CHARLESTON — Religious leaders from around the state gathered at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church on Jan. 29 for the 2006 South Carolina LARCUM Prayer Service.
LARCUM — an acronym for Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Methodist — is an ecumenical effort to establish unity between the four denominations. LARCUM celebrates its 10th year in South Carolina this year. The first prayer service was held at St. Peter Catholic Church in Columbia. Bishops from each of the churches were present for this year’s event.
The Rev. Mary Virginia Taylor, resident bishop for the South Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church, was welcomed to LARCUM by the signing anew of the “Called to Covenant” document. The covenant outlines a call for the bishops to have a close working relationship on areas of mutual concern.
In signing the document, the bishops commit “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,’ ” and pledge themselves to the visible unity of the LARCUM communities of South Carolina.
“This is truly the work of the Holy Spirit, and this is what Jesus prayed for,” said Bishop Robert J. Baker. “A good friendship exists between the bishops here today. A common relationship has been established over the years. I am very happy for these occasions.”
Bishop Baker spoke to The Miscellany in an interview after the event.
The Right Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, delivered the homily.
“Unity is an integral part of mission,” he said. “We like our differences too much. It has become a more ecclesiastical version of the Hatfields and the McCoys.” He spoke of “Generation Y” and of the disunity that has become characteristic of their lives.
“Generation Y are acclimated to disunity, argumentative churches, single parent homes,” Bishop Henderson said. “Generation Y is unchurched and it is our job to proclaim the glory of God to them. Do we have the unity to do that? That is the challenge.”
He suggested that stubbornness was a major contributor to that problem.
“We must remember that God is in the midst of his people no matter the conflict, no matter the disunity,” he said. “Where a mere two or three are gathered, heaven is alert. Our various faiths proclaim the various ways Christ is with us.”
In citing some of the results of that unity, Bishop Henderson said that the LARCUM communities have made great strides in South Carolina in working to end racism.
“We must rise up and must do so in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
Bishop Baker said that the goal for LARCUM is that all may be one in Christ.
“We are working toward that goal by respecting the message of Jesus Christ,” he said. “One of the primary messages of my priesthood has been unity, which is an integral principle of the Catholic Church.”