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Final Report From Lambeth By Bishop Mark Lawrence

Monday, August 4, 2008 • 10:25 am


Lambeth 2008 is finished. We have only the packing of our bags, some time to try to digest what is happening and then the flight back to Charleston on Tuesday. I am eager to return. This morning while saying Morning Prayer in my dorm room and having my meditation time before the final day’s session, I begin to write down a few impressions forming in my mind. Before the day was out I had read them before my Indaba Group and was later dragged reluctantly in front of a TV camera and reporters, one of whom went a little further with the interpretation then I might have gone, but “stories” have that sort of life to them. I share my scrawl with you here because I come back home to South Carolina with these words very much in mind. They colored how I perceived the moving events of this last day of Lambeth 2008. Here’s what I wrote in my journal. For me it is primarily a metaphor of hope.

Canterbury, England
I am glad I came here for this Lambeth and worshipped one last time in the Cathedral home of Augustine and Dunstan, Anselm and Becket, Cranmer and Laud, Temple and Ramsay. I had come to speak a word of hope and perhaps to intervene on behalf of our beloved, but in the last resolve the family refused the long needed measures. So he just slipped away, our noble prince, one dreary morning in Canterbury with hardly even a death rattle.

The new prince was born last month in Jerusalem. I was there—arriving late, departing early. I was never quite sure what I was witnessing. It was an awkward and messy birth. He hardly struck me as I gazed upon him there in the bassinet as quite ready to be heir to the throne. I even wondered at times if there might be some illegitimacy to his bloodlines. But that I fear was my over wedded ness to a white and European world. May he live long, and may his tribe increase—and may he remember with mercy all those who merely mildly neglected his birth.

As for me my role for now is clear, to hold together as much as I can for as long as I can that when he comes to his rightful place on St. Augustine’s throne in Canterbury Cathedral he will have a faithful and richly textured kingdom.

It is hard for me to convey the peace and providential perspective through which I have come to see the crisis we find ourselves in as Episcopalians and Anglicans. We are not primarily in some North American struggle. This is a far bigger matter than the Episcopal Church (TEC). And although we face more than a few difficult questions in maintaining a vital, yet differentiated, life within TEC, I am convinced our Lord has a unique role for the Diocese of South Carolina to play as Anglicanism comes to its global maturity. These ideas are still gestating in my mind after this intense summer’s course in the Anglican Communion. To have this at the beginning of my episcopacy is a privilege I can hardly even begin to fully appreciate. Now I’m looking forward to meeting with the Standing Committee, the deans and other key leaders as we look ahead at the opportunities that await us in mission and ministry.

Since it is now past midnight, and I have an early morning tomorrow, and more than a little reflective work to do before I am able to offer a more far reaching evaluation of the time at both Gafcon and Lambeth, let me for now share with you a few of the highlights of the Final Plenary Session this afternoon, and then the Closing Eucharist.

The Plenary began with what you would expect: Reflections on the Spouses Program, then brief responses from two of the ecumenical participants. These were surprisingly stirring, particularly Metropolitan Kallistos words. “Your questions” he said, “are our questions, or if they are not already they will be. The double headed eagle is one of our symbols. Not the double headed ostrich! I ask two questions of your time: Did they clearly proclaim Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior of the world? And did the bishops uphold marriage and the sanctity of the family? How should I answer? To the first question, Yes, Christ was proclaimed as Lord. There was the uniqueness of the incarnation. To the second question I’m still wondering. Where is there a plain statement of the sanctity of marriage? What about Lambeth 1.10? Does not Truth matter more than outward unity?” Here were profound questions and observations posed by one of our ecumenical participants. Those with whom I was sitting were heartened—but of course they were theological conservatives.

The entire report can be read here.


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Comments:

What prince was born in Jersusalem during GAFCON?  The only Prince I know and love and worship and follow that was born in Jerusalem was born over 2000 years ago and his name is Jesus Christ the Son of God born of Mary!

So who is this supposed successor to the Canterbury Throne that Bishop Mark has witnessed? Or am I missing his whole big picture? I feel that is more possible, I pray!

[1] Posted by TLDillon on 08-04-2008 at 10:39 AM • top

ODC,

+Lawrence has on several occassions during Lambeth spoken in parables. Indeed, he has specifically said he was doing just that, especially with matters that might make him look like he was, shall we say, doing other than fully embracing the Constitution of The Episcopal Church.

Leave it to the reader to understand, but his earlier communications have rung consistantly along the lines of, “I can’t say specific words because if I do, the legal machine at 815 will likely depose me.”

This statement, I think, is along the same lines. For better or worse, +Lawrence is being colorful and poetic in his statements and intentionally so. May I suggest you read it again in that light, and when “The Prince” is mentioned, don’t take that to mean a person. Take it metaphorically.

