Anglican Communion ignores Mark Lawrence's deposition


Anglican Communion ignores Mark Lawrence's deposition


George Conger

The leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican provinces have written to Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina stating they do not recognize the validity of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffert Schori’s purported deposition of him from episcopal office and the ordained ministry.

In a letter dated 14 December 2012, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo of Burma, and Archbishop Bolly Lapok of Southeast Asia said:

“We want to assure you that we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.”

The primates’ letter follows the presiding bishop’s 5 Dec 2012 announcement that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of the ministerial orders of the Bishop of South Carolina. 

Bishop Lawrence responded to the 5 Dec announcement stating: “Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ—But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today's attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous.”

He also noted that many in the Anglican Communion had not accepted the presiding bishop’s actions, holding them to be of no ecclesial significance.

Overseas objections to the Episcopal Church’s use of the abandonment of ministry canon to rid itself of troublesome clergy has been of long standing.  After Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison first used the innovation against the Rev. David Moyer, rector of Good Shepherd Church, Rosemont, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. George Carey said he would not recognize the deposition.

In a letter September 2002 letter to Forward in Faith UK's National Secretary, the Rev. Geoffrey Kirk, the Archbishop of Wales and Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Dr Rowan Williams stated:

"As you probably know, I have spoken with Fr David on the phone and expressed my concern about the situation in which he has been placed. From what I know of him, I could see no objection to my granting Permission to Officiate in this diocese (of Monmouth) or considering him for a licence here if the circumstances arose. All I know of him suggests that he is not guilty of any moral or doctrinal delinquency, and is respected as a priest of disciplined life, personal spirituality and great teaching capacity."

Global South Letter of Support to Mark Lawrence 2012.12.14