The following letter written by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, was provided to clergy throughout the Diocese to be read aloud in parishes on Sunday, July 15, 2012. Clergy were asked to provide printed copies of it as well. An abbreviated version was also made available.
July 15, 2012, 7th Sunday After Pentecost
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Some of you have actively followed the decisions of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Others have been blissfully unaware that our denomination even had a General Convention. We have. And the actions taken mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.
In conversations with clergy, and from the emails I have received, I know there is much uneasiness about the future. Some of us are experiencing the well-known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. And, of course, I must acknowledge there are those for whom the recent decisions are a cause for celebration. For me there are certainly things about which I was thankful at the convention in Indianapolis. I might even have taken encouragement from the resolutions that were passed regarding needed structural reform, and for the intentional work in the House of Bishops on matters of collegiality and honesty. Unfortunately, these strike me now as akin to a long overdue rearranging of the furniture when the house is on fire. Why do I say this?
There are four resolutions which were adopted that bring distressing changes to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church that every ordained person in this church has vowed “to engage to conform,” and which stand in direct conflict with the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.
First, let me mention resolution C029. While this was amended during the debates in a more temperate direction, it still moves the Church further down the road toward encouraging the communion of the unbaptized which departs from two thousand years of Christian practice. It also puts the undiscerning person in spiritual jeopardy. (I Corinthians 11:27--32) the rest
Comments at Titusonenine
Comments at Stand Firm
Russ Douthat: Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?
...Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that per haps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.
Absent such a reconsideration, their fate is nearly certain: they will change, and change, and die.
A.S. Haley: Bishop Lawrence Addresses His Diocese Following General Convention
...The letter has already generated publicity in the Sunday edition of the newspaper having the greatest circulation in South Carolina;
more may be expected in the coming days and weeks, and also in the national press.
Where things will go from here is as much up to the leadership of ECUSA as it is to the Diocese of South Carolina. Resolution A049
enacted by General Convention on proposing a rite for individual bishops to use in their own diocese to bless same-sex civil unions contains the following paragraph (my bold emphasis):
Resolved, That this convention honor the theological diversity of this church in regard to matters of human sexuality, and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support for the 77th General Convention’s action with regard to the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships;
Bishop Lawrence has made known to the House of Bishops, and is making known today in writing to his entire Diocese, his conscientious objection to the action of GC77 "with regard to the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships." If the powers that be at 815 Second Avenue honor the language just quoted above, there should not be any attempts to discipline or sanction Bishop Lawrence for that objection...