South Carolina bishop writes to clarify relationships with clergy

[Episcopal Church in South Carolina — Press Release] The Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, [provisional] bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, has written letters to clergy members in the diocese, asking them to make clear whether they wish to remain with The Episcopal Church or depart and give up their ministry in the church.

Letters were sent to approximately 140 priests and deacons who did not attend recent conventions of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and sign declarations of conformity to their ordination vows. Some of the letters are addressed to clergy who are part of the breakaway group allied with Mark Lawrence, who announced in October that he was leaving The Episcopal Church.

“As provisional bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, it is my responsibility to clarify the circumstances and allegiances of our clergy,” the letter says. “I invite you to make known your allegiance to [The Episcopal Church] and, if you wish, to request a time to speak with me about this matter …  You face a very serious decision, with significant consequences for you and for the church, and I encourage your careful and prayerful consideration.”

Under the canons governing The Episcopal Church, clergy who desire to leave The Episcopal Church may renounce their ministry in writing to the bishop, who would consult with the Standing Committee and proceed to release them from the responsibilities in [The Episcopal Church].

If, after two weeks, no response is received from the clergy who received the letters – which were sent by certified mail with a signature required upon delivery – then a second letter will be sent. At that time the bishop, after consulting with the Standing Committee, would notify those who did not respond that the conditions of the canons regarding “abandonment of The Episcopal Church” are present. Following the canons, subsequent steps would be to restrict the departing clergy from the activities of the ordained ministry, and then “depose” or remove them.

“In spite of current circumstances, I continue to pray our Lord’s appeal for unity among his followers, and I look forward to the day that such unity within his body may indeed become a reality,” the bishop’s letter says.


  1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    This is a very serious moment for the 140 priests and deacons who have not already declared their loyalty to TEC and the Episcopal bishop, vonRosenberg. Every clergyperson in the old diocese of South Carolina must now make a formal committment to follow either the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence or the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg. I think we should all take a moment and say a prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide each and every one of them as they seek to discern their place in the church. Each one should emerge with peace of mind that he or she made the right decision, the choice that will follow them indefinitely. Whichever side they choose may they have peace.

    • Cheryl Dudley says:

      That is a beautiful and pastoral response to a very challenging decision each of the 1140 face. Prayers also to the bishop vonRosenberg and the diocese who will receive with regret, in many cases and with relief in other cases the decisions of the clergy who have been contact. May the presence of the Holy Spirit be felt.

    • David Yarbrough says:

      For the most part, the Holy Spirit has spoken to these clergy and their parishes. Their allegiance to God, His Word, and Bishop Lawrence is clear. Bishop von Rosenberg has the unfortunate administrative duty of deposing all who fail to toe Dr. Schori’s party line.

      May the Holy Spirit continue to speak to and comfort the clergy and parishes of South Carolina.

      • Zachary Brooks says:

        Bishop Schori has nothing to do with it, but blaming her is a very convenient way of covering up the schismatics’ doctrinal hubris and their contempt of the canons of the Episcopal Church.

        • George Burley says:

          Please do not speak as if you are THE authority on what the Presiding Bishop has or hasn’t done. She has attacked orthodox and conservatives for standing up to reform theology. She attacked Bishop Lawrence by pre-empting a scheduled meeting and constantly challenging his authority and previously his election. She continues to encourage court battles rather than sit down talks. So please stop your belief of her innocence. Check the facts and then respond, do not believe the rhetoric that she puts forth because it is not truth, and it has and never will be shepherding or pastoral.

          • George, much of what you stated needs evidence, back-up and further research, I’m afraid. The truth is difficult to discern in times like this. But for not having been in meetings where either Bishop Katherine or Bishop Mark have spoken to others or to one another, you seem awfully certain of it! I have not experienced it as you say it above.

  2. Marc Kivel says:

    A thoughtful and appropriate pastoral response and may the Holy Spirit enlighten each member of the clergy and lead them to the path which best serves Christ and the people of God.

  3. i have received a letter from von rosenberg-as the theologian to the railroad industry in north america,uk and europe i would only act in south carolina under the wise episcopal care of bishop lawrence,the only legitimate anglican bishop of that diocese,as confirmed by the legal system.

    • Zachary Brooks says:

      Illusions like this will not be a good basis for the future. If you feel you cannot stay with the Episcopal Church, by all means move on. But the lawful authority of the Episcopal Church has spoken, and as yet there is absolutely no basis for calling the schismatics a legitimate expression of the Anglican Communion.

      And, for the record, the lawful authority that has spoken is not Bishop Schori, who can only obey they authority of the General Convention.

    • Roger Mortimer says:

      What on earth might the “theologian to the the railroad industry in north america,uk and europe” (as self-created a title as Mark Lawrence’s “bishopric”, I’m thinking) be?

  4. Patrick Bone, (The Rev. Dr.) says:

    Having been received into the Episcopal Church from the Roman Catholic clergy by Bishop von Rosenberg, I know of no more humble or caring pastor to be commissioned to look for peace and communion in the diocese. He has no personal agenda in this matter save the welfare of the people of God, and of of the laity and clergy on both sides of the issues. Having experienced the Christian religion of my birth tear itself into factions, I am reminded of Paul’s reminder: “Let everything you do be done in love (1Cor. 16:14). My prayers for both sides, with love.

  5. In my own ‘home’ Diocese of Pittsburgh, a degree of peace and reconciliation has occurred. I see no reason why such an amicable solution cannot be forthcoming in the Diocese of South Carolina.

  6. I’m glad to hear this news from South Carolina and Bishop vonRosenberg. “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” No more fence-straddling.
    BTW, didn’t we pass something at GC12 that lets former Episcopalian clergy simply be “removed,” rather than deposed? It’s a bit of a legislative haze to me, but I thought we adopted a kinder, gentler option for clergy like those who want to move to the alphabet soup of CANA/FOCA/whatyamacallit.

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