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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Complaint leading to possible charges leveled against Bishop Mark Lawrence of TEC Dio of SC


Bishop Mark Lawrence may be charged with "abandonment of the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church"

See here for Diocese of South Carolina release

And here for AP story

Nothing up on Pittsburgh bloggers Dr Simons or Lionel Deimel's blogs but Episcopal Cafe has story and comments here

And here

Interestingly, I am a seminary classmate of Paul Fuener who is President of the South Carolina C Standing Committee and also of former SC Standing Committee President Hayden McCormick and also of former Fort Worth Standing Committee President Ryan Reed. In fact Hayden, Ryan and I were all Standing Committee Presidents in 2008 when Fort Worth and Pittsburgh voted to realign and when Mark Lawrence was first denied consents as Bishop of South Carolina. Hayden presided as head of the Ecclesiastical Authority when Mark was elected a second time and finally consented to as diocesan bishop. Quite an amazing seminary class I might proudly assert!


  1. Had a chat about this with John Burwell last night (he was here to preach Tim Hushion's ordination). Just to say this action seems odd.

    The "charges" are just about everything plus the kitchen sink and in the end may make it just a lot harder than it already is for +Mark to steer a reasonably steady course. It's a tough needle to thread. There has to be in South Carolina enough differentiation from the Episcopal Church mainstream to satisfy the strong conservative majority in the diocese, but not "too much" differentiation, which could result in damaging external reaction. My guess is that the present charges will be investigated (as the canons require) and then dismissed. But it's a shot across the bow, and will only make the efforts more difficult.

    Bruce Robison

  2. You've got to be kidding, Bruce. Its Pittsburgh all over again. 815 is proving themselves not very creative, as they seem to repeat themselves. There's no doubt in my mind that they want the Bishop of South Carolina out of their way. I love your optimism, Bruce, it makes you the positive force that you are, but I just can't see how you can be right on this one.

  3. Well, I'm definitely not Karnak the Magnificent, Tara, and my "best guesses" have been as often wrong as right through the past couple of years.

    I think the Via Media folks in South Carolina have over-reached in this matter, and I don't believe that the investigation will result in charges.

    But I could be wrong, no question about it.


  4. Hi B & T,

    I think the South Carolina situation is sort of Pittsburgh-all-over-again, and sort of not. The charges against Bishop Lawrence seem flimsy and kind of dumb (#10 is my favorite!), and charges of similar character were brought against our bishop, too. Also, there seems to be an itch in the TEC leadership to do away with Bishop Lawrence in the same manner that they did away with Bishop Duncan. 815 plays with loaded dice against people whom they deem as 'disagreeable.' So I guess in these ways, the two situations (Pittsburgh and South Carolina) are similar.

    An important difference between our situation and theirs is that when charges were brought against our Bishop, they were focused on the fact that he planned on leading the Diocese out of TEC via realignment. Now, TEC ousted him before the final realignment vote was cast (which was their great crime in all of this). The case against Bishop Lawrence is a bit different. He has publically and repeatedly stated that he does not intend to leave TEC (unless he's forced out, which may happen). Thus, the case against the Bishop of South Carolina is even stranger than what happened locally.

    I think if Bishop Lawrence is eventually deposed, it will mean that TEC has finally jumped the shark. His removal would be a water-shed and defining moment which would send a clear message concerning how TEC views a dissenting minority. And if I were a betting rector, I think that the chances are likely (given the Title 4 revisions) that Bishop Lawrence will in fact be deposed. The current TEC leadership is quite intolerant of a conserving, protectivist position. We'll see what happens, but in the meantime let's pray for SC: for peace, steadiness, protection, and wisdom.

    Ethan Magness

  5. What the new Title IV does in this case is give the ad hoc group in SC standing to submit a complaint . . . and to make it more difficult for the disciplinary body to avoid initiating an investigation. I don't see anything in the new provisions that would make a conviction, a sentence of deposition, or for that matter even a presentment, any more likely now than would have been the case under the old canons. But of course it's all new, and we may not know for sure how these things will actually work in the end.

    Bruce Robison

  6. Two old pals have written well on this:

    Tony Clavier:

    And +Dan Martins: