bishop Robinson and the Diocese of New Hampshire. He can pledge to TEC, but in his mind's eye, it is a TEC without Robinson and without New Hampshire.

One at minmum hopes all standing committees weighing consent will read it carefully. He cannot perceive the signs of welcome that a big tent TEC has extended to many different folks, including of course queer folks, as anthing besides a fatal indication of weakness and coma and death. Nor can he discern that TEC welcome proceeds from vigor and vital parish life in any location inside TEC that is not already confined or conformed to his own new conservative models for what life in Christ must narrowly be.

Given those two perceptual scotomas in his field of vision and discernment, Lawrence can hardly perceive that TEC otherwise makes a liberal-alternative institutional witness for Anglican leeway that is indeed quite precious and rare. Like leaven this would be a special ingredient, albeit probably not a conformed new conservative element in the worldwide Anglican recipes. How rare is inquiry, thinking Anglicanisms-plural s advised, and a variety of careful hermeneutic approaches going to become in the covenanted and realigned communion?

A consent for Lawrence, then, is a strong vote for realignment. Conformed to the San Joaquin diocesan model. Alas. Lord have mercy.

If this is where TEC really is, let us find out as soon as possible. Eating this sort of heavy metal based religious diet will soon take its tolls upon just those markers of historic Anglican intellectual and other vitalities. No more inquiry. No more thinking Anglicanisms. No more careful leeway for a variety of hermeneutics. No more patient involvement with difficult and surprising questions as a via media for following Jesus of Nazareth.

Bishop-elect Lawrence's essay reads like typical new conservative realignment bullying. Dear Lord, lead us on from this: (quote)As I see it at present, of the four instruments of unity, the only one capable of such inclusive yet negotiable action is the most recently established of the four, the primates. (unquote)

At this point in evolutionary clock time, Lawrence’s clear remarks are very welcome. A new covenant is coming, and new covenant with police waiting in unmarked Anglican cruisers down all the global blocks.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 10 March 2007 at 8:57pm GMT

I have to ask this: Mark Lawrence has now stated relatively clearly that he intends to stay in the Episcopal Church. Why not consent to his election? If the Diocese of SC wants to walk, it will do so whether we consent or not - see what happens when we reject the Primates' demands. Denying consent for Lawrence would move the process up (assuming they want to walk), but wouldn't change it. If we consent and SC, under Lawrence, secedes, then at least we've shown some grace ... and then we can depose him and take whatever legal steps are necessary to sieze property (so much for grace).

I'm not trying to excuse his problematic former statements. However, if he's willing to pledge to follow the church's discipline, then maybe we should take him at face value. Yes, he was not clear, roundabout, and excessively verbose, but a lot of priests and bishops are excessively verbose.

Posted by: Weiwen on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 12:31am GMT

Lawrence will be able join the ranks of those bishops(incl. archbishops and PBs) who say one thing before consecration, and another after.

May be he is secretly pro-gay and will do a Williams in reverse. I am not holding my breath though......

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 3:50pm GMT

Consecrating Mark Lawrence puts him in the House of Bishops. Particularly in light of the recent communiqué from the primates, with its demands of the House of Bishops, this is letting the fox into the hen house, since Lawrence advocated surrendering the autonomy of The Episcopal Church to the primates even before the primates acted to seize it.

Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 7:58pm GMT

I've gone back&forth on this one so many times, I'm dizzy. (I'm still grateful not to be on a Standing Committee, to have to decide this for real)

Thy will be done, Lord!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 8:08pm GMT

One definitionof insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Every time anyone has given an inch to the conservatives, said, oh, that's a pretty strong indication that he will stay in TEC, oh, they wouldn't do that/go that far ... guess what has happened?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 8:19pm GMT

I don't see what the holdup, or the brouhaha, is about. The deadline is passed. He didn't receive sufficient consents. Time for Kendall Harmon, et. al to stop their whinging & for the diocese to begin the process for a new election.

Simple, straight-forward, and according to the polity of our church...

