Including: An Advent Meditation
of the Virgin
By The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop, The Anglican Diocese
of South Carolina
Including: An Advent Meditation
of the Virgin
By The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop, The Anglican Diocese
of South Carolina
Bishop Lawrence’s Annual Visitation schedule has just been released. In order to allow time for the Bishop Coadjutor’s selection, election and consecration, the calendar has been extended through the first of March 2022.
— Anglican Diocese of SC (@anglican_sc) November 19, 2020
In lieu of this year’s cancelled Clergy Conference—Bishop Lawrence held two smaller gatherings October 19-21, the first held for Rectors and the second hosting Vicars, Associates & Deacons. The theme of the retreats was “Seeing Covid-19 as a Season of Exile.” The brief gatherings included teachings from Jeremiah—his life and writings and from insights gleaned from Eugene Peterson’s book, Run With the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best, small group discussions, fellowship, and personal time for reflection on the call of God.
Some of the questions they considered included:
1. How has Covid-19 been for you, your family, or your congregation?
2. How is your congregation adapting to this exilic environment?
3. Where are you in need of such a renewal and new commitment now?
4. What has God appointed you to do or be—to what work has he given you now?
5. When Jeremiah bought the field at Anathoth he was buying into God’s promise. During this time of Covid-19 and social unrest how is God calling you to buy into what you believe?
“It was time well spent!” said the Rev. Karl Burns, Rector of Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island, “The Bishop’s teaching from Jeremiah was relevant and it was just good to be with my fellow rectors in a relaxed environment. Just to be able to sit and share in the atmosphere of where we are was very good.”
THE PALMS PROJECT is an album of worship songs we (former camp staff) chose to reflect the last decade of worship at St. Christopher. It was recorded in the Chapel of the Palms in hopes of capturing the sonic qualities that make us all feel so at home. The microphones, set up around the room really capture the worship experience. Sadly, there was not a room full of campers to join in that worship and the chapel yearned for their chorus. We worked hard with the time and resources available. We hope you can find joy and peace in this album!
Watch and listen to it all (just over 37 minutes).
In his address to the convention, Bishop Mark Lawrence reflected on lessons he’d learned from his predecessors, Bishops Temple, Allison and Salmon. With the last 12-15 months of his episcopacy remaining he asked, “What do I need to accomplish for the good of the Diocese? What do I need to give myself to? I’ve come to the conclusion I need to give myself, as much as I can, to the clergy of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina….To the rectors, vicars, associates and curates: I want to double down on my prayers for you, your families and ministries and to spend as much time with you as I can fit into my calendar.” He spoke of trimming time spent on committees, boards and speaking engagements “which often draw you away from what your heart wants to do” to allow him to spend time with clergy.
Analyzing the clergy of the Diocese by age, he said 10% of our clergy are between the ages of 25-39; 23% between 40-54 and 67% are age 55+. “We need to fan the flame of the gift of the Holy Spirit in the young men and women of the Diocese that God might call them to offer themselves, if God so calls, to the ordained ministry of the church.” He asked those listening to join him in praying for the work of St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, where many young people have heard a call to ministry. “Pray for a spiritual revival on our clergy and lay leaders alike.”
He also said the Diocese needed to put an increasing emphasis on church planting, expressing his thankfulness for the work of the Rev. Todd Simonis, our (very part-time) Canon for Church Planting stating that by 2023 he hoped the Diocese would be able to fund that as a full-time position.
Please Pray for the #Anglican Diocese of #SouthCarolina Virtual Convention which happens today https://t.co/v86OJs4r55 #parishministry #conventions #meetings #ministry #prayer pic.twitter.com/Nxo3SGps2r
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) October 3, 2020
You can find the agenda there.
