South Carolina clergy threatened with deposition: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2013, p 6. May 1, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Abraham Nhial, Charles vonRosenberg
The Episcopal Church has written to 140 active and retired priests and deacons asking them to affirm their loyalty to New York-based national church and foreswear allegiance to Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, — the loyalist organization in the diocese backed by the national church – last week wrote: “I invite you to make known your allegiance to [The Episcopal Church] and, if you wish, to request a time to speak with me about this matter … You face a very serious decision, with significant consequences for you and for the church, and I encourage your careful and prayerful consideration.”
The bishop has given the clergy two weeks to respond and if no response is forthcoming he would begin the process to depose in the ordained ministry. The legality of the bishop’s letter has not been clarified as the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is not a member of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and its Bishop would appear to lack authority to make such demands. The letter also follows a pattern of action taken by the national church in the disputes with breakaway dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, and Fort Worth. Diocesan officials note that apart from concerns over the distress the letter has given to retired clergy who had not been involved in the dispute, the letter will most likely be ignored.
The letter came the same day as four East African bishops on a visit to Charleston affirmed Bishop Lawrence and his diocese’s place in the wider Anglican Communion. Bishop Abraham Nhial of the Diocese of Aweil in the Sudan told reporters “We love Mark [Lawrence].”
Along with Bishops Robert Martin of Marsabit, Kenya, Elias Mazi Chakupewa of Tabora, Tanzania, and Nathan Gasatura of Butare, Rwanda, Bishop Nhial said: “We came to encourage Bishop Mark Lawrence to stand firm in the faith.”
“The people of South Sudan have suffered for 50 years. We’ve died because of our belief in Christ, our identity as Christians. I want to assure my brother Mark that suffering is part of our belief in Christ. We came here tonight not only to discuss what we’re doing in Christ, but also to encourage you to stand up and stand firm in your own faith.”