Bishop Mark Lawrence's Address to the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina

At our convention last March I stressed two dimensions of our diocesan calling: Our vocation to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age working in relationship with Anglican Provinces and dioceses around the world; and secondly our calling to make disciples by planting new congregations as well as growing and strengthening our existing parishes and missions in an era of sweeping institutional decline among almost all of the mainline denominations. These remain two constants for us today even while so much around us is in flux. You will be relieved to hear that it is not my intention in this address to retrace the road we have traveled in these intervening months since our Special Convention on November 17th. Suffice it to say that since these two dimensions of our common life and vocation remained unshaken when the tectonic plates of the diocese shifted, I remain convinced that they were God’s mandate for us then and they are God’s mandate for us now. The reason for this is two-fold: What is at stake in this theological and moral crisis that has swallowed up the Anglican Communion since the latter years of the 20th Century is first and foremost, “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as this Church has received it?” We did not create it and we cannot change what we have received. So what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Anglicans have received it? There is nothing in Anglicanism that cannot be found elsewhere among the churches of Christendom. What is unique is how we have blended certain aspects of what other churches hold together. But we have received a Gospel. What is it?

The second thing is “What will Anglicanism in the 21st Century look like?” While the former is the more important, the latter is the more complex. Put another way, proclaiming the Good News, “the whole counsel of God” as St. Paul declared in his parting address to the presbyters of Ephesus in Acts 20:27, that should be our first concern. Proclaiming the good news ”“ the whole counsel of God. But the charge to “care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his blood” (Acts 20:28) or as our text last evening put it, “which he obtained with the blood of his son.” was also part of St. Paul’s charge to the bishop-presbyters. If we apply this second charge to take care of the church of God, which he obtained, with the blood of his son, if we apply this charge to ourselves ”“ those of us whose leadership is in this vineyard where the Lord has placed us ”“ I believe this means caring for emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. Frankly, this caring for Anglicanism in the 21st century gets wearisome at times, painful almost daily, exhausting, but it is a charge we cannot relinquish without abandoning our vocation. What does this mean specifically for us here in this Diocese of South Carolina? Let me take up three aspects of this charge as it I believe it applies to us.

Read it all and a pdf version is available top right of the page.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Youth Ministry

7 comments on “Bishop Mark Lawrence's Address to the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina

  1. MichaelA says:

    It seems that Dio SC continues to have a lot of visitors:
    [blockquote] ”Four of these Anglican Bishops from the Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya will then come to the Diocese following the Conference. They will be at the Cathedral on Tuesday evening, April 9 at 6:00 p.m. It will be an opportunity to hear first hand from our brothers from around the world and may I encourage some of you to bring your youth groups to that event. Allow your young people to get a vision of what worldwide Anglicanism is all about.

    Let them get a vision for what it means to be a Biblical Anglican in this increasingly global age. Let them begin to see that they living here in South Carolina have brothers and sisters who suffer but spread the Gospel in their day.

    I would especially encourage our African American congregations to bring their youth. We need to pray as a Diocese for young African American clergy to be raised up for the Gospel. Let all our youth see strong, bold leaders whom God has raised up from poverty, equipped with wisdom and knowledge and leading” [/blockquote]
    And great to see contact with the Church of Ireland and the Province of the Middle East:
    [blockquote] “Also, Kenneth Clarke, the retiring Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, with whom we have a relationship, will be at various places in the diocese as well Mouneer Anis, Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Bishop of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. He will be with us, this longtime friend of South Carolina. I look forward to spending time with him. Please pray for him and the Church in Egypt, and know that hard pressed as they are they pray for us.”[/blockquote]
    Whereas some seek association with the small and stagnant western liberal rump of the Anglican Communion (exemplified by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office), the Diocese of South Carolina sets its sights much higher, towards the true fullness of the Anglican Communion.

    And finally, +Lawrence asks a question that the leaders of TEC will find impossible to answer:
    [blockquote] “Reading through the almost 300 pages of my court summons. I realized that we were referred to as a sect. If we are a sect, why are all these Anglicans from all over the world coming to be with us? They’ve not called us a sect. They’ve called me an Anglican Bishop and this Diocese an Anglican Diocese and so we will remain.” [/blockquote]

  2. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    We certainly are in a deep resuffling of Anglicanism which the Bishop speaks of and the situation in SC exemplifies. However, what I find must striking is Bishop Lawrence’s obvious understanding that the choices they are making must be veridical with the power of the Spirit. So, his prayer for the Spirit and his call to pray for the Spirit is striking. [blockquote][l]et us pray for the Holy Spirit to come. Come, Holy Spirit, come. Come as the wind and cleanse; come as the fire and burn; come as the living water and slake our thirst that we might offer your living water to a thirsty world; come as the oil and anoint us for service and ministry; come as the dove that we might have the peace that passes. Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.[/blockquote] Reorganization aside, it is hard to argue that we are on the side of Elijah if fire [b]does not[/b] come down and consume the Mount-Carmel sacrifice.

  3. MichaelA says:

    Brian, I am somewhat confused – does Bishop Lawrence ever refer to the fire on Mount Carmel? I thought he was referring to the tongues of fire that appeard on each disciple’s head at Pentecost…

  4. Pb says:

    He is saying that we need a new Pentecost.

  5. SC blu cat lady says:

    This is my favorite part of Bishop Lawrence’s address:
    [blockquote]Speaking personally, I need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That prayer first attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, “Revive thy Church, O Lord, beginning with me” has become my prayer. Not praying in some narcissistic or self-important way as though it has to begin with us; but if we’re going to pray we ought to pray for it to include us or we ought not to be praying that prayer. Seeking God for the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit to flow among us has been an almost unspoken prayer emerging within me—a sigh at times too deep for words. [/blockquote]

  6. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    3. and 4.: Bishop Lawrence does not specifically refer to Elijah; that reference is my own.

    The point I was making is that all those who work and pray for Anglican renewal — including me — must be aware that the Scriptures point to an important reality: God through His Holy Spirit honors, highlights and blesses faithful service to Him. In other words, if we say we are acting on God’s behalf and not seeing the work of the Holy Spirit, we need be willing to look again at what we are doing.

    I believe that this is Bishop Lawrence’s general point. I simply chose to use another image from Scripture to emphasize it.

  7. MichaelA says:

    Good point Brian, although we also need to be willing to look at our own perception: Has the Spirit been working away all the time, but in ways that we don’t realise because we expected him to work in another way? 1 Kings 19:14, 18; 2 Kings 6:17.