South Carolina parish begins 40 Days of Discernment™

In the Diocese of South Carolina one of the larger Episcopal churches in the country appears to have grown impatient with the path chosen by diocesan leadership. St. Andrew's church of Mt. Pleasant has begun 40 Days of Discernment™, the same study materials that other churches have used that have left the Episcopal Church in recent years. St. Andrew's claims more than 2,400 members.

Read the rector's letter to the congregation here. The parish's 40 Days of Discernment™ webpage is here and includes a link to the Anglican Church in North America. 40 Days is based upon material first used in 2006 by Truro and Falls Church before they left the Diocese of Virginia.

Recall in 2003 Bishop Salmon wrote about the departure of All Saints, Pawleys Island:

When a vestry of a parish in the diocese votes to take action to leave the church, they cannot then hold an office as a vestry of the church from which they have voted to depart.
South Carolina's current bishop, Mark Lawrence, and six other Communion Partner bishops recently returned from a visit to Lambeth Palace with Rowan Williams. The seven bishops wrote in their report on that meeting of their "commitment to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church."

Comments (9)

I don't know, but perhaps you do; has any parish used these materials and NOT chosen to attempt to leave TEC?

Michael Morris

Michael,

I played it safe and left that question open, but my guess is no, no parish has used these materials and NOT left TEC. But I don't think the producers of these materials would want to make that claim as that would contradict the implicit claim that it is discernment and not just a whitewash.

Preludium looked at the materials in 2006 and called them a sham,
http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2006/09/40-days-of-discernment-sham.html

I don't remember the exact history, but wasn't Mark Lawrence asked about leaving TEC and he said he had no such intention or something to that effect? The House of Bishops asked this, I believe. I suppose he could argue that due to changed circumstances within TEC he is now forced to this action. But if studying this materal is the 1st step toward leaving, his words seem disingenuous to me.

Sister,

You've got the wrong end of the stick. The parish is investigating/pursuing a path that is contrary to the bishop's chosen path of staying in TEC. See last para of the post.

There is at least one congregation in the Diocese of Tennessee that began the 40 days at one point and has since decided to remain in the Diocese. I would imagine there are several smaller congregations within TEC that have done the same, but their actions are not as newsworthy as a St. Andrew's, Truro, Falls Church of Christ Church Plano.

The above being said, the materials are clearly weighted toward departure.

Jody Howard

This process, based on the "40 Days of Purpose" that was important in those churches influenced by Rick Warren's book, began I think with the "discernment" and ultimate withdrawal of Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas, well before Truro. I also can't remember a church to embrace such discernment that didn't ultimately decide to leave. One could argue that the "40 days" thus met the "purpose."

As Bishop Iker is now being caught in his own past assertions of diocesan priority in an hierarchical Episcopal Church, so Bishop Lawrence may well have some issues in past bishops' statements in property disputes in South Carolina. If this congregation leaves, he may want to negotiate but be unable due to past decisions.

Marshall Scott

I was wondering if anyone could elucidate the rector's stated reasons for his schismatic aspirations.

In the three most recent General Conventions of The Episcopal Church (2003, 2006, 2009) the gospel message of a loving Father who seeks to draw all people unto Himself through the cross of His Son has been replaced. Offered instead is a therapeutic gospel which refuses to acknowledge the falleness of our nature and our deep need for spiritual and moral transformation. While this gospel appears kind in its inclusivity, it nevertheless leaves us unchanged and enslaved to our sins and is therefore unspeakably cruel.

I can't recall this in the Convention reports I read.

He went onto say that “we face a multitude of false teachings” and specifically noted the deconstruction of the doctrines of The Trinity, The Uniqueness of Christ, the matter of scriptural authority and our baptismal theology.

Again, I haven't heard this coming from TEC in any official capacity, and certainly not from my bishop, diocese, rector, or parish. The only place where I've heard such fundamental doctrines as the Trinity, the uniqueness of Christ, or our baptismal covenant 'deconstructed,' (recently, anyway; Bishop Spong isn't the issue, I assume) is from the hotly debated sermons of and liturgies of Fr. Kevin Thew-Forrester, who was denied the mitre and crozier by the larger church, and quite rightly in my opinion.

I'm an Episcopalian because it reflects my values and theology as a creedal Chrstian who values an affirming Catholicism and a generous orthodoxy. And I still see TEC as affirming and upholding those values. Am I off-base, or is the accusation of, let's call it what it is, heresy, on the part of our ecclesiastical leadership, merely dressing up homophobia in holy vestments?

If you think the Pauline injunction against same-sex relationships is still valid today, and that's the issue, SAY SO!!! I think it was a cultural prejudice, and if you're going to ordain women, you ordain homosexuals (if otherwise eligible).

And okay, ++Jefferts-Schori has said some things I disagree with, but nothing as serious as the filioque, or homoousia vs. homoiousia.

Not schism-worthy, in other words. Neither is the gay issue, in my eyes.

May the Lord's peace find us all in this difficult time.

Pax Vobiscum,
Jason Lewis

I may not recall correctly, but I don't remember Christ Church, Overland Park KS doing any sort of discernment, at least not publicly. I remember it being rather sudden, although not unexpected.
As for parishes doing 40 days of discernment, I may not agree with the idea of leaving TEC, but at least they are doing it prayerfully. We should all handle such major decisions with such care.

Found this interesting:

http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=839706

"[Bishop] Love stressed that Albany's orthodoxy has made (sic) placed it in a position where it remains in contact with all the Anglican communion and that this has prevented parishes from seeking affiliation with other parts of the church that have taken in other parishes."

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