Updated Sunday evening
Readers will recall that the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church recently issued Guidance on Marriage and Civil Partnership.
This week, a response from quite a number of clergy was published, see Dear Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. As Kelvin Holdsworth explains:
Last weekend I signed the following letter which was sent to the Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It was organised by a group of clergy in the diocese of Edinburgh. The fifty or so signatories were those who happened to learn of this over a couple of days last weekend. There will no doubt be others who would have wanted to sign it who simply didn’t hear about it…
The full text of the letter is reproduced below the fold. Follow this link and scroll down for the list of signatories.
The Scottish newspaper The Herald has picked up this story, and run two articles about it. First on Wednesday they wrote Church faces backlash after banning gay clergy from marrying.
CLERGY in the Scottish Episcopal Church have been threatened with disciplinary action if they enter a same-sex marriage, sparking a fierce backlash amongst its ministry and membership.
An edict by Episcopalian bishops warns clerics already in a civil partnership that converting their relationships into marriage would put them “outwith doctrinal understanding”, a move sources say could effectively make them homeless or strip them of their livelihood.
People training to enter the clergy and in civil partnerships, accepted within the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), are also warned that if they marry they cannot be ordained. The ban also extends to ‘lay readers’, non-clergy trained to preach, teach and lead worship…
Then today, the same newspaper published this: Traditional weddings threat as church faces unprecedented insurrection over gay marriage ban.
CHURCH leaders are facing an unprecedented insurrection amongst their own ministry over their gay marriage ban, with signals some clergy will not carry out any weddings until the matter is resolved.
In what has been described as the biggest crisis to engulf it in living memory, over 50 Scottish Episcopalian Church (SEC) clergy - around one in six - have signed a letter condemning the stance of their bishops over same-sex marriage.
Amongst the signatories are some of the SEC’s most prominent figures, including current and former deans of three dioceses, essentially bishops’ deputies and the equivalent of an archdeacon in the Church of England, and two provosts, the senior priests in Episcopalian cathedrals.
While unhappy over the general stance of the SEC on gay marriage, the ire is focused primarily on the ban on the clergy and trainees turning their civil partnerships into marriage.
The letter also contains a veiled warning some members of the SEC clergy could refuse to conduct any weddings while the row rumbles on…
Andrew Swift has written Identity & Authority
Christine McIntosh has written Crisis? What crisis?
Dear Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church,
We read with dismay the Guidance for Clergy and Lay Readers in the light of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.
We appreciate that we are bound by the law, and that until our canons are changed, we cannot legally perform same-sex marriages. However, we are disappointed by both the timing and the tone of the document. We have been urged by you to enter into ‘cascade conversations’ in a spirit of open and sensitive listening with people of all views on this matter. This document only makes this process much harder for us, even impossible for some. Far from acknowledging the reality of differing experience and views in the church, it gives the impression of a definitive answer to the question we have yet to discuss or debate. The document ought to make it clear that the restrictions it describes may be temporary, if the church decides to change its canons. Because of the confusion created by this document, we now believe that such canonical change should be decided in Synod as soon as possible.
But we were especially dismayed by the section of the document which refers to clergy, lay readers, and ordinands, should they be in a same-sex relationship and wish to be married. In particular, we find the warnings to ordinands, both currently training and those who might be training in the future, to be unrepresentative of the generous and communal characteristics of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Even though our church has not yet agreed to solemnise same-sex marriages, they will nevertheless become a civil institution which we will recognise like everyone else under the law. It is our firm belief therefore that any prohibition on obtaining a civil marriage is outwith the moral and canonical authority of a bishop.
We acknowledge that this process is one which creates anxiety for all church leaders, and bishops in particular. We empathise with the difficult situation that you as bishops are in, and reaffirm our desire to support you in your leadership of our church, and as fellow members of it.
Nevertheless, some of us are now uncomfortable about solemnising marriages at all until such time as all can be treated equally, and all of us will continue to feel morally compromised in our ministries, and wish to make clear our continuing commitment to affirm and support all people in our church, and to recognise and rejoice in all marriages, of whatever sexual orientation, as true signs of the love of God in Christ.
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.
TO ALL CLERGY AND LAY READERS FROM THE COLLEGE 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
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.
Updated twice Friday evening
Updated Saturday evening
The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding its annual General Synod from today until Saturday. The agenda and papers are available here.
There is an official report of today’s business - General Synod 2014 Day One - and these two news items:
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Introduces General Synod 2014
Launch of New Grosvenor Essay No.10 ‘The Church and Scottish Identity’.
There is a live audio feed here.
Here is the official report of the second day’s business: General Synod 2014 Day Two
The Primus addressed the synod following discussion on the subject of Same-Sex Relationships. The full text of his statement can be found here.
Not everybody shared his views, see:
Kelvin Holdsworth How not to have a synodical discussion
Beth Routledge Why I’m Still Not Convinced By The Cascade Conversations
Here is the official report of the third day’s business: General Synod 2014 Day Three.
Kelvin Holdsworth draws our attention to this statement from the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which was sent to clergy today as part of a regular electronic clergy mailing.
