Mark Lawrence “is therefore removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church ..... " TEC Presiding Bishop

"Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop...." - Mark Lawrence

In This Issue:
Mark Lawrence's renunciation of the ordained ministry in TEC
Mark Lawrence responds to being removed as a TEC Bishop
“Dioceses cannot leave the Episcopal Church. While some clergy and individuals may choose to leave, congregations and property remain in the diocese to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.”
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Mark Lawrence's renunciation of the ordained ministry in TEC
FROM: [Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs]-12-5-12

Citing Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the Constitutions and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and following thorough discussion with the Council of Advice, with their advice and consent, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on November 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church.
The Presiding Bishop made the announcement December 5. The Presiding Bishop informed Lawrence by phone, email and mail on December 5. Following that, the House of Bishops was notified.

According to the documents, Lawrence “is therefore removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations. This action is taken for causes that do not affect his moral character.”

The renunciation is effective immediately on December 5.

The renunciation was consented to by the members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, who are the presidents or vice presidents of the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church:.........

On November 17, Lawrence presented an address in which he publicly proclaimed the disassociation of the diocese from the Episcopal Church: “We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago.” He also said: “We have moved on. With the Standing Committee’s resolution of disassociation the fact is accomplished: legally and canonically.”.............

On September 18, 2012, the House of Bishops Disciplinary Board signed a “Certificate of Abandonment of the Episcopal Church and Statement of the Acts or Declarations Which Show Such Abandonment” in the case of the Bishop of South Carolina.........

The Presiding Bishop in the same conversation notified him that shortly before she placed that telephone call she had in writing “placed a restriction on the exercise of ministry of Bishop Lawrence ‘until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon.’”

The Presiding Bishop received a telephone call from Lawrence on Wednesday, October 17, in which she understood him to say he could not keep an agreement that the two had made on October 15 to hold the Board’s “Certificate” and the restriction on ministry in confidence until after an upcoming meeting. She understood him to explain that the Chancellor of the Diocese had concluded that under the Diocese’s rules, the disciplinary action against Lawrence had triggered a change in the status of the Diocese to the effect of its having “disassociated” from the Episcopal Church.

On the same day, an announcement on the diocesan website stated that ..........

“As a result of TEC’s attack against our Bishop, the Diocese of South Carolina is disassociated from TEC, that is, its accession to the TEC Constitution and its membership in TEC have been withdrawn.”................

In her November 15 Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina, the Presiding Bishop clarified “a number of issues which I understand are being discussed.” Among them:

“1) While some leaders have expressed a desire to leave The Episcopal Church, the Diocese has not left. It cannot, by its own action….The decisions “announced” by leaders in South Carolina appear to be unilateral responses to anxiety about decisions made by General Convention and/or the actions of the Disciplinary Board concerning Bishop Lawrence.

“The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina continues to be a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, even if a number of its leaders have departed. If it becomes fully evident that those former leaders have, indeed, fully severed their ties with The Episcopal Church, new leaders will be elected and installed by action of a Diocesan Convention recognized by the wider Episcopal Church, in accordance with our Constitution and Canons.

“3) Bishop Lawrence was charged by several members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina with having “abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church” by making or condoning actions which repudiate the polity (violate the canons or rules) of The Episcopal Church. These actions have to do with formally attempting to separate the Diocese of South Carolina, its congregations, and their property from the wider Episcopal Church without its consent. The Diocese of South Carolina is a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, and that status cannot be altered without the action of General Convention.

“The disciplinary processes of this Church carefully considered the matters with which Bishop Lawrence was charged, and the Disciplinary Board found that he had indeed repudiated the polity of this Church.”

Link to full ENS Report

Mark Lawrence responds to being removed as a TEC Bishop

December 5, 2012 - on his "disassociated" groups website.

Dear Friends in Christ,

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5

The Presiding Bishop called me this afternoon to inform me that she and her council of advice have “accepted my renunciation of ordained ministry.” I listened quietly, asked a question or two and then told her it was good to hear her voice. I did not feel any need to argue or rebut. It is the Presiding Bishop’s crossing of the T’s and dotting of the I’s—for their paper work, not my life. I could point out the canonical problems with what they have done contrary to the canons of The Episcopal Church but to what avail? TEC will do what they will do regardless of canonical limitations. Those canonical problems are already well documented by others and hardly need further documentation by me. She and her advisers will say I have said what I have not said in ways that I have not said them even while they cite words from my Bishop’s Address of November 17, 2012.

Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ. As I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt to claim a renunciation of my orders, thereby making it superfluous.

So we move on—onward and upward. As I write these words in the vesper light of this first Wednesday of Advent, the bells of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul ring in the steeple beside the diocesan office, and I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. We shall continue to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in Word and Deed to a needy world, as well as ourselves. We need to experience afresh its power to set us free from sin, death, guilt, shame and judgment and to transform our lives to be like Christ’s from one degree of glory to another. As the Apostle has written: “The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

I am heartened by the support of the vast majority of those within this Diocese as well as that of the majority of Anglicans around the world and that of many in North America who have expressed in so many ways that they consider me to be an Anglican Bishop in good standing and that this Diocese of South Carolina is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

My prayers for a wakeful and watchful Advent,

Link to letter on website

“Dioceses cannot leave the Episcopal Church. While some clergy and individuals may choose to leave, congregations and property remain in the diocese to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.”
[Episcopal News Service] - 12-6-12 Article

Mark Lawrence, who led some of the members of the Diocese of South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church, has said he remains the bishop of the diocese, and called Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s Dec. 5 decision to accept his renunciation of orders as “superfluous.”.........

(Lawrence asked for and received affirmation from those at the recent Special Diocesan Convention to depart from TEC)....

According to a fact sheet posted on the Episcopal Church’s website: “Dioceses cannot leave the Episcopal Church. While some clergy and individuals may choose to leave, congregations and property remain in the diocese to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.”

Lawrence ended his letter by asserting that “the majority of Anglicans around the world as well as many in North America … have expressed in so many ways that they consider me an Anglican Bishop in good standing and consider this Diocese of South Carolina to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. “

The decision to accept Lawrence’s renunciation cited Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 which begins by saying “If any Bishop of this Church shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the declaration and request so made.”

The process is not without precedent. On the same day four years ago, Jefferts Schori and the council accepted Bishop Jack Iker’s renunciation of orders in much the same way after he led of the lay and clergy members of that diocese out of the Episcopal Church, making public statements to that effect.
In October 2009, Jefferts Schori accepted written statements from Keith Ackerman about his orders.

Ackerman had abruptly announced his retirement as bishop of the Diocese of Quincy, effective Nov. 1, 2008, the day he was to return from a three-month sabbatical. It was also the day the governing synod voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and to realign the 1,800-member diocese with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Ackerman told the presiding bishop he intended to function as a bishop in the Diocese of Bolivia in the Southern Cone.

“As you know, there is no provision for transferring a bishop to another Province. I am therefore releasing you from the obligations of ordained ministry in this Church,” Jefferts Schori wrote at the time.

Jefferts Schori and the church’s bishops dealt differently with the bishops of two other dioceses who led the majority of their members out of the Episcopal Church.

In 2008, the House of Bishops authorized Jefferts Schori to depose the-Diocese of San Joaquin bishop John David Schofield and then-Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan from ordained ministry and remove them as bishops after it was determined that they had “abandoned the Communion of this Church.”

Duncan also initially affiliated with the Southern Cone, but later became the leader of the Anglican Church in North America.
All four dioceses are rebuilding and the remaining Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina have been organizing to do the same.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
Link to full Article on Diocesan website

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