November 9, 2011

S.C. Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese Meet on “Serious Charges” Made Against Bishop Lawrence

Just wanted you all to know that the persecution is not over nor is it localized in Pittsburgh. Now the TEC is threatening the Bishop of South Carolina. Mark is a godly man. Let's keep him in our prayers. Fr. Scott

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an atmosphere of prayerful solemnity, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina gathered at Saint James Church, James Island, S.C. for more than two hours on Tuesday, October 12. In focus were the “serious charges” that have been made against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese under the new Title IV canons.

Bishop Lawrence began by restating the diocesan vision of “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age” and then traced the history of the current controversy in The Episcopal Church and the many obstacles they presented to pursuing our diocesan vision. He ended with the two recent diocesan conventions in which the diocese refused to be coerced into the Episcopal Church’s embrace of the new title IV canons which violate both due process and the Episcopal Church’s own constitution. Of further concern with the current allegations is that evidently this process doesn’t allow the accused to know who his accusers are.

Lawyer Alan Runyan then made a presentation based on his best understanding of what canonical process seemed to be being used by those in national leadership. It would appear they are proceeding under the abandonment canon with its fast track. Based on what has happened in other dioceses, a deposition of the bishop would be followed by attacks on diocese and the parishes. The picture painted was an ugly one of expensive litigation, confrontation and acrimony in which all involved significantly lost.

It was stressed that individual clergy, vestry, and parishes needed to be informed about the allegations, the purported process, and the implications at every conceivable level: financial, personal, legal and spiritual. All the clergy were encouraged to share their concerns with the bishop or the ordained members of the diocesan Standing Committee.

Two themes underlay the whole discussion. First, the Episcopal Church is in a constitutional crisis in which its own polity is being radically altered in violation of its history and founding documents, yet with no structural provision for a means of resolution when just such foundational disagreements occur. That such a deep dispute has arisen with one of the Episcopal Church’s founding dioceses only adds to the unfortunate environment into which all have been plunged. The Reverend Jeffrey Miller, past President of the Standing Committee stated during the gathering, “The question is not whether we can stay; it is whether they will let us stay and follow what we believe.”

Second, the deeper fracture is about a departure of the Episcopal Church’s leadership from Christian doctrine. Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison (XII Bishop of South Carolina) rose to express his concern with these theological innovations and to voice support for Lawrence. While these include a changed understanding of sexual ethics and Christian marriage, it goes much further to the matter of Scriptural interpretation and authority and the uniqueness and universality of Jesus Christ. These recent actions mark yet another hindrance to the Diocese of South Carolina’s duty to be faithful to the truth of exactly that gospel and its proclamation to the world.

What Can We Tell About God from His House?

by Scott Homer

I was talking to a woman, down the street, awhile back. She said, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they maintain their property.” I didn’t much like the comment. It seemed intrusive and judgmental. (I was a little self-conscious about the weeds in the yard) Still, like it or not, I suppose she was right. Clearly, we can tell a lot about a person’s values and about what drives them, by their personal grooming, their choice of wardrobe, the cars they drive, and most especially, by the care and attention they pay to the places where they live. And it got me to thinking about God’s house.

When Israel built the Temple to the Lord they spared no expense. They bought only the the best timbers and the finest cut stone. They hired the most expert craftsmen. They built the most extraordinary building they could possibly afford. The staff was well paid and received places of honor. That tells us that to the Israelites there was nothing more important to them than their God. He was Elohim, all powerful God; Jehovah Rohi; The Shepherd Lord, and he was their Jehovah Jireh; the Lord who provides for his people, the Lord who would assure their health and wellbeing. The early Israelites exalted in an extraordinary, powerful God and it showed in God's House. He deserved their best. He deserved their most ambitious work. Through the house they built Him they made it clear that their God was an awesome God.

The Medieval Cathedral, was and is a spectacular structure. A cathedral often took generations to complete and the architect who designed them often did not live long enough to see his work done. Expert stone carvers spent entire careers doing intricate work on just one part of one cathedral building. The cost was staggering. The technology was state of the art. And the finished products were stunningly beautiful and powerfully evocative testimonies to their majestic and glorious God. To all who have been to the likes of Notre Dame or Salisbury there can be no doubt that these builders worshipped the most extraordinary God.

In 21st century America, what message are we sending about the God we worship? All too often our churches lay in various states of disrepair. Clergy are underpaid. Churches are exhausting savings accounts just to meet ordinary operating expenses. To even the most casual observer it would be obvious that things have changed. We no longer offer our first and most extravagant gifts to a magnificent God. All too often the people worshipping in our churches only offer leftovers and it would not seem that their God is worthy of much attention or care at all. In many cases, a quick survey of the property would lead us to conclude that the God in this place is worthy only of pity, neglect and shame. To the outside observer viewing many of our churches in America, it would appear that God and his house have become a burden, like an indigent sister who we help as little as we can out of a strained sense of obligation.

I suppose we can tell a lot about the God 21st century America worships by looking at His Houses.