Blessing of Civil Partnerships
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 2012 agreed not to adopt the Anglican Covenant. Since then, and within our own context, the College of Bishops has, on a number of occasions, considered how our church should best engage with those underlying questions of human sexuality which had given rise to the original idea of a Covenant. The College looks forward to the Church undertaking discussion of such matters as part of the process currently being designed by a group set up for that purpose by the provincial Mission and Ministry Board. The College in no way intends to pre-empt the outcome of those discussions. At the same time it recognises that the entering into of civil partnerships is a regular occurrence in Scottish society today.
In a previous statement the College indicated that it was the practice of the individual Bishops at that time neither to give official sanction to blessings of civil partnerships, nor to attend them personally. The Church does not give official sanction to informal blessings but each Bishop would nevertheless expect to be consulted by clergy prior to the carrying out of any informal blessing of a civil partnership in his diocese. The College is of the view that a decision as to whether or not to attend such an informal blessing should be a personal decision of the individual Bishop in question.
College of Bishops
Kelvin comments on its significance here, and contrasts it with what the Pilling report has to say to the Church of England.
BRIN has a very much more detailed discussion at Scottish Religious Census, 2011.
One of the surprising things is that many people in Scotland identify themselves as Church of England or Anglican, rather than as Episcopalian, or belonging to the Scottish Episcopal Church. The figures contained in this table are (updated Monday morning):
Church of England 66,717
Scottish Episcopal Church 8,048
Church of Ireland 2,020
Church in Wales 453
BRIN includes links to responses made by many denominational leaders. The Primus of the SEC made this statement.
The recent decision of the Church in Wales to allow women to be consecrated as bishops, and the election of a woman bishop in the Church of Ireland have prompted an article, Women bishops and the recognition of Orders, by Will Adam, editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, in Law and Religion UK about the implications for the Church of England.
… This is bound to bring up again the question of the recognition in a Church which does not permit the ordination of women as bishop of episcopal acts performed by a bishop who is a woman …
However, the consecration of a woman as a bishop in the Church of Ireland changes the situation. Deacons, priests and bishops of the Church of Ireland, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church are not considered as “overseas” clergy by the law applying to the Church of England. This is significant, because the permission of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is not required for such ministers to be invited to exercise the ministry of their orders in England …
The article refers to this 2004 opinion from the Legal Advisory Commission of the Church of England: The Effect of Acts by women Bishops of Churches in Communion with the Church of England.
Kelvin Holdswoth writes about the same topic in Taint. He concludes with
What I’m interested in is that with respect of our current bishops in Scotland, all of them have either had a female co-consecrator present at their consecration, joined in consecrating someone with a female co-consecrator present or have been consecrated by someone who has had a female co-consecrator present at their own consecration.
What I wonder is whether those who apply the theology of taint believe that anyone at all (bishops, priests or deacons) now ordained in Scotland is legit.
Oh, and by the way an English bishop was present and joining in when this situation began. I was there – I saw it with my own eyes.
Where does this leave the Scottish Episcopal Church in relation to those who would deny the legitimacy of women to act as bishops? …
Do we, or do we not, remain in full communion with [all of] the Church of England?
Frank Cranmer has performed a detailed analysis of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill which you can read here. His commentary includes comparisons with the English and Welsh bill currently in the House of Lords.
He also draws attention to the points which Kelvin Holdsworth has raised in 10 Unanswered Questions about Same-Sex Marriage which are of particular interest to those in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Similar questions may also apply to members of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, in due course, but it seems very likely that the answers will not be the same as in Scotland.
07 June 2013
Bishops and Church leaders call on Government ministers to apologise
An alliance of Churches representing Christians from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland has written to the Prime Minister asking for an apology on behalf of the Government for misrepresenting the poor.
Church leaders, including the Right Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and the Right Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, pointed out that in recent weeks senior members of the Government have given out misleading and inaccurate information about people on benefits. Outlining the inaccuracies, they asked for them to be corrected and for an apology to be offered to those who were misrepresented.
“We are concerned that these inaccuracies paint some of the most vulnerable in our society in an unfavourable light, stigmatising those who need the support of the benefits system,” the letter states. “No political or financial imperative can be given to make this acceptable.”
April saw some of the most controversial and wide ranging changes to the benefit system in a generation. In their letter, Church leaders, including the leaders of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church, said that while they hold no common view on welfare reform, they all share the belief that that those in receipt of benefits are loved and valuable.
“What unites us is the belief that the debate around these reforms should be based on truthful information,” they write. “We ask you, as Prime Minister and as leader of the Conservative Party, to ensure that the record is put straight, and that statistics are no longer manipulated in a way which stigmatises the poorest in our society.”
The full text of the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Appendix one to the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Appendix two to the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Updated Saturday evening
Yesterday’s Church Times has an article by Linda Woodhead about a survey that “suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word “nominals” implies.”
The article is only available to Church Times subscribers, but British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has a summary in Profile of Anglicans and Other News. The survey shows that self-identifying Anglicans divide into four categories.
Godfearing Churchgoers (5% of Anglicans)
Mainstream Churchgoers (12% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Believers (50% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Doubters (33% of Anglicans)
The BRIN article also reports on surveys on St George’s Day and Student faith.
Jonathan Clatworthy has written about the survey of Anglicans for Modern Church: On not going to church.
David Pocklington has a good summary at Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.
The report was in response to a decision of the General Assembly of 2011 which appointed a Theological Commission to bring a Report to the General Assembly of 2013, which was to provide:
- ‘a theological discussion of issues around same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage’;
- an examination of whether the Church should permit ministers to bless same-sex relationships ‘involving life-long commitments’, and to provide a ‘form of a blessing’, or liturgy, if so agreed, and;
- ‘an examination of whether persons, who have entered into a civil partnership… should be eligible for…ordination… as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons in the context that no member of Presbytery will be required to take part in such ordination or induction against his or her conscience’.
The report considers issues of human sexuality from two opposing points of view:
- The “Revisionist position” that the Church ought to regard as eligible for ordination as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons those who have entered into a civil partnership; and
- “The Traditionalist position” that the Church ought not to regard as eligible for ordination as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons those who have entered into a civil partnership.
The seven members of the Theological Commission represented a broad spectrum of the views within the Church of Scotland, with those supporting Revisionist and Traditional points of view being equally represented…
In this week of the second Sunday in Advent, readers are invited to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this very helpful article by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK.
When matters touching on relations between religion and the state are discussed it not infrequently happens that the terminology becomes hopelessly confused and misused – sometimes by people who really should know better. So the following is a cut-out-and-keep guide to the absolute basics of Church and State.
First, there are four separate territories in the United Kingdom…
The Scottish government has today issued this press release Same sex marriage
A consultation on a draft Bill to allow same sex marriage in Scotland has started today.
The plans have received cross party support in the Scottish Parliament.
The consultation seeks views on the detail of the legislation. It covers not only the introduction of same sex marriage but the detail of important protections in relation to religious bodies and celebrants, freedom of speech and education.
The Bill contains a provision making it clear that the introduction of same sex marriage has no impact on existing rights to freedom of speech…
The consultation itself can be found at this page: Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill from where links to all the associated documentation can be found.
The official notice from the SEC website: General Synod votes against adoption of the Anglican Covenant.
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church today voted against the adoption of the Anglican Covenant. Following a variety of views expressed by members of General Synod, the Motion that Synod agree in principle to adopt the Anglican Covenant was put to vote - 112 votes against; 6 votes in favour; 13 abstentions. The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane then presented a resolution on the Anglican Communionin support of Motion 27, saying “The Anglican Communion matters deeply to us in the Scottish Episcopal Church. We invoke the history of Samuel Seabury, consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish bishops as the first bishop of the church in the United States of America. We want to be part of the re-founding - the bringing to birth of a new phase of Communion life.”
The Primus’ full speech on the Anglican Communion is available below as a PDF document.
Updated Tuesday evening
This report and related documents can be found at the Evangelical Alliance website, here.
Writing in advance of the report’s publication, Jim Dobbin MP and Gary Streeter MP said in the Telegraph on Sunday that: We need reforms to protect the rights of Christians. There is an accompanying news story Britain failing to stand up for Christians, say MPs.
In the Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre reported this story as Harriet Harman’s law on equality ‘is anti-Christian’ and unacceptable.
Today’s Independent has Committee claims rights laws leave out Christians by Nina Lakhani.
The BBC had Equality law ‘should be extended to cover faith’.
Today’s responses to the report so far include:
British Humanist Association British Humanist Association refutes findings of ‘Clearing the Ground’ report
Andrew Brown Cif belief Are Christians being marginalised?
Are Christians their own worst enemies in Britain today? This question is raised with unusual frankness in a couple of paragraphs of an all-party parliamentary group’s report into Christians and discrimination, which was launched yesterday.
It contains a really quite startling attack on Christian campaign groups:
“The actions of some campaign groups can discredit the Church in the UK and result in perceptions that Christians are seeking unfair exemptions. By bringing highly emotive cases to the fore, they also can add to the feeling among Christians that they are more marginalised than they actually are.
“On some occasions we perceive that campaigning becomes inflammatory or even counterproductive to Christian freedoms. This is due to factors such as: the strategically unwise selection of cases; a distorted presentation of facts for manipulation of the media; and most alarmingly, the deliberate misinforming of the church constituency in order to motivate support.”
But the report also maintains that there have been cases in which Christians have been unfairly treated, usually as a result of ignorance in the wider culture, rather than malevolence; and it demands a reshaping of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which evangelical Christians loathe…
National Secular Society Christian discrimination report is just another call for special privileges
Updated 9 March
The Church Times reports this week on the progress of voting in English dioceses on the Anglican Covenant: Covenant tastes defeat in diocesan voting.
ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.
It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.
Just five of 15 English dioceses have so far approved the Covenant, which must be debated by diocesan synods by the end of March.
Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to the General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England…
And there is this:
in a letter in the Church Times today, the patron of the coalition, the Revd Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford, writes: “Those bishops who back this ill-thought-out and potentially disastrous measure should get the message, and let the Covenant quietly subside into the swamp of bad ideas in Anglican history.”
