On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South.
The convention’s nearly 400 delegates also voted to create a task force to explore more permanent affiliation options for the diocese. The task force will offer recommendations at the next Convention, which will be held next March.
Local critics of the Diocese’s 2012 separation from The Episcopal Church had said the disassociation would isolate the Diocese from the Global Anglican Communion. While the Diocese has maintained many informal relationships with organizations that are part of the communion, this formal primatial oversight arrangement makes clear that the Diocese is officially part of the greater Anglican Church.
“There’s an African proverb that wisely states ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,’ said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese, in his address to the Convention. “This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within in the Communion; one which includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.”
The weekend convention attracted clergy, delegates and guests from 52 congregations in southeastern South Carolina. The meeting was held at Christ Church, in Mt. Pleasant, March 14 and 15, and began with four public workshops attended by over 200 people on evangelism, the importance of teaching the faith, church health, and the Jerusalem Declaration, a statement of faith assented to by the majority of Anglicans worldwide.
Congregations Engaging All Generations
A theme stressed during both Bishop Lawrence’s address and in a presentation by Peter Rothermel, the Diocesan Coordinator of Christian Faith Formation, and Dave Wright, Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator was congregations engaging all generations.
“We can and must be congregations of every generation,” Wright said. “We don’t need to start new programs or grow to a certain size in order to be a well-rounded church. We need to equip lay leaders to build relationships, open the Bible and pray together. This is how the faith is passed from one generation to another.”
Rothermel said, “We need to engage every generation to actively pass the faith from one generation to the next. This dream is happening, it’s doable and its’ worth it. We believe by God’s grace we can do it.”
Welcoming New Churches
The convention rose to applaud when Bishop Lawrence introduced two new congregations and recognized their representatives. Grace Church, Waccamaw in Pawleys Island, a former congregation with Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), joined the Diocese and Grace Parish in North Myrtle Beach, a church plant, also joined the Diocese this year. The presence of members of the Church of the Resurrection, North Charleston, was also recognized.
Friday Worship Service
On Friday, following the workshops, the Convention gathered for a festive service of Holy Eucharist with the Very Rev. John Barr, Rector of Church of the Holy Comforter, Sumter, giving the sermon. Barr, who has been a priest for 37 years and a rector of Holy Comforter for 19, will retire this summer. His sermon focused on Jesus’ words, “I am the Door.”
“Every person born stands outside this door, yearning for this door.” said Barr, “The only door is Jesus and the door needs to be entered to find salvation, security and satisfaction. Where are you as you gaze at the door?”
The Convention recognized a number of individuals during the gathering. Bishops from other denominations who participated in the opening worship service included: The Rt. Rev. David Bryan, Bishop Ordinary of the Southeast Network of PEARUSA, the North American missionary district of the Anglican Church of Rwanda; The Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Sr., Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Southeast Reformed Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev. Paul Hewitt-Diocese of the Holy Cross (Forward in Faith — Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas); The Rt. Rev. Steve Wood, Bishop of the Carolinas for the Anglican Church in North America, and The Most Rev. Valentine Makiwa, Retired Archbishop of Tanzania. Bishop Lawrence thanked them for their partnership in the Gospel.
Bishop Lawrence asked The Rev. Dr. Bill Rhett, who had served as the Examining Chaplain in the Diocese for many years and has been a priest in the Diocese for the past 50 years to stand. The convention acknowledged his faithful service with a standing ovation.
Ann Holland, who in 1971 was the first female delegate from any parish to attend an annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, was honored, given a standing ovation and prayed for by Bishop Lawrence.
During Saturday’s business meeting the following individuals were elected to serve in Diocesan offices and positions: Standing Committee (three year terms): The Rev. Iain Boyd, The Rev. Mike Lumpkin, Karen Kusko and Rob Shelton; Diocesan Council (three-year terms): The Rev. Janet Echols, The Rev. Bob Horowitz, Kathy Hamilton and Chuck Wilson; Advancement Society (three-year terms): The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, Bill McRee and Mary Rife; Trustees (six-year terms) Reid Boylston, Scott Poelker and for a one year (unexpired) term Karolyn Ohanesian; Ecclesiastical Court (three-year term): The Rev. Linda Manuel, The Rev. Bill Oldland, John Acken and Ann Willis.
2015 Convention Announced
Bishop Lawrence closed the Convention with a prayer and blessing. The 224th Diocesan Convention will be held March 13 and 14, 2015 at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston and Charleston Music Hall.