Charles vonRosenberg nominated as South Carolina bishop provisional

By ENS staff
Posted Jan 10, 2013

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, a retired bishop of East Tennessee with longtime ties to South Carolina, has been nominated as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.


The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, a retired bishop of East Tennessee with longtime ties to South Carolina, has been nominated as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Photo/Diocese of South Carolina

His name will be presented for a vote on Jan. 26 when local clergy and laypeople who are continuing with the Episcopal Church gather with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in a special meeting of the diocesan convention at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, according to a diocesan press release.

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 on Oct. 17 when she restricted his ministry 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.”

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.

In addition to voting on vonRosenberg’s nomination, the convention of the continuing diocese will also choose people to fill other diocesan offices made vacant by Lawrence’s actions.

If elected, vonRosenberg would be installed during the Jan. 26 meeting, and immediately take up his duties as bishop of a diocese that covers 24 counties in eastern South Carolina. Currently, at least 19 parishes and missions and six worship communities in the diocese have indicated they are remaining with the Episcopal Church, and a number of others are still deciding, the diocesan release said.

A bishop provisional 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 diocese is ready to elect a diocesan bishop or make other decisions about its future.

VonRosenberg and his wife, Annie, already reside in the Daniel Island community of Charleston, where he retired in 2011 after serving for 12 years as bishop of East Tennessee, the release said. Since October he has served, along with retired Bishop John Buchanan, on a voluntary basis as adviser to the steering committee that formed in October to help reorganize the diocese.

VonRosenberg served parishes in the dioceses of Upper South Carolina and North Carolina, and later as canon to the ordinary in Upper South Carolina from 1989-1994.

Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on July 11, 1947, he graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1974.

As third bishop of East Tennessee, he oversaw an area of 34 counties in Tennessee and three in North Georgia, with 45 congregations and five worshiping communities and nearly 16,000 active members.

The South Carolina release said his tenure in East Tennessee “was marked by a measured approach and a focus on reconciliation and relationship,” adding that he “worked to acknowledge diversity and build a spirit of openness in the diocese, initiating a Bishop’s Committee on Inclusivity in 2009 to encourage ‘reasonable and holy conversations’ on same-gender relationships.” He also was “noted for putting a priority on pastoral sensitivity and responsiveness, especially to clergy, their families and churches,” the release said.


Comments (34)

  1. Ann Lamb says:

    South Carolina will be very fortunate!

  2. Nancy Mott says:

    Bishop Charlie is an excellent choice for this position and will provide leadership that is healing, reconciling and sensitive.

  3. J M Stevenson says:

    It is so sad that this all came about. I’m currently on my 3d tour on Standing Committee of our Diocese in Central PA. (I’ll be 80 by the time my tour is up!) We had our doubts about Mark Lawrence when he was first put forth to be Bishop of SC. However, his comments and remarks were overly nuanced and we were aware of anecdotal information for some time that the Standing Committee of SC was searching for someone to lead them out of ECUSA. The second go-round the followng year resulted in a split vote (consents among us just made the majority required) and was based on assurances to our Bishop by then Fr. Lawrence that it was not his intent to lead the diocese out of ECUSA. I see no grace in all of this rancor precipitated by Diocese of SC except that we must be assured that the Holy Spirit is leading us in these matters (even though it might appear He/She may be perceived to speak differently to different parties). It just seems to run against the Anglican ethos of one big umbrella embracing the spectrum of conservatives to progressives alike; we all come to the Table as one. It should be noted that Christianity over the centuries indeed has a progressive bent and we are not all “Luddites”, if you will. Godspeed to continuing Diocese of SC.

  4. V. Tupper Morehead, MD, MDiv, TSSF says:

    If Charlie is confirmed as the interim bishop, the diocese will be truly blessed. He is committed to and understands the mission of the Church: “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” He is a reconciler. My favorite quote of his, spoken in one of his sermons, is: “The radical message of Christianity–when it is preached and lived faithjully–is that Jesus Christ sees the world through the eyes of the powerless.”

    …………………………God speed and God give you peace and all good. –just tupper

  5. Joseph F Foster says:


    Or accomodationationist?

