[Diocese of South Carolina] The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of South Carolina sent the following letter to active diocesan clergy July 30, summarizing Bishop Mark Lawrence’s meeting with the clergy on July 25.
The text of Lewis’ letter follows and is available here in a version that includes a series of suggested prayers.
Dear Brother and Sister Clergy,
On Wednesday, July 25th, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence met with the clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina at St. Paul’s Church, in Summerville, to discuss decisions made at General Convention 2012 and their significance for us as a diocese. In particular, he shared the address he made to the House of Bishops, while in executive session, announcing his decision to depart from Convention with five members of our deputation.
The central purpose of his presentation to the Bishops was to convey his understanding that with the passage of Resolutions D002 and D019 (making all possible variations of “gender identity and gender expression” protected categories in the canons of the church), and the adoption of authorized provisional rites to bless same gender relationships, the doctrine, discipline and worship of this church have been profoundly changed.
He told the Bishops that the magnitude of these changes was such that he could no longer in good conscience continue in the business of the Convention. In fact, he was left with the grave question of whether he could continue as a bishop of an institution that had adopted such changes. It was with that question on the table that he took his leave from the House of Bishops.
Since that time, and in the gathering of the Diocesan Clergy, the Bishop stated that he believes the Episcopal Church has crossed a line he cannot personally cross. He also expressed to the clergy that though he might act one way if he were a priest in a diocese, as a Bishop he feels deeply his vow before God to faithfully lead and shepherd the Diocese of South Carolina. Both dimensions of this dilemma weigh upon him at this time.
The Bishop has asked for a period of grace as he prayerfully seeks the face of the Lord, and asks for God’s direction (Psalm 27:7-9,14 or BCP Ps 27: 10-13, 18). He left yesterday evening, July 29, to begin several weeks of vacation. It will be a time spent on mountaintops and in deserts where the Bishop will seek refreshment and discernment. Upon his return at the end of August he will meet with the Standing Committee and the clergy of the diocese to share that discernment and his sense of the path forward.
In the interim, the Bishop has asked that we hold this process in our prayers and pledge that there will be “no golden calves” or departures during his absence. Those present heartily agreed to both requests. He would also encourage the clergy as they are able to gather in deaneries for prayer and intercession. I commend the prayers below as pillars around which to order your prayers for the Diocese in the coming weeks.
(The Rev. Canon) Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina