Admiral of Morality: A Godly admonition

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Godly admonition

After having their choice for bishop declared null and void because they couldn't muster up enough consents, you'd think the Diocese of South Carolina and Mark Lawrence would go the extra mile and examine their own actions, and maybe try to reach out to the rest of the Church, and do their part to restore right relationship.

Think again.

Just days after ++Katharine called the election, the Diocese and Lawrence continue in the pattern that led to their troubles in the first place.

The president of their standing committee, the Rev. J. Haden McCormick, says on the diocesan website that Lawrence has been "persecuted" and that his failed election should "be a wake up call" to the "conditions" in our church. The Dioceses' director of communications, Kendall Harmon, opines that Lawrence's failed bid "speaks volumes that a double standard is used for conservatives."

Lawrence himself says that the failed election reveals a "theater of the absurd" in our Church, and that those who oppose him are "berserk" and "apoplectic."

The statement from the president of the standing committee, which must bear the brunt of responsibility for failing to do what every standing committee is charged with knowing, uses language ringing with anger and notions of martyrdom.

The statement from Mr. Harmon clearly suggests that he himself knows the intent and heart of each and every member of each and every standing committee that didn't grant consent. His statement also posits a campaign against "conservatives" by "the church."

The statement from Lawrence displays a lack of affection for the Church outside a very small sphere.

With statements like these as more facts for consideration, is it any surprise standing committees couldn't be convinced to grant consent?

The president of the standing committee must now tell his diocese why they engaged in a last-minute web campaign for consents when a web campaign for consents will never get you consents. What will get you consents is signatures, in writing, on real paper.

While McCormick is at it, he might want to tell the rest of the Church why the diocese selected as a candidate, Ellis Brust, who considers the Church heretical, and who at the drop of a hat, abandoned it? (In fact in 2003, when asked about his commitment to the church by CNN, Brust used language similar to Lawrence's "intention" statement. One month after he lost the election to Lawrence, he left the Episcopal Church.)

Perhaps the director of communications for South Carolina needs more training on communicating face to face with the Church's people, rather than spending so much time and effort blogging articles and hosting comments that attack them. Perhaps if Harmon had spent more time talking to real people in positions to consent to his diocese's candidate, he could be issuing different statements. While he is at it, he could answer questions he himself raises. Where is this campaign to drive people out of "the church"? Who is in charge? Who is in the campaign? Do they recruit new campaigners? If so, how? How do they plan their campaign? How do they then carry it out?

To Lawrence's complaints that the Church's people are "like an addict," "have cast aside scriptural faithfulness," and are indulging in sin, can now be added his belief that the Church is "absurd," and that those who disagree with him are "berserk" and "apoplectic." Are the standing committees that did not grant him consent, berserkers? We have never seen someone speak so badly of people he continues to tell us he loves so well.

The diocese now has to hold another election. They should do a better job of searching for candidates this time around. As a suggestion, they may not want to pack the slate with men who call the people of the church addicts, heretics, and apoplectic berserkers. And they may not want the public face of the selection processes, to again be men who insist "the church" is running a campaign to force people away.

Lawrence, Harmon, and McCormick's statements are no doubt partly motivated by bruised egos and consternation--but they are far too willing to offer this up whenever they get the chance.

They should heed the Godly admonition implicit in the standing committees' unwillingness to accept and promote their brand of dissent, and start telling us what they can offer the church besides consternation and angry press notices. Maybe they could even start a blog about it.


Blogger Dennis said...

excellent points.

3/18/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People had agendas when it came to this election (admittedly on both sides of the debate!). However, when a person feels called by God to a particular ministry; and that calling is confirmed by those to whom he would minister; and his ministry is a testament to this calling as well as being a godly, biblical pastor; and that calling is thwarted by others for whatever reason, then those ‘others’ need to spend a long time in prayer seeking God and asking for his forgiveness.

God’s purposes won’t be thwarted, but, those who attempt to stop the calling God has placed upon someone places themselves in a very serious position both personally and corporately. It is a very dangerous place to stand - claiming that they can discern God’s calling on someones life. I trust that each standing Committee who voted no for Mark Lawrence are confident that they know that God was not calling Mark Lawrence to this position - for by their vote they have claimed to have spoken for God and on His behalf! If they have spoken wrongly, there will be huge spiritual consequences, both individually and corporately.


3/19/2007 07:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every priest and deacon of this church understands (or should) that a calling by God is to be discerned within a context. It is not enough to declare this calling; it must be accepted by the careful discernment of the church. "I ordain me, I ordain me, I ordain me" (a la Napoleon) does not cut it. And for bishops, the context is the whole of TEC (bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees). The alternative? 'annointed' freelancers like those who entertain (and pass the hat) in the myriad 'independent' churches for which "I ordain me" is the order of the day. Lawrence (and DoSC) disdained the larger church's discernment in his case even though he knew full well (or should have) that it was an integral part of his election. Having dissembled throughout the process he himself assured its negative conclusion.

3/19/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous nlnh said...

Andy, you clearly see God as very small and weak if you think a set of committees can thwart His will.

Perhaps it was not God's intention for Lawrence to become a bishop. Has that occurred to you?

3/20/2007 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Sue said...

Lawrence himself says that the failed election reveals a "theater of the absurd" in our Church, and that those who oppose him are "berserk" and "apoplectic."

Aw, that's sweet. He thinks we care. Or he thinks we're Mormon, where everyone raises their hand to elect the one person put up for bishop.

Sorry, punkin, we're The Episcopal Church, and we move when the Spirit says "Move!"

Or when there's cake. Mostly when there's cake. TEA AND CAKE OR DEATH!

(Maybe I have had too much sugar for this time of the evening? Naaaaaah. )

3/21/2007 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous sanctus said...

What a wonderful article.

South Carolina has such an outstanding history for leading people to total disaster and then acting out the role of a victim in defeat. The Civil War mentality repeats itself with such regularity. They promote real biblical values and want really God based human society. They never forget, in South Carolina, that those 'negros' were so happy to serve the master class and white race.

Today, 'gays' should rejoice that such fine moral leadership has always based in Biblical justification in South Carolina. After all, St. Paul approved of slavery. Why else would he tell them to be obedient to thier masters?

3/24/2007 10:07:00 PM  

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