  6. V. Tupper Morehead, MD, MDiv, TSSF says:

    That’s “faithfully,” not “faithjully.” Sorry for the typo! ………………….-T-

  7. Carol McRee says:

    So the non diocese has been given a name for a provisional bishop in violation of TEC’s own cannons…… I would expect nothing else from this group that ignores any and all rules. Remember this is largely the same group who brought Lawrence not once…. not twice…… but three times up on disciplinary charges. Fortunately THE Diocese of South Carolina is doing just fine. We all wish them well ….. just please get your own identity and stop using someone else’s!

    1. J M Stevenson says:

      Cannons? Or is that a pun (shades of Ft Sumter!) ? 🙂

  8. Bruce Green says:

    I wish him well as they unsnarl that mess.

  9. Bonnie Leazer says:

    I look forward to a renewed sense of connection with the Body of Christ that is the National Episcopal Church. It’s like emerging from the darkness into the light. I have no doubt that the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina will be in sure, safe hands under the leadership and guidance of The Right Rev. Charles vonRosenberg.

    1. Chris Walchesky says:

      yep, emerging by dropping membership by the thousands every month! Heresy always dies in the church.

  10. Bruce Garner says:

    Unfortunately, I have seen more up close and personal than I would like the realities of the situation. This is not a theological “thing” with them. It is a power and control issue for them centering around an attitude that the church must be run by white males who are (at least allegedly) straight. I’ve witnessed their lack of respect for women clergy – and yes I know they do have some and I fear for their emotional safety. They are not actually interested in any form of reconciliation or meeting of the minds or even mutual accommodation that involves folks with whom they do not agree. Time and again they were told that they had a place at the table and it would be kept open for them. They made the decision not to sit at the table. And I am referring to more than just the empty table at Province IV Synods where a place was reserved for the Diocese of South Carolina. Attempts were made at numerous levels to reach some form of agreement but it was only acceptable to them on their own terms and not any that involved give and take or that remotely looked like reconciliation. The attitude is that “we have all the right answers and we will not budge from our position.”

    It is always sad when people decide to leave. But remember, people may leave any time they wish. They may not take property and assets with them, even if they are bishop or priest or chair of a standing committee. The property and assets belong to a common ownership under the flag of The Episcopal Church.

    If this really was an action based on theology, why would they not just walk away and start an “Anglican” church somewhere else? If it wasn’t about power and control, the property and assets would not matter. The atmosphere of tightly controlling information that goes out is just another way of exercising control. The same situation was prevelant in all of the other dioceses where the leadership decided to leave and try to take what was not theirs to take.

    I think many fail to recognize what is really behind the situation in South Carolina….and it was no different than the situations in Pittsburg, San Joaquin, Ft. Worth, Quincy and other places who claimed a similar position. I learned more than I ever wanted to know during my tenure on Executive Council when we had to deal with the aftermath.

    We can be together if we want to be together. We can sit at the same table if we want to sit at the same table. Some of us continue to save seats at the table….but our very presence keeps others from sitting down. Is there anything theological or Biblical about that? I can’t find it. The closest I can see in a comparable situation was when people of color sat at tables and lunch room counters and white folks got up and left. Funny how both happened in similar places.

    The reality is that the Diocese of South Carolina violated the Canons and Constitution they had vowed to uphold when they removed references to the Episcopal Church from their own canons and constitution. Mark Lawrence abandoned the communion and effectively renounced his vows as a bishop in TEC by his own words and statements. No one forced those words from his mouth or from his pen (computer). It was his choice and he made it. Now he has to live with the consequences. I wish those who followed him well. They are all still my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are welcome in my home AND in my parish….even though the reciprocal is not true.

    1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

      Bruce, bravo! Thank you for this thoughtful, heartfelt, and well-written comment. I could not agree with you more. I feel as if after years of strormy darkness, a dawn of light is breaking and peace and reconciliation will arise again as the faithful, long-suffering Episcopalians of South Carolina rebuild a great diocese under the leadership of a remarkable bishop.

    2. Steven Long says:

      This was all brought about by the PB, who has spent millions litigating ($23mm) and forcing conservative Episcopalians out of the church. She’s an angry person with no regard for the rule of law and hell bent on getting her way. She’s over played her hand in SC and has met her match as the South Carolinians will send her back to NYC only she payes compensatory and exemplary damages, which are surely to result from their splendid strategy. The Denis Cannon will not be upheld in SC courts (it wasn’t when both the Diocese of SC and ECUS were plaintiffs in the All Saints Pawleys Island case) and it looks like it’s in danger in Texas and perhaps in Virginia (the Commonwealth appellate court has agreed to review the Fairfax case). Also, litigation enforcing corporate church ownership was recently dimissed out of an Oregon court. At any outcome, the ECUS will continue a slow and sad death as they spend millions of dollars to enforce their ‘our way or the highway’ doctrine. So much for the diversity they expouse. Be careful as Ms. Jefforts Shori may be visiting your diocese if you don’t kiss her cassock!

