Lawrence Thanks Diocese in Final Convention Address
In his final address to the Convention of The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Mark Lawrence thanked various groups for their partnership these last 14 years. “If I have stood firm and at times resolute and perhaps even resilient, it is because you have stood firmly beside me,” he said.
The Convention, which was held Friday, March 11, 2022, at Saint James Anglican Church, Charleston was shortened to enable the consecration of our new bishop, the Rt Revd Chip Edgar, to be held the next day, Saturday, March 12.
Bishop Lawrence’s Address
In his address, Bishop Lawrence reflected on the steep learning curve he had as Bishop, quoting Bishop Salmon, who said the transition “reminded him of a NASCAR race. ‘He would drive into the Pit Stop, jump out, and South Carolina 14 would jump in.’”
“Frankly, I have a far less stressful handing over the reins than did he,” said Lawrence. “And moreover, I trust Charles Francis Edgar III will have less stressful receiving of them than did I. If this is true, it’s partially due to the ACNA – the Anglican Church in North America, the provincial Church we are now part of, and likewise to the greater unity within the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. In addition, it’s partially due to the competence of my successor…”
The most poignant part of his address came at the very end when he thanked various diocesan groups, committees – and his wife, Allison.
“To the clergy of the Diocese, those of you who have shared the battle, been called ‘Lawrence-ian Lemmings,’… and other insulting absurdities, you have my inexpressible gratitude and respect. Thank you.
“To the lay members of the diocese, who have stood resilient and unflinching for the Gospel, and at great cost to self and family traditions… all I’ve been able to give you is a voice to your faith, and to offer to God on your behalf, many hours spent in prayer on the night shift….”
He thanked the various Standing Committees who “year after year, spent hours dealing with challenges that seemed to come like endless waves of the sea. Not to bless, but to batter…”
To his wife, Allison he said, “No words can do justice for the price that perhaps I alone know you have paid. I love you.”
Though he and his wife have moved out of the Bishop’s residence, he assured Bishop Elect Edgar he would be available when needed. “I pledge my commitment to stand beside you when you need me. And to stay out of your way in Florence when you don’t.” That remark elicited laughter from those gathered.
In closing, he quoted St. Paul, “’And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.’ God bless you. Thank you.”
The Convention rose for an extended standing ovation for their much-beloved Bishop.
Bishop Elect Edgar Addresses Convention
Bishop Lawrence invited the Very Rev. Chip Edgar to address the Convention and Edgar admitted he had “long been a fan of this diocese.” He also noted three qualities that have stood out to him about our diocese. “The first is my discovery that this is genuinely a praying diocese. I’ve been struck with that time and time again as you have greeted us and phoned us…”
Second, “this Diocese is well ordered and well run….I have been impressed with how clear, focused and able to plan and execute ministries that you are.”
“And finally, the last feature I want to mention is this Diocese’s strong focus on the gospel and on the mission of the Church. It would have been easy, given the challenges of these past 10 years for you to become embittered and obsessed with the legal proceedings that we labor under. But that has not happened.” Quoting Bishop Lawrence, during his 2008 convention address, prior to Lawrence’s consecration, he said, “’The gospel mandate is never up for grabs…. We must light torches and go out with a fresh outpouring of the Holy spirit. Because we have a message to convey to the world. And time demands prudence and dynamism.’
“And that, brothers and sisters, is exactly what I have experienced. And that is who we must always be together as a Diocese. “
The convention elected the following individuals to various committees: Standing Committee: The Rev. Gary Beson, the Very Rev. Peet Dickinson, Wynne Boone and Judy McMeekin; Diocesan Council: The Rev. Chance Perdue, the Rev. Matthew Rivers, Janis Brazeale and Gill Frierson; Diocesan Trustees: Alonzo Galvan; Ecclesiastical Court: The Rev. Jeremy Shelton, the Rev. Greg Smith and the Rev. Nelson Weaver, Rick Adams and Seth Whitaker; ACNA Provincial Council: The Rev. Bob Lawrence (delegate), the Rev. Tyler Prescott (alternate), John Benson and Justin Johnson (delegates), Johnny Wallace and Dave Wright (alternates)
Missions Transition to Parish Status
One of the highlights of the convention was the welcoming of two missions which transitioned to parish status: The Well, Myrtle Beach and Holy Apostles, Barnwell. The clergy and representatives of the two churches received a standing ovation for their new status.
The Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke, retired Bishop of Killmore, Ardaugh and Elfin, who was in town for the consecration, spoke briefly encouraging Bishop Elect Edgar to, in the words of St. Timothy, to “watch your life and your doctrine closely.” To Bishop Lawrence he said that he is not “retired but refired” for ministry. “Focus on what God has given you a passion for. Let go of what you don’t enjoy,” he said.
The Convention gave thanks for the life of the late Bishop Alex Dickson, who died earlier this year. His widow, Jane Dickson, stood to receive their gratitude.
Both Allison Lawrence and Beth Edgar received bouquets – one as a gift of thanks and as a gift of welcome. Allison received a standing ovation for her labor among us the last 14 years.
The Rev. Karl Burns, who serves as the Chair of the Search Committee for the new Executive Director for St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, invited both the Rev. Bob Lawrence and the Rev. Ken Weldon to the stage. Lawrence has stepped down from his position as Executive Director and Weldon has accepted a call to serve in that position. Burns spoke of the difficulties St. Christopher has experienced in recent years, including the financial hit they took with COVID and the recent fire in the kitchen/dining area, pointing out that ending the year in the black was a miracle and expressing his gratitude to Bob Lawrence and the camp’s staff. He urged each church to adopt a cabin and then prayed for both Bob and Ken as they enter this next season.
Welcoming New Clergy
The Bishop introduced those who had been ordained since the last Convention: the Rev. Harry Easterling and the Rev. David Marten (to the priesthood) and the Rev. Laura Bowman, the Rev. Henrietta Rivers, the Rev. Ryan Landes and the Rev. Jeff Bennett (to the diaconate).
Before adjourning, the Bishop thanked the staff and volunteers of Saint James for hosting the convention; thanked the Rev. Tyler Prescott and his team for organizing the Edgar Consecration and announced that the 2023 Convention will be held March 10-11 at the Church of the Cross, Bluffton.
2022 Approved Budget
By Joy Hunter, Communications Director, The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org