SUMMERVILLE, SC: Diocese of South Carolina Votes to Affiliate with the ACNA
Diocesan Press Release
March 11, 2017
Today at its 226th Annual Convention, the Diocese of South Carolina voted unanimously to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
"I cast my vote to affiliate with the ACNA with eager and expectant faith," said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of South Carolina, in his address to the convention. "I believe God has called us to this and I believe we will find a deeper richness in our vocation; fuller fellowship in the Spirit; a more zealous thrust in mission. But most of all, I believe a door will be opened, the fresh winds of the Spirit will blow, and a caged eagle will soar."
Affiliation with the ACNA brings the Diocese into full communion with an organization of 111,853 members in 966 churches and 32 dioceses spread across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Founded in 2009 at the urging and with direction from Anglican primates of the Global South, the ACNA represents the unifying of a number of different groups in terms of theological approach and worship emphasis including evangelicals, charismatics and Anglo-catholics.
The Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, who spoke to the more than 350 convention delegates and clergy attending following the vote to affiliate said, "I am thankful for Bishop Mark Lawrence, for his steadfast and Godly leadership, for his friendship, and for his humility throughout this entire process. Your witness in mission, in scholarship, and steadfast commitment to the historical teaching of the Bible is commendable. You are bringing with you many gifts that will further strengthen our Province, and the larger Anglican world."
"From Pentecost on Christians are meant to be connected," said the Very Rev. Craige Borrett, Rector of Christ-St. Paul's, Hollywood, who served as Chairman of the Provincial Affiliation Task Force for the Diocese, and who recommended this affiliation last March. "We're family. And with this decision we're uniting ourselves with a diverse group of biblical, orthodox Anglicans who are recognized by the majority of the Anglican Communion. I'm excited about the impact we can have as well."
"The ACNA is full of ministry friends and colleagues we have known and worked with for many years," said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis. "It is a joy to now be under one roof with them. We'll be blessed to have the benefit of the work they're doing in important areas like church planting. And we look forward to sharing our assets as well -- things like our strong youth and grandparenting ministries and our beachfront camp and conference center, St. Christopher's."
The Convention was also blessed with a recorded greeting from the leadership of the Anglican Communion's GAFCON movement, The Most Rev. Peter Jensen and the Most Rev. Peter Akinola. "In times like these we need to be able to partner with fellow Christians who share common faith with us," said Archbishop Akinola. "We need to stand together to make a difference in this world of darkness where people are deviating day by day from the standards of scripture. We know that in the ACNA we can stand together to work for the glory of God."
The ACNA Provincial Assembly will meet in June of this year and take up the application of the Diocese for affiliation. The expectation is of an enthusiastic welcome.
Ten Reasons Why I am for Affiliation with ACNA
By Bishop Mark Lawrence
• It fits well with our vision of Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age--helping to shape Emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. In the fall of 2008, I began to seek God for a diocesan vision that would guide us as diocese into the future. There was much upheaval within the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. I had just returned to the diocese after spending the summer attending the first Global Anglicans Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem and the 2008 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. I hardly knew the complexity of the journey ahead of us. I only knew we needed a diocesan vision that would guide us in the decisions before us. Decisions as you know are not visions. You can make decisions and still not have a vision. Now in retrospect it seems a remarkable prescient vision that came and one that has repeatedly guided us as we have walked through the challenging path in TEC and sojourned since in the Anglican Disapora in North America. Frankly, our vision of making Biblical Anglicans and the vision of the ACNA to reach the North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ seem flip sides of the same coin. Our vision and ACNA's calling appear from where I stand to fit seamlessly together: like a God-given vocation.
• Our global partners have recognized the ACNA, seating Archbishop Foley Beach as a Primate at their Primatial meetings. Since 2014 the Primates of the Global South Steering Committee have given us Provisional Primatial Oversight. Last October I attended the Global South Conference in Cairo, Egypt giving a report to the assembled bishops, priests and lay representatives; I was not there as a guest but as a fellow representative. I was delighted to see the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach, seated with voice and vote among the Primates of the Global South Provinces. He is also the only primate in North America seated among the GAFCON Primates when they meet as a council. The Global South Primatial Steering Committee, the ecclesial body giving us primatial oversight, and the GAFCON movement, with whom we have been in fellowship, have each recognized the ACNA and its Archbishop. (Show video greetings from Archbishops Akinola and Jensen) Archbishop Mouneer Anis, President of the Global Primates Steering Committee has assured Archbishop Beach that upon our vote to affiliate with the ACNA and the Provincial Assembly receiving us that the primates will recognize this affiliation.
