Bishop Mark Joseph Lawrence, head
of the Diocese of South Carolina, likened the Episcopal Church's
recent pro-gay votes to a cheating husband.
Lawrence made his remarks Saturday
before the diocese agreed to distance itself from the church.
“Our purposed action is similar to a
wife whose husband is having an affair and after frequent
confrontations and conversations he continues in his adulterous
behavior,” Lawrence told clergy members before voting during the
special convention in Mount Pleasant.
“Eventually, without ending the
marriage or leaving their home, she says, 'I'm moving my bedroom down
the hall. I haven't given up on this yet, but somehow I have to get
your attention that this isn't working for me!',” Lawrence, the
father of five children, added.
Eighty-seven out of 105 clergy agreed
and approved a resolution that authorizes Lawrence and the diocesan
Standing Committee to disengage from church bodies that have
“assented to actions contrary to the Holy Scripture.”
The skirmish is the latest in the
long-running saga that has pitted conservatives against liberals over
control of the world's third largest church.
Liberals fired the first shot in 2003
with the decision to consecrate the first openly gay bishop, Rev.
Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Robinson, 61, lives in Weare, New
Hampshire with his husband.
Conservatives within the Anglican
Communion – which includes U.S. Episcopalians – pressed for a
moratorium on gay clergy, and Episcopalians agreed.
But in July, Episcopalians lifted their
self-imposed ban. During its General Convention, the church also
gave churches their approval to bless gay unions and marriages at
Some conservatives have reacted with
their feet and formed a rival church called the Anglican Church in
North America. The Diocese of South Carolina, which is comprised of
75 parishes, says it's not leaving just yet, just sending a message.
The resolution acknowledges “we have
entered a time when the need for more radically ways of speaking is
painfully apparent,” Lawrence said.
At least one church in Massachusetts
has blessed a gay wedding and several dioceses have nominated gay
clergy for bishop, including one in Minnesota and another in
The high-profile marriage of openly
lesbian Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons to her longtime partner
Mattie B. Hayes was held in the predominantly African-American church
of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Cambridge just weeks after
the Episcopal Church's actions.