Episcopal Church to elect bishop for disputed South Carolina diocese

(Photo Credit: (left) Emory University/Cindy Brown, (right) Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina)The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (left), and Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (right) are seen in a composite photo.

The Episcopal Church will elect a bishop on Saturday for the disputed Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, weeks after a conservative breakaway group asked a court to prevent the national church from using the diocese's name and identity.

Episcopalians aligned with the national Episcopal Church will elect the Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg as Provisional Bishop and will then elect of clergy of lay people to serve in diocesan leadership positions.

The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, will chair the special meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina Convention on January 26 at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston.

The election comes a few weeks after conservative former members of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina. who say that control of the diocese is theirs, asked a court to declare that the national church has no right to the Diocese's identity and property or that of its parishes.

In October, the diocese said it had disaffiliated itself from the Episcopal Church. At the most recent General Convention in July 2012, The diocese's bishop, Bishop Mark Lawrence, and most of the delegation of the diocese, left the gathering before its conclusion in protest of the Church's decision to accept a temporary rite of blessing of same-sex couples and to accept full inclusion of transgender people in the life of the church, including ordination.

Among the invited guests to the special convention on Saturday are the Rev. Gay Clark Jennnigs, President of the House of Deputies; Angela Daniel of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and President of Province IV; Bishop John C. Buchanan, Diocese of Quincy; Bishop Dabney Smith, Diocese of Southwest Florida; Bishop Andrew Waldo, Diocese of Upper South Carolina; and Bishop George D. Young, III, Diocese of East Tennessee.

Last month, the Rev. Schori said she accepted the "renunciation" of the Rev. Mark Lawrence as Bishop of the diocese.

Rev. Lawrence says he has not resigned, stating that the entire diocese disaffiliated itself from the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church maintains that a diocese cannot disaffiliate itself unilaterally.

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