— Anglican Diocese of SC (@anglican_sc) September 2, 2020
How would you respond to Tyler, Amanda, and Jon? How would you counsel Tyler’s parents to respond? Tyler’s parents’ pastor advised them to first listen to their son rather than trying to preach at him, so after Tyler came out to them, they set up a time to simply connect and listen. Though they were clear they did not affirm Tyler’s choice, they did affirm their love for Tyler, Amanda, and their grandkids. They made a point to keep their weekly Thursday afternoon “dates” with their grandkids and stay a part of their lives. Because of this, Tyler has maintained his relationship with his parents, and though his relationship choices are unbiblical, they have been able to communicate their love and care for him and his family. Amanda’s mother responded differently. Decades earlier, her relationship with Amanda’s father had ended when he had proposed a polyamorous relationship and then left when she wasn’t open to it. Amanda’s choice reopened her mother’s unhealed wounds. Feeling angry and betrayed, Amanda’s mother effectively broke off the relationship with her daughter. When children choose less than God’s best for their relationships, affirming both grace and truth is a difficult but necessary balance for parents to maintain.
Another important pastoral step is to distinguish elements of polyamory that are in violation of God’s will from elements that are simply culturally unfamiliar to us. When we want to lovingly call people to repentance, we should be precise about what needs repentance and what relationships or elements can and should be sanctified in Christ. For example, the notion of kinship in polyamory is a secular echo of the way Scripture calls the church to function as a new family. In cultures that idolize individualism (but actually isolate individuals), polyamory’s focus on relationship, care, and affection can have a powerful pull. And in churches that idolize marriage and the nuclear family, polyamory’s focus on hospitality and community can be an attractive alternative. We can acknowledge that many of the elements that draw people to polyamory—deep relationships, care for others, hospitality, and community—are good things.
But Scripture does clearly connect sex, marriage, and monogamy in ways that are violated in polyamorous relationships. In the example above, Amanda and Tyler both need to be called to repentance for the way they have committed adultery. A pastoral approach would commend them for their desire to have other adults contribute to the life of their family but point them to the church—not a polyamorous relationship—as the place where God intends for that to happen.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
The amendment, brought by the next lead Bishop of safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, asked that the original motion be reinforced by “concrete actions”. Earlier attempts to strengthen it had foundered (News, 7 February). Dr Gibbs’s amendment also urged the National Safeguarding Steering Group to commit to a “fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors” and to update the Synod on the progress on the IICSA recommendations not later than 2021.
Redress was a small phrase with large implications, Dr Gibbs said. “It will mean serious money [and] changes in ways we handle claims and complaints.” Safeguarding responses must be “shaped by the righteousness and compassion of God’s Kingdom, not by the short-term and short-sighted financial and reputational interests of the Church,” he said.
LATEST. Calls for “proper” and “just” redress for survivors of clerical abuse, with “serious money”, were made in an emotional debate on safeguarding in the General #Synod todayhttps://t.co/chCCrOlHpR
— Hattie Williams (@hattieewilliams) February 12, 2020
Read it all and please note the links to the various speeches.
Our proposals sought to record our collective lament at our sins of omission and commission, and (for the second time of asking) we commended the text of the excellent Blackburn Ad Clerum. Then and now these suggestions were rejected: the first time our Archbishops thought it premature; this time, seeking to preface our acceptance of the IICSA recommendations with sentiments of repentance, and endorsing the pastoral response which our victims had welcomed, were ruled technically out of order. We can play with the idea of repentance being ‘out of order’ in this context at a future juncture: this is not the time for mischief-making, however tempting.
Our purpose in going beyond the anaemic and prosaic was to make this debate a cultural turning point from which we might begin to move on from the necessary demolition – of structures, attitudes, policies etc. – toward a more positive future.
We thought it important that such an initiative should come from below, for we saw that it is no longer sufficient for the House of Bishops alone to direct our response. Archbishop Justin has previously acknowledged that a change to the culture of deference is needed. We were taking him seriously. It is liberating and deserves to be taken seriously. “Trust me, I’m a Bishop” is no longer a sound principle: the whole of the Church, from top to bottom, must own its priorities, and discussing these at Synod seemed to be a healthy place to start.
Our proposals additionally committed Synod to accepting the final IICSA proposals promptly, on the basis that it was inconceivable that we would pretend to know better after all the embarrassment of the IICSA evidence and submissions. Our track record does not merit once again wandering off on a Safeguarding frolic of our own.
Our final proposal dared to engage bluntly with the issue of proper reparation. We were mindful of the story of ‘Tony’ in the insurance press. He told his story on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, and explained how survivors have endured very low levels of compensation because they cannot afford to take matters to court and lose. The power imbalance in the negotiations is immense.
