Presiding Bishop to visit South Carolina diocese

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Dec 10, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is scheduled to join continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina Jan. 25-26 as they choose a provisional bishop.

“We welcome the opportunity to have her with us at this important time in the history of our diocese, and it will be a privilege to share with her firsthand the energy and diversity of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” said Hillery Douglas, chairman of the steering committee for the reorganization of the diocese and senior warden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, in a press release posted here.

There will be a reception and other events involving Jefferts Schori on Jan. 25, according to the release, and she will then preside over the convention the next day at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston as delegates elect a provisional bishop and choose people to fill other vacant diocesan offices.

A nominating committee of diocesan Episcopalians is working with the presiding bishop to discern a bishop to nominate for the provisional position, the release said.

Bishop John Clark Buchanan, who lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Bishop Charles vonRosenberg of Daniel Island, both retired Episcopal Church bishops, are listed here as advisers to the steering committee.

A provisional bishop has all the authority and responsibilities of a diocesan bishop, but typically serves for a set period of time and is meant to be a bridge into the time when the continuing diocese is ready to elect a diocesan bishop or make other decisions about its future.

For instance, the Diocese of Quincy, which elected Buchanan to serve provisionally, is actively discerning possible reunification with the adjacent Diocese of Chicago. And in Pittsburgh, continuing Episcopalians recently ordained and consecrated Bishop Dorsey W. M. McConnell to be the diocese’s eighth bishop. Bishop Kenneth Price, from the neighboring Diocese of Southern Ohio, served as provision bishop of Pittsburgh for three years.

Fort Worth and San Joaquin have elected more than one provisional bishop over time. Bishop Rayford High is the Diocese of Fort Worth’s third provisional bishop, following Bishop C. Wallis Ohl and Bishop Edwin “Ted” Gullick. And Bishop Chet Talton is the Diocese of San Joaquin’s second provisional bishop, succeeding Bishop Jerry Lamb.

Some of the continuing dioceses also had the assistance of bishops who served in consulting or assisting roles until they were able to convene to elect a provisional bishop.

The continuing Diocese of South Carolina needs a new episcopal leader because Jefferts Schori said Dec. 5 that Mark Lawrence had renounced his orders. She and her Council of Advice agreed that in a  Nov. 17 speech to a special diocesan convention, Lawrence said the diocese had left the Episcopal Church a month earlier when Jefferts Schori restricted his ministry on Oct. 17 after the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified to her that he had abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.”

When the day the board’s decision was announced, the diocesan Standing Committee said that the action “triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the diocese from the Episcopal Church and called a special convention.”

Lawrence asked for and received affirmation from those at the Nov. 17 gathering of that departure.

Lawrence and those he leads continue to say that he is still the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina

According to a fact sheet posted on the Episcopal Church’s website: “Dioceses cannot leave the Episcopal Church. While some clergy and individuals may choose to leave, congregations and property remain in the diocese to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.


Comments (16)

  1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    This is great news for the Episcopalians of the low country. The slow train wreck in South Carolina has been happening for years if not decades so none of the recent actions of the old diocesan leadership is a surprise. The local Episcopalians and the national church had a pretty good idea and so were prepared. As soon as the diocesan leadership invoked the hitherto secret agreement of the standing committee to break from TEC if TEC took any action against the bishop, an Episcopalian steering committee was formed. Soon after the meeting on November 17 documented the diocese’s withdrawal from TEC, the Presiding Bishop accepted the renunciation of Episcopal Church orders by Bishop Lawrence. As soon as Lawrence was removed as bishop, the steering committee made a plan for a prompt diocesan convention to elect a new provisional bishop and standing committee. All of this decisive action has lifted the hearts of the faithful Episcopalians in lower Carolina. Now that the two groups have completely divided, the Episcopal Church can get on with the business of rebuilding a great diocese.

    1. The Rev. Dr. W. Robert Abstein says:

      As a part-time resident of Pawleys Island, I am grateful for the continuing diocese plan. My prayers are with you all at this time. God bless you as you reorganize a wonderful diocese.

  2. Thomas Wortham says:

    My prayers (which trust in a loving and inclusive God) are with you as you gather to continue the work of the Gospel.

  3. John Andrews says:

    My prayers will be with the Diocese of South Carolina as they choose new leadership for the good people there. Hopefully hearts will be heal in the process and the diocese can move forward in the work that is set before them. It may be a long and painful road, but I pray that all will be well and your good work will continue.

  4. Bishop Katharine, my prayers are with you and the people of South Carolina. May the peace and hope of God be with all of you.

  5. William A. Kolb says:

    As a former priest of the diocese, I have been saddened to read of the painful divisions in the diocese of SC. I am heartened and encouraged to read of the arrangements by leaders of the continuing diocese and by the presiding bishop. I suppose it has been no surprise to most, given that all this has taken place in the State that is at odds much of the time with much of the nation. But now I pray that the continuing diocese will be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit with a great sense of community as you all move forward with your work and ministries.