• ACNA is a partner with who we can stand "in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel." The entire Anglican world has been in disarray since TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada took unprecedented actions in 2003, tearing the fabric of the Anglican Communion. Unfortunately, the unravelling has continued through the last decade and to date none of the four historic Instruments of Unity have been able to mend the net nor to exercise godly authority. The future within Anglicanism now appears to lie with alignments of relationship and gospel mission rather than hierarchal solutions. Our brothers and sisters in the ACNA are partners "with whom we can stand in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel." (Phil 1:27)
• There are things a Province can do better than a Diocese. Just as there are things that a diocese can do better than a parish and things a parish can do better than a diocese so too there are things a Province can do better than either. We as a diocese can do much to reach those within South Carolina. Yet we also live our lives within a nation and within the wider culture of North America. Much that happens in various parts of the country soon than later end up influencing life here in the eastern half of our state. The make of shoes James LeBron wears in Cleveland can be seen on the young boy playing hoops in Berkeley County. Just as we recognize the need for voting in national as well as regional politics, we also recognized we have Christ's command to reach and influence the spiritual landscape on a larger scale. The ACNA boldly seeks to reach all of North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. I believe that is something we can all support.
• The ACNA's principle of subsidiarity--that of resolving questions at the lowest level possible--seems well fitted for the post-Christian world that we have entered into and with the differing societies of North America.
• The convictions and ministries which we have fashioned and been fashioned by will be warmly celebrated and shared. It will be a new experience for many of us in South Carolina that our deepest convictions, and the faith we proclaim will be affirmed at the highest levels of the Province. We've not had that experience in a long time. That the ministries we have formed and have been formed by, rather than being reluctantly tolerated or shunned, will be warmly celebrated. That our Youth ministry in the diocese will be roundly appreciated, that such ministries as Grandcamp and Grandparenting groups will be welcomed and emulated. That our Men's Ministry and Retreat can be exported to other dioceses within ACNA (we've already begun conversation with the Diocese of San Joaquin). That our St. Christopher Summer Camp experience can be shared. (Show Steven Tighe video)
• Our life within Provincial gatherings can create mutually enriching partnerships in the gospel--Our life within the Province will not be a distraction or a weary resistance movement but a sharing of best practices, of what has worked and what hasn't, and a mutually enriching partnership in the gospel.
• Our bishops will have a College of Bishops with whom to share in the councils of the Church. It will give me as your bishop, (as well as bishops Allison, Hathaway, and Dickson), and even more to the point, my successors, whomever the diocese will elect in the future years, a College of Bishops with whom to share in the councils of the wider Church.
• Greater opportunity to work with those to whom we were previously knit. How will we work creatively and cooperatively with the Diocese of the Carolinas? Are there any bridges that need to be mended with congregations that used to be part of the Diocese of South Carolina--such as All Saint's, Pawleys Island and St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant--since we will be in the same Province, the same Church? Well what these will look like in the future can be mutually determined and that to my mind is a great positive.
• We can restore the years the locust have eaten. There will be perhaps uncomfortable aspects of our diocesan history to explore--especially as we share deeper fellowship with our brothers and sisters of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the Diocese of the Southeast. Grace-filled issues of racial reconciliation lie before us as we retrace our history and share ministry with one another as members of the same Province and Church. The Cummins Theological Seminary here in Summerville has invited me to become part of their Board of Trustees and my invitation to Bishop Alphonza Gadsden to preach at our opening Eucharist are reciprocal signs of deeper commitment to restore the years that the locust have eaten.
Before I conclude my thoughts on this matter of affiliating with the ACNA I need to ask for your indulgence. I want to give you some updates--no, not on the litigation. That's with the Justices and they're not talking. Other matters of diocesan life.
• Planting Churches--under co-chairs, Gary Beson and Jonathan Bennett a Task Force on Church Planting was established this past year. We've only begun to ask the big questions. But, frankly, the one who is above everyone in the diocese in this regard is Fr. Chuck Owens, rector of The Cross, Bluffton. They have launched a $15 million dollar capital campaign to not only expand the campus of The Cross Schools, but expand their worship space and to begin preparing for future campuses in those areas of projected growth in the Low Country. We need to address similar growth in the greater Charleston area. If our existing congregations do not have such a vision--we shall have to find entrepreneurial leadership somewhere. Identifying priests who can travel light and are more concerned about fulfilling the Great Commission then in finding the Great Job for at this point we have little money to pay them.
• Remissioning Workshops--several years ago John Burwell, Ed Kelaher, Dave Wright, Peter Rothermel and I traveled around the diocese holding what we called Reality Therapy. We looked honestly at the changes in society, at generational giving patterns, at how churches grow and do not grow, focusing on the internal dynamics that keep churches stuck at certain sizes. I sent a text message to John Burwell last week asking if he was interested in a long overdue follow-up to the workshops we offered in 2012. He responded as usual--"Put me in coach!" We will be bringing together this year a team of rectors and diocesan staff to travel the diocese with the follow-up--Remissioning and Recharging the Local Congregation.
• Men's Ministry--last year in my Bishop's Address I briefly highlighted the new Men's Ministry department led by Mr. Jay Crouse. Jay came has set up shop at the Diocesan House and launched a vigorous ministry focused in three areas: 1) Helping to launch in 6 of our churches a 7 week Focus Group Challenge that will establish a sustainable Men's Ministry for their church. Three other congregations are set to launch this challenge this year. 2) Our Annual Christian Men's Conference hosted a Men's Summit last fall at St. Paul's Summerville. Over 425 Men from across the diocese attended this gathering to hear the Bishop speak of the importance of Mind, Body and Heart for our life with God. A second Men's Summit is scheduled this fall. 3) Jay has also worked with several of our diocesan clergy to create an annual Men's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land entitled "Behold the Man".
