Bishop Mark Lawrence has been through the fire twice. The first time he was elected bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina he failed to receive the necessary consents from bishops and Standing Committees. The diocese clearly wanted him and on a second try his election, this time without other candidates, was met with sufficient support, and he was ordained.
One of the major areas of contention concerning his election was whether or not he was willing to commit to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. He spoke in rather oblique terms at first, but seemed willing to assure bishops and others that he took his vows seriously. Obviously, he succeeded.
Now, however it appears that Bishop Lawrence is less convinced of the need to hold to those vows.
When ordained bishop he is asked by the chief consecrator, "Will you share with your fellow bishops in the government of the whole Church; will you sustain your fellow presbyters and take counsel with them; will you guide and strengthen the deacons and all others who minister in the Church?"
On the matter of sharing "with your fellow bishops in the government of the whole Church," Bishop Lawrence apparently has second thoughts.
A special convention has been called in October with the sole purpose being the presentation and votes on five proposed resolutions dealing with the relation between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church, the Standing Committee and Deans, echoing Bishop Lawrence's earlier letter to the Diocese. Among these resolutions is the following:
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Subject: Second Guiding Principle for Engagement
Offered by: The Standing Committee and Deans
Whereas the governing bodies of The Episcopal Church have failed to operate within the
boundaries of its canons and continued participation in such behavior would make the Diocese of South Carolina complicit in this dysfunction, be it
Resolved that this Diocese authorize the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing
from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions; and be it
Further resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example
of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).
Assuming this passes Bishop Lawrence will "begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church..." We may assume that means meetings of the House of Bishops, any committees, commissions, boards or agencies on which he might serve. General Convention is out, as are all its committees for any member of the Diocese. It makes a sham of union with the General Convention. It is unclear if he would need to withdraw from the governance of the University of the South. (I doubt it.) But at any event, doing so will make it difficult indeed for him to "share with (his) fellow bishops in the government of the whole Church."
Bishop Lawrence is a very intriguing person, gifted in many ways, and it is flat out wrong for him to absent himself from the governance of the whole Church, that is anything having to do with The Episcopal Church. When he signed on I suspect he knew this would be an unlikely fit and be less than pleasant, but it is an occupational hazard. Bishops are expected to attend Housed of Bishop's meetings, take part in General Convention, etc. He made the vow, so he has some obligation to keep it.
We have had bishops in the past who absented themselves from most or all of various meetings and that did no one any good, except perhaps that the meetings were a bit less rancorous.
Bishop Lawrence either misrepresented himself in the election, or misspoke in the ordination service, or is mistaken in his obvious desire to distance himself from what he considers to be wrongheaded and hearted actions by General Convention.
The whole point of the governance process however is that those in opposition remain.