  6. Ronald R Peak says:

    As a retired priest, and a product of the Diocese of South Carolina (though I never served there) I, like so many, am grieved by the divisions within the Diocese. Yes, the divisions have been present, in one form or another, for decades — but it is now a time when the Diocese of South Carolina will begin to grow, anew, into representatives of Jesus, and serve the People of God, instead of themselves. How I wish I was closer so I could, somehow, be of assistance. Blessings to all from Riviera Beach, Florida

    1. tom van alen says:

      Amen and blessings on all those who fail to see Christ at work in this process. tom

  7. The Rev Bob Spencer, BCC says:

    As az Priest ordained in Holy Comforter, Sumter, 40 years ago, I havbe been sad over the events in the Diocese of SC. You have been, and will continue to be in my prayers as you reorganize and begin to bring a renewed spirit into the diocese. God Bless you all as events unfold.

  8. Bryan Hunter says:

    This article is chock-full of factual errors. Despite what TEC “fact” sheet says, there is absolutely nothing in the constitution or canons of TEC that disallows a diocese to leave TEC.

    Secondly, Bishop Lawrence has stated repeatedly that those parishes which choose to leave the Diocese of South Carolina and realign with TEC are free to do so and go with his blessing and well-wishes in order to re-form as they see fit. Whether they (or TEC) choose to follow TEC canons for creating a new diocese is no longer his concern. However, what these parishes are not allowed to do is to arrogate the identity of The Diocese of South Carolina (including its name, its diocesan seal, and its history). The Diocese of South Carolina (and its seal) are organized and registered under the corporate law of the State of South Carolina. The diocese is a legal entity with Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee registered as the leadership.

    Furthermore, this article suggests that the provisional bishop for this new diocese will replace the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence. Not so. Mark Lawrence remains the duly elected and installed bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, an ecclesiastical and corporate entity that still persists during its 227 years of uninterrupted existence.

    Whatever new name the nascent TEC diocese in the Lowcountry of South Carolina chooses for itself, I pray God’s guidance and blessing upon it and the many friends I count within it as they choose their first bishop.

    1. Jay Abbott says:

      Dear Bryan, quick question just for clarification…of what province of the Anglican Communion is ‘The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina’ a diocese, as you understand it?

  9. Joel Rowse says:

    The Trouble is when the Episcopal Church’s leadership at the national level are no longer holding to the traditions of the Church, and then normal bread and butter Christians in the Episcopal Church no longer have natural or organic fellowship or unity. The Roman Catholic Church has included them in a special generous offer, and the majority of Anglicans in the world would welcome them, just not the North American Anglicans who are in communion with Canterbury. My prayers are with Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Christians he shepherds, he is put in a very hard position by a denomination that is now very hard to reconcile with traditional Christianity; Catholic, Protestant or Orthodoxy. The exodus from the Episcopal Church by ordinary Christians must indicate something is not right.

  10. Maggie McGill says:

    Please don’t confuse the continuing Diocese of South Carolina, and those who claim to be the Diocese of South Carolina (aka the Diocese of Lawerance) with the Diocese of Upper South Carolina,

  11. Lin Goldstone says:

    As a member of the Diocese of Quincy, I understand the pain that the Episcopalians are feeling. We are still recovering from the stealing of our churches under the leadership of Keith Ackerman. The people of the Diocese of Quincy are dedicated to the tradition of The Episcopal Church.
    Three years ago we went through what you are going through at this time. I was one of the people that was on the committee that worked to reconstitute The Diocese of Quincy. The Presiding Bishop was with us every step of the way.

    Don’t be dismayed over what the people that have left TEC are saying about The Episcopal Church. These people have an agenda that was started a long time ago. They feel that they are correct in whatever they say or do. They have been mislead and lied to for years, and at this time, there is nothing that you can say that will change their mind.
    In the Diocese of Quincy, the people where told that The Episcopal Church was evil and no longer Christian. I can site many statements that were made that will show you to what lengths they will go through to prove their point. The TRUTH never came from THEIR MOUTH. After a while, if you did not not do your own investigation, you would believe those lies.
    The Diocese of South Carolina will do just fine. During The Diocese of Quincy reconstitution, I was one of seven people that worked with The Presiding Bishop and her Staff. They offered us all the support and assistance that we needed.

    I like to tell this story to show the heart of The Presiding Bishop and Clay Matthews.
    My brother died in Virginia. The first day I was there, I received a call from Clay Matthews with condolences. He was calling to also tell me that he had contacted the Bishop of the Southern Diocese of Virginia to contact me. He wanted to make sure that I had pastoral care. A few hours later I talked to the Bishop and the Priest of the The Episcopal Church in Newport News, VA.. To this day, I have no idea how The Presiding Bishop or Clay Matthews were made aware of my brothers death. I cannot tell you how great it was to have this kind of support.
    I will be with you, as you reconstitute the Diocese of South Carolina on January 25 and 26, 2013

    May the Peace and Love of The Lord, be with you Always!

    1. Rebecca Alford says:

      Thank You! Our worship groups are growing in number and we have been gathering delegates for the convention in January as we personally endure continued condemnation from our former fellow parishioners and Rector. At least we found out who are real friends are!

  12. Paul Foster says:

    It is sad to see the conservatives of the Anglican Communion so willing to abandon its traditional polity. Regardless of what they think of the currect TEC practice, our province of the Anglican Communion works from the bottom up. I believe we have to embrace the belief that the Holy Spirit will not allow the church to be led permanently into error. The time is not yet for unequivocal categorical condemnations.

    Just a minor correction, Bishop Kenneth Price was from the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

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