Not a Convention Delegate? Come anyway – for the Workshops! Join us on Friday March 13:
Morning Mini Conference on:
Creating a Spiritual Legacy: Your Game Plan from Success to Significance
Afternoon Workshops on:
Church Revitalization • Stewardship • Global Partnerships • Church Planting • The New ACNA Prayerbook • Small Church, Big Heart, Big God • Hispanic Ministry • Prayer
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) February 10, 2020
As your bishop I have a particular charge laid upon me ‘to serve and care for the flock of Christ’, and as chief pastor of the whole diocese I will never abrogate that prime responsibility. I bring many years’ experience of devising and implementing safeguarding policies to this role: but that very experience teaches me that in this area there is never any room at all for complacency.
Pastoral care in this diocese falls ultimately to me, so I expect all those who exercise pastoral responsibility under my authority to show the very highest levels of care and concern possible, the Lord being our helper. We do well to remember Jesus’ sobering words, ‘If any of you put a stumbling- block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18: 6)
These things should be of the utmost importance in any diocese, which is why the Church of England is currently undergoing the second ‘Past Cases Review’. But there are particular reasons why these are core concerns for us here in Truro. I am acutely aware that Peter Ball lived with his twin brother, Bishop Michael, in the same house my wife and I now call home, after he resigned as Bishop of Gloucester. I know, too, that for many the recent documentaries about Peter Ball were deeply upsetting and shocking – and rightly so.
Furthermore, those in authority in this diocese repeatedly failed to deal with allegations of child sex abuse made against a former press officer of the diocese, Jeremy Dowling. Those were abject failures and must never be repeated. The report on this case, written by Dr Andy Thompson, makes for sobering, but necessary reading, and I commend it to you
Listen to it all.
Being Human: Gender, Sexuality, Fulfillment
A Ridley Institute Offering
In order for a Christian to faithfully respond to the challenging topics of sexuality and gender, one must engage and understand Scripture’s teaching on these matters. This two-part course will help to increase the Church’s understanding and compassion towards those experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, so all may be cared for in love and truth. We will create space for Christians to learn and talk about these challenging topics together, so that voices may be heard, questions addressed, and the Church encouraged to live faithfully today.
Message from the Vestry of Truro Parish to the congregationhttps://t.co/USxInnc7PJ
— Anglican Ink (@anglicanink) December 10, 2019
Meetings often fill the calendars of office workers, but pastors say their days are often full of meetings as well.
A survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked 1,000 Protestant pastors if they regularly have any of six types of meetings. Virtually every pastor (99%) says they regularly have at least one of those work-related meetings.
“Churches are people, and church ministry is people ministry,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “It is not surprising that pastors participate in many meetings, but the nature of those meetings varies.”
Nine in 10 pastors (90%) say they regularly meet to counsel church members.
Earlier in the Conference, Archbishop Ben had shared more of his background. His father had been brought to Christ and mentored by young missionaries from England, who made huge sacrifices by journeying to Nigeria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of them died there, some within weeks of arrival; their love for the Lord and for the people made a huge impression on Kwashi senior and his son Ben who became an Archbishop and now General Secretary of Gafcon. “The gospel is the means of saving the world, and God has put it in our hands”, he said. “We must pass it on to the next generation with joy and conviction, hot and fresh”.
This for Kwashi is the central driving motivation for Gafcon. In the churches of the West, theological debate about the essentials of Christianity was “watering down the gospel, destroying faith, taking the church captive”. Gafcon as a series of conferences and a global movement has re-established faithful Anglicanism and provided structures for it to continue and thrive. Anglican groupings have emerged, clearly separated from ‘official’ structures which have embraced heresy, such as the thriving Church in North America, and now new initiatives in New Zealand, Scotland and Brazil. In Africa, those with an anti-gospel agenda “use money to play with people’s lives”, Kwashi warned, but those who identify with Gafcon “are not willing to be sold”.
