Saturday, 13 June 2015

Scottish Episcopal Church - marriage vote


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

Beth Routledge General Synod 2015: Going Forward In Diversity and Difference

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at 11:59am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Scottish Episcopal Church

Unexpectedly, I'm not surprised at this: the Episcopal Church responded strongly and bravely to its bishops' version of England's "pastoral advice," and a head of steam was clearly building. Something had to give, and it did. Praise be.

I hope and pray that General Convention votes through equal marriage, so the Scots aren't standing alone as they make the same journey as the church they helped found. Solidarity is the best way to withstand the inevitable and ferocious backlash. If nothing else, that backlash will, at last, get this back into England's Synod.

Right on Welby's doorstep. Go Piskies!

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at 8:14pm BST

Thanks be to God---and thanks be to Scotland the BRAVE! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 5:10am BST

And the evangelical grouping within the SEC is very small. As I have stated as regards the Church of England that will be the crucial blocking factor.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 7:28am BST

Frankly, Scotland is a more progressive and forward-looking nation. It is politically less conservative, and it has set exemplars for England in the support and provisions for transsexual men and women.

Therefore, in some ways, these developments do not surprise me.

And I hope that openness and inclusion in the Episcopal Church will serve as a challenge and indictment to the Church of England establishment.

More and more people in the pews now recognise that there is nothing wrong with gay sex, and that it is about... love.

The Episcopal Church in the US has, of course, been a beacon and prophetic example to the Anglican communion.

Attempts to marginalise TEC in the US are made increasingly difficult when Anglican churches on the very borders of England are repudiating the C of E position.

In the end, the dam cannot hold. The streams will flow! And love will win...

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 9:17am BST

Simon, could you add this to my posting.

The case of the Scottish Anglican episcopalians. In the nineteenth century some Anglican congregations refused to join the Scottish Episcopal Church as it was too high church.The last of these congregations joined the SEC in the 1980s, and they are the only congregation ripe for schism. As regards the Anglo-catholics less than 50 joined the Ordinariate.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 10:44am BST

Can someone give an update on where the Church in Wales is on this?

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 2:25pm BST

By most estimates, this group below and their friends is 20-25% of the SEC. I don't think this is a small percentage. I believe P's and G's in Edinburgh is the largest parish in the SEC.

June 14, 2015

Responding to the Decisions on Marriage made by General Synod

At its meeting in Edinburgh from 11-13 June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church chose to delete any reference to marriage as being between a man and a woman in order to facilitate its clergy in marrying two people of the same sex.

In contrast to that decision, we reaffirm the doctrine of marriage as given in the Old Testament in Genesis 2:24, reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:5 and by Paul in Ephesians 5:31 - ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’

We are committed to loving and supporting all the people in our congregations, including many gay people, and in particular at this time those who are left confused and distressed by the decisions of the General Synod.

We will take some time to pray and reflect on what the General Synod has committed to, before we discern what must be done to support people in congregations all over Scotland who will be unable to support this innovation.

Signed by:

Rev Canon Ian Ferguson, Westhill Community Church, Aberdeenshire
Rev Canon Dr Douglas Kornahrens, Holy Cross, Davidsons Mains, Edinburgh
Rev Alistair MacDonald, St Drostan’s, Insch & All Saints, Woodhead of Fyvie
Rev Dr Iain MacRobert, The Priory Church of St Mary of Mount Carmel, South Queensferry
Rev Dave McCarthy, St Thomas’, Corstorphine, Edinburgh
Rev Dr Philip Noble (Retired)
Rev Canon Dave Richards, St Paul’s & St George’s, Edinburgh
Rev Canon Malcolm Round, St Mungo’s, Balerno
Rev Paul Watson, St Devenick’s, Bieldside, Aberdeen

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 7:21pm BST

There is a link to the St Asaph results...very well presented

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 8:13pm BST

But are those Scottish evangelicals committed to words of our Lord.. " What God has joined together let no man put asunder."

Defending marriage..God doesn't need such persons who turn a blind eye to heterosexual immorality.

Tell the truth cseitz about the "Anglican" Church in North America and divorce!

