TEC Takes Action Against Diocese of South Carolina

Posted: October 17, 2012 by boydmonster in Anglican Communion, Thought and Practice in the Diocese of South Carolina
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The Diocese of SC has just released this information. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has sent confirmation to Bishop Mark and the Diocese of South Carolina that he has, in their opinion, abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.  This conclusion has been based on three charges that have been anonymously leveled against Bishop Mark.  Ironically, two of the three allegations had been previously dismissed by the Disciplinary Board in a previous accusation made last fall.  However, it is apparent that they have resurfaced and the Disciplinary Board has reversed its previous decision declaring that Bishop Mark has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.  This is an offense which, if confirmed, could result in Mark’s removal as the Bishop of South Carolina. Because of recent changes to the disciplinary canons of the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the Disciplinary Board hope to restrict Mark’s ministry among us until a vote by the House of Bishops to depose him. 

This news is as shocking as it is saddening. It would appear that the fracture between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church has reached a tipping point. I have already heard reports that Mark has backed out of peace deals initiated by The Presiding Bishop and Bishop Waldo. This is categorically false. In fact, Bishop Mark initiated these talks in the hopes of working together with the office of The Presiding Bishop to create a peaceful resolution to the situation created by General Convention 2012.  While Bishop Mark left an initial meeting with the impression that the conversation would continue, this Monday the Presiding Bishop notified him of the Disciplinary Board’s decision to seek his removal.  It is hard to interpret these actions in any other way than as a clear sign that only those who are willing to submit to a specific agenda whether they agree with it or not are welcome in this church. As an ordained priest in The Episcopal Church who has made vows before God to be faithful to this church, I have often witnessed and  felt this hostility, and it grieves my spirit.

In anticipation of just such an event, and given the reality of a history of intrusions into the life of this diocese (to include the employment of legal counsel to investigate Trinity Myrtle Beach), the Standing Committee had passed a resolution that in the event of this type of an incursion, the diocese “withdraws its accession to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and disaffiliates with the Episcopal Church by withdrawing its membership from the Episcopal Church.”  You can read the full resolution here.  I cannot comment on the full implications of this resolution beyond its plain meaning.  Certainly, the Standing Committee’s intent was to allow the Diocese of South Carolina to determine its future without the interference of any external entity.  This Friday, I will be attending an emergency clergy day in Charleston where I hope to learn more regarding this situation.

What does this mean for Trinity?  I can assure you that we will continue to be passionate about applying the Gospel to all of life and making disciples who change the world.  I can assure you that Trinity will continue to be a place where people of all walks of life are welcomed and embraced.  And I can assure you that I will do everything possible to keep Trinity together, informed, and prayerful about this crisis.  I would ask of the members of Trinity that we be very careful to prioritize our loyalties.  Our loyalty needs to rest first and foremost on the one “who loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20).  Trinity belongs to Jesus Christ.  Next, our loyalty to those with whom we sit face to face is infinitely important than the loyalty we have to any human institution or ideology.   Finally, we are called to labor together to fulfill the Great Commission.  If our relationship to any denomination frustrates our ability to fullfill our calling, we must reassess our alignment in order to be faithful to Christ.  If we keep these priorities in front of our faces, I am fully confident that Trinity will not only weather this storm but come out stronger on the other side.  

In the meantime, I covet your prayers for Trinity, myself as Rector, our Bishop Mark, the Disciplinary Board of The Episcopal Church, and The Presiding Bishop.

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