Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Church of Scotland approves the Columba Declaration

Updated Wednesday evening

The Church of Scotland reports today: Historic ecumenical agreement with Church of England approved.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has unanimously backed a landmark agreement to enter into an historic ecumenical partnership with the Church of England.

The Columba Declaration represents a “significant step” between the two denominations and will open up new future possibilities of closer working together to develop God’s Church…

Other reports on the decision include:

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Anglo-Scottish ecumenical agreement approved by Church of Scotland

The General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has this morning approved the Columba Declaration – an ecumenical agreement between it and the Church of England; and – in identical terms approved by the C of E’s General Synod in February – instructed the creation of an ecumenical “contact group” which would include representatives of the two churches and also the Scottish Episcopal Church…

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of Scotland passes landmark unity pact with Church of England

BBC News Archbishop of Canterbury in Church of Scotland General Assembly first

The text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the Church of Scotland General Assembly includes this apology.

… First, for me at least, is an apology.

The Columba Declaration is one that I support strongly and I hope you will, but the handling of its announcement caused much consternation and deep hurt to the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). That hurt is exclusively my responsibility and I want to put on the record to you and to them my apology. We know that the goal of unity envisaged in the Columba Declaration cannot be pursued by some churches in isolation from others, and in our context that must mean a particular place for the Scottish Episcopal Church as your Anglican partner in Scotland, and as our immediate neighbour in the Anglican Communion (we have many close links, including ordained ministers moving between our two churches, as we do with the Church in Wales). For this reason there is great importance in the motion at our Synod saying that the Contact Group to take the Columba Declaration forward should include an SEC representative, whom we ask to be a full participant…

Our report on the initial announcement of the Declaration (on Christmas Eve) is here, and there are later reports here, here, here, here and here.


Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration – where are we now?

Statement by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 at 3:07pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | Scottish Episcopal Church

Just about the worst model of ecumenism there could be. However carefully worked out the means by which it has been achieved (trampling over the SEC) doesn't justify the end.

Posted by: Nicholas Henderson on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 at 3:41pm BST

The reality of Christian Unity (in Christ) is something we should all try to live out in our lives. We are called to love one another.

The apology, too, is welcome - it was right to acknowledge that hurt was caused.

As for "profound love amidst welcomed diversity." What does Justin mean by 'welcomed' diversity? Welcomed on whose terms? Welcomed as who people are (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) or welcomed despite those human identities and characteristics?

Because it often does not seem very welcoming. If I had had my job taken away because I had a gay partner, I wouldn't feel very welcomed or loved. Likewise, if my Province was threatened with sanctions for embracing diversity.

Will Scottish pastors in gay marriages be welcomed to officiate in the Church of England? Or will they be discriminated against?

Because this... "We won’t always necessarily find ourselves walking in step with one another, something I’ve been particularly conscious of, as, like you, we have been considering the issues around same-sex marriages, and following your earlier debate on ministers in same-sex marriages."

But on the desire for unity, that is a good desire. Just that unity isn't the same as uniformity, either between Churches, or within the Church of England.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 at 5:53pm BST

Church of Scotland: "The Columba Declaration represents a “significant step” between the two denominations..."

I think that would have been more accurately expressed as "The Columba Declaration represents a “significant step” between the two churches..."

But therein lies part of the trouble.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 at 8:48pm BST

Why, when the ABC (Church of England) Primate was invited to speak at the COS Assembly, was not the Primus of the Episcopal Church in Scotland also invited?

One might think that the COE was not intimately related to SEC and ALL other Anglican Provinces.

Is this just a relationship of COE and COS?

If so, then why were not all Anglican Provinces brought in on the conversations? Or is this just one more autonomous decision made by one Anglican Province without consultation?

Interestingly, this is the sort of autonomous behaviour that caused TEC to be disciplined by the recent Primates' Meeting. Can the COE get away with this without seeming hypocritical?

Seems like SEC ought take up a similar 'Special Relationship with TEC - an enhancement of what has already occurred in SEC's initial provision of episcopacy to ECUSA. That would make sense!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 2:00am BST

When the first existing bishops and bishops-elect of the soon-to-be Church of South India met (1947) (a church union at the time opposed by the SEC and some other provinces, mainly of the Anglo-Catholic party), Bishop Newbigin tells of the moment someone asked about what to do about archdeacons, deans, canons, etc, in the united Church. There was momentary silence and someone said "abolish them". Bp-elect Newbigin minuted "Abolished". (Although from an eccentric point of view, perhaps abolition in some other jurisdictions would be a pity - no good satirical novels would result.)

I watched the entire C of S General Assembly debate: far more positive, constructive, generous and charitable than elements of the C of E General Synod debate on the matter, also compare the warm welcome extended to Cantuar, and the Christ-centered emphasis. Interestingly I recall a young member (formerly C of S) abstained from voting at the General Synod because the C of S was accommodating of clerical marital diversity.

Perhaps this long overdue agreement (from which discussion the SEC withdrew but nevertheless a number still making quite some protest), might be telling us that it is not all about us, not all about bishops (at least of a prelatical sort), not all about fixed views or structures or parties, not all about our patch or patch protection.

Whose Church is it? Whose world is it? What really matters? The Spirit moves where it wills (even through legislated Assemblies and Synods), affirms what it will (even diversity outwith the denominations, parties and plans). Amen.

Posted by: keithmcianwil on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 2:48am BST

This is all about Establishment, surely? The SEC (along with TEC) are offering a model of Anglicanism which is Christ-centred, sacramental, open Catholicism. The powers that be in the C of E, however much they protest their bible-believing orthodoxy, are locked into the establishment public-school faith in structures and legalism. The Church as an organisation rather than an organism. SEC represents the humble unprepossessing backstreet church whose door opens into a jewelled, mystical splendour; the C of E a majestic cathedral whose cold formality is as near as the visitor is going to get to the God of Love. I can't comment on the C of S but I suspect they have been hoodwinked.

Posted by: David Emmott on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 12:07pm BST

I found Kelvin's piece illuminating and clearly written from the heart.

I think David Emmott has summed up my reaction to the declaration itself.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 1:09pm BST

I thought the SEC was originally a participant but then pulled out.

Posted by: Cseitz on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 1:30pm BST
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