The Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence has written to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina urging them to hold fast, as no decision has so far been made by the diocese in response to the actions of the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis.
On 11 July 2012, the South Carolina’s four clergy and four lay deputies released a statement saying that “due to the actions of General Convention” the deputation had concluded “that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.” The deputation withdrew from the convention, leaving one lay and one clergy deputy to observe the closing proceedings.
The withdrawal came in response to the passage the previous afternoon of Resolution A049 “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships”. At the start of the debate in the House of Deputies, the Very Rev. David Thurlow of South Carolina presented a minority report from the convention’s liturgy committee objecting to the innovation.
For “2000 years the one holy catholic and apostolic church, the undivided church, has had clear teachings on marriage,” he said, noting the resolution was a “clear departure from the doctrine and discipline” of the Episcopal Church and propounded a “new theology of marriage” that was “inconsistent with Scripture, the Book of Common Prayer and the Constitution and Canons” of the church.
After addressing the bishops during their private session on 11 July, Bishop Lawrence withdrew from the House of Bishops as well. He told Anglican Ink he was not seceding from the Episcopal Church, but was acting in pastoral solidarity with his deputation. “I am not leaving the Episcopal Church, but need to differentiate myself” from the actions taken this week by the General Convention, he told Anglican Ink.
Upon his return to South Carolina, Bishop Lawrence called a meeting of the clergy to discuss the implications of the General Convention vote and the place of the diocese in the wider life of the Episcopal Church. The bishop asked his clergy not to take any precipitous steps but wait until after his return from vacation at the end of Augst, when the diocesan standing committee and council would review their options.
In his 22 Sept announcement, Bishop Lawrence wrote upon return to the diocesan office after a period of prayer and reflection upon the way ahead, the “Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church.”
“However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action. Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball. Please know that I understand the level of anxiety and concern of many in the diocese. Nevertheless I must ask you all for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to deal wisely and carefully with a fluid situation that requires great discernment and sensitivity on a regular basis. I will communicate to you the details at the very earliest moment such a communication is prudent,” the bishop said.