No more Bob Duncans
The letter is a last ditch effort to secure approval for a man whose statements and writings proudly argue that he considers the Episcopal Church heretical and that he would take his diocese out of the Episcopal Church at the drop of a hat.
The new letter does nothing to dispel this clear sense and in fact only heightens it.
On the issue of why South Carolina does not want the Presiding Bishop at the consecration of the new bishop, the standing committee writes that the bishop-elect had nothing to do with this decision, it was the old bishop who demanded this. True--but this is not a sign of good will in the Diocese of South Carolina. And Lawrence himself has said more than once that having ++Katharine at his consecration would disgrace and weaken his ministry.
Lawrence could simply say: "We would love to have her. She is the presiding bishop of our church and it would be right and proper." That he doesn't only shows that he is committed to maintaining the pattern of division and antagonism of the diocese.
On the issue of alternative primatial oversight, the standing committee says it has only sought it in order to secure the unity of the whole church. What about the unity of the Episcopal Church? On this the standing committee, and the bishop-elect, are silent. An alternative primate weakens and divides our church. They know it, that is why they ask for it.
On the issue of whether the diocese and its bishop-elect will continue to participate in the Episcopal Church, the standing committee says that present behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.
We couldn't agree more. The present behavior of the Diocese of South Carolina and its bishop-elect is a sad chapter in the life of the Episcopal Church. Lawrence will do nothing to end it, he will in fact only make it worse.
The diocese could easily devote more resources to national church initiatives, but it has withdrawn more and more from national collaborations--except, that is, when it uses them in order to criticize the church and malign its leadership. On those occasions it is first in line.
For its candidates, the diocese selected men who are primed to divide the Episcopal Church. None of them has stated or will state unequivocally, their intent to work hard and do everything in their power to keep our Church united.
In fact, the diocese's questions to the candidates during the search asked them to rank their willingness to schism.
The entire slate of final candidates indicated their strong and it must be said, eager willingness to do so. One of their candidates when he lost, immediately left the Episcopal Church to head up another organization which, dissidents hope, can be setup as a replacement to the Episcopal Church. This week in Tanzania, Akinola's list of replacement churches includes this very group.
The diocese's director of communications administers an internet site regularly condemning the Episcopal Church as heretical, apostate, and unChristian. That the diocese devotes its resources to activities undermining the Church does not inspire confidence in its claims to fealty towards our church nor in the propriety of a bishop selection process that offers up men who so easily walk out of the church.
In the end the standing committee's new letter is just more of the same that has come out of South Carolina in all this--dishonesty, prevarication, veiled threats, and spin.
It could all be over, with consent, if the bishop-elect and the standing committee said unequivocally: we will work for the unity and strength of the Episcopal Church.
They haven't said this, and won't, because this is not what they will do. They believe schism is a great idea.
The Episcopal Church already has a bishop who thinks this--his name is Bob Duncan. Our church doesn't need another one.
Mark Lawrence should not be given consent to be a bishop in our church.