Another Sadness...for the Church
Breaking News: From Titus One Nine Consents Ruled Insufficient even Though South Carolina Standing Committee Heard from more than a Majority of Standing Committees that they voted yes; Election declared Null and Void, Options for the Future Being Mulled
I received a phone call late this afternoon from the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori giving notification that she was declaring null and void the election of The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence to be bishop of The Diocese of South Carolina. Although more than a majority of dioceses had voted to consent to Fr. Mark’s election, there were canonical deficiencies in the written responses sent to us. Several dioceses, both on and off American soil, thought that electronic permission was sufficient as had been their past accepted practice. The canons which apply are III.11.4(b), pp. 101-102 in the newly published 2006 Constitutions and Canons that require the prescribed testimonial to the consent be signed by a majority of each standing committee.
I have also notified Fr. Mark of her decision. We offer our deepest condolences to Fr. Mark and his wife Allison who have navigated this time of process with class, dignity and courage. I know that it is toughest on Allison who has had to watch her beloved spouse suffer so many indignities. We hope that they will agree to continue to be a part of the Diocese of South Carolina’s pursuit of securing our next Diocesan. Fr. Lawrence has modeled exemplary patience and calmness by enduring a level of scrutiny and persecution that is without precedent in The Episcopal Church (TEC).
Our Chancelor, Nick Ziegler has been suffering with bad health for several months. Currently our acting Chancellor, Wade Logan, is out of the country. He is scheduled to return within ten days. Upon his return we will convene both the Chancellor and acting Chancellor to discuss our options within the canons of TEC. The Standing Committee will then plot a course of action for the near future. In the meantime the Standing Committee will continue our partnership with our acting Bishop, the Right Rev. Edward Lloyd Salmon in tending to the needs of our diocese as we have for over the past 8 months. Bishop Salmon will represent us this week at the House of Bishop’s meeting to be held in Camp Allen, Texas.
I hope that this tragic outcome will be a wake up call to both clergy and lay through out TEC as to the conditions in our church. I have been blessed and encouraged by the many clergy and lay people throughout the world that have worked tirelessly on Fr. Mark’s behalf making phone calls and communicating through the electronic media in an effort to secure a majority of consents.
As I write this release I am reminded of Christ’s words in Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Our hand is to the plow, and in faithfulness to our Christ, we will not look back.
–The Rev. J. Haden McCormick
President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina