Monday, July 30, 2012

SC Ready to Secede Again?

Have you seen this post from the Diocese of South Carolina?  Apparently -- after the actions of General Convention -- Bishop Mark Lawrence is heading to the mountains and deserts to "seek God's face" in what he should do.  

I argued against consenting to his election ... on the first and second go-rounds, because I saw documents that persuaded me he was a secessionist and duplicitous. The documentation is there to support that claim.  He changed his nomination forms in response to someone who told him how to do it. 

Mark Lawrence is a smart man.  You would think that he has seen and analyzed the court actions ... which have ruled time after time that a diocese cannot remove itself from the Episcopal Church. Surely he's not so silly as to believe he can succeed where Iker, Schofield, and all the others have failed.  

Is he going on retreat to "seek God's face"? Or is he going to find the best lawyers he can find? 

I hope he will return from his "retreat" with a determination to stay in the Episcopal Church and be a part of the "loyal minority."  I could respect that, for I suspect the tide will turn one day, and I will find myself in the minority.  Even if he returns declaring me a heretic and abomination, I could stand that.  But if he decides to "pull an Iker," then I hope the Presiding Bishop and House of Bishops will come down on him with the fiercest hob-nailed boots they can procure. 

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Blogger JCF said...

I suspect it will be functionally "pulling an Iker", all while SAYING he's "determined to stay in the Episcopal Church."

I hope I'm wrong---that we don't get stuck w/ a Lawrence Laodicea, if you will.

God bless (and defend) TEC!

7/31/2012 3:55 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Good point, JCF. It will be interesting to see what he chooses.

7/31/2012 7:09 AM  
Blogger danielj said...

nothing at GC should affect him one way or another. sg blessings are not mandatory, rather an option for bishops and dios that wish to avail

As for seeking the face of God...doing so with a priori assumptions about the will of God doesnt generally lead to productive encounter

7/31/2012 12:43 PM  
Blogger Pfalz prophet said...

"I saw documents that persuaded me he was a secessionist and duplicitous."

Since 2009, TEC has not received a pledge from the DofSC greater than 0.7% of its income. By contrast, even the DofLouisiana has pledged in the 10-11% range; NC is at 21%, and VA is above 17%. SC is de facto in secession.

I have two proposals, one hard line, the other softer. Hardline? Adopting the principle that one puts one's money where one's mouth is, I propose we replace the entire SC standing committee and bishop based on their failure to do their part to uphold the Church to which they claim to belong. IOW, show me your commitment to TEC by your pledge and its fulfillment. This is the God of Judgement, in spades. There will be winners and losers.

The softer line entails more work. Organize. Create a coalition. Invade the state as CORE did the South in 1961 with its Freedom Rides. Enlist Integrity, HRC, and any other organizations willing to participate. Visit the churches in the DofSC. All of them, if you have the staff. Engage the vestries and clergy. Ask for time to speak to "adult formation". Put human faces to labels like "gay" and "lesbian". You want friends? Be a friend. There are dozens of ways by which you can do this, you know them, you can't do it just by e-mail or Twitter or blogs. You have to be there and make the commitment to be a real friend. Visit a sick relative, hug a stranger, make a phone call in support of a parishioner's need. The softer line converts adversaries into friends. Net, no losers. Did I just say, win-win?

The bishop's stance? Up to his congregations. The change starts from the ground up. When the civil rights movement changed us forever, some fifty years ago, did you see the change coming from the top down? Weren't you listening?

7/31/2012 1:41 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Yes, he is going to seek "God's face" in the matter because he cannot stand to look at himself in a mirror and know that he wants to break a promise and a sacred oath, to God, the Church and to the Presiding Bishop, not only when he became a priest but when he became a bishop as well.

His priesthood and episcopacy are a major fail for the Church and it's mission.

7/31/2012 2:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Oh, Danielj, there you go, getting all "facty" on SC. Don't you know the provisional nature of the liturgy is irrelevant in the episcopal mind of Lawrence? What matters to him is that we have taken a step beyond what is permissible for Christians anywhere. We need to return to Traditional Marriage. So ... how many wives would you like? and how many cows and goats will you pay for them? ;-)

I'm with you about the a priori thing. Lawrence has been skating on the edge of "abandonment of communion" since he was a priest in San Joaquin and "just happened" to miss the two conventions at which Schofield and his crowd voted to abandon TEC.

And, of course, there was that line during the consent process, when +Lawrence promised "to work as hard at staying in TEC as TEC tries to stay in the Anglican Communion." We have repeatedly stated and demonstrated our commitment to the Anglican Communion. Him for TEC? Not so much.

7/31/2012 10:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Hi, Pfalz Prophet. Great to hear from you again.

You won't be surprised to hear I reject the "pay to play" proposal. That's not how our church works.

