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South Carolina consecrates Lawrence as 14th bishop

[Episcopal News Service] The Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina, was filled to overflowing January 26 as Mark Joseph Lawrence was consecrated the 14th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South CarolinaSt. Mark’s Episcopal and St. Matthew’s Lutheran churches provided streaming video when the cathedral’s capacity of 1,100 was reached.

Twenty-five bishops from Canada, Dominican Republic, England, Tanzania, and the United States were present.

East Carolina Bishop E. Clifton Daniel, president of the Episcopal Church's Province IV, was the chief consecrator during the service which began at 11 a.m.

Co-consecrating bishops included: Edward L. Salmon Jr., 13th bishop of South Carolina; C. FitzSimons Allison, 12th bishop of South Carolina; Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester, England; Keith Ackerman of Quincy; and Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic.

Joined by their five children and six grandchildren, Lawrence and his wife, the former Allison Taylor, received a lengthy standing ovation.

"We thank you and Allison for your strength and perseverance," said Alden Hathaway, retired Bishop of Pittsburgh and preacher for the service. "You inspire us and give us hope."

Lawrence, 57, said he believes a bishop is to be "the shepherd of the shepherds of God" and "the chief shepherd of the diocese."

Lawrence's crozier, the bishop's pastoral staff, was carved from "old growth" redwood from northern California by a carver in South Carolina as a nod to his California roots and his new ministry. His chimere, part of a bishop's vestments, bishop's ring and pectoral cross were gifts of St. Paul's Episcopal Parish in Bakersfield, California, where Lawrence had served as rector since 1997.

Lawrence was first elected September 16, 2006 to be South Carolina's 14th bishop.

In the weeks following that election, questions arose about Lawrence's intentions concerning the diocese's continuing membership in the Episcopal Church. Some diocesan standing committees announced their intention not to consent, and some publicized their decisions.

On March 15, 2007, Jefferts Schori declared that election "null and void," saying that a number of the consent responses did not adhere to canonical requirements and thus Lawrence's election did not receive the consent of the majority of diocesan standing committees.

Lawrence was re-elected as South Carolina's bishop on August 4, 2007 at a special electing convention. He was the only candidate in the election.

Jefferts Schori announced October 29, 2007 that Lawrence had received the consents needed for him to become the next bishop of South Carolina.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, confirmed that Jefferts Schori has been invited to visit the Diocese of South Carolina in February. He added that the agenda was currently being finalized.

The Diocese of South Carolina includes 75 parishes and missions in the lower half of the state of South Carolina.

-- The Rev. Lisa B. Hamilton, Episcopal Life Media's correspondent in the dioceses of Provinces I and IV and the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal Life Media's correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends, as well as news of the dioceses of Province II, contributed to this report.

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