Friday, March 7, 2014

Bishop Lawrence supports resolution accepting Global South offer of provisional oversight

One week from now, I will be attending my first Diocesan Convention as a priest in the Diocese of South Carolina. Since leaving the national Episcopal Church in November 2012, the diocese has been in a discernment process concerning a new provincial home. A final decision is still at least a year away, but a recent decision by the Global South Primates Steering Committee has prompted the Anglican Communion Development Committee, an arm of the Diocesan Council, to put forward a resolution in response to an offer of provisional primatial oversight. Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued the following statement concerning the resolution.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, March 7, 2014, Canon Jim Lewis emailed to all our diocesan clergy and the lay delegates to our upcoming March 14-15, 2014, Diocesan Convention a resolution that God-willing, and with the Convention’s consent, will come to the floor. This resolution, R-3: "Response to Offer of Provisional Primatial Oversight,” originated in the Anglican Communion Development Committee (ACD) but has also been supported by a majority of the clergy of the West Charleston deanery with whom I met at their recent clericus on Shrove Tuesday. The ACD Committee is an arm of Diocesan Council. It was established in 2009 in order to strategically establish mutually-enriching missional relationships with provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion. It has played a key role in pursuing our diocesan vision of “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.” As your bishop I fully support this resolution and for all of the reasons mentioned in the Rationale attached to it. But particularly for the reasons presented in the final rationale: “Most importantly, however, this resolution is the response to something others in the communion have created, and it provides a means for us to better make biblical Anglicans for a global age in this in between-time. We choose to see it as a providential provision which gives us further sacramental closeness with the global Anglican family which we so richly treasure.”

I want you to know, also, that I have been in conversation with Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) regarding this resolution. It is my hope that should the Diocese of South Carolina affirm this offer from the Global South Primates’ Steering Committee for Provisional Primatial Oversight that it will not be interpreted, either by those within the Diocese or across the wider Anglican Communion, as a step away from ACNA or any other more permanent provincial affiliation. What it does offer us, and those who may be in similar circumstances, is an ecclesial way of recognizing the relationships we have in the Holy Spirit, through the bonds of affection, and in the mission and gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we continue in this ongoing process of discernment, this Provisional Primatial Oversight, if by God’s grace established, will give us what some might term an extra-provincial diocesan status with an ecclesial body of the larger Anglican family. It should also be noted in this regard; this Provisional Primatial Oversight, while bringing a mutual responsibility in the Gospel, commits us to neither a hasty affiliation nor alleviates our need to continue the work of ongoing discernment for a more permanent provincial relationship.

Yours in Christ,

The Right Reverend Mark Joseph Lawrence
XIV Bishop of South Carolina