[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is scheduled to join continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina Jan. 25-26 as they choose a provisional bishop.
“We welcome the opportunity to have her with us at this important time in the history of our diocese, and it will be a privilege to share with her firsthand the energy and diversity of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” said Hillery Douglas, chairman of the steering committee for the reorganization of the diocese and senior warden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, in a press release posted here.
There will be a reception and other events involving Jefferts Schori on Jan. 25, according to the release, and she will then preside over the convention the next day at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston as delegates elect a provisional bishop and choose people to fill other vacant diocesan offices.
A nominating committee of diocesan Episcopalians is working with the presiding bishop to discern a bishop to nominate for the provisional position, the release said.
Bishop John Clark Buchanan, who lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Bishop Charles vonRosenberg of Daniel Island, both retired Episcopal Church bishops, are listed here as advisers to the steering committee.
A provisional bishop has all the authority and responsibilities of a diocesan bishop, but typically serves for a set period of time and is meant to be a bridge into the time when the continuing diocese is ready to elect a diocesan bishop or make other decisions about its future.
For instance, the Diocese of Quincy, which elected Buchanan to serve provisionally, is actively discerning possible reunification with the adjacent Diocese of Chicago. And in Pittsburgh, continuing Episcopalians recently ordained and consecrated Bishop Dorsey W. M. McConnell to be the diocese’s eighth bishop. Bishop Kenneth Price, from the neighboring Diocese of Southern Ohio, served as provision bishop of Pittsburgh for three years.
Fort Worth and San Joaquin have elected more than one provisional bishop over time. Bishop Rayford High is the Diocese of Fort Worth’s third provisional bishop, following Bishop C. Wallis Ohl and Bishop Edwin “Ted” Gullick. And Bishop Chet Talton is the Diocese of San Joaquin’s second provisional bishop, succeeding Bishop Jerry Lamb.
Some of the continuing dioceses also had the assistance of bishops who served in consulting or assisting roles until they were able to convene to elect a provisional bishop.
The continuing Diocese of South Carolina needs a new episcopal leader because Jefferts Schori said Dec. 5 that Mark Lawrence had renounced his orders. She and her Council of Advice agreed that in a Nov. 17 speech to a special diocesan convention, Lawrence said the diocese had left the Episcopal Church a month earlier when Jefferts Schori restricted his ministry on Oct. 17 after the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified to her that he had abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.”
When the day the board’s decision was announced, the diocesan Standing Committee said that the action “triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the diocese from the Episcopal Church and called a special convention.”
Lawrence asked for and received affirmation from those at the Nov. 17 gathering of that departure.
Lawrence and those he leads continue to say that he is still the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
According to a fact sheet posted on the Episcopal Church’s website: “Dioceses cannot leave the Episcopal Church. While some clergy and individuals may choose to leave, congregations and property remain in the diocese to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.”
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.