Yesterday the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to start a process that could allow same-sex couples to be married in church. It issued this press release.
Faith and Order Board – Marriage
June 12, 2015
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today voted to begin a process for change in relation to its Canon on Marriage. It has therefore instructed the Church’s Faith and Order Board to begin the two year process which may lead towards canonical change. That change would potentially allow the marriage of same gendered couples in Church in late 2017. The option which Synod voted for states:
Removal of section 1 of Canon 31. This option would remove section 1 from Canon 31* in its entirety so that the Canon was silent on the question of a doctrine of marriage.
General Synod also decided to add a conscience clause that ensures that no cleric would be obliged to solemnise a marriage against their conscience.
Commenting on the decision by General Synod today, The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says “Our General Synod has taken two important steps forward today. We have decided that we wish to consider possible change to our Marriage Canon. We have identified one possible expression of that change. This potentially creates a situation in which Same-Sex marriages could be celebrated in churches of the Scottish Episcopal Church. That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages. It is important to realise that at this point this is an indicative decision only. Any change to the Canon will require the normal two year process and two thirds majorities will be required. That process will begin at General Synod 2016 and cannot be complete until General Synod 2017.”
*Canon 31, section 1 states The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.
A vote to instruct the Church’s Faith and Order Board to prepare canonical material to enable the registration of Civil Partnerships to be undertaken in the Scottish Episcopal Church, failed to pass.
David Chillingworth, the SEC primus, write this for Herald Scotland before the vote: Why our church is facing the challenge of same-sex marriage.
Reports and reactions to the vote include:
Andrew Page and Dan Littauer KaleidoScot Episcopal Church Scotland commits to same-sex marriage
Brian Donnelly Herald Scotland Change to doctrine on marriage could allow first gay church weddings in Scotland
Cameron Brooks The Press and Journal Church takes step closer to recognising gay marriage
Nick Duffy Pink News Scottish Episcopal Church passes initial vote in favour of same-sex marriage
Kelvin Holdsworth The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
The agenda and papers for the whole synod meeting are available as a single pdf file.
Pat Ashworth has written this report on the debate for Church Times: Scottish Synod opens church door to same-sex weddings.
Changing Attitude Scotland has issued this Statement following General Synod 2015.
The statement from a group of episcopal clergy and laity in Professor Sietz’s comment below is online here: Responding to the Decisions on Marriage made by General Synod.
Savi Hensman Ekklesia Scottish Episcopal Church moves towards marrying same-sex couples