I am lashed to Christ and lashed to you. Writing following SC Supreme Court ruling

Bishop Mark LawrenceDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8

Thursday evening Allison and I returned to Charleston.  We were on vacation with family in California when the South Carolina Supreme Court issued the long awaited ruling.  Obviously, it was not the favorable ruling we were seeking.  Therefore, we returned home as soon as possible.  Frankly, it is a grievous decision for us on so many levels.  Perhaps you, as do I, have to fight despondency as I consider its many ramifications for us as a diocese, and especially for our congregations and clergy. For make no mistake—if this ruling stands how we carry out God’s mission and the ministries he has given us will dramatically change.  You may already have received from previous diocesan communications , the diocesan website or from local news, the gist of the court’s conflicted 77-page opinion. Therefore, I will not rehearse it here.  My purpose is more personal.

Today, thousands of Christians around the world are holding you, the congregations of the diocese, as well as our clergy and bishop in prayer.  Even more specifically, yesterday Anglicans on this continent were lifting us in constant prayer.  As you may know, we recently voted as a diocese to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America, and this summer their Provincial Assembly joyfully received us as full members therein. What a comfort it is to know that our Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach, asked the bishops, clergy and laity of the ACNA to pray and fast yesterday on our behalf.

Many of those praying and fasting have in the past walked away from their church buildings, buildings they built and maintained, and in some cases, where their families worshiped for centuries. Some left by choice; others after years of litigation. I do not mention the latter, however, as if the legal issues in our case are fully resolved. They most certainly are not, though they are clearly challenging. Rather, I want you to know the sort of Christians who are praying for us; and while holding us in prayer, many are fasting. They have paid a price to follow their Lord. We are part of a provincial body of Anglican Christians and they are walking this hard road with us. Their fellowship at such a time is greatly comforting to me and I hope it is for you.

I also want to tell you what our next steps are. First, this Monday, August 7, the Standing Committee and I will meet with our lead legal counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan. I assure you that our legal team is looking at the various options before us.  Second, this Wednesday I will meet with the deans of the various diocesan deaneries, and that afternoon, Mr. Runyan, Canon Lewis and I will meet with all the clergy of the diocese. Please keep us in your prayers.  Many important decisions are before us and we want to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and walk in step with the Holy Spirit.

Finally, I am honored to be your bishop, and, God willing, I will remain so as long as you and he will have me.  I have been deeply encouraged by Psalm 16 where David, as psalmist, confesses that he has no good apart from God. The LORD is his chosen portion, his cup and his lot.  Yet in verse 3, he also acknowledges that along with finding comfort in God in the midst of dreadful setbacks he also finds encouragement from the people he serves:  “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”  Serendipitously, as if to illustrate this truth to me, when Allison and I arrived in the Charleston airport late Thursday afternoon walking to get our luggage we saw two familiar faces— members of St. Michael’s and the diocese—Dr. Alston Kitchens and her husband, Greg.  They greeted us with smiles and hugs, and assurances of their prayers. They embodied many of you; the ones with whom we have cast our lot.  Ten years ago, when I was going through a difficult consent process as your Bishop-Elect I wrote, “I have lashed myself to the mast of Christ and will ride out this storm wherever the ship of faith will take me.”  As you know, it brought me here.

Someone, clearly pleased with this judicial ruling, recently sent me an email sardonically asking when I was leaving town.  I wrote back, “I’m not leaving town.”  I am lashed to Christ and lashed to you.  We will see in the midst of this present storm where the ship of faith will take us.  Ironically, I do not suspect that means leaving town, regardless of what else may change. This, dear friends, is what I know and want to remind you of—in favorable and unfavorable rulings from human courts, Christ is still Lord, he will come again to judge the living and the dead.  His kingdom will have no end.

Yours in Christ,

Bishop Mark Lawrence's signature

Mark Joseph Lawrence

XIV Bishop of South Carolina
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10 Responses to I am lashed to Christ and lashed to you. Writing following SC Supreme Court ruling

  1. Donna lobs says:

    From David’s charge to Solomon
    “Be strong and courageous ,and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged,for the LORD God,my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. ” 1 Chronicles 28:20
    This Scripture has hung in our home for decades as each parish we served was fraught with huge challenges. The LORD indeed was faithful.He did not fail us or forsake us… Hearfelt prayers to you and Allison.

  2. Foster Smith says:

    Continue to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might. And having done all stand.

  3. Richard & Annette Martin says:

    God bless you Bishop Mark for at blessed having you here with us and leading us though this time in the dessert. Although we are not still at St Paul’s our thoughts and prayers are.

  4. kellianne land says:

    It is in these times that we find who we rely on and in that the very joyous and bold essence of our faith. peace and love to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

  5. Dr heather dawson says:

    Mark 10:29 I’ll tell you the truth Jesus replied no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or Fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive 100 times as much in this present age home his brothers sisters mothers children and fields in with them persecutions and in the age to come eternal life but many who are first will be last and the last first niV

    Be strong and of good courage dear bishop the Lord of hosts is with you and as Paul said rejoice and again I say rejoice

  6. Bp Raphael Samuel says:

    Our prayers are with you…it’s a difficult time for all of us but as you say, we are lashed to Christ and to each other.

  7. Robert Reynolds says:

    Thank you for being faithful no matter the cost!!!

  8. Joe Towson says:

    Your message is a brace of fresh air–keep up the good work. You and yours are in our prayers. God bless you.

  9. Marguerite Biklian says:

    Thank you for sharing your walk and faith with us. We continue to up hold you and the Dioceses of South Carolina in our prayers. Marguerite and Andre

  10. Bishop Johnson Gakumba says:

    Bishop Mark Lawrence
    We in the diocese of Northern Uganda Church of Uganda have learnt of the Court ruling and want you to know we are praying for you that you remain firm in the Lord t through this storm times. Remember he is with you in the storm and will definitely see you through. You have the faithful disciples with you . Look to Jesus.