Thinking Anglicans

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church comments on Columba Declaration

In response to the reported agreement between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has written two articles, which need to be read together:

The Columba Declaration – ecumenical relationships in Scotland

…But the aspect of the Columba Declaration which will cause most concern to the Scottish Episcopal Church is the potential involvement of the Church of England in the ecclesiastical life of Scotland. The Church of England is not a Scottish Church nor does it have any jurisdiction in Scotland. The Anglican way is to recognise the territorial integrity of each province – they are autonomous but inter-dependent, The important question is whether, within that understanding of the relationship between provinces of the Anglican Communion, it is proper for the Church of England to enter into this agreement about ministry and ecclesiastical order in Scotland.. That is a matter which will have to be explored in future dialogue between the Scottish Episcopal Church and both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

Columba Declaration – time for a rethink

…The question here is not whether the development of ecumenical relationships is desirable – for of course it is. The question is about whether that development can take place respectfully and in good order. The Scottish Episcopal Church now seems to be faced with the possibility that Church of England clergy will minister in Scotland under the authorisation of the Church of Scotland and without reference to the Scottish Episcopal Church. Yet the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church are partner members of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion in Scotland is expressed in the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England seem to have decided that their commonality as National Churches justifies them in setting aside other ecumenical relationships and etiquette. What would really help this situation – mitigating the damage already done to long-established relationships and avoiding further damage – would be for the two churches to decide to delay publication of the full document to allow time for consultation.

I appeal to them to do so…

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Susannah Clark
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I hope they listen to David. His words are moderate, civil, restrained, but clear.

It seems strange that little consultation seems to have taken place with the Scottish Episcopal Church.

How would Canterbury feel if The Episcopal Church (US) unilaterally decided to form alliances with gay-friendly churches in the Church of England, to send priests to preside in Anglican churches where invited, and generally to transgress provincial boundaries?

No-one (and not David) is saying ecumenism isn’t good. But common courtesy and consultation seems a minimal expectation that would have been appropriate here.

Who, specifically, authorised this recent announcement?

Robin MacDonald-Johnston
Guest
Robin MacDonald-Johnston

We must never forget that the so called Anglican Communion is the creature of the C. of E. and autonomous provinces are an anathema to them. As far as Canterbury is concerned the S.E.C. does not even appear on its radar and is of no account whatsoever. The College of Bishops nothing more than a minor irritant, best ignored Scots must always remember that Anglican means “of England” in the past what England wants, England gets or takes. Perhaps in Canterbury the effects of Sept.14 2014 has not yet percolated its hallowed walls! The Scottish Episcopal Church has a long… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

Can’t but think that this is all a hugely embarrassing ‘cock up’ on the part of someone in the C of E. As a member of the Church of England it makes me cringe. It’s time for a wholehearted admission of unthinking ineptitude and an apology from Lambeth or Church House. In the political world resignations would be expected.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

It’s not a mistake; it appears to be a deliberate policy of respecting certain provincial boundaries (Global South) while disregarding others (TEC, Canada, now Scotland).

The Church of England cannot have it both ways for much longer.

June Butler
Guest

More high-handedness from the leadership of the CoE, which reminds me of Abp. Welby’s invitation to Abp. Foley Beach of the schismatic ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) to the primates meeting next month.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Inconsiderate seems the appropriate word, as in, failure to consider or take into consideration. And bound in its way to produce ill feeling, and work against the good it might accomplish (though I have to say I wonder what that good actually is, given the reality of the separation of jurisdictions. Loath as I am to fall back on personal experience, I cannot help but say this reminds me of an experience in my parish ministry. A church-operated (but non-diocesan) social service agency began an effort to establish a group home for recovering addicts within a few blocks of my… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“It seems strange that little consultation seems to have taken place with the Scottish Episcopal Church.”

It’s bizarre; surely senior people at the SEC knew these negotiations were ongoing?

It could be that exclusion’s a calculated snub for the vote in support of equal marriage, but I find institutional arrogance and incompetence from south of the border likelier explanations. Harder to explain is why the Kirk didn’t insist that the Piskies be included.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Surely as dire a case of ‘Border-Crossing’ as that effected by GAFCON’s ‘ACNA’ folly in North America! When will the Church of England come to realise that its Anglican colleagues around the world have their own ways of ‘being Church’ in their territory. They do not need cross-border interventions like this.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Maybe it is time for the SEC to follow the example of St. Nicola and the SNP in seeking total independence from the C of E by declaring UDI?

