Diocese Urged to Go Out to Sow Seeds of the Gospel at 227th Diocesan Convention – A Convention Wrap-Up
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“A sower went out to sow.” Bishop Mark Lawrence quoted Jesus in the parable of the sower in a refrain throughout his address to the 227th annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, held at Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant, March 9-10, 2018.
More than 475 people from 52 churches across the eastern and coastal portions of the state gathered to conduct the business of the Diocese, adopt a budget, pass resolutions and elect committee members, but also to be inspired through messages and workshops and have fellowship with one another.
Through his refrain, Lawrence seemed to sum up the theme of the Convention urging church members to “go out to sow”– beyond their church walls to engage their communities for Christ.
“So what would it look like for the diocese and our congregations to step out more fully in mission?” he asked. “First, I believe we would seek to engage our local communities in relevant, sensitive witness and evangelism; secondly, that Matthew 25 ministries (those reaching the poor and neglected) would proliferate among us; and thirdly, we would partner with one another to plant churches that plant churches.”
Three of the pre-Convention workshops offered on Friday, March 9, focused on reaching out beyond our church walls: The Demographic workshop, the Matthew 25 workshop, and the Church Planting workshop.
The Rev. Tyler Prescott, Associate Rector of St. Paul’s, Summerville, led the workshop on MissionInsite, the new online demographic service purchased by the Diocese to help churches better understand their own congregations and surrounding communities.
Frank Bowen of St. Luke’s, Hilton Head, who attended MissionInsite, said afterward, “What’s exciting to me, is it gives us some science behind the conjecture we often try to make.” His wife Dottie added, “We’re going to take this right back to our strategic planning committee.”
The Rev. Michael and Tina Wurschmidt, of Shepherd’s Heart Ministries, Pittsburgh, PA led a workshop on the Matthew 25 Initiative, an ACNA program which helps churches begin new ministries to reach the poor and neglected in their communities. “It was an eye-opener,” said the Rev. Kate Norris. “It was great to see examples of how other Anglicans in the ACNA ar reaching out, being the hands and feet of Jesus.
The Rt. Rev. TJ Johnston, Rector of St. Peter’s Church, Mt. Pleasant, led one on Church Planting that focused on the underlying heart and attitudes required for successful church planting. “Your heart is where Godly vision and Kingdom mission is first clarified,” Bishop Johnston said. “To be successful, that must come before the practical nuts and bolts of planting a new congregation.”
Speaking of the workshop offered by the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese, on Heaven, Ned Collins of Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island, said, “His points were so profound and his stories so tear-jerking I’m walking out a new person.”
Jay Crouse, the Men’s Ministry Coordinator for the Diocese of South Carolina, gave attendees practical ways to overcome obstacles in helping men find their place and ministry within the church.
The Rt. Rev. Clark W. P. Lowenfield, Bishop of Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast, ACNA, served as the guest preacher during the service of Holy Eucharist on Friday evening. Preaching on Psalm 2, he challenged listeners to recognize the rebellion in the human heart, including our own. “The one conviction of hell,” he said, quoting George MacDonald, “is the claim ‘I am my own.’ Lowenfield urged those present to submit to Christ’s lordship where the reign and rule of God bring perfect peace.
Music for that service featured both traditional and contemporary offerings led by the Christ Church worship team.
The Convention adopted five resolutions, which brought our Diocesan Constitution and Canons in line with our membership in the Anglican Church in North America. The first resolution adopted the ACNA Fundamental Declarations. These theological principals of Anglicanism may be found on our Diocesan website. The second and third resolutions brought the dates for congregational reporting in line with the ACNA provincial Canons for reporting. The fourth resolution amended our canons pertaining to the trial of a priest or deacon and added language for an appeal process. The fifth resolution amended our canons that only men may be elected as Bishops in the Diocese, in keeping with the ACNA Provincial Canons and the norms within GAFCON.
The proposed Budget for 2018 was approved.
Seven new clergy were welcomed to the Diocese. The following three were licensed to serve: The Rev. Elizabeth Bumpas from the Diocese of Northern Uganda, the Rev. Ron Gauss from the Diocese of the East (CANA/ACNA), the Rev. Patrick Schlabs from the Diocese of Churches For the Sake of Others (ACNA).
The following four requested and received canonical residence in Diocese: The Rev. Kate Norris from the Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA), the Rev. Ryan Streett from the Diocese of the Carolinas (ACNA), the Rev. Cindy Larsen from the Diocese of Uganda-Bunyoro-Kitara, and the Rev. David Sutcliffe from the Diocese of Albany.
The Rev. Rob Sturdy, who serves as the Anglican Chaplain at the Citadel, gave a moving testimony about the ministry among the Cadets, sharing his own conversion story from atheism to Christianity, (which took place when he was a student at the school) and telling of the grueling pressures cadets face and the impact our Diocese and churches can have by coming alongside and supporting the ministry.
The Rev. Joyce Harder, a vocational deacon, who serves at Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant, shared about the impact the Tim Keller program, “The Meaning of Marriage” made on her own marriage. During our 226th Convention the Diocese resolved to have every congregation make use of the program in their churches.
In response to recent church shootings, The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis highlighted resources the Diocese is making available regarding Church Security.
Peter Rothermel, our Diocesan Christian Faith Formation Coordinator and Dave Wright our Coordinator of Youth Ministries held a relaxed Q & A with Bishop Lawrence about their ministries.
During Saturday’s business meeting the following individuals were elected to serve in Diocesan offices and positions:
Standing Committee (three-year term): The Rev. Jason Collins (St. Paul’s, Conway), the Rev. Bob Lawrence (St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center) Mrs. Dottie Bowen (St. Luke’s, Hilton Head), Mr. Ben Hagood (St. Philip’s, Charleston)
Diocesan Council (three-year term): The Rev. Donnie McDaniel (Good Shepherd, Charleston), The Rev. Tim Surratt (Christ the King-Grace Church, Pawley’s Island), Mrs. Lori Moore (St. Michael’s, Charleston), Mr. Joe Nicholson (St. Michael’s, Charleston)
Diocesan Council (one-year term): Mrs. Lynelle Jensen (Church of the Cross, Bluffton)
Ecclesiastical Court (three-year term): The Rev. Mike Lumpkin (retired), Mr. Sam Dargan (St. Matthew’s, Darlington)
Bishop Lawrence closed the Convention with a prayer and blessing. The 228th Diocesan Convention will be held March 8-9, 2019 at Saint James, Charleston