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 8:18am BST

Dr Seitz both here and elsewhere seems to be fixated by numbers to the exclusion of all else. Yes, as one might expect, a substantial number of Scottish Episcopalians are unhappy at the outcome of Saturday's Synod vote and will naturally wish to take time to reflect on it. On the other hand, the option to refer Section 1 of Canon 31 to the relevant committee as part of the process for its removal was carried by a large majority. As one member of the Synod, has put it on her blog "I think [this] allows us to go forward together, loving one another in our diversity and our difference and our disagreement". A conscience clause will be included so that no-one who objects to same-sex marriage will be compelled to officate at one. I hope and pray that there won't be a schism - after all Scotland has form on this. Equally, it would be objectionable if a minority of the SEC, no matter how large, were able to veto the proposed change. It must be possible to find a way to manage diversity and disagreement within the SEC. There are two divergent and faithfully held views on the theology of marriage at play here (maybe more) and ways must be found to accommodate them both. After all, the CofE manages to stomach the philosophically strange 'two integrities' on the ordination of women. What must not happen is that gay people must not continue to be excluded and marginalised by the church and denied the opportunity for marriage. I am afraid that I have too often seen phrases like 'including gay people' inserted into statements as a sop to avoid accusations of prejudice.

I am a 72 year old who is not gay and like others I have come to a new view on the theology of marriage after careful thought. I am very grateful to Thinking Anglicans for having published links to various documents being prepared for the debates on gay marriage both here and in the USA. I have found them immensely helpful. To return to Dr Seitz - I don't think arguments about numbers are either helpful or fruitful.

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 12:05pm BST

Why do you ask me about ACNA? I am not in ACNA and ACI rather famously argued against it.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 12:46pm BST

"In the nineteenth century some Anglican congregations refused to join the Scottish Episcopal Church as it was too high church.The last of these congregations joined the SEC in the 1980s, and they are the only congregations ripe for schism."

This is historically inaccurate and also does not line up with the parishes listed above. Unsurprisingly, as the issues are so different.

Ecumenism and 'open communion' services (including non-Episcopalians) were issues.

Any decent history book can fill in the details.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 1:35pm BST

I have to disagree with CSEITZ. Anglicanism was illegal in Scotland from 1690 to the end of the nineteenth century. However some Church of England congregations loyal to the Hanoverians were tolerated and some of these refused to join the Scottish Episcopal Church, when religious liberty was granted. During the nineteenth century it became an issue of churchmanship and the last congregation only submitted to the SEC in the 1980s. Read the history of St Thomas' and St Silas congregations in Scotland.

Whatever denonination CSEITZ belongs to, my point remains valid, all the so called conservative breakaways are liberal on divorce.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 3:56pm BST

I should have been clear that the blog I referred to in my last post was that of Dr Beth Routledge to which there is a link in the original post on this topic.

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 5:49pm BST

To my point. Only St Thomas is on the list of signatories above.

Yet you wrote "they are the only congregations ripe for schism."

I am aware of the parishes that sought oversight from English Bishops when disagreements arose over open communion and other practices (free prayer). These parishes returned to the SEC when the disagreements no longer were relevant. AS they would not be today, High or Low or Otherwise.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 8:03pm BST

"There was however a reaction to the change in practices begun by the Oxford Movement. Between 1842 and 1844 some congregations left the SEC in protest over the introduction of a Canon which prevented the use of non-liturgical services (e.g., open prayer, non Episcopalians involved, etc). By 1880 there were eleven such congregations. During the 20th century these churches gradually re-entered the Episcopal Church, the last to do so being St. Silas in Glasgow in 1986" (from the SEC website).

St Silas did not sign the statement of 14 June 2015.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 8:15pm BST

"Whatever denonination (sic) CSEITZ belongs to."

I am a Priest in TEC. I was licensed in the SEC when I lived there.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 8:27pm BST

"St Silas did not sign the statement of 14 June 2015."

St Silas is currently in vacancy.

Posted by: Kennedy on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 at 8:37am BST

Thanks. Perhaps they will.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 at 12:57pm BST

I see now that Mike Parker has included his name on behalf of St Silas. (David McCarthy was the rector there before he went to St Thomas, and Mike was at St Thomas previously...).

This collection of churches is not identical with those which stepped back from the SEC in the 1842-44 period, for very different reasons (Oxford Movement; worship Canon).

It will be interesting to see how they remain together in the face of the new developments.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 at 3:12pm BST

It will be interesting to see how many of them are at odds with large sections of their congregation.

It is also instructive to compare the handful opposing the changes with the massive backlash against the anti-marriage guidance issued by the Bishops back in December:

Posted by: Jo on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 at 6:35am BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.