“Pressing on” was the theme of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s address to the Convention of The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, March 13, 2021. And, despite COVID-19, press on we did, with nearly 300 clergy and lay delegates participating from their own homes and churches, while the Bishop and Diocesan staff operated from the Diocesan offices in Charleston. “There is no replacement for person-to-person worship and fellowship,” said the Bishop in his address yet despite the setback, there was a sense of community with the saints gathered – not in one place – but at one time to be the church and accomplish the business of the convention.
Bishop Lawrence’s Address
It was the second to the last time the Bishop would address an annual convention and he described “winding down” in the words his predecessor Bishop Ed Salmon used, “Think NASCAR,” with the current bishop driving into the pit stop and the next one jumping in.
“With just one more lap around the ecclesiastical track,” said Bishop Lawrence, “I ask myself two questions. ‘What do I owe my successor?’ And ‘What do I owe the Diocese?’ before jumping out of the driver’s seat?”
In considering what he owes his successor, the Bishop outlined his plans for meeting with, “shoring up and strengthening” the diocesan staff and leaders of Diocesan ministries; the Diocesan Council; those who oversee the discernment, call and training for ordained ministry; and the Deans and Standing Committee.
Before reflecting on what he owed the Diocese, the Bishop praised the clergy and the congregations for how they had pressed on despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, celebrating the many ways “creativity has abounded, and the work and ministry of the churches have gone on.”
“I want to pause in this convention to celebrate our clergy – rectors, vicars, assisting priests and deacons and their lay member for your extraordinary ministry during these extraordinary times!” he said. “Not only that but for how you have helped and learned from one another building up the body of Christ. … Well done good and faithful servants.”
He did express a word of caution noting “more of our older members have returned to in-person worship in numbers greater than the young.” “Generation Z those born after 1998 according to reliable research is the most unchurched generation in American history. These are their formative and perhaps in many ways their defining years.” The Bishop stressed that though we need not meet in large gatherings the church “does need to be incarnational.” He will be assembling a team to consider updating guidance regarding the way forward.
The Bishop reiterated “the need for us to strengthen our practice and teaching on stewardship at every level throughout the diocese,” and his intention to adjust his schedule to spend more quality time with the clergy.
Near the end of his remarks, he spoke wistfully of realizing that each parish visitation would be his last. In the past two months he had made “10 visitations to preach, teach, confirm, receive and celebrate the Eucharist. At each I find myself wondering how I might come back to see them one last time,” he said. “… It reminds me how much you – clergy and laypersons – have come to mean to me over the years.”
The convention was led in opening and closing worship by the choir of St. Philip’s Church, Charleston and the worship leaders of St. Thomas, Mt. Pleasant, respectively. Two high points of the convention came in the form of videos, “Pivoting in the Pandemic” which showed how despite COVID 19, churches found new ways to reach out and be the church. Another focused on the vibrant, growing ministry at the newest church plant Good Samaritan, Summerville.
Report from the Bishop’s Search Committee
The Rev. Jason Collins, President of the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee, gave an update on the committee’s progress describing the three-step process outlined by the ACNA in which those under consideration move from “suggestions” to “nominees” to “candidates” and outlined the revised calendar for the process. He also urged each attendee and every church to keep the process and those involved in their prayers.
The convention elected the following individuals to serve on diocesan committees: Standing Committee: The Rev. Tyler Prescott, The Rev. Rob Sturdy, Mr. George Greene and Mr. Bill Lyles; Diocesan Council: The Rev. Zach Miller, The Rev. Justin Hare, The Rev. Luke Deman (Unexpired 1 year term), Mrs. Katie Clarkson and Mr. John Stalvey; Trustees: The Rev. Ted Duvall; Ecclesiastical Court: The Rev. Paul Fuener and Mr. Douglas Barker.
Welcoming New Clergy
The Bishop introduced those who had been ordained since the last Convention: (to the priesthood) the Rev. Chip Bateson, the Rev. Bill Clarkson, the Rev. Tom Hample, the Rev. Jeff Jacobs, and the Rev. Zach Miller; (to the transitional diaconate) the Rev. David Marten. He also welcomed clergy who had become canonically resident since our last gathering: The Rev. Elizabeth Bumpas from the Anglican Diocese of Northern Uganda; The Rev. Stuart Boehmig from the Anglican Mission in America; and the Rt. Rev. Bill Skilton from the Episcopal Church.
Before adjourning, the Bishop thanked those who had played a role in putting the convention online and announced the dates for the upcoming Electing Convention – October 16, 2021 and the Convention and Consecration, March 11-12, 2022.
By Joy Hunter, Communications Director for The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
The Bishop’s Address (printable)
Facebook Recording of entire 2021 Convention
Current news from the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee
Pivoting the Pandemic (video)
Good Samaritan Church Plant (video)
Ministry Slide Show for Convention (video)
St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center: Aerial View (video)
Updated March 17, 2021 10:42