Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina writes an op-ed in The State about the situation in his neighboring diocese of South Carolina.
I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty.
That being said, I have felt grief over what certain recent actions in the convention and in some of the congregations in the Diocese of South Carolina have done to our relationships. In an effort to distance itself from the church nationally, it is alleged that the Diocese of South Carolina has removed references to the “Episcopal Church” and “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America” in its Diocesan Corporate Charter Purpose Statement, and removed “substantially all references” to the word “Episcopal” from many parish names and websites.
I do not understand or seek to judge the reasons for such disassociation. But I grieve the result: a fractured catholicity (i.e., unity around the truth of the Gospel) in which members of the body of Christ are unwilling or unable to give themselves to each other and for the sake of the body when the chips are down and the odds against them are high. It is the willingness to suffer unfairly and sacrificially that has saved the church in times of persecution through the centuries. It made many believers into publicly acknowledged saints — saints who sometimes paradoxically proclaimed the message of the very church that killed them.
My point is this: We need Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina in the Episcopal Church. We need their witness and their challenge. We need their love even as, I believe, they need ours. We need the Diocese of South Carolina to say that it is of us and for us, even if it disagrees — vehemently — with most of us. And we need to be willing to sacrifice for these our brothers and sisters as we ask them to do so for us. I believe this is for all our sakes. It is at the heart of our claims to catholicity — to unity in diversity.