The letters page is subscriber-only for another week but I expect this text will appear elsewhere shortly.
A splendid speech given last Saturday to Leicester diocesan synod by David Jennings is available here.
Update That paper has since been revised to add some comments in response to the recent video from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the new version is here (PDF).
There have been several comments about the new website:
And there have been several comments about the new videos published by the ACO:
And, from Scotland Kelvin Holdsworth has written Remember the Anglican Covenant?
…In Scotland it is quite hard to find anyone arguing in favour of the Covenant. At last year’s General Synod we had pseudo-Indaba groups which reported pretty negatively on the whole business and it was difficult to find anyone from any of the groups who had encountered anyone at all who thought well of the proposal. The message which I’ve consistently heard since then from around the church is people saying that the Anglican Communion is very important to us but that the kind of communion that the Covenant proposes is not the kind of communion that we see as being desirable. Indeed, the strong message seems to be pro the Communion but against the kind of setup that would be a consequence of accepting the Covenant. The presumption that there would be widespread disagreement about the Covenant in Scotland doesn’t really seem at this stage to be holding up. So far as I can see, there isn’t a great deal of disagreement at all about it…
Updated Sunday evening
The Scottish Government just concluded a consultation on Registration of Civil partnerships same sex marriage and related issues. The terms of the consultation can be found here.
This consultation paper seeks views on the possibility of allowing religious ceremonies for civil partnerships and the possible introduction of same sex marriage.
This Government believes in religious tolerance and the freedom to worship. We also believe in equality and diversity.
There are a variety of views on religious ceremonies for civil partnerships and on same sex marriage. We hope that everyone will use this consultation to express their views and opinions. However, as the debate unfolds, we also hope that everyone will treat those with different or opposing views with courtesy and respect, in accordance with the very highest standards of democratic discourse.
The Scottish Government is choosing to make its initial views clear at the outset of this consultation. We tend towards the view that religious ceremonies for civil partnerships should no longer be prohibited and that same sex marriage should be introduced so that same sex couples have the option of getting married if that is how they wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other. We also believe that no religious body or its celebrants should be required to carry out same sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies…
…In submitting its response, the Scottish Episcopal Church has stated that its General Synod expresses the mind of the Church through its Canons. The Canon on Marriage currently states 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 as a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God’.
The Rt Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Convener of the Faith & Order Board’s working group on the consultation explains “The Canon on Marriage is clear in its wording and that has given the working group set up by the Faith and Order Board a common basis on which to discuss the issues raised in the Government’s Paper. The Church’s current position is that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and this clarity allows us the space to listen to the many differing views held by the members of our Church.
“The general issues raised by the consultation document are matters which are already the subject of ongoing discussion within both the Anglican and Porvoo Communions, and in which the Scottish Episcopal Church plays its part. Our written submission is offered in the knowledge of these ongoing discussions, it is placed within the Government’s time frame and has therefore sought to indicate our canonical position without pre-empting any debate we as a Church are or could be engaged in…
The Church of Scotland responded with No to same sex marriage: Consultation response confirms traditional position and the Convener of the Legal Questions Committee also issued this statement.
The Roman Catholic Bishops in Scotland have expressed strong opposition to the proposals, but their official response to the government does not appear to have been published yet by the Scottish Catholic Media Office.
Update The SCMO has kindly supplied me with a copy, which is available here (PDF).
Although the RC bishops objected very strongly to anyone from outside Scotland being allowed to respond to the consultation, numerous lobby groups invited people outside Scotland to respond, including Anglican Mainstream which sent emails to English General Synod members and others, urging them to participate.
“It will be a mark of perpetual disgrace, and a blot on Scottish history, that no sooner has the Scottish National Party formed a majority Government than one of its first measures is a moral and social revolution of such a nature that it will destroy the time-honoured understanding of marriage, undermine the family, threaten the well-being of children, disrupt Scottish education, compromise healthy living, satisfy the communistic agenda of cultural Marxism, introduce anomalies into Scottish Law which will leave a legacy of legislative confusion, and be a stick with which the aggressive homosexual lobby can continue to beat Christians.”
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has now written on this subject.
See his article in the Scotsman The Most Rev David Chillingworth: A secular state should be prepared to defend religious freedom and his article on Thinking Aloud Church, state and the secular society.
…The suggestion has been made that the Scottish Government does not have a mandate to introduce legislation which is of such fundamental significance for our society. The implication is that these are “non-negotiable” areas. If the Scottish Government was proposing to legislate to enshrine in law discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, colour or race, I would publicly oppose their moral right to do so. But that is not the nature of these consultation proposals.
So what does this say about the relationship of church and state in modern society? I have often said that I am a supporter of the secular state because it sustains a proper separation between legislature, judiciary and church.
In my Irish background, I have experienced both the confessional state which was the Irish Republic in my childhood and the Northern Irish mirror image – the sabbatarian “lock up the playgrounds on Sunday” society. Neither was healthy. A secular state should defend religious freedom – but it will not make any assumptions about religious faith nor defer to it.
