Local Episcopal diocese officials object to recent church actions
The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and five of seven local deputies to the 77th General Convention left the national gathering in protest after the church passed resolutions on transgender identity and expression and provisional rites for same-sex unions.
Those who did not return to the house of deputies were the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, the Very Rev. David Thurlow, Elizabeth “Boo” Pennewill, Lydia Evans and Reid Boylston. Lawrence, too, left after addressing fellow bishops during a private session on July 11.
“These resolutions, in my opinion, are disconcerting changes to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church — to which every bishop, priest and deacon is asked to conform,” Lawrence said, according to a news release. “More importantly they mark a departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, therein making it necessary for me to strongly differentiate myself from such actions.”
Lawrence said the departure of the deputies should not be understood as a departure from the Episcopal Church.
“Frankly, a deputation to General Convention has no authority to make such a decision.”
The full deputation released a statement on July 10: “Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal. John Burwell and Lonnie Hamilton have agreed to remain at Convention to monitor further developments and by their presence demonstrate that our action is not to be construed as a departure from the Episcopal Church. Please pray for those of us who will be traveling early and for those who remain.”
Lawrence told fellow bishops at the convention that the church, in his view, was abandoning long-held practices and traditions.
“I concur with the assessment of our canon theologian, the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, when he described the actions of this General Convention as ‘unbiblical, unchristian, unanglican and unseemly,’ ” Lawrence said.
He has prepared a statement to diocesan clergy that is to be read in parishes this morning.