Your softer line would work if SC would "hear" or "receive" us. I like the idea, but am not sure if it's feasible. Read the blog of John Burwell (Deputy from SC) at Many Deputies approached the SC Deputation at GC, genuinely offering respect and thanks for their "hanging in with us." (That was before their bishop and 6 of their 8 Deputies walked out.) Burwell dismisses it all as gloating and condescension ... which it was not.

Unfortunately, I just don't sense a strong core of Episcopalians in SC ... such as we had in dioceses like Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and San Joaquin. My sense is that the Episcopalians in SC have been too beaten-down for too long by Lawrence and his predecessors.

But I like your suggestion of reaching out in friendship. That would be difficult for either of us to do, living as far away from SC as we do.

I dunno what's the answer.

7/31/2012 10:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Catherine, I've wondered about that, too. I can't recall anytime when God has told somebody, "Yeah. Break your vow. That's my will, fer sure."

I hope +Lawrence stuns me by coming back from vacation with renewed commitment to remaining a faithful Christian within the Episcopal Church.

7/31/2012 10:47 PM  
OpenID Chris H. said...

Lisa, every time you say things about not having real Episcopalians in South Carolina because they aren't liberal enough for you, you are proving to the conservatives in S.C. that they should leave because liberals DON'T believe one can be Episcopalian and conservative.

Coming from another diocese that doesn't give anything like the full asking, how much is enough? Before GC there was a map of which dioceses hadn't given the full asking, going to kick them all out? If that is the excuse used to get rid of Lawrence, how many more will be included?

7/31/2012 11:05 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Chris, I seem not to have been clear. Let me try again. I am not at all talking about “liberal” Episcopalians in SC. I did not say “they aren't liberal enough for” me! You are making that up. Nor did I say that “conservatives in S.C. should leave because liberals DON'T believe one can be Episcopalian and conservative.” That is your fantasy about what I said, but I did not say it and I don’t think or believe that.

Furthermore, note that I explicitly rejected the suggestion that a diocese should be punished for not giving its full asking.

Please don’t put words in my mouth, and don’t attribute to me things I did not say.

Now … I will own up for perhaps not being as clear as I should have been.

When I talked about SC lacking a core of “real” Episcopalians, I wasn’t talking about liberal, conservative, evangelical, or any of those categories. I simply meant to note that there is not a core group of people in SC who are committed to staying in and working within the Episcopal Church vs. those who excoriate TEC while looking for a way out (perhaps a way via ACNA).

I believe that Bishop Lawrence and his predecessors have done a grave disservice – verging on lies – in distorting to SC what the Episcopal Church is actually doing. All I need to do is read the official reports coming from SC and its factotums to believe that the people of SC are being gravely misled about TEC.

I am comfortable with having theological liberals and conservatives in our Church. In fact, I truly believe we need both. Look again at what I said to PfalzProphet: “I just don't sense a strong core of Episcopalians in SC ... such as we had in dioceses like Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and San Joaquin.” The “remaining Episcopalians” in those dioceses were not wild-eyed liberals! They were simply Episcopalians who wanted to remain in TEC rather than in some rump group like the ACNA or Southern Cone.

At General Convention, Missouri sat with Pittsburgh. We voted differently very often. The core of Episcopalians left in Pittsburgh after Duncan’s attempted theft are not a bunch of wild-eyed liberals! But they are true Episcopalians! And we had great fellowship between our dioceses during GC.

I do not want to get rid of the conservatives or evangelicals. I believe I need them and our Episcopal Church needs them to remain at the table. Nor have I said anything to suggest I want to get rid of them. I believe you made up that argument.

What I want is Episcopalians of all stripes – theologically liberal and conservative – to remain within the Episcopal Church. I want Bishops like Schofield, Iker, Schofield, etc. to quit stealing property. I don’t want Lawrence to become the latest thief.

What we don’t need is an uber-purist like Bishop Lawrence deciding what is and is not fit for the Episcopal Church and leading a band of factotums in yet another secession. Yes, I know he wraps himself in the flag of the Anglican Communion. Most secessionists have wrapped themselves in a similar flag – claiming they are the clarion voices of the “one true faith.” But he is not. … And I say that as a daughter of the South myself.

Chris, I still want the Episcopal Church to be a “big-tent church.” I will listen respectfully to those who excoriate my views, and I will remain in dialogue with them.

You and everyone else know who I am. Now … I’m curious to know who you are. Could you and I talk?

8/01/2012 8:35 PM  
OpenID eighthsacrament said...

"Unfortunately, I just don't sense a strong core of Episcopalians in SC ... such as we had in dioceses like Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and San Joaquin. My sense is that the Episcopalians in SC have been too beaten-down for too long by Lawrence and his predecessors."