If, following the consultation period, the Scottish Government and parliament feel that they should legislate in this way, I believe that it is their right to do so. It is clear that there would be an “opt-out” protection for those who cannot accept this. Churches and faith groups would have to decide whether they wished to use or to stand outside the provisions of such legislation…
This has been reported also in the news columns of the Scotsman as Gay marriages backed by Episcopal Church* which is a most perverse interpretation of what the Primus has said. Which was this:
IN THE Scottish Episcopal Church, we’re thinking about our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage and other related issues. The definition of marriage set out in our Canons is that, “marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman”. That is the position of our church. It’s a difficult issue for us – as it is for all churches and faith groups. We have among our membership people who feel passionately that change is needed – and those who feel equally strongly that we should resist any attempt to broaden society’s understanding of marriage. The consultation period is very short. Among the things we shall say will be that if – and it’s a big “if” – we were to consider changing our canonical definition of marriage, that would require a two-year process in our General Synod, the outcome of which could not be predicted with any certainty.
We haven’t got involved in public debate about this. We’ve been asked for our view and we shall give it in a considered manner – believing that the time for public debate comes later…
* The Scotsman later changed its online headline to read Episcopal Church considers changing stance on gay marriages. Which is less of a stretch.
Today was the last day of the meeting of the Scottish General Synod.
Here is an official summary of today’s business: General Synod - Saturday 11 June.
The Edinburgh Evening News has this very brief report of yesterday’s business: Synod talks on gay issue.
Here is an official summary of today’s business: General Synod - Friday 10 June 2011.
Below the fold is the Primus’s introduction to the today’s discussion (in Indaba groups) of the Anglican Covenant.
Kelvin Holdsworth has continued to blog from the floor of Synod.
Today we begin our consideration of the Anglican Covenant. Next year, we shall decide whether or not we shall adopt it. This year, we explore it together through Indaba method. Canon Michael Fuller will briefly set out for you something of the content of the Covenant. My task is to set it in context – to explain why it is before us and why we need to consider it carefully.
We are a Communion of independent provinces – diverse in social, cultural and historical settings. But each of the Provinces – the Scottish Episcopal Church is no exception – is both enriched and challenged by its internal diversity. I believe that respect for our internal diversity should lead us to give this issue measured and careful consideration – the use of Indaba is one method of achieving this.
I do not think that it is unreasonable that we should have a Covenant which sets out what it means to be part of the Anglican Communion. In former times, we spoke of bonds of affection which held us together. But times have changed. As a missional world faith, Anglicanism has been extraordinarily successful. So we now hold within our life a rich diversity of peoples and cultures. Against that background of growth, one can argue that bonds of affection can no longer be enough.
But of course it isn’t just about response to growth. The Anglican Covenant arises from the Windsor Report which in turn was a response to the dissension which arose in the Communion following the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The Covenant therefore addresses the issues of Communion life not just in general but against the specific background of issues in human sexuality.
In the porch of Holy Trinity, Pitlochry, as in many of our churches, are two pictures. Alongside the baptism at Stonehaven Gaol is the consecration by the Scottish Bishops in 1784 of Samuel Seabury as the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. That was a foundational moment in the life of the Anglican Communion and we were at the heart of it. Our Anglican credentials are not in doubt. Nor is our commitment. The Communion matters deeply to us – as it does to all small churches. We are deeply involved in Communion life – our bishops at the Lambeth Conference, John Stuart representing us at the Anglican Consultative Council, my own membership of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee. At more informal levels, there are all the diocesan companionship links, the work of the Provincial Overseas Committee and much more.
The intention of the Anglican Covenant is that it should lead us into deeper communion. Communion in that sense is a relationship of shared faith in Christ, shared belonging, trust and mutual respect. The prize is a global church held together by the richest of aspiration and the most minimal of structure. But we are human – the question is whether we need some structure and some boundaries to help us to live up to that aspiration. Isn’t that what the institution of marriage is about? But there is another side to the same argument. It is that mutual respect which has to be organized and institutionalized is a contradiction in terms. The risk is that the Covenant may push further away the very thing which it is trying to engender and safeguard. It is for us to make the judgement as to which it is.
As I develop my contacts and travel increasingly in the Anglican Communion, I am astonished at how Anglican it is – in culture, worship and polity. There are all sorts of cross-currents – numerical strength on the one hand, wealth and power on the other are powerful factors. So is the legacy of colonialism. Yet what each Province says and does matters – what we do in this Synod this year and next matters.
What matters is whether we in this church - the heirs to those who consecrated Seabury – feel that the Anglican Covenant is a reasonable and proper step to safeguard and enrich the life of an ever more diverse Communion – or whether we feel that it makes less likely the very quality of Communion life which we seek.
I want to thank those who have prepared our Indaba discussion. It has become the ‘method of choice’ in the Anglican Communion for conversation across difference. I pray that God will bless our deliberations.
Update Monday evening
The brief note below about the Anglican Covenant may be misleading. To clarify, a decision in principle on whether or not to adopt the covenant will be made at the General Synod in 2012. Formal adoption requires canonical legislation, and it is this that will require a further two years. Full details are in the Paper from Faith and Order Board.