  11. Duane Miller says:

    As an Episcopalian living outside of the USA I have mixed feelings about this. I suppose that the best thing I can say is that the dioceses that were going to leave have left (or as in the case of SC, forced out, it appears). The whole affair has been sordid and I am ashamed for my church, especially by the the Presiding Bishop’s activities which strike me as deceitful and conniving. I will be curious to see if these 19 parishes can become a growing and flourishing diocese, as SC was the last one left in TEC-USA (and I do mean regular, year-on-year numerical growth).

    It will take many millions of dollars though before the whole affair is over. Best case scenario is TEC gets a bunch of empty churches. It is hard to see how that is a victory for the Gospel.

    1. Mike Lawlor says:

      And you don’t think that Mark Lawrence has been “deceitful and conniving?” ( I am not going to lead the diocese out of TEC etc

      1. Bruce Walker says:

        Staying positive and responding to the headline, I offer my prayers for a hopeful future. Charlie vonRosenberg was on the commission on ministry when I went through discernment in Upper South Carolina and I have known him to be impeccable both in word and deed. He is a thoughtful and caring person and should lead the people well. I wish you all well!

      2. J M Stevenson says:

        Biblical metaphor of the Serpent? That’s how many of us on our Standing Committee felt – duped and deceived and disappointed.

      3. Duane Miller says:

        No, I think that Lawrence has behaved with integrity. He did not lead his diocese out of TEC as far as I can see. He was trying to find a way to stay in TEC, even if barely, with the hope that eventually the situation would improve and that TEC would become a more inclusive church that allowed space for his evangelical tradition to flourish. TEC opted for fundamentalism (on the Left, to be sure) rather than a genuine inclusivity.

        1. Christopher Cleveland says:

          I second with your thoughts and sentiments on the South Carolina debacle.
          Thank you for your voice and integrity. I too am ashamed of how TEC has bullied this diocese.

          1. John Neir says:

            Inclusive to whom ? Certainly female priests are not common in this SC diocese. Why is that the case ? Hmmmm…..

  12. Rick Callaway says:

    As long as we keep bringing up the past, we will be held captive. May I point out that +Charles (he really likes “Charlie” better) is one of the finest bishops of the church and we will all benefit from his gentle, faithful touch as this diocese moves into the new day. Thank you, Charles for coming out of retirement for this Church!

  13. John Fisher says:

    Hooray for Charlie Von Rosenberg, who will lead us here in SC faithfully and well. As for Mark Lawrence and his [people], perhaps Jon Stewart has described their actions well when he said, “YOU HAVE CONFUSED AN ATTACK ON YOUR RELIGION, WITH NOT ALWAYS GETTING YOUR WAY”.

  14. Bryan Hunter says:

    The PB and her handful of dissidents are whistling past the graveyard with this absurd charade. TEC may be unable (or unwilling) to follow its own constitution and canons, but I suspect that it shall soon find out that South Carolina courts are not so cavalier about enforcing the state’s own corporate laws.

    Mr Garner, you write, “The property and assets belong to a common ownership under the flag of The Episcopal Church.” Surely you are not so delusional as to believe that TEC is a sovereign nation (and a totalitarian one at that–if it were, its “citizens” wouldn’t be leaving by the bucket-loads, as they currently are). But judging from the rest of your comment, perhaps you are. Sic transit gloria mundi.

