By Mary Ailes
Summerville, SC (March 11, 2017)—The Diocese of South Carolina voted today to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The vote, which was held during their 226th Convention, was unanimous in both orders (clergy and laity).
“I cast my vote to affiliate with the ACNA with eager and expectant faith,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of South Carolina during his address to the convention. “I believe God has called us to this and I believe we will find a deeper richness in our vocation, fuller fellowship in the Spirit, a more zealous thrust in mission.”
“But most of all, I believe a door will be opened, the fresh winds of the Spirit will blow, and a caged eagle will soar,” Bishop Lawrence said.
“I am thankful for Bishop Mark Lawrence, for his steadfast and Godly leadership, for his friendship, and for his humility throughout this entire process,” the Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, told the more than 350 convention delegates and clergy meeting in convention at St. Paul’s Church in Summerville, SC.
“As the Diocese of South Carolina you are known for your generosity to the wider Church through the Mere Anglicanism conference and the Anglican Leadership Institute,” said Archbishop Beach. “Your witness in mission, in scholarship, and steadfast commitment to the historical teaching of the Bible is commendable.”
“You are bringing with you many gifts that will further strengthen our Province, and the larger Anglican world,” Archbishop Beach said.
The Anglican Church in North America will formally receive the Diocese of South Carolina at the Provincial Assembly in June.
Established in 1785, the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the nine original dioceses of The Episcopal Church in the United States that organized after the American Revolution. Following the attempt by the Episcopal Church to remove Bishop Lawrence in October 2012, the Diocese immediately disassociated. That decision was reaffirmed by the Diocesan Convention in November 2012. In doing so, they joined four other Episcopal dioceses that also voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church: the Diocese of San Joaquin (CA), the Diocese of Pittsburgh (PA), the Diocese of Quincy (IL), and the Diocese of Fort Worth (TX).
In 2014, the Diocese of South Carolina accepted provisional primatial oversight from the Primatial Oversight Council of the Global South Primates of the Anglican Communion. At the 223rd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Task Force for Provincial Affiliation was established to explore the possibilities for a new affiliation for the diocese.
The Task Force considered different possible affiliations as well as non-affiliation, but ultimately focused on the possible affiliation with the Anglican Church in North America.
The Diocese of South Carolina entered a season of prayer and discernment that included deanery meetings that brought together the laity and the clergy from across the diocese for regional and parish conversations. This was followed by the presentation of a resolution to vote on officially joining the Anglican Church in North America at the next convention, which was held today.
The Diocese of South Carolina includes 53 active churches, with 22,149 baptized members and 142 clergy. The average Sunday attendance is 9,085. They will become the largest diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.
In addition to the regular business of convention, the Diocese of South Carolina also presented to the public a variety of ministry-related workshops that included: Racial Reconciliation: Bridging the Cultural Divide with the Rev. Jimmy Gallant, the Rev. Gary Beson, the Rev. Donnel Liferidge (REC pastor), the Rev. David Booman, and the Rev. Al Zadig; Engaging Changing Cultures with the Very Rev. Peet Dickinson and the Rev. Patrick Schlabs; God’s Global Mission: Where Do You Fit In? with Jenny Noyes, Executive Director of New Wineskins and the Rev. Bob Lawrence, Chairman of the Anglican Communion Development Committee; Energizing the Laity to Serve with the Very Rev. Chuck Owens; and Small Church—Big God—Great Commission! with the Rev. Janet Echols and the Rev. David Thurlow.
For more information on the Diocese of South Carolina, visit their website here.
Mary Ailes is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.