Update late Thursday:
Kelvin Holdworth reports that the Primus actually said more about the Anglican Covenant in his charge than was included in the official text, and gives a transcript, in What the Primus actually said.
The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding the 2011 meeting of its General Synod in Edinburgh from today until Saturday. There was a official preview published last month, General Synod 2011, and all the papers can be downloaded.
There is also an official Twitter stream.
Kelvin Holdsworth is blogging from the floor of Synod.
The business included a paper on the process of considering the Anglican Covenant: Paper from Faith and Order Board. The process described in this paper was accepted by the Synod; this will involve making a final decision on whether to adopt the covenant at the 2014 meeting of the Synod, although a decision not to adopt it could be made earlier.
There is background information on the Scottish General Synod here.
Giles Fraser spoke on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme today about Anglican reactions to the Pope’s visit to Britain. For the next few days you can hear what he said at Fraser: Anglicans ‘not anti-Pope’.
Kelvin Holdsworth was critical of some of the Pope’s remarks at Holyrood Palace this morning. See Where to find a place to stand?. Earlier he had written What to say to the Pope, which includes a link to the mural displayed outside St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, which was on the papal route today.
Abigail Frymann has written at the Tablet Blog The Vatican needs a few English lessons. After dealing with the Kasper gaffe, she writes:
What will Benedict say about Anglicans while he is here? Will his affection and respect for Dr Rowan Williams endear him to the troublesome Anglicans who, 500 years after running off with the family silver have opened the door to women priests, supplied the Catholic Church with married priests and seem to take a far fuzzier line on gay issues than does the Vatican? Will he reiterate his invitation for them to join Rome en masse? At best, using carefully chosen words, Pope Benedict could praise what the Vatican calls “Anglican patrimony”. In his homily at Newman’s beatification, or his meeting with the Queen or with Dr Williams and the other Anglican bishops, he could recognise the good the Church of England does, the initiatives for growth it has successfully pioneered, and the parity of its struggles with those of the Catholic Church. At worst, if there is an awkward moment behind closed doors, a subtle criticism, an unfortunate choice of words, between guest and host, let’s hope both Benedict and Koch grasp the use of the line, “More tea, vicar?”
Catherine Pepinster has written at Cif belief Cardinal Kasper take note: the Catholic church in Britain is full of immigrants. This includes the following observation:
…Kasper, like Benedict, is also deeply concerned about the Church of England and fears that it is on the point of schism over women bishops and gay priests. And while people might assume that Rome is keen for that schism if it means hundreds of Anglicans cross the Tiber and become part of what is called an “ordinariate” – a special grouping of Anglicans within the Roman Catholic church – if you talk to people at the pontifical council in Rome and, indeed, to the Catholic hierarchy here in Britain, they want the established church here to be strong…
These videos were brought to my attention by Inspires Online, the Scottish Episcopal Church’s online newsletter; you can subscribe here.
The Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod completed its business at lunchtime today. Here is the report of the morning’s business from the Church’s website.
We have already linked to the audio of the US Presiding Bishop’s address to Synod on Friday.
Here are the other reports of Friday’s business from the Church’s website.
Updated Saturday lunchtime
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schiori, the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, addressed the Scottish General Synod this afternoon.
Raspberry Rabbit has audio of the address online.
The audio is now also available on the SEC wesbite.
Updated Friday afternoon to add Evening Audio Update
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church opened its 2010 sessions in Edinburgh this morning. Here are the reports of the day’s business from the Church’s website.
Thursday Evening Audio Update [3 minutes]
During the afternoon session, synod passed this motion
That this Synod, recognising the publication of the Anglican Covenant and the need to address the Covenant in a manner which is careful and prayerful, request the Faith and Order Board to advise General Synod 2011 on what process or processes might be appropriate to be followed by this Synod to enable due consideration of the final version of the Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Representatives from Episcopal Churches across Scotland will gather in Edinburgh from 10-12 June for the annual meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Throughout the three day gathering, matters ranging from social issues to church policy will be debated.
Topics this year will include:
- an update on the processes of the Anglican Communion Covenant
- a gender Audit report on the Church
- a report from the Church’s Rural Commission on issues affecting people living in rural areas of Scotland and the role of the Church in responding to these issues
- a call for theological and practical responses to the sustainability of the environment
- a major review of the Church’s mission and ministry policy
As part of a visit to the UK, The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (USA), the Most Rev Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori will address General Synod on Friday afternoon.
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev David Chillingworth will deliver his Charge during a Eucharist Service on Thursday morning, marking the official opening of General Synod 2010 and says “The business before us over the next few days will give us plenty of opportunity to talk about the life of our church, our society and our place in God’s creation. We shall visit questions about what it means to be fully human – for example in the Gender Audit. The Anglican Covenant arises from the stresses and strains in our life around the issues of human sexuality – the continuing questions about what it means to be human and about the nature of God himself. But it also leads us to ask how we can continue to express a common faith in Christ – to recognize one another as disciples – within the rich diversity of the life of our church and of the Anglican Communion.”