The theme of the Renew Conference, attended by nearly 500 people from 270 churches, was “multiplying ministries in the light of eternity”. Certainly Ben Kwashi’s ministry in Nigeria, and his current additional responsibilities with Gafcon exemplify this. The truths of the future coming of Christ, and the destiny of all human beings, as a comfort for believers and motivation for mission were outlined in Bible expositions by other speakers. “We can cope with suffering, but not hopelessness”, said Andy Mason, reminding us from the gospel of Luke that the King has come, the King will come, it will be a shock, and we are told how to prepare. A particularly excellent systematic treatment of the subject of hell by Kendall Harmon from the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina explained why and how the loss of this uncomfortable teaching in churches has coincided with the rise of secularism in society, and how recovering a sober and biblical understanding of judgement is vital for the evangelistic project founded on love and concern for the lost.
In a church that has nominally (if belatedly) embraced “Transparency and Accountability”, rejected clergy deference and pledged to “put the interests of the victim first”, it is surely not asking too much for a full and frank response to be issued to these important and prima facie legitimate concerns about the way the review is being handled. One of the problem areas also identified by the survivors lawyers at IICSA is the Church of England’s “Byzantine procedures”.
In this case, it is by no means clear who is driving the decision to limit the terms of the review. Is it the Archbishops, the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, the National Safeguarding Team, the National Safeguarding Supervisory Group, the acting National Safeguarding Director, the incoming National Safeguarding Director, the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, or the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary General of the General Synod? Is the decision administrative or executive, individual or collective? One only has to list the potential decision-makers to illustrate the lawyer’s point. Grappling with this organisation and its confusing structures is extraordinarily difficult for an aggrieved individual. It should not be like this.
It is therefore legitimate to pose three simple and direct questions:
1) Who in the Church of England has the power to change these decisions?
2) Who will accept responsibility for not changing them if we want to challenge these matters in detail at the next meeting of the General Synod?
3) How do we change the decision-maker if access to justice is denied?
I do, of course, refer to justice to accused and accuser alike, which can only emerge from fair and independent process. In short, if the shabby and shambolic behaviour continues, who carries the can?
Funny, isn’t it, how some CofE bishops go on and on and on about Boris and Brexit, but are completely mute about the abuse and injustice in their midst.. https://t.co/jaR4MqXPau
— Archbishop Cranmer (@His_Grace) August 2, 2019
Local pastors who worked closely with Greene and her North Charleston nonprofit to extend foreign aid called Greene a missionary at heart.
The Rev. Isaac Holt, senior pastor of Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, partnered with Greene after the deadly Haiti earthquake in 2010 to finance water systems for the nation.
Holt described Greene as an international humanitarian who was loved by everyone.
“Molly was a missionary at heart,” Holt said. “She had a heart for people who she didn’t know. She was less known locally than she was globally. She knew people all over the world. She was a mover and influencer.”
Funeral arrangements have been announced for Molly Greene, the co-founder of an international humanitarian group who died last week during a trip to the Bahamas.https://t.co/jXwfm86UG5
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) July 26, 2019
The Church of England has some very helpful online resources for safeguarding. They even have some courses that can be taken by anyone involved in church at their Safeguarding Portal, and you can get “badges” and certificates to prove you’ve passed the course if that is of use in your context. I got a couple of foundational certificates and also did two very helpful and informative training courses on modern slavery and human trafficking, while looking into this recently.
Whilst checking out some of these very well-presented resources, I was struck by the definition given of “spiritual abuse” — something which has sadly become topical of late, and something which many of us are now wrestling with, and trying to understand or come to terms with. It starts by admitting that unlike physical abuse, sexual abuse, or modern slavery for example, “spiritual abuse” is not a category of abuse recognised in statutory guidance. It is a matter for great concern, however, both within and outside faith communities, including the Church of England. It was, for example, discussed and defined in Protecting All God’s Children (2010), a Church of England document which can be found online here. There it is said that:
“Within faith communities, harm can also be caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in children experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. If such inappropriate behaviour becomes harmful, it should be referred for investigation in co-operation with the appropriate statutory agencies. Careful teaching, supervision and mentoring of those entrusted with the pastoral care of children should help to prevent harm occurring in this way. Other forms of spiritual harm include the denial to children of the right to faith or the opportunity to grow in the knowledge and love of God.”
