By Joy Hunter, Communications Director, The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
In his first convention address as Bishop of The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Chip Edgar set priorities he hoped the Diocese would live into over the course of his Episcopacy. In the address, given March 10, 2023, in the Chapel at the Cross Schools, Bluffton, he highlighted church planting, church revitalization, the continuing education of our clergy, the updating of our constitution and canons and restoring our losses – noting, especially, the development of a new camp and conference center, Camp Jubilee.
He also offered a word of caution.
While acknowledging three of our churches are still awaiting a ruling by the SC Supreme Court, he said now that we’re at the end of the litigation with the Episcopal Church, we need not continue as “battlers.”
“We’ve come to the end of the lawsuit, and I am eager to walk with you into the future that God has for us in gospel ministry in the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina,” said Edgar. “The churches, the people, the clergy of this great diocese, are ready to put all of that behind us and to move on unfettered into gospel ministry.”
“We need to be a diocese now, not marked by our fighting ability, not hungry for the next enemy, but desiring to proclaim the gospel alone and to build those places where righteousness can take root, where the world, as we want it to be, begins to take hold.
“The war is over. It’s time to seek and save the lost. It’s time to plant and revitalize. It’s time to hone and consistently renew our minds, to answer the hard questions of the day. And it’s time to rebuild what is lost. Read, listen to or view the full address.
This year, the Convention meeting was abbreviated with the Bishop’s address, the welcoming of two church plants about to become mission congregations, as well as the welcoming of new clergy all incorporated into Friday evening’s service of Holy Eucharist.
Following the worship service, clergy and delegates shared a meal and viewed an inspiring video in which the rectors, vicars and laity of congregations which had to turn their properties over to the Episcopal Church, following the SC Supreme Court ruling, described that experience, talking about the loss, the struggles they’ve encountered, the faithfulness of God, and the blessings they are receiving in the process.
In the video, Ted Duvall, Rector of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant, remarked, “…The diocese and others have grieved with us, and we thank them for that. But the real story at Christ Church is that God has been good to us … Christ Church Anglican is alive and well. We need your support. But we’re moving forward, and God’s graces are manifold.”
During Saturday’s business meeting the convention passed the 2023 budget, heard a report from the Rev. Dr. Rob Sturdy on the progress being made by the Abuse Prevention Committee, passed changes in the Constitution and Canons, mostly pertaining to our change of status in relation to the Episcopal Church, received a report on the Jerusalem Fund from the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis and held elections.
The Jerusalem fund, which was developed to provide assistance to the churches which lost property, has received $322,351 in donations, to date, Lewis shared. Of that sum, $120,206 has been disbursed. Once the final status of the last three parishes is decided, the Diocese will launch a targeted ingathering. Until that time all gifts are gratefully welcomed.
Sturdy’s committee, made up of members of the standing committee, as well as diocesan youth and children’s ministers has been working to update and revise our sexual abuse prevention policies. Assisting them in this endeavor has been the comprehensive work of the non-geographic diocese Churches for the Sake of Others, who have made their resources available to member dioceses of the ACNA. Their finished work will assist our diocesan churches increase awareness about children’s and youth safety, educate our clergy and ministers about South Carolina State law regarding their responsibilities concerning children and youth safety, and give every member of the diocese a clear, straightforward, simple, online reporting process.
The following individuals were elected to serve the diocese: Standing Committee: The Rev. David Booman, The Rev. Mary Ellen Doran, Bobby Kilgo and Terry Jenkins; Diocesan Council: The Rev. Kyle Holtzhower, The Rev. Jason Varnadore, Kelli Hample and Cathy Jacobs, Ecclesiastical Court: The Rev. Newman Lawrence, The Rev. Drew Miller, Susan McDonald and Harry Oxner.
Missions Transition to Parish Status
One of the highlights of the convention was the welcoming of two church plants as mission congregations. The Parish Church at Habersham, Beaufort and Good Samaritan Anglican Church, Summerville were welcomed on Friday and their new status was officially voted on during Saturday’s business meeting. The clergy and representatives of the two congregations received a standing ovation for their new status.
The Rev. Canon Ken Weldon, Executive Director of Camp Jubilee, gave an update on the team organizing our new summer camp and future camp and conference center, answering three questions they are repeatedly asked, “How are y’all doing? What are we doing? and Where are we going?” In summary, they’re doing “great;” summer camp is 70% subscribed; and the future, for the camp and our diocese, is “in the Lord’s hands.” Weldon reminded us that though we may not see far in to the future, as it says in Psalm 119 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” “Jesus will go before us. Jesus will never forsake us…we do not walk in darkness.”
One of the more poignant moments of the convention came while thanking those who played a significant role during the litigation with the Episcopal Church: Alan Runyan, (our lead Attorney), Ben Hagood, (our Chancellor), the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis (Canon to the Ordinary) and Nancy Armstrong (Diocesan Administrator and Assistant Treasurer). When Bishop Edgar asked Runyan if he would like to say a few words, he said, “Asking a lawyer if he wants to say something is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It has been an honor representing this Diocese, but this is not my moment, this is God’s moment. There is one thing I‘ve been thinking about all night and all morning. And that is this question. It doesn’t come from me; it comes from God. It’s this: “What will you do with what I have given you?”
A special tribute was made to Nancy Armstrong who will be retiring this July after having served in the diocese for 30 years.
Before adjourning, the Bishop thanked the youth commission, the staff and volunteers of the Church of the Cross, Bluffton, for hosting the convention; and announced that the 2024 Convention will be held March 7-9. The location has not yet been announced.