[2] Posted by Antique on 08-04-2008 at 11:00 AM • top

Thank you Bishop Lawrence for your thoughts and faithfulness. We are blessed by your presence among us and we in SWFLA are blessed to have you and South Carolina as a companion diocese. We pray for you every Sunday

[3] Posted by garyec on 08-04-2008 at 11:26 AM • top

Wow.  Uber-ComCon +Lawrence thinks the old AC is finished…that’s a mouthful and a half.  “The family refused the long-needed measures.”  Well put, Bp. Mark.

Cheers,

Phil Hobbs

[4] Posted by gone on 08-04-2008 at 11:46 AM • top

ODC:  I read the term ‘Prince” as a reference to GAFCON or whatever name it assumes for itself (since GAFCON is in part an acronym of the conference, and not the name of a movement).  Anyway, GAFCON is the prince who was ‘born’ in Jerusalem.  The question is will the Prince inherit the King (Canterbury??? or the AC???) as ‘he’ grows and matures?

All of the above IMHO.

[5] Posted by Bill C on 08-04-2008 at 12:03 PM • top

Pretty direct metaphor. Not quite sure that we can call the Canterbury-based AC dead yet. Perhaps, it is mortally wounded…something more than the proverbial “flesh wound.” Somebody with more comic genius should run with this applying Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s scene with RW and revisionists claiming it’s merely a “flesh wound! All is well! Come back and fight…”

I think the death sequence could really drag on for a very long time like the interminable ones in old class b movies. For those with young children, it might look something like the Frog King’s death in Shrek 3, though I doubt it will be as funny…

I think the fundamental kernel of truth in Bp. Lawrence’s post is right. As Greg writes in another post. Time to recommit ourselves to finish well.  There are still lots of good things and bad things that can happen as the death sequence plays out. I’m not sure which analogy is best, but perhaps the oft-used Titanic analogy…let’s make sure those life boats are ready…

May we all have the wisdom to know when we are at the defining moments to choose whether to stay or go. I for one am glad to already be under new management from the Global South, but am thankful for the faithfulness of Lawrence and others on the inside.

Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus!

[6] Posted by Wright Wall on 08-04-2008 at 12:34 PM • top

I had no idea that Bishop Lawrence was a poet.  I believe that the Diocese of South Carolina has indeed selected the right man to follow in Bishop Salmon’s rather large footsteps.

[7] Posted by Sacerdotal451 on 08-04-2008 at 03:27 PM • top

I too welcome this moving, poetic expression of hope by +Mark Lawrence.  I’m going to have to ponder what moniker to give him.  I always refer to +Bob Duncan as “the Lion-Hearted” (like Luther).  Given the eloquence on display here, I’m thinking of dubbing the visionary Bishop of SC after the fashion of the John of Antioch we know as Chysostom, “the Golden-Tongued.”

This bold kind of suggestive talk from +Lawrence of SC is not the language of an institutionalist, a corporate man, a compromiser.  It has the sort of audacity that reminds me of that romantic hero, Lawrence of Arabia.  I find it heartening. 

The vibrant Diocese of South Carolina may indeed have a “unique” or at least very special role to play in this affair as perhaps the very strongest orthodox diocese in the country, the one most like the giant evangelical provinces of Nigeria and Uganda. 

But SC cannot stand alone.  Any more than Gondor and Minas Tirith could stand alone against the hordes of Mordor.

Nor will all the 14 Communion Partners bishops and dioceses be able to stand alone, including Anglo-Catholic Dallas and Albany alongside evangelical SC.  But neither can the Common Cause bishops, dioceses, and parishes stand alone. 

We all need each other.  And most of all, we all need the conquering hero, the true King to return and claim the kingship and rout his enemies.

A new day is dawning.  A new prince, a whole new kind of church is being born.  The bride is being prepared for the wedding of the Lamb.  And to the astonishment of our western eyes, she doesn’t look Anglo-Saxon.

I look forward eagerly to seeing the eventual fruit of more prolonged reflections by +Lawrence the Golden-Tongued on the significance of both gatherings this summer.  It will be worth waiting to see what he makes of having seen the face of the New Anglicanism in Jerusalem, and the face of the Old dying Anglicanism seen in Kent.  With this kind of eloquent first-fruits, I’m sure the bishop’s mature reflections will be a feast for the mind and soul.

Like Bp. Lawrence, I’m actually full of hope.  I too believe that the best days of orthodox Anglicanism are yet to come.  The initiative has passed from the North to the South, from the compromisers to the true successors of the apostles.  And a new church is indeed being born. 

A New Reformation has begun.  Things will never be the same again.  Thanks be to God.

