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Exclusives : CHARLESTON,SC: Back Room Politics Begin as TEC PB Heads South to Revamp Diocese
Posted by David Virtue on 2012/12/10 1:00:00 (4074 reads)

SOUTH CAROLINA: Back Room Politics Begin as Presiding Bishop Heads South to Revamp Diocese
Diocese responds to Presiding Bishop's intrusion: "They cannot assume our identity," says Lawrence

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
December 10, 2012

As the head of the national Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, heads south in January to attend a special convention to choose a new provisional bishop in South Carolina, VOL has learned that fresh political intrigue is figuring into the picture, even as Bishop Mark Lawrence maintains he is the lawful bishop of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Presiding Bishop will visit Charleston Jan. 25-26 for the election of the bishop and other diocesan leaders, said Hillery Douglas, chairman of the reorganization steering committee. She will convene a special convention at Grace Episcopal Church, 98 Wentworth St. in Charleston.

VOL was told that there are strong indications that retired Bishop Charles von Rosenberg is Jefferts Schori's provisional bishop of choice and she will appoint him the new leader of the diocese for those dozen or so parishes that wish to form a rump Episcopal diocese. Von Rosenberg was the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee.

The South Carolina diocese formally severed ties with the Episcopal Church on Oct. 17, 2012, after long-standing disagreements over same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay bishops.

Jefferts Schori will be welcomed with a reception and other special events Jan. 25. On Jan. 26 a committee of local Episcopalians will work with Jefferts Schori to find a nominee who already is a bishop and could immediately go to work in South Carolina to meet the needs of parishes and people here, said Holly Behre, steering committee communications chairwoman.

In recent years, provisional bishops have been called to serve in other dioceses where groups have broken away from the Episcopal Church. They lead until those dioceses are ready to install a non-provisional bishop, Behre said.

The new rector at Holy Cross/Faith Memorial, The Rev. William J. Keith who was called as recently as July 29 is one of the stalwarts for remaining in TEC. He was nominated and encouraged by von Rosenberg who was his bishop and some say a mentor in East Tennessee. Von Rosenberg is stacking the deck, said the source.

"Von Rosenberg is purported to be making ecclesiastical decisions as a diocesan so this has obviously been the plan well before the mid October confirmation of what he was telling his friends.

"He will meet Monday night on Kiawah Island where he has teamed up with Warren Mersereau, the activist layman who signed charges against Bishop Lawrence as well as steering committee member The Rev. Callie Perkins. They will speak to those in the area who want an Episcopal Church presence.

However the Rev. Mike Clarkson of Church of Our Saviour on Johns Island issued a statement today saying they would be following Bishop Mark Lawrence and would therefore be leaving the Episcopal Church. You can read his full statement here http://tinyurl.com/bhkqflf

Jefferts Schori's last visit to the Diocese of South Carolina was in February 2008.

*****

Diocese Responds to Announcement of January TEC Meeting

Media Release
December 10, 2012

Following the announcement that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church plans a trip to Charleston for a January 25-26 convention of those wishing to re-associate with the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina released the following statements:

"They are certainly free to gather and meet, but they are not free to assume our identity. The Diocese of South Carolina has disassociated from the Episcopal Church, we've not ceased to exist.

We continue to be the Diocese of South Carolina - also known, legally as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which I remain the Bishop.

We are eager to get on with the ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world. I suggest that the Steering Committee of this new group will want to do the same. A good first step for them would be to select a new name or choose another Diocese with which to associate."

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence XIV Bishop,
Diocese of South Carolina

"I would like to make a point of clarification for those who think we became a new entity upon our disassociation. A brief history lesson seems in order. We were founded in 1785 (prior to the founding of the Episcopal Church).

We were incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina," in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012.

We did not become a new entity upon our disassociation. A new entity will need to be created by those who choose to leave the Diocese and re-associate with the Episcopal Church."

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Canon to the Ordinary,
Diocese of South Carolina

"They insist on what others must do yet there is no written standard to support them, and at the same time they run roughshod over their own constitution and canons. They have created a tails we win, heads you lose world where the rules are adjusted according to their desired outcomes--no wonder we dissociated from a community like that."

The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon
Canon Theologian,
Diocese of South Carolina

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