This past January, Bishop Chip Edgar, recognizing the important work the Rev. Bob Lawrence is and has been doing in world missions, appointed him to serve as the Diocesan Canon for Global Missions.
While Bob can’t give an exact date for when his interest in missions was first sparked, he does remember being moved by the preaching of Bishop Festo Kivengere when he was at Grace Church in New York City back in the late 1980s. “I’ve had an active interest in world missions and relationships, cross culturally and internationally, really all of my adult life, but certainly throughout my ordained ministry,” he said.
Bob currently serves the Diocese as chair of the Committee for Anglican Missional Partnerships, advocate for the ACNA Global Mission Initiative, and representative for Anglican Global Mission Partners. He participates in a monthly Zoom call as well as an annual face-to-face meeting with mission advocates representing every diocese of the ACNA. Bob is also a trustee for New Wineskins Missionary Network and for Great Lakes Outreach, and recently served as the Assistant to the Interim Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute throughout 2023.
Each of these roles involves significant networking across cultural and international boundaries. With his wife, Lynn, he has participated in missions to Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
As the Executive Director of St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center Bob initiated and deepened relationships with dozens of brothers and sisters from other countries when he hosted those who were in the United States prior to and following the New Wineskins missions conference. His zeal for supporting international relationships grew from conversations over meals and bonds formed transporting guests to and from other churches.
One of his ongoing goals is to see that every parish in our diocese has an intentional relationship somewhere within the wider Anglican Church. “Minimally, that would be nothing more than praying for some other person and ministry somewhere else in the world,” says Bob. “And that’s happening. You go to a place like Holy Apostles, Barnwell, and they regularly pray for their international relationships in their weekly prayers of the people. They may not be able to send a lot of money, they may not be able to send people, but there are still intentional relationships with folks in Egypt, Honduras, and the Netherlands.”
Early on in Bob’s work with the Anglican Communion Development Committee that sentiment was regularly communicated throughout the diocese. “It was echoed as a continual goal for every parish of the diocese to be in an intentional, mutually enriching international relationship. And again, minimally, that’s nothing more than having somebody that you know, that you care about, that you follow, and that you pray for in a public way.”
Beyond that, Bob would love to see “those kinds of relationships which lead to mutual engagement where there are people coming and going, where we’re hosting international guests locally and engaging them in the ministries of the diocese, and where we’re sending teams and resources to come alongside and help them in areas where they welcome our assistance.”
Another of Bob’s ongoing goals has been to connect with every church to learn who they are praying for, who they’re supporting, and where they are engaged in ongoing international relationships and mission.
“We are part of a global church,” says Bob. “In fact, even more so now as part of the ACNA. We exist as a separate Anglican province because of the global church, specifically the Global South, who gave us safe refuge when we left the Episcopal Church. We, the ACNA, were birthed from the global church. So, it’s important to continue to foster those kinds of friendships and relationships.”
Bob is a 1990 graduate of the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He served at Trinity, Portsmouth, VA, St. Matthew’s, Darlington, St. Michael’s, Charleston, and Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant before serving from 2010 to 2022 as the Executive Director of St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center. He also served 28 years in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Aviator and then Chaplain. Bob is married to Lynn, who shares his passion for international missions. They are the parents of three married sons, Stratton, Newman, and Will Henry, with seven grandchildren among them who know them as JaJa and Lula.