"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Response to Bishop Lawrence's Remarks to the Clergy of South Carolina

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, one of the most stalwart orthodox bishops left inside TEC, has addressed his clergy and called for a special convention to discuss responses to GenCon 09. His remarks may be found here. Please read them all carefully. They are important, though not nearly as strong as I would have hoped.

I freely admit that this is a powerful statement from a faithful shepherd. He is a good and godly man, trying his best to serve God and his people. I certainly mean no disrespect to the worthy bishop by what follows here, but I just don’t see any proposal in these remarks to take much more than a few symbolic protest actions. As a “strongly worded letter of protest” at what TEC has been up to, the bishop's remarks are superb. But we have seen many such fine protest letters defending the true Faith over the last six years, haven’t we? What concrete actions does the bishop of South Carolina envision? What is DioSC actually going to do differently now that GenCon 09 has made the course of TEC clear? I see five things in these remarks:

1. Action will soon be taken to clarify that ordinands in South Carolina won’t be taking oaths to support recent, illegitimate actions by TEC when they are ordained. This is a good thing as a symbol, but of little practical importance as far as I can see.

2. DioSC will apparently be taking steps to formally endorse the Ridley draft of the Covenant individually, and we all know national TEC will not ever do so. This diocesan endorsement of the Covenant may one day have some significance if ABC Williams’ prediction of “two tracks” in the world-wide Communion ever comes to pass. But in practical terms such an endorsement by DioSC will matter little for years to come, if ever. This looks to me like just another symbolic action, at least until TEC definitively rejects the Covenant. (Will that final rejection come six years from now at GenCon 2015? You know TEC will stall as long as possible in making a final decision that might result in consequences from Lambeth Palace.).

3. There are calls here for DioSC to offer support to orthodox parishes elsewhere within TEC. The bishop mentions increased engagement by parishes and the laity in this effort. I am not clear exactly what this increased engagement in non-DioSC orthodox parishes still inside TEC would entail. DEPO has been around a long time, so surely +Lawrence means more than that. Time will tell how this can be lived out. I hope it is of great help to the orthodox in TEC around the nation.

4. There are signs the bishop hopes for increased engagement with GAFCON and ACNA. That’s a good thing. What precisely that would mean, I don’t know. If it means dropping certain lawsuits, that would really miff PB Schori, and that would surely be a good thing!

5. Finally, there is the most important proposed action in the text: “The Standing Committee and bishop will be proposing a resolution to come before the special convention that this diocese begin withdrawing from all bodies of governance of TEC that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture; the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them; the resolutions of Lambeth which have expressed the mind of the Communion; the Book of Common Prayer (p.422-423) and the Constitution & Canons of TEC (Canon 18:1.2.b) until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions. Let no one think this is a denial of the vows a priest or bishop makes to participate in the councils of governance.”

Yet as Anglican Curmudgeon points out, this is not a call to formally terminate membership in any ecclesial body, even General Convention. Rather, it appears to mean only not sending representatives to meetings in order to “participate in the councils of governance.” Unfortunately, it seems that DioSC doesn’t presently have any reps on any national committees of TEC, so they may have no one to “pull” from TEC governance meetings to effectuate this “withdrawal” other than Bishop Lawrence himself. In practical terms in the next few years this would mean little more than +Lawrence boycotting House of Bishops meetings and DioSC not sending any representatives to take part at GenCon 2012 (though Dr. Seitz of the ACI seems to be saying they should send ‘observers’ to GenCon 2012).

So, for all practical purposes we will notice little more different with regard to DioSC during the next few years than the following: a few symbolic steps to “differentiate” themselves more from national TEC (ordinands will formally be told that they are not swearing to uphold illegitimate actions of GenCon and DioSC will sign the Covenant individually), there may be increased, as-yet undefined links between DioSC and orthodox TEC parishes elsewhere and with GAFCON/ACNA, and Bishop Lawrence may boycott House of Bishops meetings. (I should note here that Bishop Iker didn’t attend HoB meetings for years before we left TEC last fall. No one seemed to think that was a particularly bold move at the time.)

Have I left anything important off this list?

Perhaps these moves aren’t exactly "timid" but they surely are not the bold action I was hoping for from the worthy Bishop Lawrence. This very cautious approach may be exactly what the good people of DioSC want to happen. But does the “third way” some are looking for between a.) endorsing TEC's present trajectory into folly and heresy, and b.) departing TEC for ACNA, amount to anything more than I have just summarized? As far as I can tell this “third way” constitutes little more than tending faithfully to church local affairs while taking a few symbolic actions to "differentiate" from national TEC a bit more and ignoring 815 as much as possible.

