The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on Wednesday accepted the “renunciation” of the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th bishop of the church’s Diocese of South Carolina.
“Jefferts Schori has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on Nov. 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church,” read a statement issued by the church’s Office of Public Affairs.
Diocese officials announced that they had disaffiliated from the church on Oct. 15, citing irreconcilable differences. For years, the church and South Carolina diocese representatives have locked horns over issues including homosexuality, the doctrine of salvation, the authority of scripture and church politics.
After Lawrence’s public break from the church and declarations of diocesan sovereignty, he was “restricted” by Jefferts Schori from performing his duties as bishop and was given 60 days to reconcile with the church.
Instead, the diocese disassociated from the church when prepared resolutions took effect, triggered by the restriction action.
At a special convention Nov. 17, officials passed resolutions that affirmed their independence from the church.
Lawrence “is therefore removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority,” the statement reads. “This action is taken for causes that do not affect his moral character.”
The renunciation by Lawrence helps clear the way for members of the “continuing diocese” — the minority of local Episcopalians who remain loyal to the church — to reorganize and find a new bishop.