I call him Mark Lawrence because in my mind, the man is no longer a Bishop. I know, I know..."once a Bishop always a Bishop, etc. I'm not buying it. The guy has lost all integrity. He no longer deserves that title.
Why does Lawrence bug me so much? Because we all saw this coming. He was the rector of a large parish in San Joaquin. He voted for that diocesan schism. He ran off the faithful Episcopalians in his parish. Then he gets elected as Bishop of South Carolina. As a known schismatic, who thought it was just too cute to dance around questions of his loyalty to TEC, he did not get the required consents. The extremists in South Carolina had a fit, of course, and elected him again. This time Lawrence makes a clear statement that he will not abandon the Episcopal Church. He got the consents. He was consecrated. Then, a short time later, what did he do? He abandoned TEC. Surprise, surprise.
In the first attempt to get consents, when Lawrence was asked how he would work to keep the Diocese in TEC, here is his too cute response:
I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.Needless to say, for this and other forms of doubletalk, he did not get the needed consents. So, when elected a second time, and realizing he needed to stop being too cute, here is his new and improved statement:
I will make the vows of conformity as written in the Book of Common Prayer and the Constitution & Canons, (III.11.8). I will heartily make the vows conforming ‘…to the doctrine, discipline, and worship’ of the Episcopal Church, as well as the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures. So to put it as clearly as I can, my intention is to remain in The Episcopal Church.Did you get that? MY INTENTION IS TO REMAIN IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH. That's what the man said. And it worked. He got the consents. Even I got hoodwinked by that one. So, Lawrence states he's going to stay in TEC in March, 2007. Then, he makes this statement in his parish newsletter in August 2007 (after he's gotten the necessary consents, of course):
I also hold strong convictions on remaining in covenanted fellowship with the worldwide Anglican Communion, rather than following, as some have suggested, the pathway of an overly autonomous provincial or national churchHe's an Anglican, you see...he doesn't need no stinkin' "national church." So much for his good intentions a few months before.
I won't bore you with all the details of what happened next. Most of you know the story. It took a few Diocesan Conventions, and a dramatic walking out of the House of Bishops, but it became clear that South Carolina was headed out the door. Of course Lawrence claimed "I did nothing." Exactly...when resolutions were presented at Diocesan Convention which further distanced South Carolina from TEC, he did nothing, when it was within his authority to declare those resolutions out of order.
When TEC took measures to stop the apparent plan to run off with the Diocese, Lawrence started complaining of the oppression of those evil liberals from the North. Then he and his Standing Committee secretly met and passed a couple of failsafe resolutions, which called for immediate removal from TEC if any attempts were made to discipline the Diocese. But Lawrence didn't do it...of course not. The Standing Committee did it. What was the poor Bishop to do?
My point is, I now believe that this was the plan all along, from the time Lawrence was first nominated. It looks to me that South Carolina has been following a carefully written script...with the first draft probably written back in 2004. And we all bought it as reality, instead of the staged drama it was.
And for now, it seems to have worked. Lawrence snatched up most of the parishes, properties and assets of South Carolina, without having to bow to the authority of any other provincial or national entity. In other words, no assessment, no tithe. The Diocese can assess the parishes, and keep it all. And Lawrence is answerable to no one except God. Sweet deal. Unfortunately, it is not an Anglican deal.
So, Lawrence now gets listed with Schofield, Duncan and Iker...scoundrels everyone. This is the fifth time we've seen these scripted dramas play out. Are we ever going to learn?
This still bugs me. And it even further bugs me that for the most part everyone is being so nice about it. Come on. We're talking about out and out theft here, from my view. This type of unchristian behavior needs to be confronted.