Friday, March 26, 2010

"Quiet Resolve" - can some pockets of Episcopalian vitality resist the toxicity of an incoherent "national" sect?

Bishop Mark Lawrence's address to the Diocese of South Carolina is up and available on the web. South Carolina is one of the few Episcopal Church dioceses to show sustained growth in the face of overall denominational decline. Yet:

"...this Diocese of South Carolina, while seeking to be faithful to the Holy Scriptures, historic Anglicanism and the received teaching of the Anglican Communion... as well as to The Book of Common Prayer, and adhering to The Constitution & Canons of this [Episcopal] Church, has experienced incursions not authorized by these very constitution and canons... The absence of the Presiding Bishop having juridical powers within an independent diocese makes the hiring of an attorney [in South Carolina, to work against the Diocese of South Carolina] by the Presiding Bishop’s office an unauthorized act."

That's right, the recently self-cast "national church" has hired a lawyer in South Carolina to lean on the Bishop there - the same "national" church that bellows about foreign bishops having no right to come into a region without the local bishop's permission, even as mere dinner speakers.

The South Carolina Convention today passed a resolution asking the Episcopal Church to honor standing Constitution and Canons and drop the lawyer antics. But unlike your not-so-calm blog host, this was done, according to an eyewitness, with "quiet resolve."

Quiet resolve might be the key in a denomination torn apart by melodramatics. Also out of South Carolina is news that a divided congregation has negotiated a way to share church property without prolonging litigation or giving one group the boot.

There are not many examples like this. One key seems to be a strong, yet Biblically grounded and quietly resolved Bishop. We are, after all, a tradition marked by that Biblical office, the "episcopos" that gives us our name. Bishop Lawrence is one example; Bishops John Howe in Central Florida, Bruce MacPherson in Western Louisiana and a few others are similar.

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