I suspect you would be pleasantly surprised. My friend, ordained relatively recently from SC, tells me that there are a small number of parishes where Bishop Lawrence's post-convention letter to the diocese was intentionally not read from the pulpit as directed. I feel it's safe to say there is a longstanding culture in the diocese that has brought SC to this point, but there is resistance from both clergy and laity, with reports of it being well-squelched.

8/01/2012 9:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

That's very good news to hear, 8th Sacrament. I would be delighted to hear there are faithful Episcopalians in SC who aren't marching in lock-step with Lawrence (if he's marching away from the Episcopal Church).

Let me underscore what I said to Chris: I don't expect the South Carolinians to be liberals. I expect they will be conservative. But I would welcome them and honor them and do all I can to support them.

8/01/2012 10:44 PM  
OpenID Obadiah Slope said...

"We have repeatedly stated and demonstrated our commitment to the Anglican Communion."
I may be wrong, but didn't the recent General Covention cut the financial support for the Anglican Communion significantly?

8/05/2012 8:13 PM  
Blogger Marcus Kaiser said...

Dear Ms. Fox,
I don't know if this will be posted, but I hope it will. I am a frequent reader of your blog, though I have never commented before. There is probably very little you and I agree on, theologically, socially, or politically, inasmuch as those things are separated for either of us. However, I have appreciated very much your insight into a different perspective. In particular, yours represents what was a minority view in the church for a very long time, and being in a minority is something we hold in common.

I am a priest in the Diocese of South Carolina, but I do not claim to speak for my bishop. However, as one of his priests, I am a little defensive about your tone. Your use of scare quotes around the words "seek God's face" and "retreat" are telling. Perhaps you only meant to quote him exactly, but I somehow doubt that. You seem to imply that one could not seek God, His face, or His will without coming to the same discernment you have. Indeed, you opine that perhaps Bishop Lawrence is going to consult with lawyers instead of retreating. Let me ask my own rhetorical - Is is possible that Bishop Lawrence has an honest conflict of conscience here and is actually going to do what he said?

Further, you said that you hope that he can remain in TEC and be a part of the "loyal minority." I found your previous post about the Philadelphia 11 very helpful and interesting. It gave me a different perspective into something that happened before I was even born. Taken in that light, and with all theological arguments aside, it seems that there are four options in your view. 1. Do the right thing the right way; 2. do the wrong thing the right way; 3. do the right thing the wrong way; or 4. do the wrong thing the wrong way -
The Philadelphia 11 and their consecrators, it is fair to say, chose #3. I'm defining the "wrong way" here as violating the discipline of the church and thus one's ordination vows to uphold the same. You suspect Bishop Lawrence might chose #4. You hope he'll chose #2. Given your praise for the Philadelphia 11, it seems that it is okay in your view to do something the wrong way, so long as it is the right thing.

The problem, in the end, is that this makes you the arbiter of right and wrong. Since you openly doubt Bishop Lawrence's sincerity, there seems no room for someone to be sincere but sincerely wrong. Is there room in your view to see that Mark Lawrence (or any of us) might sincerely, and with every ounce of honesty of conviction that you hold, believe that he is rather choosing the greater right thing out of conscious, even if that forces him into the wrong way? Isn't that what you believe the Philadelphia 11 did?

Since I disagree with you on, well, most things, please let me know if I've misunderstood your suspicion. I appreciate your voice, and lament the fact that we stand across a chasm of conscious which neither of us are willing to cross. I apologize for the length of this, but I hope it will lead to some manner of dialogue.

Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Marcus Kaiser

8/06/2012 9:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Father Marcus, I'm actually quite grateful for your thoughtful comments. I must apologize for coming here so late and so weary.

Here's one thought I will offer: When the Philadelphia were ordained, they and the bishops who ordained them were fully aware that they might be disciplined by the Church, and they were fully willing to accept that discipline if it came. I find that clearly different from the bishops who have purported to take their dioceses out of TEC and refused to submit to the discipline of this Church. In my view, they were "conscientious objectors" in the highest sense of that term.

You may be right that I am leaping to unfair conclusions about Bishop Lawrence. However, I heard and read his temporizing statements during the consent process. They worried me then, and they worry me now. The Philadlphia 11 and their consecrating bishops were tilling to take the judgement of The Episcopal Church.

As I said, I hope Bishop Lawrence isn't going to follow our former bishops like Duncan, Iker, etc. I fervently hope he will remain here, speaking clearly what he believes. If he believes he must leave, I hope he will bow to the judgment of our church as the Philadelphia 11 and their bishops were willing to do.

8/08/2012 2:17 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

No, Obadiah, we didn't "cut" our support for the Anglican Communion; we reduced it, as we reduced many of the budget lines within our own church.

8/08/2012 2:20 AM  

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