Posted by: David H. on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 9:42pm GMT

I personally wrote to over 50 bishops and asked that they NOT consent to the election of Fr. Lawrence. Beyond the issue of Fr. Lawrence's distressing remarks on the candidate questionaire, one must wonder at the circumstances of his election considering that Lawrence was the most moderate of the candidates and there were no nominations by petition. When I looked at the process, I found myself wondering if the process was manipulated.

Posted by: Kendall Sims on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 12:23am GMT

I still don't know why standing committees are being allowed to reconsider. If you didn't mean your "no" the first time, you had no right to say "no."

I would have given Fr. Lawrence a pass if he had offered what he said in his final letter the first time he was offered the opportunity to clarify. As it happened, he was defiant. This looks too much like a statement under duress, and in any event, it is too late to reconsider.

I think ample grounds exist to deny consent, and consent was denied. I don't understand why the leadership of our church is so hell bent on giving this man a second chance.

Posted by: Bill Carroll on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 12:23am GMT

Ah, do not forget the intervening years of ministering around in the diocese, close up and personal, after the divorce and before the final election.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 3:34am GMT

I believe I am correct in say that time has NOT passed. The consents must be POSTMARKED on the 12th. It is conceivable that we will have to wait until the end of the week before any official announcement. Of course, any Standing Committees who send their consent at this late hour would probably make an official announcement.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 6:07am GMT

"I believe I am correct in say that time has NOT passed. The consents must be POSTMARKED on the 12th"

That is correct. I would certainly hope those mailing today would say how they voted, but they are under no obligation to do so. I expect if I were speaking for a moderate diocese that voted for him, I might want to delay the criticism from the people who were against him.

I have written to a person on the Standing Committee in my diocese about how disappointed I am that they reconsidered and voted yes. In this diocese of all - where Bp Lee has gone the extra mile after mile to accomadate the absconders, only to have them - yes - abscond. See definition of insanity above.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 10:31am GMT

Fr. Bill wrote, "I still don't know why standing committees are being allowed to reconsider. If you didn't mean your 'no' the first time, you had no right to say 'no.' "

Hmmm... Like Krusty the Clown on the Simpson's, it looks like the folks at 815 need a visit from "Ms. No Means No"

Posted by: David H. on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 1:04pm GMT

I called the Office of the Presiding Bishop this morning for clarification
about the deadlines for consents for Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South
Carolina. TEC's canons specify that the Presiding Bishop must confirm the
authenticity of all balloting, not just the balloting of bishops.

March 9th would have been the deadline, but 3 days have been added for a
grace period. The Presiding Bishop consulted David Beers, her chancellor,
as well as the parliamentarian of the House of Bishops. Therefore all
consents must be postmarked by today, March 12th. By this evening the
Standing Committee of South Carolina will FedEx to the PB's Office for
verification all of the consent forms which they have received.

Also a Standing Committee which has yet to file consent may notify the
Standing Committee of South Carolina by email today that such a consent is
in the mails. Paper copies of all consents must be in the PB's office
before any announcement may be made. Consent requires the majority of all
members of the Standing Committee, not just a majority of all members
present at a particular meeting.

Thanks to Carl Gerdau, Canon to the Presiding Bishop, for walking me through
these details.

Newark deputy

Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12d, East Orange, NJ 07018. 973-395-1068

Posted by: Louie Crew on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 3:21pm GMT

Postmarked "on" the 12th or "by midnight on the 12th"? Which midnight belongs to the 12th? My assumption is that the 12th _begins_ at 12:00 am (or 0 hr). Thus to be postmarked "by" midnight on the 12th a note would have to have been mailed on the previous Saturday -- US Post Offices not being open on Sunday. Does anyone know?

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 4:04pm GMT

That Lawrence was considered the most “moderate” of the candidates tells you something about these people. Our British cousins should understand that Charleston is where our American Civil War began, because some of that city’s Episcopalians (and others) loved the institution of slavery more than they loved Jesus. Now today, we see that these people elect a Lawrence because love their anti-gay prejudice more than they love Jesus. Figures.

