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SOUTH CAROLINA: Convention backs bishops' desire to change Episcopal polity

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, meeting November 9-10 in its 216th annual Convention, went on record as supporting the June call from the diocesan Standing Committee for a relationship with a primate other than Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The resolution, written by the Standing Committee, authorized the diocesan bishop, "together with the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, to implement the details of this request, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his Panel of Reference, the Primates of the Communion, and the leadership and bishops of the Anglican Communion Network."

The convention also welcomed bishop-elect Mark Lawrence and said farewell to Bishop Edward Salmon, thanking him for his service to the diocese since 1989.
Lawrence, his wife Allison and their family were given a canoe by the diocese as a symbol of its "corporate gratitude for their willingness to serve," according to a news story posted on the diocese's website.

Salmon emphasized the importance of the episcopal office as a means of connecting the parishes, who themselves are the diocese, the story said.

"The call of the diocesan support system is to equip the parishes for their work of ministry, and 'how we live with, and for one another' in our common life is the witness to the gospel we claim to preach," the story said.

According to the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, a group of Episcopalians who oppose the official stance of the diocese, Salmon said that the diocese alone has the power to perpetuate itself. The group's post-convention newsletter said that Salmon criticized Jefferts Schori's Christology, saying it was the reason that the diocese needed an alternative to her leadership.

The group reported that Lawrence said the Episcopal Church is dying and that there must be a change in the way it is related to the Anglican Communion and in the way all the members of the Communion relate to each other.

The Convention considered two other resolutions. One on alcohol and drug abuse policy was tabled for consideration, and another which would have changed the voting eligibility requirements for retired clergy living in the diocese was defeated.

The Diocese of South Carolina comprises about 29,600 Episcopalians worshipping in 75 congregations.