• Young Adult Task Force--last spring Langdon Stewart, approached me about gathering young adults within the diocese to see what we can do to energize ministry with and to young adults between the ages of 22--33. We've had several meetings thus far and though Langdon has been called back to Australia, the Reverend Trevor Spencer has stepped into the gap and is assisting me and others to discover how we can help our congregations in ministering to and with this age group. Pray for us--our future and yours may depend upon it!
• St. Alban's Chaplaincy--I have been working with the St. Alban's Advisory Board and Interim Chaplain, Doug Peterson, to find a self-sustaining diocesan model for this ministry. A search committee is in place and will soon be interviewing potential candidates. My vision is that Citadel Alumni and our many of our congregations will write this into their mission budgets therein supplying much of the stipend for this ministry.
• Marriage Task Force--you have heard already the report fom this Task Force. I am very excited about Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage. Do you know how difficult it is to get Tim Keller to make a video for anybody? He's one of the most sought after Christian leaders in the country but he took the time to make a video because he knows this is the issue we face, not just in South Carolina but all across the country. I hope every sizable congregation and even smaller ones will join in this opportunity. We need to explore ways to deepen our understanding of marriage and to equip our parishioners to engage missionally with the changing cultures beyond our doorsteps as well as those seekers who visit our churches.
• Department of Social Ministry--For over a decade now Deacon Ed Dykman has been our Social Ministry director. Thank you, Ed! So far as I know he isn't going anywhere. But he has carried out this ministry as one-man-band, assisting others in doing their ministry, allotting what little funds are in his budget, and by personally developing The Next Steps Ministry. Earlier this year he met with Canon Lewis and me to discuss the breadth of social ministries within the diocese. As we met, it became clear that what we need at this time is a Department of Social Ministry. Every year I meet with our vocational deacons. I hear from them about their ministries. It is a story too little told. I also recognized that in our parishes is a breadth of social care ministries taking place but little overarching diocesan coordination--no clearing house if you will. Prison Ministries, first responder chaplains, hospital chaplaincies, ministry to military personnel, Hispanic ministry, ministry to the aging, Recovery and addiction ministries, Crisis Pregnancy, Anglicans for Life, racial reconciliation, food distribution ministries--to name just enough to show the breadth of servant ministry taking place in the diocese. Much of it happens without the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Good to a point but it misses the opportunity to coordinate with others and share resources that work. We need to establish a Social Ministry Committee that will identify, coordinate and improve these ministries within our parishes and deaneries. In the ACNA, these are called, Matthew 25 Ministries--recalling Jesus words, "As you've done it to the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me."
• Continuing Education for Clergy--last fall at the Clergy Conference our newly established Clergy Continuing Education Committee presented a proposal for our diocesan clergy. Frankly, it met with less than enthusiastic support. Actually it flopped. Recently the committee met to discuss where we go from here--particularly as we have applied and received a 5013c in order to receive tax deductible gifts. Before I'm gone I want to see a continuing education program that inspires and resonates across the generations. Many professions have requirements to keep abreast of ever changing developments in their fields. Surely we should expect priests (not to mention vocational deacons) to be committed to continuous and life-long learning--whether as preachers, pastors, leaders, counselors, disciplers or evangelists. Do you know how you can tell when a clergyman died? By the books on his shelf; If most were all published before the date he graduated from seminary. John Gardiner, who has served six U.S. Presidents in various leadership capacities, has written, "The 50s and 60s are great, great learning years. Even the years beyond that offer vivid opportunities." My brothers and sisters we must take charge of our learning. Read the letters of the St. Paul; notice that even in his last extant epistle he demonstrated a zealous love of God and a zest for life right up to the end--he even tells Timothy to bring the books and the parchments. Gardner himself was 74 when he wrote--"Be interested. Everyone wants to be interesting--but the vitalizing thing is to be interested. Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Care. Risk failure. Reach out." So be of good cheer you'll be hearing from us soon!
• The Anglican Leadership Institute--was launched last year on Sullivans Island in January with 15 attendees from around the Anglican Communion. We held the second session last September at St. Christopher with 14 participants; then were back with 15 others this January on Sullivans Island. This September, however, in a one-time departure from precedent, we will hold the fall session on Martha's Vineyard. Yes, we're invading New England. Bishop Ken Clarke of SAMS-Ireland will be one of the key speakers. Think of it, after just two years of ALI's existence we will have trained 60 bishops, deans, clergy and laypersons who will be key leaders in the Anglican Communion. With this ministry, we are shaping the future of Global Anglicanism today. Thank you, clergy and laypersons of the Diocese of South Carolina for supporting this bold initiative! It's not designed to benefit us. It's designed to benefit them. And if it benefits them it benefits us. That's the way it works.
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