Posted by: Kurt on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 4:51pm GMT

I venture to ask, from a different polity altogether, if it would not be simpler for the Presiding Bishop to invite the Bishop-elect to attend a celebration of the Eucharist at which she presides and offer him the consecrated elements. If he communicates then he wishes to be part of TEC. If he refuses and does not communicate, he does not wish to be part of TEC.

Posted by: Anglicanus on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 5:32pm GMT

As of "early afternoon" on March 12, the Diocesan web page is reporting that 55 Standing Committees have now consented--one less than the required number.

Posted by: Paul Davison on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 7:19pm GMT

the Stand Firm crowd says that this is going right down to the wire, and for once, I agree! as of 1536hrs, the Diocese of SC's site claims to have 55 consents from standing committees, 56 required. he's received the necessary consents from bishops. the tally is in bold font at the top of their front page. additionally, they have a list of "Reasserter" and "Reappraiser" websites, neatly dividing the universe into light and dark. I also see that they've cunningly doctored the "Reappraiser" list to make us look less numerous. :)

sisters and brothers, however this plays out, we can be quite confident in saying that God loves us all, "reappraiser" and "reasserter." if elected, Mark Lawrence will be ONE bishop in a house of bishops that overwhelmingly does not want to surrender TEC's autonomy to the Primates. if Mark Lawrence is elected and he tries anything funny, then off with his head, but I think Lionel is wrong to be concerned about one possibly future Bishop's opinion. we have better things to worry about - like doctoring our own links to make the 'reasserter' side look weaker, perhaps?

(the last bit was satire, if you couldn't tell.)

Posted by: Weiwen on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 7:46pm GMT

Heh. Kurt's right. I'd remind Simon's erstwhile readers that, even amongst other Southerners, South Carolinians are considered errr... rather "extreme" in their peculiar eccentricity ;)

(yes, this is said tongue in cheek - but being a Southerner myself, of a line all the way back to His Majesty's colony of Virginia, I *do* know of whence I speak ;)

Posted by: David H. on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 9:21pm GMT

55 and counting, a real cliff-hanger. Looks to me as though the moral victory lies with the 'nays'. After pleas from the diocese to have their democratic decision upheld, the reverend gentleman will become bishop by the thinnest possible margin.

Of course, having had their democratic rights upheld, the diocese will then uphold the democratic processes of (now what was the name of that diocese again....????).

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 10:01pm GMT

Now, now, Kurt (and David H): my late paternal grandmother was a Charleston Episcopalian, and look how (queerly) I turned out! ;-)

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 11:39pm GMT

I predict that if the election is not confirmed, they will make an appeal to the ABC and the primates to intervene in this grave cataclysmic injustice.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 12:35am GMT

Thanks Weiwen for reminding us all of the long view. Theologically, Lawrence's consent or lack of it to be bishop has rather little or nothing to do with whether he will saunter through the pearly gates, come the Last Day.

If I had anything to do with an SC vote, however, I probably would vote against consent at this point. Too many realignment hawks already squawking about the TEC chicken coops, claiming to have flight and dinner plans authorized by the Global South Primates - for my taste. The realignment straws that broke my camel's back of welcome (to leadership, not to sacrament) were simply all the rush after Tanzania to re-engage the same old realignment justifications. The campaign's bottom line continues to be - stealing resources from TEC in the names of realignment, or replacing TEC with resources intact and re-copyrighted by you know who, starting with Duncan and Iker.

It is not a matter of ruling these hawkish bible thumpers out of the kingdom, just a passing matter of our Anglican institutional obligation to protect the family silver. Odd that being morally correct about sex as a realignment believer gives one the automatic and innate right to write large blank checks on the same liberal-progressive-mixed middle bank accounts whose stakeholders you so loudly condemn as pagans, or addle-minded mixed middles sheep lost in the sticky brambles.

Does anything in all that have to do with needing to be consented to as bishop? The realignment campaign says, Yes. I still say, No, not hardly.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 3:12am GMT

About South Carolina there is much lore [I speak as a Yankee who has lived in Virginia for a long time]. Here are some things I've been told:

South Carolina - too small to be its own country - too big to be its own insane asylum.

