As I have also commented on this previously here and here, it seems only right that I post the full text of Fr. Lawrence's letter below. For a fuller perspective, I also recommend reading Dan Martin's recent post on the matter. A close friend of Mark Lawrence, he offers compelling arguments for why the Episcopal Church should seriously consider consenting to this election. I am most moved by his assertion that "perception is reality." In a time when we are trying to seek reconciliation across deep rifts, this argument carries weight, it seems to me. Political actions that might be viewed as punitive from either "side" cannot be helpful to this effort. Clarity, on the other hand, about our positions, is helpful, if not indeed charitable, as opposed to silence or obfuscation.
At this stage, a majority of our bishops have consented to the election, but ten more Standing Committees apparently must consent before next Monday if the election is to stand and Fr. Lawrence is consecrated.
If nothing else, please pray for the guidance of the Spirit in this matter. This has been a difficult process conducted at a difficult time in our Church's life, and Mark Lawrence+ has borne unusual scrutiny as well as a painful share of venom.
So did +Gene Robinson in 2003, as we will all remember.
Dear Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church,
I have been told that some diocesan Standing Committees have graciously offered to reconsider their denial of consent to my election as the XIV Bishop of South Carolina, if they only have assurance of my intention to remain in The Episcopal Church. Although I previously provided assurance of my intention, this has not been sufficient for some Standing Committees, which are earnestly seeking to make a godly discernment. Therefore, taking to heart the apostolic admonition in 1 Timothy 3:2, “Now a bishop must be above reproach, …temperate [free from rashness], sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher….” I am reminded to make every attempt to reason with those who have denied consent or who have not yet voted. As I stated at the walkabout in Charleston on September 9, 2006 and again in a statement written on 6 November 2006, I will make the vows of conformity as written in the BCP and the Constitution & Canons, (III.11.8). I will heartily make the vows conforming “…to the doctrine, discipline, and worship” of the Episcopal Church, as well as the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures. So to put it as clearly as I can, my intention is to remain in The Episcopal Church.
Yours in Christ,
The Very Reverend Mark J. Lawrence