8/26/2012

Bishop Lawrence and revealed direction

Bishop Lawrence has been out in the real or metaphorical wilderness set on receiving a revelation from God concerning the future of his ministry and the life of the Diocese of South Carolina. He is back in the Diocese and has been meeting with his Standing Committee and Deans of area deaneries. It appears he has received direction. 

The word is not yet out as to just what that direction is. "South Carolina Episcopalians" reports on August 24th that it may all be revealed this week. They write,

"Revelation Given to Bishop Lawrence Could Be Made Public This Week

Vision: "Prosper ... in the Gospel and not for harm"

Bolting the Episcopal Church is in there too, according to a clergy source


SC Episcopalians can confirm that Bishop Lawrence received a vision of God's Will for the Diocese during his recent vacation.  It could be made public as early as next week, according to a clergy source.

In July after the General Convention, the Bishop told friends and clergy that he would be looking for exactly this kind of revelation as he took some time off in the mountains and the desert.  This week he returned to the Diocese and shared the vision with the Standing Committee and clergy leaders of the various deaneries.  All say they have signed onto it, but are keeping mum about the specifics. 

Here's what is known:

The Very Reverend Craige Borrett, Rector of Christ-St.Paul’s on Yonges Island and former Chairman of the Standing Committee, reported the following to his congregation:

As you know the bishop returned from an intense time of prayer, reflection and seeking God's will for himself and this Diocese this week.

On Tuesday he met with the Standing Committee, and they released their joint statement. "The Bishop met today with the Standing Committee, which unanimously approved the course of action he outlined for the Diocese of South Carolina."

On Wednesday he gathered with the Deans of the Diocese and shared this vision. I join with the Standing Committee in wholeheartedly approving this Godly course of action.

A fellow Dean and member of the Standing Committee, Fr. John Barr, stated, 'Bishop Mark has faithfully sought God's leading and has been given a vision for the future of this Diocese - a plan to prosper it in the gospel and not for harm."

The Standing Committee has prayed that it would be drawn to a place of alignment with God alongside Mark; and, graciously so, we are in unanimous agreement.  Because of the need for both prudence and charity, I cannot share more specifics at this point, but you will all know more within the next few weeks.

SC Episcopalians
has learned from one of the deans who has spoken with the Bishop that part of the vision is that God wants him to try to take the Diocese out of the Episcopal Church. (underline mine)

Well, dear friends, the fat may well be in the fire. SC Episcopalians also has a very good essay on what it understands the hole that Bishop Lawrence has dug and why he is about to fall into it. Diocese Adrift as Bishop's Options Narrow  is an excellent piece of analysis and worth the read.

Several points: 

(i) If indeed Bishop Lawrence is set on leading the Diocese and/ or many of its parishes out of The Episcopal Church he needs revelation very much, for anything short of that makes him a liar. 

(ii) The claim to have received revelation, or that it has been revealed to him, has remarkable possibilities of being an ego trip of the most egregious sort.  More, as a revelation about "what must be done" personal inspiration stands over against the notion that God might well reveal the path forward by a form of communal revelation, as in prayerful meeting or convocation. What authority can the Bishop bring that satisfies the charge that his personal revelation trumps the working of God's revealing of self in community decision making?  

(iii) South Carolina Episcopalians have asserted that "According to two attorneys contacted by SC Episcopalians, Lawrence and his allies have used the past few years to engage in a coordinated campaign to defraud the Episcopal Church of its property at a level that rises to criminal conspiracy."  Revelation backed by preparations build from conspiracy, criminal or otherwise, is hardly an open process.

We Episcopalians are a mixed lot, theologically, spiritually and in terms of our understanding of church. It is essential to find ways to include as fellow Episcopalians people who disagree strongly with us, and we with them. I set great store on the right of a diocese to elect who they will within the very broad boundaries set by the vows they will take, the canons and constitution they will affirm and the community into which they are called. And, we are finally even called to take risks on behalf of inclusion. We do this all the time. 

Everyone knew that Bishop Mark Lawrence would be, for some of us, theologically cranky. But theologically cranky is different from being a liar.

Even at this late hour I hope and trust that Bishop Lawrence has not found a revealed word that he is to try to take the Diocese or even its member churches with him down paths that lead out of The Episcopal Church.  I can hope that SC Episcopalians misread the tea leaves. 

So we await Bishop Lawrence's revelation and we will wonder if that revelation has anything to do with the revelation to the people of God by way of their common life in Christ, or will it be the episcopate re-incarnated and now based on authority by revelation? 

Whatever it is, it's not, well, Anglican.

18 comments:

John B. Chilton said...

Mark, Read anything into Lawrence presence here?,
http://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/2012/08/live-consecration-of-bishop.html

He didn't participate, but he was present at the consecration of new ACNA bishop of the Carolinas yesterday.

