CHARLESTON, S.C. — An historic Episcopal church regarded as the “mother church” of Anglicanism in South Carolina will play host to an anti-LGBT conference for orthodox Anglicans this week.
The “Mere Anglicanism” event will be held at St. Philip’s Church, Jan. 21-23, and will feature several high profile and anti-gay theologians from across the U.S. It’s theme this year is “Human Identity, Gender, and Sexuality: Speculation or Revelation?”
Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence endorsed the event in a letter on the diocese’s website.
“As you know the institution of Marriage and questions of Identity, Gender and Human Sexuality have become intensely debated and divisive issues not only within the Church (and far beyond merely The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion), but within the larger culture as well,” he wrote. “For this reason I hope many of us within the Diocese of South Carolina will take advantage of the upcoming Mere Anglicanism Conference held in Charleston on January 21-23, 2010. I have attended this conference for the past three years and have been surprised by how few clergy and lay persons from within the diocese participate or avail themselves of this annual opportunity to hear some of the major shapers of Anglicanism in our day.”
Lawrence said the event will “focus on this seemingly ubiquitous challenge in the both the contemporary culture and the Church of the understanding of marriage and human sexuality.”
The Diocese of South Carolina has become increasingly hostile in relations with the national Episcopal Church. In late 2009, the diocese passed a series of anti-LGBT resolutions. One encouraged lay people and church committees to begin withdrawing from national church bodies. Another condemned prejudice against LGBT people while promising the diocese would continue “speak truth in love.”
The Diocese of South Carolina, which includes all of Eastern and Coastal South Carolina, was originally formed in 1706 and re-organized in 1785. The diocese is home to 76 parishes and close to 30,000 members. Bishop Lawrence opposed the election of openly gay New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003. In 2006, the diocese rejected the authority of U.S. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The diocese also opposed two LGBT-affirming resolutions presented and approved at the denomination’s national convention earlier this year.
Several congregations in the Diocese of South Carolina have already voted to leave the national Episcopal body.