The Episcopal Church in southern South Carolina has itself a bishop.
Gathered in convention in Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, members of the diocese who chose not to depart from the church with former Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers elected the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg as their provisional bishop.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori chaired the meeting and preached at the convention Eucharist. The Rev. Gay C. Jennings, President of the House of Deputies also addressed the gathering.
In her homily Bishop Jefferts Schori said:
What are those of you in this Diocese going to do in your interactions with those who’ve departed? Are they law-breakers who should be shot down or thrown in jail? Do we see them as vigilantes? Neither is going to produce more abundant life, my friends. When you meet them out there in the pasture, consider that some of the sheep may think they’re listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Some are also simply exhausted.
What about the sheep who aren’t in the fold, who don’t know there is a feast to be found, rest for the body and soul, and partners who are willing to wrestle with the dictates of petty Deciders or wolves who masquerade as sheep? We all have a responsibility to be shepherds, to help others find their way through the Gate of abundant life. And believe me, that world out there is filled with hungry, lost sheep. Your experience of abundant life here has something to do with finding them.
We share a responsibility for all the sheep, to safeguard their lives and pastures, but it doesn’t give us carte blanche to shoot potentially errant ones out of the sky.
In remarks to the convention, President Jennings said:
But if you look around this historic convention, and you remember the communion of saints that has gone before you, I hope you will be convinced, as I am, that our Anglican comprehensiveness is our particular gift from God and a great blessing for your diocese. Follow the Anglican middle way and it will guide you between extremes in the company of Christians from all walks of life and all gifts of the Spirit. The middle way is seldom the easiest path. It is easier to walk apart, surrounded by people who look like you, think like you, and believe like you. But if you travel the middle way, you will find the fruits of the Spirit.
As you travel along the way that God is leading the faithful Episcopalians of South Carolina, I will pray for you and walk with you whenever I can be of service. Please call or email anytime you would like to talk about General Convention, the role of deputies, and how the House of Deputies can assist you in your mission and ministry. We are all praying for you, and we are all eager to support you on your journey.
Let me close with a prayer by Bishop Philips Brooks, author of the lyrics of “O Little Town of Bethlehem:”
Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.