A Pastoral Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Edgar

Jerusalem cross on maroon

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina,

Grace and peace to you through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Most of you will not have been at the most recent Mere Anglicanism Conference held in Charleston this past weekend, January 18-20. You might well have heard of it, however, and the controversy resulting from the presentation by Calvin Robinson. If you have, it is likely you have heard that the Revd Robinson was “cancelled” due to his position on Women in Holy Orders. I write to correct that notion, and to tell you that he was removed from the final panel because his talk was deemed to have veered substantively from the topic he was asked to address. Instead, he took advantage of the opportunity and opined on what he considers the exceeding evil of women in Holy Orders. Most importantly, he did so in a way which was inexcusably provocative, and completely lacking in charity and pastoral consideration of the people in attendance—especially the many women clergy both of our diocese and others who attended.

It might be said that more could have been done in the moment to address the situation, but I want to commend the Revd Jeff Miller, Rector of St Philip’s Church, and host of the conference, for the deft way he tried to diffuse the situation, and the controversial, but bold step he took in removing the Revd Robinson from the remainder of the conference. Any failure to address the situation in a more direct, up-front manner, is mine. And for that failure, I apologize. Especially to the women present who were deeply insulted by his remarks.

The Anglican Church in North America, and the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, and I, as bishop, are deeply committed to the idea that both those who favor women’s ordination, and those who oppose it, do so in fidelity to scripture and are both welcomed and valued in our common life. We refer to this recognition of both positions throughout the ACNA with the unwieldy moniker, “dual integrities.” While that is a less than helpful designation, it points to the deep reality that both views ought to be held with integrity, are welcome, respected, and will be defended on either side.

I, as your bishop, believe that the ordination of women comports with the teaching of scripture, most importantly, and is not ruled out by the tradition of the church. I welcome and encourage women in all levels of ministry. At the same time, given my commitment to “dual integrities,” I will support any who disagree with me. There will never come a time when I require anyone to act contrary to their conscience and commitments.

I do require, as a matter of godliness among us, that we always treat those with whom we disagree with love and charity and kindness. The kind of demeaning talk that marked the Revd Robinson’s presentation will not be countenanced.

In my admittedly short experience as a member of the ACNA’s College of Bishops, I have seen that our willingness to commit to each other in the spirit of “dual integrities,” has brought us into deeper fellowship and love, not less. It is easy to love those with whom you agree. The great reward comes from pressing into relationships of love with those with whom you disagree.

It is my prayer that, throughout my episcopacy, this will mark the life of our diocese, as well.

Now, to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3.20-21)

+Chip Edgar, Bishop
The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

This notice was sent to our subscribers list on January 24, 2024.