The Rev. Mark Lawerence was elected Bishop of South Carolina. This was the diocese' second try at electing Lawerence. The first election was declared null and void by The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts Shori because Lawerence didn't receive the necessary majority approval from Standing Committees around the Episcopal Church. Lawerence was recently re-elected. He was the only candidate on the second ballot. This time he did receive a majority of approvals from Standing Committees. In both elections he received the required majority votes from Bishops.
It appeared that Lawerence did not get the needed consents the first time because he had publicly committed himself to leading the Diocese of South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church if he was elected. After not receiving the necessary consents he changed, sort of, his public statements.
I serve on the Standing Committee for the Diocese of Arizona. Our Standing Committee did not give consent to Lawerence's election after either election. I will admit that I did sign the consent form on the first election using the rationale that if South Carolina wanted Lawerence for their Bishop, then they should get what the want. If they want to leave the Episcopal Church well I guess that's their perogative. Though I strongly disagree with their motives, reasons and their theology - as a group if they want to have this kind of leadership, well, I guess then they should get what they want.
However, I didn't sign the second consent form because of Lawerence's changed public statements. I do believe that over time and with great effort and consideration that people can and do and should change their minds about all kinds of topics, thoughts, ideas, opinions and decisions - however, over night, when the motive seems so obvious- I doubt that serioiusly. It seems to make a mockery of the process. And process is what the Episcoapl Church is all about. So like Lawerence I changed my position.
The Episcopal Church is an open place that has room for a lot of opinions at the table. Lawerence and I are probably at opposite ends of the table theologically and probably every other way as well. It would be very sad and an expensive waste of money that could be used for mission efforts or the MDG's if the Diocese of South Carolina were to attempt to leave the Episcopal Church - of course, they can't leave, or better yet, can't take what belongs to the Episcopal Church, the people can leave, I guess - but, still, it would cause so much pain. We do, though, support diversity and dialogue which often strains the idea of holding hands around the table. But, we will see in this case.
It was at least comforting to see that the Diocese of South Carolina has invited the Presiding Bishop to visit the Diocese so that they can make clear their "theology." It wasn't clear whether they were inviting her to be at Lawerence's consecration. The language in the most recent press release seems to indicate that they do intend to remain in the Episcopal Church.
The business of the Episcopal Church is risky and complex business. I take being on the Standing Committee very seriously. I think it is my responsibility to represent our Diocese and not just my own opinions - which change, like Lawerence's did - so I guess we have some things in common, though, not much. I pray it is enough to at least keep us standing around the table - probably not holding hands, though.