Thinking Anglicans

Scottish Episcopal Church: vote carried

The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to make the changes in its canons.

The voting was:

Bishops 80% For 20% Against

Clergy 67.7 For 32.3% Against

Laity 80.6% For 19.4% Against

Official SEC Press Release:

Church votes to allow equal marriage

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church today voted in favour of altering the church’s Canon on Marriage to remove the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman, and add a new section that acknowledges that there are different understandings of marriage which now allows clergy to solemnise marriage between same sex couples as well as couples of the opposite sex. The revised canon also stipulates that no member of clergy will be required to solemnise a marriage against their conscience.

The voting was in three ‘houses’ of General Synod, namely Bishops, Clergy, Laity and required a two thirds majority to pass. The voting results were:

For
Bishops 4 – 80%
Clergy 42 – 67.7%
Laity 50 – 80.6%

Against
Bishops 1 – 20%
Clergy 20 – 32.3%
Laity 12 – 19.4%

Responding to the voting outcome, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said:
“This is the end of a long journey. There was the Cascade Process involving people across our church – the Doctrine Committee paper which explored whether a Christian understanding of marriage could extend to same sex couples. We have studied, thought and prayed.

“In the life of the church, end points are often also starting points. This is a momentous step. By removing gender from our marriage canon, our church now affirms that a same sex couple are not just married but are married in the sight of God. They can ‘leave and cleave’. They can express in marriage a commitment to lifelong faithfulness to one another and to the belief that a calling to marriage is for them too a calling to love, forgiveness, sacrifice, truth. A new chapter opens up – inclusion has taken a particular form. But this same decision is difficult and hurtful for others whose integrity in faith tells them that this decision is unscriptural and profoundly wrong. For them this new chapter will feel like an exclusion – as if their church has moved away from them.

“So the journey which we now begin must also be a journey of reconciliation.

“Every faith community must face the issues which are bound up with human sexuality – in their own way and in their own time. Others will arrive at answers different from ours. And the Anglican Communion, which is embedded in our history and to which we are passionately committed – the Anglican Communion will have to explore whether its historic commitment to unity in diversity can embrace this change.

“I have said this many times before: a vote in General Synod changes the canonical position of our church. But it cannot lay to rest the deep differences which this question exposes in this and every other faith community.

“The new Canon itself affirms that there are differing views of marriage in our church. Nobody will be compelled to do anything against their conscience. We affirm that we are a church of diversity and difference, bound together by our oneness in Christ. We shall carry forward in our life two honourable and historic understandings of marriage – one which sees the marriage of same sex couples as an expression of Christ-like acceptance and welcome – and another which says that the traditional view of marriage is God-ordained and scripturally defined.

“That is the journey. That is now the calling of this church. We must and we shall address it with truth, graciousness and acceptance of one another.”

ends

The College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church will now adopt pastoral guidelines and principles to enable clergy who so wish to be nominated to the Registrar General for authorisation to solemnize weddings of same sex couples.

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Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

This is terrific news to me !

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

Alleluia. Praise God from whom all Blessings flow.

Now we can go forward together, each respecting each others view point. Be allowed in our own individual way and experience to express and show the Love of God revealed in Jesus Christ to our fellow human beings.

Fr John Emlyn

Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

Hear, hear Father John.

I’m with you !

Michael Paterson
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Michael Paterson

Wonderful news. A true sign that God’s Pentecost(al) spirit still breathes new life and energy into the Scottish Episcopal Church. Proud to be a Piskie today!

crs
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crs

Just looking at the numbers. For a canon that purports to “let everyone do what is good in their own eyes” it is striking that a full third of clergy still voted against it. That means there is considerable division within the clerical ranks of the SEC. Even with their “conscience protected” they did not agree with it and voted against it.

Also, there must be two vacancies in the SEC HOB. Presumably +Bob Gillies in Aberdeen voted against it. But only five are noted as having voted for it.

Kennedy Fraser
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Kennedy Fraser

+Bob has already retired. One bishop abstained.

crs
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crs

Thanks. Which Bishop voted No?

Kelvin Holdsworth
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It was a secret ballot.

crs
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crs

“It was a secret ballot.”

Unremarkable, one supposes. So no one really knows? In such a tiny church context?

I believe there are around 1200 average Sunday attendance in the entire SEC. I welcome correction.

I would be curious about the number of parishes in the Anglican Network and their Sunday attendance.

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

Professor Seitz comments regularly on this and other sites about the ‘tinyness’ of the SEC. I don’t know where his figure of 1200 comes from but given the fact the regular Sunday congregation at St Mary’s cathedral in Edinburgh is about 100 I suspect it is a gross underestimate. But why is size relevant other than as a reason to dismiss the significance of the SEC’s decision? And why cannot the secret ballot be respected? I was in the public gallery for the debate and I was most impressed by the gracious and respectful way in which it was conducted.… Read more »

Kennedy Fraser
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Kennedy Fraser

+Bob has already retired. One bishop abstained.

cseitz
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cseitz

Daniel Lamont I mention it because 30% of clergy opposing this; and with several of the largest parishes ready to leave, affects the state of the SEC is very significant ways. It becomes very difficult to support a bishop, e.g., unless they have supplemental income from somewhere. I lived in St Andrews for nine years and am aware of the fragility of the situation.

I hope this clarifies. I take no delight in seeing an important province shrinking.

The numbers for Sunday attendance are available in SEC documents.

crs
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crs

PS–I do think my number is too low. I have studied this in the past. 1200 is the figure for the ASA of the American ‘diocese’ in Europe.

I believe the total membership of the SEC is 28K. ASA could be 10K. The main point remains, however. When you are small splintering off is disproportionately felt.

Dr Daniel Lamont
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Dr Daniel Lamont

I note what Professor Seitz says and that Archbishop Idowu-Fearon thinks that the SEC yis in decline. I don’t think that it is as simple as that: the causes are complex and there are suggestions that the decline has begun to be halted. I am a glass half-full man and I see that 68% of the clergy and 80% of the laity voted for the change to the Canon. The requirements for a two-thirds majority in all three houses is a very high standard to meet and it was met. The Brexit vote with all its consequences only required 50%… Read more »

crs
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crs

Dr Daniel Lamont Thank you for your comment. For clarification, as blogs often overextend things. I did not say that 32% of clergy would seek alternative oversight. I was noting that this is a high percentage given the assertion that the canonical change was anodyne and protects everyone’s individual conscience. One might have assumed clergy would be reassured and would go ahead and vote OK. Of the parishes in the Anglican Network, I don’t think they have changed much from my leaving in 2007. P’s and G’s is pretty independent and may decide what happens in the SEC doesn’t matter.… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

Apologies for typos. The combination of dodgy eyesight and using a tablet in poor light is not good.