Sadly absolutely nothing proposed in this new "middle way" will save DioSC in the long run. One day the worthy Bishop Lawrence will leave the scene and they will have to elect a new bishop. And as long as they remain under the Constitutions and Canons of TEC their new-bishop elect, whoever he is, will have to receive consents from a majority of the heretical leadership of TEC in order to be consecrated. Any plan DioSC adopts now that does not rapidly move toward departure from TEC will eventually spell their doom. I hope they have the wisdom to see that.


Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

TexAnglican: "Any plan DioSC adopts now that does not rapidly move toward departure from TEC will eventually spell their doom. I hope they have the wisdom to see that."

Obviously, +Lawrence doesn't agree with you. (at least for the time being, anyways.) Nor would Sarah Hey who is the champion promoter of an unspecified "Third Way".

But I think Steve Wood+ does agree with you.

The next big news will be twofold:

(1) Presentment charges by the PBess.

(2) Announcement by some parishes in DioSC that they are leaving TEc.

4:24 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Actually, if you read the remarks of Bishop Lawrence carefully, I don't think there is anything in them that could get him deposed. PB Schori may not be too keen on what he says, but he seems to have been careful not to say anything by which she could get three other bishops to sign off in inhibiting him.

But if David Virtue's report is accurate, several parishes are already planning to bolt there. We shall see.

As for what the good bishop and Ms. Hey think about the long-term prospects of DioSC under this scheme, I don't know. I would be interested in hearing them discuss episcopal succession under this plan. They're still stuck with the Constitution and Canons of TEC, after all. And the consent process is clear enough, certainly to Bishop Lawrence! Hopefully the good bishop will have a long and healthy life and they will have time to work something out before the crisis eventually comes. We need to remember to pray for him and DioSC.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

TexAnglican, I have written the following over on this MCJ thread:

Allen Lewis and I have previously discussed or speculated what Rector Steve Wood might do based upon what he previously wrote. Here is an interesting exchange on the DioSC and Steve Wood thread over at SFIF that pertains:

Dean Robert Munday of Nashotah House Seminary: “I fully understand the concerns that would lead a rector like Steve Wood and his congregation to want to shake the dust of TEC off their sandals and move on. I just wish he would demonstrate how it is possible to do that without:

(1) dividing a wonderful diocese,
(2) undermining a godly bishop,
(3) pitting a lot of Christians against each other, and
(4) making a lot of lawyers rich,

before he writes words like: “Anything short will mark a complete failure of leadership.””

Rector Steve Wood: “#149: It’s not possible. Nor was it possible for Luther, Latimer, Cranmer, Ridley.”

What do you think this portends?

It would seem that Bishop Lawrence anticipated such scenarios in his address to the clergy of DioSC with his remark:

“Should a parish find it needs to be served by alternative Episcopal care I will work with them toward that end. Please know this is not my desire for any parish.”

Furthermore, I give much, much credit to Rector Steve Wood for signaling in advance to Bishop Lawrence what his thoughts are with:

“It’s time for the Diocese of South Carolina to join the new North American Province: Anglican Communion North America. Anything short will mark a complete failure of leadership.”

These two gentlemen have obviously discussed this matter previously. It will be instructive and interesting to see *how* Bishop Lawrence works with departing parishes. For example, will he work with them like how ACI Communion Partner Bishop John Howe did with the departing parishes in his diocese? Or will it be better?

One last thing. Bishop Mark Lawrence is a man who owns up to his responsibility. Whatever decisions and actions he sows, he will say that he will reap what he himself has sown, whether it be good or bad.

3:19 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

TUAD, It seems pretty clear that Wood+ wants to lead his parish out of DioSC and probably would enter ACNA. I would love to think that the good bishop's remarks about "alternative episcopal care" mean he is willing to let parishes depart in peace. At the very least, I would hope the diocese could negotiate a departure on the lines of Christ Church, Plano's departure from the diocese of Dallas a few years ago. Perhaps the parish could give something to the diocese to compensate them for part of the market value of the property and for a few year's assessments down the road after they leave?