“It will be a great pleasure to receive the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori. We greet her as the Primate of one of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion - one with which the Scottish Episcopal Church has close historical links.”
There is also this press preview.
Barnaby Miln in the Edinburgh Guide Presiding Bishop In Edinburgh For Church’s General Synod
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori is currently visiting the UK. Three items in her itinerary are:
Updated Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon to update the links (which the SEC website has changed more than once)
Looking ahead to this week’s General Synod, the Scottish Episcopal Church has published two interviews.
The first is with the Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, who speaks about the Anglican Covenant, the Whole Church Mission and Ministry Policy and the Gender Audit.
Interview with the Primus (15 minutes)
The second interview is with the Standing Committee Convener, Professor Patricia Peattie, She highlights the ways the Church is dealing with the financial challenges it faces and reflects on the work of the Standing Committee over the past five years.
Interview with Professor Peattie (13 Minutes)
The Scottish Episcopal Church will be holding its annual General Synod in Edinburgh at the end of next week (10 to 12 June). There are several items on the Church’s website about the meeting.
One item on the agenda is this motion, to be debated on the afternoon of Thursday 10 June.
Motion 3: That this Synod, recognising the publication of the Anglican Covenant and the need to address the Covenant in a manner which is careful and prayerful, request the Faith and Order Board to advise General Synod 2011 on what process or processes might be appropriate to be followed by this Synod to enable due consideration of the final version of the Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Synod members have been supplied with the text of the covenant, but no other papers for this debate.
The Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Church of England has updated its guidance note on “Countering far right political parties, extremist groups and racist politics”. You can read the January 2010 version here: Countering Racist Politics. (PDF also available)
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has very comprehensive information at general election churches getting ready including two resource documents:
These can both be downloaded from here.
And there is a Find a Hustings page.
CCFON has announced that the former Bishop of Rochester, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is to host a series of General Election Hustings across England in order to help local Christians question candidates for Westminster seats.
Updated Sunday morning
The Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway has announced that the Very Rev Dr Gregor Duncan has been elected to be its next bishop.
The BBC and the Press Association in reporting this concentrate on one of the unsuccessful candidates.
Bishop David Chillingworth comments on media coverage, in Welcome to Bishop Gregor.
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth has been interviewed by Mad Priest, who describes him as “quite intelligent for a bishop”.
Judge for yourself by reading the interview in full here.
Bishop David’s own blog is here.
The Rt Rev David Chillingworth was today elected Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church - at an Episcopal Synod held during the annual meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Bishop David was the single nomination and his election was supported by all other six bishops.
Bishop David has been Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane since 2005 and succeeds the Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway who stepped down as Primus last night following his recent announcement to retire from the office of diocesan bishop…
Read the full press release.
The full text of his statement is here.
See Bishop David’s blog, Thinking Aloud here.
The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding its General Synod in Edinburgh right now.
Audio and other reports of the proceedings can be found at the official church website.
There is an audio interview with the outgoing Primus.
There is an overview of the agenda at New Primus to be elected during 2009 General Synod.
Dave Walker has published a comprehensive report on Saturday’s events, at the Church Times blog. He concludes his report with this:
…Overall, a worthwhile event. I personally was disappointed by the turnout at the service, but it didn’t really surprise me given the lack of interest there seemed to be from Christians on blogs and social networking sites in the week leading up to it (feel free to disagree or twll me why that is in the comments below). However, the ‘Put People First’ event as a whole seemed to be well reported in the Sunday papers and appears to have done well in terms of getting its message out. Let’s hope that the G20 leaders, meeting this week, heed that message. I will be blogging from the G20 meeting - more about that in another post.
Lambeth Palace has published a communiqué from a wide range of religious leaders in Britain. See G20 leaders must not forget promises to the poor - Religious Leaders Communiqué:
We write as religious leaders who share a belief in God and the dignity of human life. We wish to acknowledge with realism and humility the severity of the current economic crisis and the sheer complexity of the global and local challenge faced by political leaders. We pray for the leaders of the G20 as they prepare to meet in London this week. They, and we, have a crucial role to play in recovering that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity, and the moral requirement to safeguard human dignity, regardless of economic or social category…
Two documents are available from the Scottish Episcopal Church.
The bishops have published a response to the letter issued in February by the meeting of Anglican primates in Alexandria.
College of Bishops Respond to Anglican Primates’ Letter of February 2009 is available as a PDF file.
The Faith and Order Board has responded to the St Andrews Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
A Response from the Faith and Order Board of the Scottish Episcopal Church is also available as a PDF file.
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop Idris Jones of Glasgow and Galloway has published his address to Diocesan Council in which he discusses the Lambeth Conference.
The full text is available here: Bishop’s reflections on Lambeth.
…The fact is that neither of the extreme positions if I can call them that can be expected to give up what they believe God has called them to witness to as part of the life of their Province. There may be a way through but it is not dear yet where it would take us - meanwhile we hold to the position that we are in pending further provision in the Communion to take account of the need for some enlarged thinking. Whether the proposed Pastoral Forum to take over the care of congregations that have chosen to renounce the leadership of their Diocesan Bishop can have any place in this process I personally doubt.
It seems to me that the issue is not that we lack structure but that the structure has failed to address the situation and when it has attempted to do so Provinces have simply continued to do what they wanted to do and ignored the proposals put forward by the Instruments of Unity. I do have an unease that at the heart of our Communion there is a lack of evenhanded dealing. It was almost as if we were trapped into a game of “my pain is bigger than your pain”. The approach of the Church of Canada about which we were able to learn so much more this year and which was praised for its theological method was completely ignored and brushed aside for example whilst and the interference of another Province in Canada where proper and full provision had been made for congregations who felt alienated remained un -rebuked in spite of it having been forbidden by the recent Primates meeting.
The Canadian Anglican church has a long and strong history of fidelity and development - it gave the Communion AYPA for example - and has been not accorded the respect that it should have. There is more than one way of destroying a Communion but injustice is high on the list of how to achieve it.
We heard much about the need to support churches in other parts of the world; but very little of the vulnerability of the church where society has moved ahead of the game in its provisions which is the position that we find ourselves in along with other churches in the developed world.
The Church Times now has this report Bishops in Scotland defeat membership proposal by Margaret Duggan. Although the title refers to one particular item before the synod, the article is a full report of all three day’s business.
The Diocese of Edinburgh has launched a new website today. It contains a lecture given by the Bishop of Edinburgh on 17 June concerning current conflicts in the Anglican Communion.
The prefeace to the address reads:
This address was given to members of the Diocese of Edinburgh on 17 June 2008. Drawing upon earlier addresses and Bible studies given in the diocese, it argues that the church should allow the category of ‘the tragic’ to shape its perspective on the world, and should place more emphasis on what is highlighted as ‘ethical transcendence’ in its understanding of God. Doing this creates the possibility of articulating a circumscribed and limited pluralism, totally different from simple relativism. The paper concludes by suggesting that much in current approaches to Anglican difficulties rests upon a too limited approach to the doctrine of the Trinity. The heart of the paper is a plea that Anglicanism recaptures elements in the traditions which lie at the heart of its life, brings them to the fore and addresses our current disputes in their light.
The Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow has announced local plans to mark the Lambeth Conference.
Read An Announcement.
The plans include having the Primate of Canada as guest preacher on the morning of Sunday 13 July. And another is:
… Finally, it seems to me to be desirable to have someone at the end of the conference to come and preach to us. But who would the best person to have be? After all, all the bishops of Communion will be busy with Rowan Williams in Canterbury at the Conference. Well, all bar one. I’m delighted to announce that the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire has agreed to come and celebrate the Eucharist and to preach the gospel on 3 August 2008 at 1030 here in St Mary’s.
The Bishop of New Hampshire will also preach at St. Mary’s, Putney in London on Sunday July 13 at 6 p.m.
The 2008 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church had its third, and final, day of business today.
Reports on today’s business on the Church’s website.
The 2008 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church had its second day of business today.
Reports on today’s business on the Church’s website.
General Synod 2008 - Friday 13 June
Verbal reports (about five minutes each) on the morning and afternoon sessions
Synod 2008 Audio Update - 12pm 13 June 2008
Synod 2008 Audio Update - 5pm 13 June 2008
[updated Saturday morning to reflect correction of report title on SEC website]
Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, and a member of synod, is blogging from the floor of synod.
The 2008 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church opened today. The afternoon session included a debate on the Anglican Covenant. The main motion (number 3) before synod was
That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text).
This was amended to
That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to continue to participate actively in discussions regarding the future shape of the Anglican Communion at this time (without necessarily committing itself to the concept of a convenant).
The amended motion was carried (65 votes for; 56 against).
There are a number of reports on the day’s business on the Church’s website.
General Synod 2008 - Thursday 12 June - contains the text of the Primus’s charge to the synod
General Synod 2008 - Thursday 12 June - day’s proceedings
The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding the annual meeting of its General Synod from Thursday to Saturday this week (12 to 14 June) in Edinburgh.
There are several items on the Church’s website about the meeting.
For an overview of the synod’s activities see here.
On Thursday afternoon the synod will debate these three motions on the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Motion 3: That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text).
Motion 4: That this Synod ask the Faith and Order Board to respond to the ‘three questions’ in the letter from the Joint Standing Committee, incorporating this Synod’s response to Question 1.
Motion 5: That this Synod:
a) note the St Andrew’s draft Covenant, and ask dioceses to discuss it and submit comments to the Faith and Order Board by 31 December 2008;
b) ask the Faith and Order Board to prepare a response to the Anglican Communion on the draft Covenant, taking due cognisance of the views of this Synod and of dioceses.
The three questions referred to in motion 4 are:
1. Is the Province able to give an “in principle” commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text)?
2. Is it possible to give some indication of any synodical process which would have to be undertaken in order to adopt the Covenant in the fullness of time?
3. In considering the St Andrew’s Draft for an Anglican Covenant, are there any elements which would need extensive change in order to make the process of synodical adoption viable?
For links to the St Andrew’s draft and related documents see here.