The people of Charleston are said to be like the ancient Chinese: they eat rice and worship their ancestors.

Charleston, where the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers join to form the Atlantic Ocean.

And finally: North Carolina - a Valley of Humility lying between two Mountains of Conceit.

Brits may wish to consult a map on the last two.

Each of these observations, btw, was told me by southerners.

And South Carolina's low country cuisine is some of the best eating in the US

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 3:21am GMT

As a lowly member of the Church of England as by Law Established, and one who is thereby unused to the machinations of democracy, I ask whether there are many precedents for a majority of Standing Committee consents being so hard to come by? What's the previous 'tightest' race? Were there any long-term consequences of a grudging consent?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 10:01am GMT

"are many precedents for a majority of Standing Committee consents being so hard to come by?"

Not sure who did the refusing, bishops or standing commitees or both, but yes, there have been a number of men who have been elected but denied consents - someone with a quicker grab on history than I can supply names. Most refusals were 19th c I think, but some early 20th c.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 11:14am GMT

Cynthia. Speaking as a 30-year resident of South Carolina, if this state's highly over-rated lowcountry cuisine is "some of the best eating in the US", then American food is in a truly bad way.

Posted by: lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 1:13pm GMT

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett):

James DeKoven was twice elected bishop & failed to receive the necessary consents.

He is now on the Kalendar of The Episcopal Church.

Make of it what you will.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 3:26pm GMT

I am grateful to Louie Crew for reporting this clarification from the PB's office: "March 9th would have been the deadline, but 3 days have been added for a grace period."

I would now be even more grateful if someone could inform us as to where the PB's office derives its authority to add a "grace period" to the canonical 120 day consent period.

I've read the explanation from ENS that the extension is "to take into account the movement of mail." But Canon III.16.4(a) already accounts for mailing delays by counting the consent period from postmark to postmark. If, as reported, the requests for consent were posted November 9, then only consents postmarked by March 9 should be accepted. I know of no canonical provision for adding a "grace period."

Should it happen that consents postmarked after March 9 put Fr. Lawrence over the top, I would think that consent to his election would be open to challenge.

Posted by: Doug Simonsen on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 7:19pm GMT

"if this state's highly over-rated lowcountry cuisine is "some of the best eating in the US", then American food is in a truly bad way."

You don't live in the Shenandoah Valley - it's all a matter of what you're used to and expectations, I guess.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 2:17am GMT

3 day grace period? (What is this---the Triduum?)

I can only imagine the kicking and screaming that would have occurred, if there had been ANY kind of irregular voting shenanigans in order to get +GR consented in '03! :-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 7:04am GMT

According to the lead news story on Anglican Mainstream, Fr Lawrence failed to get his consents.

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 11:13am GMT

EpiScope has a list of those elected who did not serve:

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 2:42pm GMT

Any guesses as to what SC will do?

Will they do the decent, honorable thing by choosing a new candidate who is an actual conservative rather than a radical fundamentalist with schismatic ambitions?

That doesn't seem likely to me--it's just not their style.

So will they re-elect Lawrence and begin the consent process again, or will they call in their new friends in Africa and hold an illegal consecration?

Posted by: JPM on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 6:46am GMT

SC should just wait until 30.9.07

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 4:01pm GMT

Np advises us that "SC should just wait until 30.9.07."

Whether they choose to it now, or choose to wait until September 30th, should 20% or 30% of the Episcopal Church parishioners in South Carolina wish to leave the Episcopal Church and their parishes, and join some other faith community to worship with them, so be it.

I believe it will be their loss primarily, and only a bit a loss for the super-majority of TEC who welcome the diversity that we now encompass.

Just don't imagine, NP, that they can take "the family car" when they leave the family.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 11:15pm GMT

Wondering when the thinking is going to start. I read strategy and political prognostication; not thought. I’d smile at your mutual admiration love fest if you were not dividing the Church with your intolerance. Do you love the Church? Then take the time to articulate this love to all, not just your lexicon cohort.

Posted by: Scott Henthorn on Friday, 23 March 2007 at 2:19am GMT
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