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Breaking: Charges lodged against Lawrence of SC

Breaking: Charges lodged against Lawrence of SC

Updated Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina has been charged with “abandonment of the Doctrine. Discinline and Worship of The Episcopal Church.”

A letter appears on the website of the Diocese of South Carolina from Lawrence stating:

On Thursday, September 29, 2011 the Bishop received communication from the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops that “serious charges” have been made under Title IV of the canons of The Episcopal Church. These are allegations that he has abandoned The Episcopal Church. Since several of these allegations also include actions taken by the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, after sustained prayer and discernment, it has seemed appropriate to both the Bishop and the Standing Committee to make these allegations available to the members of the Diocese.

Here is the link to the presentment as posted on the web site of the Diocese of SC.

The presentment cites twelve instances where Lawrence has by action or inaction worked for or directly advocated the separation of his diocese from the Episcopal Church.

A letter from the Church Attorney assigned to the case under Title IV to the Standing Committee of that diocese appears here.

Update: see Bishop Henderson discussion of the complaint and the Title IV process here.

A September 23 post on the blog of The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina says that the actions taken by the Bishop and the Diocesan Convention to separate from the Episcopal Church are “null and void.”

Updated. The AP has the story here:

Lawrence said the meeting next Tuesday will allow the clergy to pray and discuss the situation.

Asked if he thought the developments will lead to a final split with the national church, he replied, “Any speculation about that on my part at this time would be unhelpful and premature.”

The bishop said he wanted first to discuss the situation with the clergy in the closed-door meeting.

“It will primarily be a gathering of the family leaders – the ordained clergy who have charge of the flock – who will meet with their bishop and be apprised of the implications of these allegations if they go forward as charges and we don’t know that yet,” he said….

…Neva Rae Fox, a spokeswoman for the national church at its New York headquarters, said she would have a comment later on the implications of the letter from the disciplinary board.

Some parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina have formally left the national Episcopal Church to join the more conservative Anglican Church in North America, including St. Andrews Church in Mount Pleasant last year.

More than seven years ago, All Saints Church on Pawleys Island left, prompting a legal fight between the denomination and the church over parish property. The state Supreme Court later ruled the local parish owned its property and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the denomination’s appeal.


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C. Wingate

I do not follow the argument of this last remark: “not wrong” about what? That someone would act to try to drive Lawrence from the church? That someone within his own diocese would put the rest of the parishes in a mind to leave with him?

If I am surprised by it, it’s because the tactic seems ill-advised.

Elizabeth Kaeton

Is anyone surprised by any of this? Really?

When I was president of the standing committee I voted against consent to his election. Twice.

I was not wrong. Either time.


Commence (um, continue?) chorus of well-justified “I told you so’s!” from every Episcopalian who urged bishop-elect Lawrence NOT be confirmed…

JC Fisher

[Full-disclosure: w/ no canonical say in the matter anyway at the time, I nevertheless abstained. Anxiously.]

Ann Fontaine

Rev. CW Brockenbrough – it could be the same complaint as the Title IV canons have changed since last year and make it possible for laity to file a complaint and have a system that investigates it. See new post on this subject.

Cyberia Rune

There’s an “Episcopal Forum of South Carolina” link that comes up when it’s googled; it runs to “The Living Church Foundation,” and displays: “Bp. Lawrence Responds to Episcopal Forum.” It’s dated September 23, 2010, and contains what appears to be the current complaint.

So, a group who levied the same charges over a year ago to the House of Bishops and Executive Council is now being “credited” with filing the current complaint, which the Executive Council says it only recently received.

It seems unlikely that the more than year-old complaint is the one currently being investigated – regardless of its’ remarkable conformity to the current complaint. Although, it certainly appears possible that someone chose to revive the old complaint by copying it and signing it.

The web address for the 2010 “Response” is:

Rev. CW Brockenbrough

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