Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Scottish Episcopal Church: Guidance on Marriage and Civil Partnership

The Scottish Episcopal Church has issued guidance in relation to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. The substance of the guidance is very similar to that issued in February by the Church of England House of Bishops.


Later this month key parts of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 will come into force. Conscious that the Scottish Episcopal Church is currently in a period of discussion regarding its understanding of same-sex relationships, the College of Bishops has produced guidance to support and inform clergy and lay readers in the exercise of their ministries and in their provision of pastoral care.

A copy of the Guidance is attached

John Stuart
Secretary General

Earlier statements from the Scottish Episcopal Church can be found here.

A response from Changing Attitude Scotland can be found here.

Update Changing Attitude Scotland has this digest of responses.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 8:17pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Scottish Episcopal Church | equality legislation

Well, that document's strikingly lacking in charity. Very disappointing.

Lord, re-form your churches!

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 8:40pm GMT

Is this rather quaint term commonly understood in Scotland, or just an archaic bit of legalese?

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 10:02pm GMT

"Without such alterations and procedures [in the SEC canon], SEC clergy would not be legally permitted to solemnise same-sex marriages. If they conduct a ceremony in such a manner as to lead the parties concerned to believe that they are solemnising a valid marriage they would be committing a criminal offence."

Good grief! If you perform a same-sex marriage, we'll not only defrock you. We'll send you to jail.

What next? Burning at the stake? Drawing and quartering?

Posted by: dr.primrose on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 10:43pm GMT

'Outwith' is widely understood in Scotland, as an alternative to 'outside' or 'beyond'. I'd say it's used mainly in fairly formal discourse.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 11:23pm GMT

'Outwith' is a perfectly good Scots word, used by a number of people I know and I use it myself. Scots English and English English are not the same.
Daniel Lamont

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 11:44pm GMT

Not a good look for S.E.C. - especially in the light of the Oxford Debate on the Church of England's failure to address society's real needs.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 5:13am GMT

Two churches divided by a common language.
Mind don't we all sing from the same Passiontide hymn-sheet when we trill
"There is a green hill far away
Without a city wall"
Or, North of the Border do they sing:-
"There is a green hill far away
Outwith a city wall"?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 5:25am GMT

dr.primrose, whatever else may be said about the document, I took the operative words in the passage you cite to be "lead ... to believe..." Misrepresenting the legal effect (or want thereof) of a ceremony to a couple of any gender combination is surely unethical, the substantive issue aside.

Posted by: Geoff on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 10:52am GMT

Surpasses even the English bishops' Valentine's Day statement in spreading unseasonal gloom.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 1:27pm GMT

A good point, Geoff. Here in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, where relationships with the RC Archdiocese have remained cordial if stressed at times, Episcopal clergy are required to inform RC couples who for whatever reason (usually the existence of prior marriages, though not always) choose to marry in TEC that the Roman Church will not recognize their marriage as valid until and unless convalidated in the RC.

We have similar stresses in the state when clergy choose not to comply with some detail of the civil law, which might raise questions about the legal status of the marriage, and which in some jurisdictions amount to a misdemeanor -- which could also render one liable to canonical discipline. These consequences rarely come to pass, but they are theoretically possible should someone wish to make a case.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 1:35pm GMT

Fathers in God. Shepherds Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Reacting with fear, judicial judgement, throwing the Gospel out of the window.

What a wonderful Christmas gift to all LGBT folk, and those who look to an Inclusive Church.

Yes the Bishops have given the legal facts with a punch. It needs from them a pastoral message for all folk of the love of God for all his children, whatever the colour of their rainbow.

When will we get this positive message from our shepherds.

Perhaps they have chosen to be deaf to the Cascade.

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 3:19pm GMT

The Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury just disappoint and disappoint.

And in unpleasant, hectoring terms.

Posted by: Laurie on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 4:16pm GMT

There Is A Green Hill Far Away is, of course, an Irish hymn. The "city wall" in question is obviously Derry's and the "green hill" in question is said to be the one on which the Creggan Estate was built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 4:46pm GMT

Father David: I reckon I'd probably want to use "outwith" if I were forced to sing Mrs Alexander's heretical ditty, but of course we don't ever sing it. "He died to make us good" - no, he didn't!

Posted by: Jonathan MacGillivray on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 5:15pm GMT

Furthermore, the sentence Dr. Primrose finds objectionable begins with "Without such alterations and procedures [in the SEC canon] ..."