Unfortunately, I can't help but notice the precise words of +Lawrence: "Should a parish find it needs to be served by alternative Episcopal care." That isn't the language one would expect if he meant he was open to allowing the formal, full departure of a parish from diocesan structures, is it? Instead, it is the language of DEPO! "Alternative episcopal care" in the past has meant having a visiting bishop come in for confirmations (and not much else) when a parish has no respect for their legal diocesan. As I understand it, a DEPO parish remains part of its geographical diocese, and its legal diocesan is the same person it has always been except for purposes of parish visitations. Of course, I am sure Wood+ and his parishioners still respect +Lawrence. The bishop is not the problem in DioSC, the PB and GenCon and the TEC Canons and "brand-name" are! Wood+ and his flock just don't seem to be interested in being affiliated with national TEC anymore, and I doubt +Lawrence's proposed limited acts of "differentiation" will satisfy their desire to be done with TEC. DEPO surely wouldn't satisfy their needs. If +Lawrence really meant he was willing to allow Wood+ et al depart from the diocese voluntarily, why did he use such a limited expression ("alternative episcopal care") rather than clearly indicating allowing a negotiated departure? Very worrying.

And the simple answer to Dean Munday's question: A parish would leave DioSC to protect it's future. Bishop Lawrence is a giant, but his successor will have to become beholden to the heretics if he wants to be consecrated a TEC bishop--unless someone is willing to lead the entire diocese out of TEC before they have to elect that new bishop. Bishop Lawrence is clearly not ready to do that any time soon. Fr. Wood has a duty to care for the flock entrusted to him by the Lord. I am sure he would not lead his parish out of DioSC for light and transient reasons.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Suppose the PBess moves to depose +Lawrence (a better than 50% probability, IMHO).

And suppose Steve Wood+ (along with voting approval from his parish) moves his parish out of TEc (again, a better than 50% probability, IMHO).

Q: Would it be better to have Woods+ move his parish out of TEc before a decision on the presentment and deposition is finished, or after?

1:41 AM  
Blogger David Wilson+ said...

IMHO Bp Lawrence ought to take an action that forces the PB to fish or cut bait on a Presentment. If she backs down then he wins, if she Presents him, he still wins becasue she will unite the conservatives in the Diocese behind him by making him a martyr and then he can lead a fairly united out of TEC.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dear David Wilson+,

Several observations in response to your comment:

(1) For goodness sakes, why would it take a presentment charge against Bishop Lawrence to unite the DioSC clergy to march out of TEc en mass? Hasn't TEc's actions over the years BEEN MORE THAN SUFFICIENT to already have left TEc?

A presentment charge is nothing compared to what transpired at GenCon 2009.

(2) If this is the strategy, then Bishop Mark Lawrence needs to or needed to communicate unequivocally and without any mealy-mouth fudge to all the DioSC clergy that that is his plan.

I don't think he has done so. Not at all. I think it's just a pie-in-the-sky romantic notion to glamorize Bishop Lawrence's address to the DioSC clergy.

1:22 PM  
Blogger RevDB said...

I find a number of situations that could be called bold which might result from +Lawrence remarks. Let me state just one. Steve Wood chooses alternative Episcopal oversight. The bishop who comes would have to be Duncan or another ACNA bishop right? With permission from Lawrence wouldn't that be bold enough to fly in the face of the PB.

6:20 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

RevDB, you make a good point. First, let me commend you for noticing something a lot of readers I have seen commenting on Stand Firm and other sites haven't: in his remarks Bishop Lawrence didn't clearly indicate that he would let parishes depart from DioSC voluntarily. Instead, he used now classic DEPO language--he referred to parishes desiring "alternative episcopal care." That doesn't on it's face mean letting parish depart DioSC for ACNA, but may mean nothing more than letting another bishop come to that parish to perform confirmations, etc.

So the real question is who that visiting "alternative" bishop would be. Clearly there is no more impeccably orthodox bishop still left inside TEC than Bishop Lawrence himself. So if any parish in DioSC wanted to have oversight from another bishop enough to pursue DEPO it makes sense that they would desire an ACNA bishop--one unconnected with TEC in any way. And if Bishop Lawrence allowed an ACNA bishop to perform episcopal acts inside DioSC with his full consent, that would be very interesting indeed.

IMHO, nothing the good bishop expressly said in his talk could get him presented (if PB Schori even wants the pretense of legality behind an attack on him), but allowing ACNA bishops to perform sacramental acts in a DioSC parish might just do the trick for her. It would be a most interesting development. Thanks for writing.

6:40 AM  
Blogger David Wilson+ said...


Re: your last posting. Over on SFIF in response to a piece written by Sarah Hey following GenCon-09 I wrote what else will it take for Love, Howe, Lawrence, Stanton, McPhearson to leave. Ms Hey of course went ballistic and the "staying/leaving edict" went into effect. Last week it was Phil Turner's turn to claim I will stay til I die.

Rather then formulate clever strategies or play presentment mumbly-peg with Dr. Squiddy, if Lawrence beleives Dio SC ought to leave TEO then he should proceed and leave it at that.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

Tex, your last paragraph nails the big problem. The day is fast coming when TEC will not allow any diocese to remain orthodox.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dear David Wilson+,

We are in complete agreement.

