A letter from Bishop vonRosenberg
July 26, 2014
What do Four Hole Swamp, Minus Bridge, and Indian Field Swamp all have in common? They represent landmarks on the journey to the Dorchester County Courthouse in St. George, South Carolina. I have spent three weeks in that place, and I can affirm with certainty that it will not be the ultimate destination of our journey as a diocese! However, having spent this time and effort in court – and realizing that you may have read something about the experience – perhaps this is an appropriate time to share some reflections with you.
As I said in a television interview at the trial’s conclusion, it is a sad image for sides in a church dispute to square off in a courtroom. This surely is not the best or most appropriate place for us to settle our differences. Nevertheless, the courtroom is precisely where we have found ourselves during these weeks. Another impression I have from that experience is that exhaustion became a fact of life for many participants in the trial. It really did develop into a test of endurance at many levels.
Along with these other impressions, I want to add several words of thanks. I am grateful to those who made the trek to St. George, as an indication of support. I certainly am grateful for your time and effort. Even though we occasionally might have been aware of the historic significance of what was happening, most of the time was spent observing routine legal details. That was not the most engaging or productive use of time. Nevertheless, thank you for your efforts. Thanks, also, to many others for your prayers and your expressions of good wishes during this time. Such support, from near and far, was very important, as the hours drifted along and as the days piled up. Therefore, please understand my sincere thanks for your interest and your concern.
It may appear that the Dorchester County case represents an unfortunate detour on the diocesan pilgrimage of Faith. On the other hand, these weeks may simply be part of the journey that we must endure along the way, in order to reach another place. In any event – as we reflect on our biblical heritage – perhaps we may see that these current times represent a kind of wilderness wandering. The good news in this, of course, is that we know that such wanderings in the wilderness may lead eventually to the Promised Land. And that, my friends, defines the destination of our journey! In our current times, keeping in mind that eventual destination is crucial for the endurance so necessary for us now.
Therefore, keep the Faith! In spite of receiving ill will, nevertheless be conveyors of good will. In spite of indications and evidence of division, nevertheless hold onto Christ’s vision of unity. In spite of the world’s hatred, nevertheless claim love as our Lord’s command. On our journey of Faith, remember that the Promised Land of God is our destination, and that Land will certainly mark the conclusion of our pilgrimage!
Charles G. vonRosenberg
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