This I think was the working definition in the case of the Revd Tim Davis who, it was reported in 2018, subjected a 15 year old boy to intense prayer and Bible sessions in his bedroom. The teenager described the mentoring he received as “awful” and all-consuming, but never felt able to challenge the minister. Davis was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority.”
Speaking during the debate, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, spoke about the covenant’s potential impact on clergy terms of service.
“The proposals in here do suggest that you would have to amend the Terms of Service Measure.
“When the ordinal, which is what we signed up to, is replaced by role descriptions, when capability becomes micro-management, and when licensing services become places where we spell out all the things we are going to do for our clergy, then worry, because our most litigious clergy, and there are a minority of them, will say, ‘At my licensing service you promised to do this so I’m taking you to an employment tribunal’. “I don’t think the covenant will help us, I think the covenant is actually a bad mechanism is order to build good practice.
“If we must do it, we must do it, but I think there’s a worry… moving away from common tenure and moving towards employment and contract culture.
Read it all (subscription).
“Hattie Williams, senior reporter at the Church Times, has covered the proceedings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church from the beginning. She talks to Paul Handley, Editor, about the experience, and what she thinks the Church can learn.” Listen to it all (slightly under 17 minutes).
The archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind calls for the government to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory.
Justin Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): “I am convinced that we need to move to mandatory reporting for regulated activities.”
Regulated activities cover areas where professionals come into routine contact with children and vulnerable adults, such as teaching, healthcare and sporting activities. In a church context, this would cover clergy and youth leaders.
Survivors of clerical sexual abuse have argued that mandatory reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to statutory authorities is a vital component of effective child protection. They argue that a failure to comply should lead to criminal sanctions.
— londonchurchfinder (@ldnchurchfinder) July 11, 2019
Bishop Chris will play a lead role in supporting the continuing renewal of ministry throughout the Church of England as the Church looks to increase the scale and diversity of those called to both lay and ordained ministries.
Chris is currently The Bishop of St Germans in the Diocese of Truro, a position he has held since 2013. Prior to that he has been a lay leader, a Reader, a minister in secular employment and the vicar of two parishes. Bishop Chris had a 25-year career in research and HR in the energy industry.
Bishop Chris succeeds Dr Mandy Ford, interim Director of Ministry, who has been leading the Division on secondment from the Diocese of Southwark since September 2018.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of The Rt Revd Dr Chris Goldsmith as the new Director of Ministry.
— The Church of England (@churchofengland) June 24, 2019
— Stacey (@StaceyD3153) July 12, 2018
[Frances] Whitehead was fast and focused: her typing speed perhaps 80-90 words a minute on a manual typewriter. Phone calls were always brief, some would say terse. Yet those who knew her well encountered warmth and laughter. She brought a genuine care for people expressed through a huge correspondence, some 30 personal letters a day, over her own name or John Stott’s. A seminary library in San Salvador was named after her in 2006 to mark 50 years of service.
[John] Stott and Whitehead ran global endeavours on a shoestring, with help only from a study assistant. Using Charles Simeon’s phrase, Stott named the three “the happy triumvirate”.
In 2001, Archbishop George Carey conferred on Whitehead a Lambeth MA, for which she donned the Oxford gown and red silk. When news of this honour was announced in All Souls, it was greeted with a standing ovation.
Frances Whitehead was born in 1925 in Bovey Tracey, in Devon, the second child of Captain Claude Whitehead, and his wife, Evelyn Eastley. Her older sister, Pamela, died of leukaemia, aged eight. She would go on to Malvern Girls’ College, where she was head girl of Summerside House.
During the war she worked as a mathematician at the Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE) in Malvern and then, from 1951, she worked at the BBC, under the producer Mary Treadgold. She was a good horsewoman, and enjoyed the BBC riding club, hiring horses in Victoria, and riding up to the barracks of the Household Cavalry in Knightsbridge.
Read it all (subscription).
She could ‘intimidate the socks off any pushy American’ https://t.co/WN8oe9rAgG
— The Times of London (@thetimes) June 10, 2019
The Latest Edition of the Diocese of #SouthCarolina Enewsletter https://t.co/y36ntoXjUg#parishministry #lowcountrylife #anglican #churchgrowth #theology #lowcountrylife #anglican #media pic.twitter.com/EhqZ0oeFso
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) June 5, 2019