David Handy+
Full of hope

[8] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 08-04-2008 at 06:51 PM • top

Thank you Bill C!
Why not just come out and say? Is it because he fears 815 as Antique has suggested? I dunno! I fear the Lord Jesus more than Ms. Schori, David Booth Beers, and host of others that are hell bent on the destruction of the AC and any conservative traditionalist in their wake. The Christians and the lions come to mind. Not too mention:
Matthew 10:26
  “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.


Matthew 10:28
  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

[9] Posted by TLDillon on 08-04-2008 at 08:06 PM • top

Not too early to start a movement for +Lawrence for
PB. If we look at it carefully, maybe, just maybe, God has put him in the right place at the right time for the right reason.  I can come up with many reasons why this would be a good thing. I can also think of some of the nasty ( I mean, less kind) things the other side would come up with.

[10] Posted by Rlamb on 08-04-2008 at 09:06 PM • top

Absolutely beautiful.


[BTW, how did this guy ever get to be a Bishop in today’s TEc?]

[11] Posted by heart on 08-04-2008 at 09:13 PM • top

Actually, it funny you ask… Bp. Lawrence had to go through two (2) entire elections etc.  The first time KJS and DBB decided that some of the Standing Committee ballots were not kosher (probably more kosher than others before them) so in made the vote invalid..

We started over again, nominated only him, voted him in, and went thru the entire procedure with every jot and tittle correct.

This time, she had no choice but to confirm the vote. +Salmon had to stay on as temporary help else the SEE would have been vacant. And the Diocese of SC had to stay in election mode.

It was the worst of times, but the best of times finally appeared, and he was consecrated in the Cathedral to SRO crowds and an amazing service.

Sorry you asked??/

Grannie Gloria in Sc

[12] Posted by Grandmother on 08-04-2008 at 09:23 PM • top

As I read this, I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (ESV)  What a Godly man!  Thanks be to God for raising up Mark Lawrence to be Bishop of SC.

[13] Posted by physician without health on 08-04-2008 at 10:57 PM • top

#8, NRA, I am somewhat worried to see, in your hopeful post, omission of the Diocese of Ft. Worth and its stalwart bishop Iker.  I hope this won’t be an “evangelical only” new baby which has been born.  That’s not what you mean, is it?

[14] Posted by Katherine on 08-04-2008 at 11:38 PM • top

I certainly hope not.
We need the High Churchers!

[15] Posted by Bo on 08-04-2008 at 11:54 PM • top

#1 & #9, One Day Closer:  I can understand and appreciate your concern re the “prince”, because I, too, have become wary of TEC bishops until they have proven themselves faithful to my Lord and Savior.  But I noticed that “prince” was not capitalized.  Within Bishop Mark’s parable, the prince seems to be the legitimate heir to what was once the authority and influence of Canterbury (which existed only by the grace of Our Lord).  Jesus said that those who deny Him, He will deny—and that there is no “neutral” position.  Your question, “why not just come out and say?” is valid.  I can’t answer for Bishop Mark, but I do remember that in times of persecution, early Christians used obscure symbols such as the fish to keep a low-key profile.  They were able to help faithfully bring the Church through the crisis.  This battle is going to take much struggling by many faithful people, some of whom currently may be within, and some without, TEC.  God Bless, RL Harrell

[16] Posted by RLHarrell on 08-05-2008 at 12:27 AM • top

IT crossed my mind that the faithful within the PECUSA are perhaps models of what will come under the one world religion of the end times. 

How will the faithful survive?

Perhaps by being like those in the PECUSA - it could be God giving us all an example of how to remain faithful in a world of false gospel….

[17] Posted by Bo on 08-05-2008 at 12:37 AM • top

To recall webdac’s comment (6), “Pretty direct metaphor.”

Bo (17) kindly, and perhaps as a word of wisdom, points to one unique purpose for the inside reasserters, such as Bp Lawrence, and as myself.  It would be nice if each step of that survival-for-modeling path were clearly mapped.  But then the lack gives us at least one more thing in common, besides the two obvious, with those who are the “outside of TEC” reasserters: we acknowledge Jesus as Lord, we receive the Bible as authoritative, and that both are without a clear roadmap and so we have to trust Jesus for every step of the way.
There may be a fourth commonality for insider reasserters and outside reasserters as suggested at the end of Bp Lawrence’s diary entry metaphor, “As for me my role for now is clear, to hold together as much as I can for as long as I can that when he comes to his rightful place on St. Augustine’s throne in Canterbury Cathedral he will have a faithful and richly textured kingdom.”  At the most foundational, in any case, is the role of all those called to remain in TEC to work, pray and give for the display of God’s splendor (Jesus).

