|Bishop Mark Lawrence|
As The Episcopal Church descends into organizational chaos, the 815 leadership searches for a scapegoat to take the laity's mind off the little dustup. At the last House of Bishop's meeting in South America (no kidding), the former bishop of Lexington and now COO at 815 Stacy Sauls took a major PR stumble when he made a presentation to the House of Bishops calling for a Constitutional Convention before Bishop Schori leaves her post in 2015. It was met from a rather fascinating coalition of outcries by Episcopal Church social justice activists and institutionalists alike. So as that outrage has been heating up in recent weeks, what do the powers that be have to do to respond but to return to the old playbook of bread and circuses.
|Presiding Bishop Schori|
It may be interesting to know that Mark Lawrence is a big time Bob Dylan fan. The last time I saw Bishop Lawrence we were all part of a group singing tunes from Dylan's Modern Times album while in Canterbury, the dust of Lambeth 2008 only just beginning to settle. The Dylan tunes will come in handy - that's one guy who knows what's it's like to get booed for telling the truth.
October 5, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Thursday, September 29, 2011, the Bishop received communication from the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops that “serious charges” have been made under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church. These are allegations that he has abandoned The Episcopal Church. Since several of these allegations also include actions taken by the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, after sustained prayer and discernment, it has seemed appropriate to both the Bishop and the Standing Committee to make these allegations available to the members of the Diocese. These allegations may be found on the Diocesan website here.
Subsequently, the President of our Standing Committee, the Very Reverend Paul C. Fuener, received a letter from the Church Attorney assisting the Disciplinary Board seeking “Records maintained by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina.” This letter may be found on our diocesan website here.
In order to understand the possible implications and to engage in corporate prayer for the diocese, I, as Bishop, have called a meeting of all our active and canonically resident clergy for this coming Tuesday, October 11, 2011 from 10 a.m. —12:00 noon at the Ministry Center of St. James Episcopal Church, James Island.
Rest assured we will do all in our power to defend gospel truth and catholic order. We and the members of our Standing Committee ask your prayers for God’s guidance and wisdom.
Yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence
XIV Bishop of South Carolina
The Very Reverend Paul C. Fuener
President of the Standing Committee
So of course, what Dylan tune to play?
That's Thunder on the Mountain, by Bob Dylan from his album, Modern Times.
By the way, as Christopher Setiz notes, it is again the usual plan with the usual suspects. As the organizational infighting is gaining speed (the latest is that the House of Bishops isn't really a house, just a bunch of purple shirts getting together to swap howdies from time to time, bet that went over real well) the need for bread and circuses takes on a fever pitch, but we can't just put the laser beam on Bishop Lawrence all by himself, that would be so mean. So let's find a real nasty bishop, no matter that he's retired or that that other diocesan bishops might be married not once, not twice, but three times. So off we find retired Bishop Warner in the Grunge City of Seattle - okay it may be a bit odd to do the press releases for him since Bishop Warner is retired and probably thought he was just engaging in the "mutual joy of a committed, supportive, loving relationship" which is supposed to be all the rage in the Episcopal Church, well for some, not for others. Oops.
So now that Bishop Warner gets the heave-ho (and it reminds me of another bishop who divorced his wife of four decades too, but he got two thumbs up), the 815 laser beam turns to the real target. Just like last time - and in case you've forgotten what the next step is, remember this. Of course, this time they are in the land of the Swamp Fox. Might want to consider that.
UPDATE: ENS now has an article up. They take pains to say that no one from 815 was involved in the matter, but in fact the Executive Council is very much involved (having worked up a resolution in 2007 and finally telling South Carolina that it applies to them too and Bishop Lawrence responded) and Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is the President and Chair of the Executive Council and Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Bishops, is the Vice Chair. It's a strategy to have Disciplinary Board for Bishops handle it, last time Bishop Schori got into deep waters when she tried to ring up three senior bishops to take out Bishop Duncan and the majority voted no. It turned into the Bishop Schori show and obviously now that she has her own litigator on staff, they have rethought that strategy.
The part that really comes to the surface is this, "In late May, a group of South Carolina Episcopalians asked Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and the Executive Council to investigate the diocese's actions." Does anyone think that this "group of South Carolina Episcopalians" were just sitting around Starbucks one day and said, golly, we need to write Bishop Katharine and Bonnie and tell them stuff. No - this is how "community activism" works. The community organizers initiate the action and recruit. This "group of South Carolina Episcopalians" are actually activists with "South Carolina Episcopalians," originally organized as the Episcopal Forum in South Carolina as part of the ViaMedia group, it is a progressive community action group designed to be an extension of 815's litigation strategy. Activist Melinda Lucka, who is the person designated to make the formal complaint, is with Episcopal Forum as well as the South Carolina Episcopalians.
Once Mark Lawrence is deposed, Episcopal Forum/South Carolina Episcopalians will be set up as the shadow diocese's standing committee for the litigation (i.e., Pittsburgh, Ft. Worth, San Joaquin). That's the strategy - the same strategy over and over. And 815? That's where the cash flow comes from.
By the way, you can still see minutes from the Via Media Steering Committee, September 29, 2005 here. Reading it you can see that after six years the strategy has remained the same. It still makes for interesting reading.
Obviously, this needs to be dealt with before General Convention next year because TEC will need to have in place their shadow diocese deputies to attend General Convention (can't have the media asking questions about why the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina didn't show up for General Convention- especially since the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire is having another bishop's election to replace Gene Robinson and again have timed it to require consent from General Convention - don't want to have disunity on display this time!). With the media (and hopefully Episcopalians') attention now focused on South Carolina, the growing disarray of the Episcopal Church reorganization plans and all its angst will take a back seat. Brilliant!
This means it's time for another Dylan tune. How about the masterpiece: