Friday, 10 June 2016

SEC General Synod gives first reading to changes to its Marriage Canon

Updated during the day

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

At this stage a simple majority in each house was required for the motion to be passed. At second reading in 2017 a two thirds majority in each house will be required, and it will be noted that today’s motion received such majorities.

There is an official summary of the whole of Friday’s business here.

Scroll down for press reports.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has issued this statement.

Statement following the passing of Motion 14

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.

Commenting on the first reading today, the Rt Rev Dr Gregor Duncan, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway and Acting Convener of the Church’s Faith and Order Board, said:

“General Synod last year engaged in extensive debate in relation to possible changes to our Canon on marriage. It asked the Board to bring forward canonical legislation this year to remove from the Canon any doctrinal statement regarding marriage. That would pave the way for clergy of the Church who wish to be able to solemnise weddings between people of the same sex. Synod has this year accepted the proposals brought forward by the Board by giving a first reading to the canonical change. The process will now continue and not be completed until General Synod 2017. If second reading is agreed at that stage, the change to the Canon will take effect.

The Synod’s decision this year is important because it represents the beginning of a formal process of canonical change. The Church has been engaged in recent years in a series of discussions at all levels. The current process will enable the Church come to a formal decision on the matter. Views within the Church are, of course, wide and diverse. The passing of the first reading today will bring great joy to some; for others it will be matter of great difficulty. The wording of the proposed change recognises that there are differing views of marriage within our Church and we have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to sustain our unity in the midst of our diversity.”

Results of ballot

 For Against Abstentions     Total Votes
(including abstentions)    
Total Votes
(excluding abstentions)    
 Number     % of votes cast     Number     % of votes cast        
Bishops     571.4228.6077
Clergy4369.41930.606262
Laity4980.31219.7364 *61

* This figure was originally misprinted on the SEC website as 69.

Press reports

BBC News Scottish Episcopal Church takes gay marriage step

Andrew Page KaleidoScot Scottish Episcopal Church takes step towards approving same-sex marriages

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Scottish Episcopal church leaps towards allowing gay marriage

Harry Farley Christian Today Scottish Episcopal Church votes in favour of same-sex marriage

Anglican Communion News Service Scottish Episcopal Church takes first step towards same sex marriage

John Bingham The Telegraph Scottish Anglicans take first step towards gay marriage

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 12:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Scottish Episcopal Church
Comments

No surprises here.

Who were the two bishops who voted No?

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 3:21pm BST

In the House of Laity, the total votes including abstentions appears incorrect. 49+12+3=64 (not 69).

Posted by: RPNewark on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 4:33pm BST

Well spotted! But the error is in the SEC statement, and not in my transcription of it.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 5:31pm BST

Yup, suspected it'd go this way.

Now comes a year's onslaught from England and the wider Communion. It'll be brutal. The SEC will be vilified, ridiculed, and unchurched. Various African and Australian bishops will spit bile; Welby will adopt his prefect's glower, and tick SEC off like naughty schoolboys; and the Communion will impose sanctions that dare not speak their name. In 12 months' time, SEC will be marginalized, "consequenced," and loathed the world over. It'll be a pariah.

And yet, at the end of it all, I expect the Scots will go ahead, and vote through the change. The bullying will fail.

Posted by: James Byron on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 6:22pm BST

I don't think the General Synod of the SEC makes voting lists public as the General Synod of the CofE now does. One of the two bishops voting against would have been the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, who would have moved a shorter traditional motion had the first reading been lost. It's surmise on my part, but I think the other bishop might have been the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. If I have got that wrong I am sure there will be an immediate correction from someone who was there.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 10:07pm BST

Synod voted to take this vote by secret ballot. Speculation about who voted what is futile.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 11:11pm BST

Not long before English Anglicans will be able to head to Gretna Green!

Posted by: Simon Butler on Friday, 10 June 2016 at 11:13pm BST

I am very surprised.

I notice from the list of articles etc., that some do not understand that it is about marriage equality, and not something they insist on calling 'same-sex marriage'.

This language is either lazy or misguided, or worse -- and is patent of a homophobic interpretation.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 2:31am BST

Time's are a-changing, take heart; perhaps the Spirit is moving - see Alistair Dinnie's presentation at the SEC GS vis-à-vis the recent ACC in Zambia: http://www.scotland.anglican.org/alistair-dinnie-meeting-anglican-consultative-council/.

The CofE has entered into agreement with the CofS. The CofE is in full communion with the Lutheran Churches of Sweden, Norway and Denmark and the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht. Even if ABC gets the SEC Primus removed as co-chair of the International Reformed-Anglican Dialogue, I note Prof Iain Torrance sits on the Dialogue body.

Seeking humility, Cantuar could and would learn from Canute. Gamaliel may have something to say too. In any case, the command to Love holds.

Posted by: keithmcianwil on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 4:17am BST

Looks like the Episcopalian parish church at Gretna Green will be a popular venue come next year. Have the Wee Frees been consulted on this "historic" development?

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 5:06am BST

Thanks. I was curious abiut +Gillies' vote.

I wonder what the sizable bloc of evangelical parishes will do. Their history is tied up at various junctures with the CofE. St Thomas and Ps and Gs in Edinburgh, St Silas Glasgow et al.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 5:52am BST

I have to say I'd be surprised and disappointed if Bishop Kevin was the other dissenter. My understanding is that he has been one of the chief advocates of not spelling out doctrine in the canons but in the liturgy, which was part of the inspiration for the form of this change.

Posted by: Jo on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 6:28am BST

+Gillies indicated he voted No in the ACNS report. It's in the public record.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 12:18pm BST

Once again - it was a secret ballot - no-one knows how anyone voted.

To the best of my knowledge, the Bishop of Argyll and The Isles has said nothing publicly about it at all. Though I know very well what he thinks, I'd be interested to hear of any public statement.

[NB that the Bishop of Argyll and The Isles is an Episcopalian whilst the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles is a Roman Catholic]

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 2:56pm BST

Father David, I wonder how appropriate you feel it is to mock a fellow church of Jesus Christ?

Granted they have quite different theological leanings from many on here. However is that justification to use a name that many in that church find quite offensive and patronising?

Posted by: Graham on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 5:23pm BST

Simon Butler. Gretna Green! I think St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow alongside Old St Paul's/St Johns/St Michaels or the Cathedral in Edinburgh will be ready to welcome folk from England. It will be fascinating (and laughable) to see CofE clergy being disciplined for being married according to the Canons of a neighbouring Anglican province!

Posted by: Fr Michael on Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 8:04pm BST

The Queen has never received communion in a Scottish Episcopalian Church. Since King George the fourth's time whilst visiting Scotland British monarchs attend and communicate in the Church of Scotland.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 12:26am BST

Kelvin Holdsworth: "NB that the Bishop of Argyll and The Isles is an Episcopalian whilst the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles is a Roman Catholic"

Kelvin, let me get this right. Are you informing us that the capitalisation or not of "the" indicates whether you are talking of the Episcopalian or the RC bishop? What a lovely bit of ecclesiastical trivia. Someone should tell the website of the SEC diocese - they have not capitalised their definite article.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 12:42am BST

"It will be fascinating (and laughable) to see CofE clergy being disciplined for being married according to the Canons of a neighbouring Anglican province!"

And to be clear, a neighbouring province in full communion with the Church of England. What does full communion mean if it doesn't mean recognising the rites of a sister province? So if someone is legitimately married by another province, doesn't full communion mean that marriage is recognised?

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 3:35am BST

Edward Prebble - that's exactly what I'm saying. It is delightful, isn't it?

And so far as I can see, the SEC Diocese has it correct. Where is the error?

http://www.argyll.anglican.org/

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 8:01am BST

Disturbing but not surprising to hear reports on the Sunday programme of a possible schism in the SEC over the recent vote on SSM. Also a worrying trend to hear of deep disagreement between the Primate of All England and the Primus of the SEC.
Encouraging though to hear such a positive report on the same programme concerning the working relationship between the Bishops of Burnley and Stockport in spite of profound theological differences. Better Together, that's what I say.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 9:03am BST

Kate: "What does full communion mean if it doesn't mean recognising the rites of a sister province?"

Kate, I suspect that if events get that far, the terminology the Church of England will adopt is *impaired* communion... with sanctions applicable for C of E priests if they breach the doctrine in the areas where the "impaired" part is operative.

Of course, events in the Communion as a whole may have moved on before the Scottish scenario takes effect.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 10:42am BST

"What does full communion mean if it doesn't mean recognising the rites of a sister province?"

Obviously the Church of England does not believe you can create a 'marriage rite' that does not speak of man and woman. That is the point at issue.

So when the SEC goes out on a trail that the CofE is not going out on, then the SEC finds itself progressively 'advanced' but also detached from previous understandings still in effect in the CofE.

That is always the case and was always known, or should have been.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 12:17pm BST

Kelvin
I realised as soon as I posted my previous note that I was referring to the wrong website. Indeed, the diocese has the correct capitalisation on their site. The error is on the SEC site.

http://www.scotland.anglican.org/who-we-are/organisation/bishops-and-their-dioceses/diocese-of-argyll-the-isles/

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Sunday, 12 June 2016 at 9:35pm BST

While the Royal Family publicly worship in the Church of Scotland when on holiday in Scotland, I believe Queen Victoria was the first to receive Holy Communion in that church (where then - and even quite often now - the Sacrament was celebrated infrequently). Very strong Anglican and Episcopalian protests were made at the time. The Queen normally does not receive Communion in public services in either the Church of Scotland or the Church of England, and it is said that Matins is her favourite service (as it is mine), the closest we have to our Lord's own service - weekly in the Synagogue ! And the monarch when in Scotland remains a member of the Church of England. Despite what is sometimes said, she does not become a Presbyterian over the border, nor of course does she have any ecclesiastical role in the Church of Scotland (with its rather different, lesser form of establishment) in contrast to her position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. I write this as we in Australia enjoy our annual public holiday (held in most of states today) for the birthday of the Queen of Australia. Vivat Regina.

Posted by: Chaplain Bunyan on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 6:09am BST

Bravo, SEC. A much more certain 'Way Forward' than we are experiencing in ACANZP

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 12:15pm BST

Christopher, you have a politician's knack of addressing a different question than the one at hand. Obviously the official policy of the Church of England is in disagreement with TEC and the proposed SEC Canon. That though isn't the issue.

I was talking of communion between provinces. Communion can only mean acceptance of rites. Indeed the Wikipedia article on full communion says

"Churches such as those of the Anglican Communion see full communion as meaning that their members may licitly participate in each other's rites,..."

So baptism in the sister province is recognised, as is any ordination ... as is any marriage. That I think is essentially the constitutional position and I think it would probably take a vote in Synod to exclude marriage. There is no way such a vote would pass. Impaired communion is not something which a few bishops can just declare: it is a fundamental change in policy which requires a Synodical vote. The Windsor report of 2004 by implication confirms this view noting that a number of provinces have identified and declared impaired communion by synodical vote or primatial declaration.

I suspect canon lawyers are poring over things but I think disciplining a priest for marrying in a province in full communion with England might be unlawful under canon law. It is open to the Church of England under its procedures to declare such marriages void but, in the absence of a specific Synodical vote, I believe they are valid and that no priest can be blamed for entering into one.

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 12:39pm BST

Kate, while I am in agreement with you on principle, the details are a bit different. The Anglican and Episcopal tradition acknowledges only two "Sacraments of the Gospel," as the Articles put it. From Article XXV. Of the Sacraments: "There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord." The other rites we would call Sacramental are not so well honored in the Article. We continue to believe they can be sacramental; but since we don't have directions about them specifically from Jesus we don't treat them the same.

Not to say that this eliminates the problem we agree on. Eucharist *is* one of the "Sacraments of the Gospel," and is the one notoriously avoided, not to say challenged, when the Primates get together (and, as I recall, at the last Lambeth, for that matter). But, it is still distinct from the concept of "full recognition" of the other sacramental rites. We don't automatically have it with Ordination (as too many clerics who are women know too well); and we're not likely to get ecclesiastical recognition of marriages, even if we could get recognition by civil authorities.

So, I'm with you on principle. The history of the sacraments just doesn't go as far as we might like.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 10:18pm BST

On the terms and conditions of being in Communion with other Christians and Churches:

Who makes up these rules?

If you are 'in Christ' then you are in communion with all other Christians, whether you like it or not.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 at 9:48am BST

Kate--recognition of Orders is not like Baptism.

Provinces of the Anglican Communion are at present in a season of impaired communion. At issue is what that means. Some may agree that in spite of this there is some kind of 'nevertheless walking together' as against full schism. This seemed to be the view at Canterbury 2016.

But the situation is both messy and likely to get worse.

Certainly one cannot simply contrive to be 'married' in a neighboring province with a rite not recognized as legitimate in the home province, and return as if this was a 'trick play.'

Even TEC has introduced a complicated reality -- except that it will probably time out shortly. That is, what of a diocese which has canons defining traditional marriage and a parishioner goes to a different diocese to be married and then returns to home diocese and seeks ordination?

We are simply in a state of affairs that canons and tradition do not regulate well internationally or locally. That is what happens when settled practice and liturgical pattern is changed in the name of a 'progressive' cause.

Perhaps I do not understand your question. Sorry if so.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 at 10:58am BST

"Certainly one cannot simply contrive to be 'married' in a neighboring province with a rite not recognized as legitimate in the home province, and return as if this was a 'trick play.'"

There would be no contrivance. Scotland is part of the UK. Assuming as seems probable that there will be marriage equality in the Scottish Episcopal Church rather sooner than there will be in the Church of England, it will be perfectly open to people, ordained and lay, to go to Scotland to be married in Church. There might be 'consequences' (a new word in the vocabulary) for clergy (and Readers?) but the marriage would be very far from being a 'trick play.'

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 at 1:41am BST

Sorry--I thought my use of the phrase was clear.

Obviously one can be married civilly, even via an ecclesial rite (in the SEC).

That this would amount to an ecclesially approved marriage in the CofE for a cleric (or reader) would be a 'trick play' that would not succeed.

Hope this clarifies. I spent 10 years as Chair of Old Testament in St Andrews and was licensed in the SEC at that time.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 17 June 2016 at 4:00pm BST

The Queen has a seat reserved for her in the General Assembly and her own divorced daughter re-married in the Church of Scotland. Her ancestors regularly communicated in non episcopal Lutheran churches when they holidayed in Hanover.In the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral ( since 1563) is the chapel of the Huguenots ..staffed by the Reformed Church of France.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 9:18pm BST

"Assuming as seems probable that there will be marriage equality in the Scottish Episcopal Church rather sooner than there will be in the Church of England, it will be perfectly open to people, ordained and lay, to go to Scotland to be married in Church."

That's exactly what happened in the US in TEC. People from non marrying dioceses and states would travel to marrying dioceses/states. Then things got legally complicated, because states are required to recognize other states marriages... So the legal dominoes fell. And TEC went our way, so that now couples generally don't need to travel to get married (except in those 6 or 7 dioceses where the bishops dissented and got an opt out, continuing to oppress the LGBTQI members of their flock).

It will be nice for English Anglican LGBTQI couples to have the opportunity to marry in Scotland. Not a bad place for a honeymoon. SEC may well help their country reap the economic rewards of the "Pink Pound."

Please don't forget the shortbread biscuits and whiskey if SEC ends up on the naughty step with us in TEC.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 10:45am BST
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