  15. Doug Desper says:

    As revisionists keep mistaking their own theological wish list and experiments for movements of the Holy Spirit I notice that we shrink and shrink yet more in participation and interest as a larger church and people think more parochially. That’s telling. Only those who frequent meetings and circles of influence are hopeful enough to believe that most people in the pew give any concern to what they do among themselves. It seems that most people just want the nightmarish divisiveness gone as they focus on their own church circle. I just wish that the General Convention passes a resolution making General Convention an every 6 year event so that this Church can do some healing. And then the Executive Council needs to keep their place and not veto by passivity or obfuscation the mandates given to them. I don’t think that this Church can take any more of the progressive agenda including a revised Hymnal or Prayer Book , complete with a change in the meaning of marriage. Let’s face it: the so-called provisional use of a Service for same-gender blessings is not the stopping place. That’s the warm-up by Integrity and other well-organized entities (even outside of our Church) that want to see us become THE Church that erases “man and woman” from our marriage canons and services. Let’s not forget that the very predictably one-sided “study” given to us of same gender blessings was partially funded by efforts of secular groups with a stake at using us for their agenda. More and more is continually demanded at the expense of the unity of the Church. The message received is that the conservatives seem to matter to keep around just to give the revisionists some credibility for being inclusive…as the revisionists veto or wither by annoyance until their point prevail. As one older preacher said so eloquently: “I think some of us have been livin’ too much in the world”.

  16. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    This announcement is yet another sign that the Episcopal Church is alive and well in the low country. This is thanks to the many long-suffering, belligered, loyal Episcopalians from Georgia to North Carolina, a remarkable leadership of Churchpeople, and a great Presiding Bishop. The anti-Episcopal Church party freely chose to leave the Episcopal Church. They are now gone but of course are keeping up their war on the Episcopal Church because their union is based on fighting a common enemy. In just a couple of weeks the Episcopal diocese will meet in convention, approve the new bishop and get on with rebuilding a once great diocese. No amount of opposition the anti side can throw up in court or out will stop the Episcopal Church from thriving again in SC. This must be very unsettling to people who thought they could leave the Episcopal Church and take the Church with them.

    1. Steven Long says:

      Oh my Ronald J. Caldwell that was quite a post. “Long suffering, belligered, Episcopalians in Georgia to North Carolina”? Your post conveys the sanctimonious attitude of the northern US towards the south. This isn’t the 1950’s that you and others still think the south remains. If you think the region is over run by conservative bishops, you’re obviously confused or not from the SE US or a combination thereof. Other than the Diocese of South Carolina, the EC in these areas are ruled by lap dogs of Jefforts Shori. SC will win this fight as they have case law on their side and it’s going to be interesting to watch the ECUS explain why they violated their own canon law in court. Also, the church thrives in South Carolina because of the biblical and orthodox beliefs of the leadership and will continue under the leadership of Bishop Lawrence. Next time you post a comment, I hope you will have a better understanding of the facts.

  17. Maxine Schell says:

    What strange recommendations for a Bishop ! Did he help lead anyone to the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ? If so, whose Gospel did he preach ?

    1. John Neir says:

      What is so strange about his recommendation as Bishop ? He appears to be well liked and committed to the Episcopal Church (TEC). That is what we expect of our Bishops.

      1. Sam Liggett says:

        That is the problem with TEC…”well liked and committed to TEC” is a far cry from being committed to making disciples of Christ. Interesting how DioSC was one of the only few and I mean few growing and flourishing diocese in the country under Bp Salmon and Bp Lawrence. I guess they were making disciples while the others were dying.

      2. Steven Long says:

        John Neir: “well liked and committed to the TEC”? Is that all that is required to be bishop? I thought they have to be ministers of the Gospel who preach the true and lively Word. Anyway, he won’t be bishop of the Diocese of SC in his life time when the SC courts get through with the TEC.

  18. John Neir says:

    Well, the decision to elect a new Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina rests with those who are in communion with TEC and so perhaps in time, under Bishop Von Rosenberg, the diocese will once again flourish. We are all Anglicans….lets remember that.

  19. Bryan Hunter says:

    ENS may want to pull or revise this post given the South Carolina Circuit Court’s Temporary Restraining Order issued yesterday. TEC may declare vonRosenberg bishop of something, but that something won’t be The Diocese of South Carolina. The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has a bishop, and he is The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence. As Judge Goodstein concluded in her ruling, “AND IT IS SO ORDERED!”

  20. Sarah Hey says:

    I’m quite confident that Bishop vonRosenberg will do for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina just what he did for the Diocese of East Tennessee — ASA in 2001 of around 6500 [undoubtedly more in 1999 when the bishop was consecrated], and ASA in 2011 when he departed of around 5500.

    Not a bad decline, for TEC dioceses led by revisionists.

    It’s a good, solid choice and very fitting for the new organization in SC.

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