Fred Schwartz said...

I beleive this is inuitively obvious to the most casual of observers.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Private revelations from God call for great discernment by a large number of people and input from those who are not like-minded.

Why doesn't Lawrence just retire and go his way? Those who wish to follow him are free to go, so long as they don't want the property. However, I doubt Lawrence will choose to go peacefully.

I wonder what promises Lawrence made to the leadership of the diocese before he was elected. I wonder if, in some sense, Lawrence is a prisoner of the diocesan leaders. I may be entirely off-base with the suggestion, but the question has remained in my mind over a rather a long period of time.

Pfalz prophet said...

"drawn to a place of alignment with God alongside Mark".

How nice that God, in the opinion of the author, has aligned himself with Mark. Was this God's opinion, or the author's?

Your second point is, "What authority can the Bishop bring that satisfies the charge that his personal revelation trumps the working of God's revealing of self in community..." This point only continues Mark's pride, his creation of superiority over God's revelation. It's important to understand that it take the whole community to discern God's Will, not just those who agree with you.

South Carolina has had this problem of thinking their view is superior for well over 150 years. Hasn't anyone brought this up as a topic for discussion?

Fred Schwartz said...

This is just me but if anyone else somehow discerns God''s will I am joining the Mormons. I mean really, one person, a whole bunch of people, just what the heck is going on? Does it make any deifference whether it is Jim Jones or Charlie Manson or the whole Third Reich - or even a whole diocese. Criminy, the whole diocese of San Joaquin discovered God's will and jumped off a cliff.
Phalz Prophet, I know you are trying to move toward a more egalitarian type of discernment but please, can we spend a little less time on discernment and just a llittle more time social justice?

Lapinbizarre said...

"Vision of God's will", yet. I've already used the term "drama queen" once this year in the context of +M Lawrence, and once a year is enough.

I'm guessing that last weekend's consecration of Steve Woods as ACNA's "bishop of the Carolinas" has forced his hand. There have to be congregations in the diocese eager to follow the lead of Woods' St Andrew's, Mt Pleasant if Lawrence fails to take immediate no action at this time. Maybe the lawyers who've bled the diocese of $500,000+ since Lawrence's consecration will now prove their worth?

Grandmère Mimi said...

The revelation that God gave a vision to Mark Lawrence, followed by, "We can't tell you what the vision is yet," which stirs up breathless anticipation to know what exactly is God's vision for the diocese, all make for drama. I think that from reading Lawrence's speeches and sermons one might conclude that he does not spurn drama.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

This latest "revelation" only reveals that Mark Lawrence is the undisputed Queen of Drama Queens.

This is religious emotional manipulation usually reserved for Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders. If he doesn't leave he should be brought up on Title IV charges.

I mean, really? Theological positions aside, what's the difference between Bishop Pike and Bishop Lawrence?

SCM said...

Is this like the new vision progressives claim to have? Holy Spirit doing her new thing? If it's bad for +Lawrence it's bad for progressives as well, and points to the same New World gnosticism, here on the right, there on the left.

Good Lord deliver us.

SCM

Lapinbizarre said...

We - and "we" includes "I" - usually forget that Mark Lawrence was unquestionably the most moderate of the three candidates in the 2006 election for bishop. The other two were the runner-up, Steve Woods, newly-consecrated ACNA bishop of the Carolinas, and Ellis Brust, at that time chief operating officer of the the American Anglican Council, who joined Church Murphy's AMiA less than a month after the SC episcopal election. I would be interested to know to what extent, in both the current matter and in the events, legal in particular, leading to it, Mark Lawrence has been his own man, and to what extent the useful tool of others.

DavidB said...

Didn't Martin Luther King have a speech where he said, "I have a vision ..." Or, often leaders or officials will say something to the effect, "I have a vision for this company/nation/state/city ..." What is so outrageous for +Lawrence to indicate that he has a vision for his diocese given that the term "vision" in such a context means "the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom." (New Oxford American Dictionary).

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Can someone in SC check and see if the 9th Commandment is still in the Decalogue in the SC BCPs?

Lapinbizarre said...

I imagine, Lowcountry tradition being what it is, that the Decalogue is on the East wall of more churches in the diocese of SC, let alone in the Prayer Book, than in any other diocese in the US, Susan.

Muthah+ said...

Sigh!

DavidB said...

I have to walk back my initial statement concerning Martin Luther King. His statement was "I have a dream ...", not "I have a vision ...".

Fred Schwartz said...

I waws praying last evening and went into a trance where I had a vision in which Gode revealed the truth to me. The truth is God loves everyone. How about we just leave it at that?

Lapinbizarre said...

SC Episcopalians has deleted the more recent (Aug 27th) of its two posts, without comment.

Mark Harris said...

Lapinbizarre... I wonder why? Thanks for the update.