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CHARLESTON, SC: TEC Presiding Bishop calls Bishop Lawrence a "tyrant" and his diocese "vigilante"
She decried the dictates of petty deciders or wolves who masquerade as sheep
By David W. Virtue
January 26, 2013
"The local tyrant is not the judge," said Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori about Bishop Mark Lawrence, in a sermon to members of the newly formed Episcopal Church in South Carolina. She was referencing Bishop Lawrence calling the Diocese of South Carolina a "sovereign diocese".
Speaking to an overflow audience at Grace Church, Charleston, that included nine bishops, priests from 30 entities including 19 parishes, 9 worshipping communities (all formerly of The Diocese of South Carolina), the Presiding Bishop blasted Lawrence's fundamentalism in an oblique reference to pansexuality saying, "We cannot remain faithful and refuse to wrestle with change."
The Presiding Bishop came to Charleston to set up a new Episcopal diocese with those Episcopalians who had chosen not to leave The Episcopal Church with Bishop Mark Lawrence following his defection over charges that The Episcopal Church had abandoned the faith of the church especially over Rites for same sex marriage passed at last summer's General Convention. Bishop Lawrence walked out of the convention after the resolution was passed in the House of Bishops.
The majority of Episcopalians in the diocese have remained with Bishop Lawrence.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori chaired the meeting and preached at the convention Eucharist.
In her homily she cried, "What are those of you in this Diocese going to do in your interactions with those who've departed? Are they law-breakers who should be shot down or thrown in jail? Do we see them as vigilantes? Neither is going to produce more abundant life, my friends. When you meet them out there in the pasture, consider that some of the sheep may think they're listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Some are also simply exhausted.
"What about the sheep who aren't in the fold, who don't know there is a feast to be found, rest for the body and soul, and partners who are willing to wrestle with the dictates of petty Deciders or wolves who masquerade as sheep? We all have a responsibility to be shepherds, to help others find their way through the Gate of abundant life. And believe me, that world out there is filled with hungry, lost sheep. Your experience of abundant life here has something to do with finding them."
The Presiding Bishop said that the only religious entity in communion with Canterbury in the USA is The Episcopal Church.
"We share a responsibility for all the sheep, to safeguard their lives and pastures, but it doesn't give us carte blanche to shoot potentially errant ones out of the sky."
In her remarks to the convention, House of Deputies President Gay Jennings said, "if you look around this historic convention, and you remember the communion of saints that has gone before you, I hope you will be convinced, as I am, that our Anglican comprehensiveness is our particular gift from God and a great blessing for your diocese. Follow the Anglican middle way and it will guide you between extremes in the company of Christians from all walks of life and all gifts of the Spirit. The middle way is seldom the easiest path. It is easier to walk apart, surrounded by people who look like you, think like you, and believe like you. But if you travel the middle way, you will find the fruits of the Spirit.
"As you travel along the way that God is leading the faithful Episcopalians of South Carolina, I will pray for you and walk with you whenever I can be of service. Please call or email anytime you would like to talk about General Convention, the role of deputies, and how the House of Deputies can assist you in your mission and ministry. We are all praying for you, and we are all eager to support you on your journey."
A Provisional Bishop, Charles vonRosenberg, the former Bishop of East Tennessee was installed after being elected by acclamation. Among the bishops present was the Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Bishop of Upper South Carolina. The majority of the bishops present are retired. In an attempt to temper Jefferts Schori's remarks vonRosenberg acknowledged that "the other side is Christian."
The rector of Holy Communion, an Anglo-Catholic parish in the diocese, was overheard to say that he prefers heresy over schism.
A VOL observer noted that it was fitting that the setting for the 23rd Psalm was by Howard Goodall, a setting well known to secular audiences as the theme song of the British Comedy series, the Vicar of Dibley.
Nine resolutions were passed undoing any and all resolutions that had been passed under Bishop Lawrence.
Another observer noted that this is the south and Episcopalians are not ultra-liberal or progressive like Boston or San Francisco Episcopalians. "It will be a hard call if the Episcopal Church wins lawsuits for the properties. Many faithful Episcopalians will simply stay with the churches they have generations of history with."
Grace Episcopal Church was founded 167 years ago in the 1840s and is a gothic revival building. It is a relative newcomer to Charleston compared to St. Phillips and St. Michael's parishes which were both founded in the 1680s.
Jane Higginbotham Shaw contributed to this article
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