There was a moment while Bishop Mark Lawrence was ordaining his younger son recently when Joseph kneeled as the bishop stood above him in prayer, just before the laying on of hands.
"My arms lifted above him invoking the Holy Spirit, and it seemed the spirit - like the murmuring of a dove's wings - hovered there above and between us," recalls the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.
The moment felt more like a father with a son than a bishop with an upcoming priest, although he was there as both.
The bishop ordained Joseph into the transitional deaconate just over a week ago along with Jamie Sosnowski, also the son of a priest, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Charleston. Sosnowski's father, Fred, has been a priest for more than 60 years, diocesan spokeswoman Joy Hunter says.
The transitional deaconate is a stepping stone to the priesthood, which typically follows in about six months.
Another particularly memorable moment came when Lawrence stood up front during the Eucharist, watching Joseph administer the bread while his older son, Chad, already a priest, administered the chalice. They served their mother, wives and children among others.
"It was a touching moment indeed," the bishop says.
The bishop and his wife had figured Joseph, who has a degree in literature and philosophy, would take a scholar's path in life. Instead, he flew out last weekend to interview for an assistant rector post at a California parish where the bishop once was rector.
The bishop and his wife, Allison, now have seen all of their children become active in the faith in different ways.
Chad is associate rector at St. Helena's Church in Beaufort and serves as headmaster of the school associated with the church. Lawrence preached at his ordination, which was in another diocese, but did not ordain him.
Oldest daughter, Adelia, is married to Stephen Matson, who has served as a congregational and diocesan youth coordinator and a church planter. They now own a crepe and coffee shop in central California.
Middle daughter, Emily, and her husband are active members of an Anglican church plant in Pennsylvania.
Youngest daughter, Chelsea, is married to the youth minister at Prince George Winyah in Georgetown.
"All of those things are just very moving," the bishop says.
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Newly ordained transitional deacons Jamie Sosnowski (left, holding the red Bible) and Joe Lawrence (center, right), are joined by their families at The Church of the Good Shepherd during their ordination service. Lawrence’s father, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence (center, left), bishop of The Diocese of South Carolina, and chaplain Gary Beson watch the families come forward.×
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