Photo credit Mark Beach (photographer) and the World Council of Churches
South Carolina LARCUM Covenant (1995)
The Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and United Methodists in the State of South Carolina
We, the Bishops of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Dioceses of South Carolina and Upper South Carolina, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, and the United Methodist Church – South Carolina Conference affirm that unity is a Gospel imperative for our churches.
We are mindful that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the night before He died, prayed: “that they may all be one” (John 17:21)
Furthermore, acknowledging our common baptism by water and the Holy Spirit and in the name of the Trinity, we also affirm our responsibility to “make every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force” because:
“there is but one Body and one Spirit…just as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all and is in all” (Ephesians 4:4-7). To be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into hope – “and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given us” (Romans 5:5).
This hope manifests itself in fervent prayer, common worship, and courageous action.
We celebrate the effect of such hope in the cordial relations that have existed among our churches in South Carolina. In particular, we are encouraged by collaborative efforts undertaken through the South Carolina Christian Action Council; our annual statewide Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Methodist (LARCUM) Conference; the initiatives of local parishes for common prayer and work; and the positive results of continuing theological dialogues which move us toward the goal of full cooperation and communion.
As we begin the Third Millennium of Christ’s Church on earth, we are sensible of our responsibility as pastoral leaders to encourage faithful people, living side by side within our state, to continue this work and to adopt a united witness to Christ before the world.
We Bishops, in the name of our respective churches, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the faithful love of the Triune God, commit ourselves to celebrate the unity already among us, and in the spirit of Philippians 3:13, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” pledge ourselves to strengthen the visible unity of the Body of Christ in South Carolina and exhort the faithful to live and work courageously in the hope of reconciliation and unity in our common Lord.
THEREFORE, we solemnly enter into this Covenant and commit ourselves to the following actions. In behalf of the unity of the church, WE WILL:
1. Commit ourselves as bishops to pray for the unity of the Church and urge the congregations we serve to pray for one another.
2. Develop, make available, and recommend the use of a common baptismal certificate.
3. Use the occasion of our members’ marrying to encourage each member of the couple to a renewal of commitment to his/her respective church, employing the pastoral involvement of both churches.
4. Encourage and support the development of programs for spiritual nourishment of interchurch families.
5. Together, in South Carolina, seek to encourage racial understanding and racial harmony.
6. Remove obstacles to unity by learning more about one another’s beliefs, traditions, and practices, and encourage the members of our congregations to do likewise.
7. Share information at the level of our bishops prior to releasing information or statements on controversial issues to the press.
8. Make it a priority, within our participation in the South Carolina Christian Action Council, to invite other churches into ecumenical dialogue.
9. Demonstrate our desire for unity by inaugurating an annual worship service of repentance and prayer for Christian unity and encourage similar common services at the local level.
10. Meet annually to seek opportunities for further expression of Christian unity.
11. Cooperate in welcoming the immigrant by working together to promote justice, provide social outreach and advocacy and encourage and assist immigrants to attend their respective church faith communities.
May the Holy Spirit, who has brought us to this moment of covenanting, bring us to ever deepening levels of unity. To this end we affix our signatures and will appoint a representative to the LARCUM steering Committee in order to develop strategies to implement this covenant among and within our respective judicatories in South Carolina.
Bishop David A. Donges
South Carolina Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Right Reverend W. Andrew Waldo
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina
Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey
South Carolina Conference
United Methodist Church
The Right Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr.
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
The Right Reverend William J. Skilton
Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
The Most Reverend Robert J. Baker
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston
Transcribed in 2019 by Richard Mammana for the Episcopal Church Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.