That to me means the authors of the document are saying "If no changes are made". Leaving open the possibility of changes to the SEC canon.
Just from that sentence alone, I see no hostile intent.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 7:11pm GMT

So come on then, Jonathan MacGilivray, if you don't approve of the lyrics of "There is a green hill far away" how about trying to improve upon Mrs. Alexander's rendition of the Passiontide hymn which attempts to teach children the meaning of the Cross and salvation. Let us see a version which you consider to be theologically correct.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 3:58am GMT

Peter Gross: the demand that clergy stop using the existing marriage liturgy to celebrate same-sex relationships suggests strongly otherwise, as does the opposition of the Bishops to actually getting on an amending the canons.

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 6:20am GMT

Just for comparison, here is the statement of the Church in Wales.
Since this statement the Governing Body has met for group discussions and the discussions are now being planned for the diocese.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 9:58am GMT

Thanks for the link to the Church in Wales statement, Martin. It is possible to state that the understanding of marriage remains unchanged during a discussion process without sounding unduly threatening. The approach of our covenant partners in the Methodist Church during their discernment process on sexuality (http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/methodist-conference-receives-report-on-same-sex-marriage) may also be worth noting.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 1:18pm GMT

God Bless the Church in Wales. This could have been the statement of the Bishops in Scotland, instead of the statement they hit us with.

Fr John Emlyn Harris-White

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 2:02pm GMT

Consulting their bishop for 'guidance and pastoral support'. Having just heard the Church in Wales and its bishops denounced in no uncertain terms in the recording of the final Westminster Faith Debate above, I am rather surprised to read this and hope that it can be taken as supportive and not covertly threatening.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 4:41pm GMT

I know that this us diverting from the subject of this thread but it is a fact that the penal substitution theory of the atonement, which permeates this well loved hymn by the wife of the Archbishop of Armagh makes it unsingable these days

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 4:47pm GMT

Well, I for one shall continue to sing "There is a green hill far away" but I'm sure those who object to its theology could easily come up with a bowdlerised version.
Another great hymn by Mrs. Alexander which teaches children about the wonders of Creation is, of course, "All things bright and beatiful". This hymn has already been sanitised in that one verse is no longer sung
The rich man in his castle
The poor man at his gate
God made them high and lowly
And ordered their estate.
That Upstairs Downstairs verse is no longer considered to be P. C. but it's simply amazing how popular Downton Abbey is nowadays which kind of reflects the sentiments contained in the forbidden verse. With the latest damning report On food poverty and the ever increasing demand made on Food Banks, I wonder if we have changed all that much since Victorian times when Mrs, Alexander penned her excised verse?

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 7:23pm GMT

FR David. The world, or our world, has certainly changed since Mrs Alexander penned her immortal verses. For one thing we no longer believe that the social order and hierarchy is God- determined. That may be what she thought, and we may feel that it is seething difficult or impossible to change. That doesn't mean it is right and to continue to sing this nonsense can only be regarded as further evidence that Christians have no concept of what the world, under God, should be like.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 1:51pm GMT

this is the first time I have felt ashamed to be a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 3:14pm GMT

Dear Richard, I certainly wasn't arguing for the restoration of the missing verse from All things bright and beautiful but was pointing to the poverty that still exists in 21st century Britain and how so many children still go hungry, as they did in Victorian and Dickensian times. The cry of Oliver Twist can still be heard across the land "Please Sir, can I have some more?"
As for the social order - Old Etonians rule today in Church and State.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 6:16pm GMT

My partner and I are getting married in our Episcopal parish in the US in January using a Rite that was developed at General Convention in 2012, with some language that makes it legal in our state. 70 year olds (and younger) are lining up to be our bridesmaids and best men. It will be Sacramental, legally recognized, and a REALLY big party!!!!!

In some dioceses in TEC, bishops are INSISTING that their same-sex clergy get married and live their lives in covenant, same as straight clergy.

It is long in coming. Alas, it saddens me that it will be longer still for CoE and SEC clergy and members. And that they have to put up with some pretty horrible attitudes from their church leadership. These leaders really need to go into prayerful reflection about the church and issues like slavery, racism, anti-semitism, etc. They really need to reconsider their perspective and their role in liberating or oppressing God's Children.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 12:06am GMT

Many C of E ministers marrying this week in England & Wales as the 'Conversion' mechanism came into force (Dec 10th).

And also in Scotland, where marriage equality came into force today !

Also in Australia where Scots couple married at Consulate under Scots law !

Posted by: Laurie on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 2:49pm GMT

Congratulations to Cynthia.

This is so blessed a time for you, both.

Posted by: Laurie on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 2:50pm GMT

Looks like the injustice has a rather international dimension.


Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 19 December 2014 at 8:26pm GMT
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