Friday, March 16, 2007

Election of SC bishop invalidated

That's the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina, which comprises the lower half of the state, and is based in Charleston. Apparently the problem was getting a majority of "consents" from standing committees of the various diocese of TEC. Well, actually, it seems the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence (until now a pastor in California) got a majority, but three of these consents were electronic in format, and not canonically valid.

The controversy behind all this is, of course, the issue that has been tearing at TEC for the past several years (and not just TEC). Fr. Lawrence was on the "conservative" side of things, and, apparently, there was a lot of debate (especially on the internet) during the past 120 day period (actually extended by 3 days to allow time for late ballots to arrive in the mail) during which the various diocese of TEC had to send in their consents. From the Post & Courier
Since 2003, when the openly gay Gene Robinson was elected bishop of New Hampshire, the church has struggled to reconcile a "broad tent" view held by the majority of adherents with a view held by a small faction of dissenters who oppose what they call the liberalization of the church in the U.S. The dissenters have sought to align with other parts of the global Anglican Communion, especially churches in Nigeria and Rwanda, which have been actively courting unhappy parishes and dioceses in the U.S. and Canada.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon of the South Carolina diocese called the razor-thin vote "very disturbing." For someone as well-qualified as Lawrence to encounter such resistance bodes ill for the future of the church, he said.

"This is about trust. What you have is a community where trust has broken down," Harmon said. "It's a real tragedy, because good people are being badly hurt."

In recent months, Lawrence had indicated a willingness to leave the Episcopal Church if it failed to repudiate its endorsement of gay marriage and ordination and embrace a more orthodox view of Scripture. He also wrote that Jefferts Schori would not be welcome at his consecration. These comments caused many in the church to express concern over the election, a concern that lingers and is reflected in the close results of the consent vote.

Last week, in a last-ditch effort to convince doubters, Lawrence wrote a letter to standing committee members affirming his intention to abide by canon law and remain part of the Episcopal Church. In the days that followed, several standing committees reversed their votes, according to the South Carolina diocese.
More at Canon Harmon's blog, titusonenine. Here's the initial post (with 271 comments).

I am an outsider, and do not understand the technicalities and legalities of the conventions that govern TEC. But this is how it appears to an outsider: whether because of technicalities or not, an orthodox priest who was elected bishop by the Diocese of South Carolina failed to get a majority of other diocese to confirm his election.

I'm sticking to a policy of trying to comment as little as I can on the goings-on in TEC, so I won't say more.

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