You wrote: "Over on SFIF in response to a piece written by Sarah Hey following GenCon-09 I wrote what else will it take for Love, Howe, Lawrence, Stanton, McPhearson to leave. Ms Hey of course went ballistic and the "staying/leaving edict" went into effect."

Would it possible for you to locate your comment and her response?

Please see the following as an example of the consequence of such an edict that arose on the DioSC and Steve Wood thread at SFIF:

Some background context:

#3, Dave G: “I call a foul on Sarah. I thought posts were not supposed to advocate one strategy or another. To suggest that the only wise choice that Bp. Lawrence could make is to stay seems to violate the policy and criticizes, as unwise, those who leave.”

#29, Reformed Anglican: “I thought the policy of stand firm was to forbid exhortations to leave TEC. This article posted by Greg clearly does that.”


Now compare what was actually written in #96 and #106 before they were deleted and then later replaced. (It seems like a parallel to the current political events controversy surrounding ObamaCare vis-a-vis the active suppression of good-faith dissent; there are similarities to what the blog owners and moderators of Stand Firm have done to comment #’s 96 and 106.)

#96 Before (by Rewster): “<Everyone who has been commenting any length of time here is well aware that we don’t allow comments exhorting people to leave TEC or stay in TEC, nor do we allow comments castigating either decision.>

I’m sorry Greg and Sarah, but Sarah’s words in her post on banning make no mention of as she states in her defense in this thread [#13]. My take is that you should reword the “banning post” to make it clear that anyone can argue for or against the various strategies. I agree that words such as coward or gutless or wicked are bannable excesses, but let’s have a fair argument.

I have left TE* and believe ACNA is a better place. I encourage others to take this step. We are away from the failure to heed the gospel that is rampant in TE*. I know too many who stay because their place of worship is pleasant, or attractive, or socially acceptable. I think this is incorrect reasoning, but don’t condemn them. If such statements are bannable, then statements that +Lawrence chooses wisely to stay would also seem to qualify. Sorry to take so long to comment, but personal matters kept me from my daily Standfirm reading.”

#96 After (with SFIF deletion and commentary): “[please take comments on commenting policy off-line—use the PM system; the commenting policies have been in place for years now, have been useful, and will continue]”

#106 Before (by reformedanglican): “The article under discussion states: “It’s time for the Diocese of South Carolina to join the new North American Province: Anglican Communion North America. Anything short will mark a complete failure of leadership.”

Greg wrote: “This post does NOT exhort anyone to leave TEC.”

So Greg are you contending SC could join ACNA without leaving TEC or are you totally clueless as to the plain meaning of the English language or have you adopted the spin tactics of 815?”

#106 After (with SFIF deletion and banning): “[comment deleted—since commenter was issued final warning here: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/23592#377178
commenter’s posting privileges revoked]”


Quite a difference between the Before and After. #96 and #106 are only pointing out the inconsistencies (and even hypocrisy) in Sarah Hey’s and Greg Griffith’s statements.

FWIW, I have no issue with blog owners doing whatever they want with their own blogs. But what makes me wince, however, is when blog owners hold themselves out to be faithful Christians who are purportedly better than the liberal revisionists to whom they oppose.

StandFirm is manipulating perception thru deleting dissent, a dissent which is calling for accountability to one’s own stated standards.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I am SO frustrated!
Why can't their be an Episcopal/Anglican church that has liberal policies, but orthodox styled eucharist ceremonies??

I can careless what the bishop privately thinks about the women's lib movement, or homosexuals, or any politics. I just want to go to a traditional mass, and hold-on to my Episcopal(American-Anglican) tradition.
I'm so mad at Iker and Family from taking my parishes away. Now I am stranded out here in the Ft. Worth location without a single real parish to go to.
Thanks a lot!

4:14 PM  
Blogger Milton said...

Gary, at the risk of falling for what may be a "gotcha" with the /sarcasm tags left off, perhaps this will give you a clue why worship style, even glorious worship and liturgy and nosebleed-high bells and smells anglo-catholic pageantry are thought a small sacrifice to make for the solid foundation that +Iker and others seek to rebuild:

2 Timothy 3:1-5

"Difficult Times Will Come"

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,

3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,

4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

We just all want to praise God and the role of a Priest, Bishop, or Deacon is to conduct a communal service so that we can praise God together in unison.
I certainly do not believe the Priest or Bishop is without sin.

I do not see the relevance of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 to my previous post.

4:54 PM  

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