[18] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 08-05-2008 at 01:37 AM • top

The whole posting is worth the read. The quote by Bishop Kallistos Ware is a good one. It is necessary to point out that while the ABC’s address may not have appeared to “force” any party to this conference into any different direction than they might want to go, the ABC is encouraging a covenant that is inherently weaker than any truth that is Christ and what God has planned for His Bride the Church. God have mercy on us.

[19] Posted by Margaret on 08-05-2008 at 06:50 AM • top

Thank you Mr. Harrell for your thoughtful post. I still struggle with this avenue that +Lawrence has taken in speaking in poetic language with metaphorical characters to describes certain organizations.

The fear that the early Christians were faced with, death, not deposement, I believe to be a far worse fate of sorts than being deposed by the likes of KJS! I’m sorry but my position with my Lord and Savior and eternal slavation is far more important than whether or not I wear a title in some church that has strayed so far away from the gospel that it would take more years than I have on this earth to realign and bring back.
I know +Lawrence personally and although I find him to be a very good shepherd of God, he is after all still human and not perfect. He could do far better if he just stood up and spoke in open communication. It is this type of speaking that can cause more harm than good when those who are not on his intellectual plane try to understand his meaning. How sad that he would not be able to reach the masses because he speaks in parables that only a intellect of his equal could get or understand? Our Lord did that but He had a far better reason for it. I know of no apostle, nor disciple, nor martyr that spoke this way to keep the king, or the guard, from sparing their life, or to get their point across. As far as I am aware it was only our Lord that did this.

I am very familiar with the Ichthus Fish and its purpose. It was done so that the Christians could know that they were amoug fellow Chrisitans since the Roman Soldiers had no idea what it meant, but their physical lives were at stake not having their title removed from them. Far different and a huge stretch to make as a comparision. I mean no disrespect, I just think it is in error to speak this way and especially if it is for the reasons that have been suggested here.

[20] Posted by TLDillon on 08-05-2008 at 08:50 AM • top

Bp. Lawrence’s metaphor/parable was so thinly veiled that I dare say it was understandable by 99% of those who read it, including the national church leaders at 815.  If he speaks or writes in a way that is designed to catch our imagination, that does not mean that he is afraid or trying to protect himself, but perhaps just making an attempt to put into words how deeply moved he was by this conference.  I believe he will continue to speak out whenever he feels it is necessary.  For further proof of this one need only remember the videotaped recordings of the visit the presiding bishop paid to the clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina one month after Bp. Lawrence’s consecration.

[21] Posted by Denise on 08-05-2008 at 06:24 PM • top

+Mark has spoken pretty clearly, I believe…..and by doing so, he has placed himself squarely in KJS’ sights.  I believe that the time is coming when he will lead his diocese out of TEC.

[22] Posted by Cennydd on 08-05-2008 at 06:46 PM • top

Does anyone think that +Lawrence will be a bishop in TEC come GC2009?

[23] Posted by Jeffersonian on 08-05-2008 at 08:14 PM • top

Oops…I meant 2012, but who knows?

[24] Posted by Jeffersonian on 08-05-2008 at 08:15 PM • top

#22—-Your lips to God’s ear.

[25] Posted by heart on 08-05-2008 at 08:43 PM • top

To Jeffersonian’s question, Yes, there will be conservatives remaining in TEC for some time to come—see Sarah Hey’s lengthy column here at SF; Bishops Lawrence and Love and perhaps others will be our leaders.  Years to come will be difficult, more gay clergy, including bishops, same sex blessings and/or marriages, perhaps a new prayer book, and issues we cannot anticipate.  It may get scarier, and not for the faint of heart. Stay tuned.

[26] Posted by Dick Mitchell on 08-05-2008 at 08:44 PM • top

I got a nickle that says he won’t be.

[27] Posted by Jeffersonian on 08-05-2008 at 09:40 PM • top

Cennydd,
#25 heart said it for me! But I would add that I don’t think he will.

[28] Posted by TLDillon on 08-05-2008 at 10:17 PM • top

Jeffersonian….I’ll take you up on that nickel! I am 98.9% sure he will be. smile

[29] Posted by TLDillon on 08-05-2008 at 10:19 PM • top

#20, One Day Closer:  I appreciated your reply, and, after reading through it, can understand why you are struggling with the avenue you perceive +Lawrence has taken.  It will be a relief to me if time finds that your perception is more correct than mine.  You see, I’m not seeing this as simply a matter of loss of title.  Like the ripples & false calm that precede a Tsunami, I’m seeing such incidents in these times as the start of Christian persecution.  God has promised to get us through it, but, being human, I still dread the coming ordeal.  Whatever may come, please know that I honor your dedication to Our Lord.  God Bless, RL Harrell

[30] Posted by RLHarrell on 08-06-2008 at 12:52 AM • top

Oh dear ......

[31] Posted by Martin Reynolds on 08-06-2008 at 06:33 PM • top

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