Kate
Guest
Kate

I suspect that minds in Lamberh Palace might be contemplating the impact of HRH the Prince of Wales becoming king given his statements some years ago about wanting to defend faiths rather than being Defender of the Faith. It’s potentially a watershed moment for any established church. At the least, the next change in the monarchy is bound to spark calls for disestablishment. Not consulting with the Scottish Episcopal Church was crass, a stupid mistake, but there are potential political reasons why Lambeth might see an imperative to establish some sort of concord with the Church of Scotland – and… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

My two cents: Kate is on track.

I suspect this has to do with the Crown wanting some common mind re: LGBT issues in the UK.

I doubt it is a snub–inadvertent or calculated–of the tiny SEC. That seems too gratuitous.

I just don’t think the whole story is presently known. The SEC should be careful about how it responds, therefore, and Chillingworth is striking the right tone. Firm but careful.

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

I believe SEC was involved in these ecumenical conversations initially but withdrew, not sure why. Would someone who knows more than I do about this process be able to confirm whether that’s correct?

Paul Richardson
Guest
Paul Richardson

Posted on this site on 18th Dec the timetable for Synod.

Tue 16th February

2.30 pm Presentation from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

So it has all been open and transparent after all!!!

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

The working out of this proposed agreement might be really nasty. The proposal to accept priests to minister in C of S churches, for instance. Suppose a person barred from the priesthood in Scotland, but working in England returned to Scotland to a Church of Scotland church? (and yes, there are such) Can you imagine the hurt and upset?

Nigel Taber-Hamilton
Guest

Hah! The snake speaks – of course this is a snub. We in the other Episcopal Church (given life not by the Church of England but by the Scottish Episcopal Church) learned years ago that “moderate” doesn’t work well when you’re dealing with arrogant, insensitive, agenda-driven people.

My suggestion to our Scottish brethren is to push back more strongly – though if history is any guide I doubt anyone south of the border is listening…..

DBD
Guest

To be a fly on the wall of the January primates’ chat!

Iain McLean
Guest
Iain McLean

I agree that Kate is probably on track, but not with cseitz’s suggestion as to why she is on track. Why should the Crown (i.e., the state) care about the churches’ attitudes to LGBT issues? The states have decided, and moved on. That their decisions have caused turmoil in the two established churches (less in Scotland than in England) is no skin off their nose (if states have noses). So I agree that, on the evidence we have, this move is about protecting establishment. It is defensive. Now that that C of E (but not the C of S) is… Read more »

Robin MacDonald-Johnston
Guest
Robin MacDonald-Johnston

Jane, our S.E.C. Bishop knew nothing of this agreement until it flowered in the press at Christmas.
The reality is this, the communion is now broken and hopefully now broken beyond repair!!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Robin MacDonald-Johnston said, “The reality is this, the communion is now broken and hopefully now broken beyond repair!”

The less there is to the Communion (in terms of structure, authority, etc.), the better.

No matter what the so-called instruments of unity say, the Anglican Communion is showing every sign of turning into an Instrument of Oppression.

Chaplain John Bunyan
Guest
Chaplain John Bunyan

Of course, this has been an extraordinary mistake and (in addition to any apology) a work of repair is needed – as it is in the Communion as a whole and more widely, one dares to hope and pray, among all who claim descent from the ancient church communities of Scotland and England, Ireland and Wales. And this rather than celebrating a “breaking”, or delighting in division as some seem to want. St Paul urges us all to seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Does God not offer us “sufficient” grace for that task ?… Read more »

NJW
Guest
NJW

Working in ministry several hundred miles from the Scottish-English border and in churches with no direct connection to the Church of Scotland, I have had dealings with several Church of Scotland ministers – one a lecturer at an Anglican theological college, another the minister of a member church (not CoS) of the local Churches Together grouping and a third working for a secular organisation but worshipping (and preaching) within a local Anglican congregation. This may not of course be typical experience, but working in four English contexts I have had cause to work with CoS ordained ministers in three of… Read more »

Ronald Young
Guest
Ronald Young

In the 19th century there were C of E incursions into Scotland as the SEC emerged from the penal laws. Hmmm…

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

No, Chaplain John Bunyan. No “work of repair” is needed.

What is needed is a wider understanding that the Anglican Communion is not a global church–and that the Anglican Communion is therefore in no position to demand or require, in any way, theological uniformity from its (entirely autonomous) member churches.

I doubt the Queen is relevant to all this. But if she were, would her influence in this area be positive or negative?

She is said to regard the most awful despots as her close friends. Does she feel the same way about retrograde Global South bishops?

Brian Ralph
Guest
Brian Ralph

After being disappointed when reading Rev John Bunyan’s earlier denigration of Gay marriage, I am further shocked by his reference to nothing Anglican in the centre of Sydney. For a number of years I travelled for 2 hours each way to St James King Street. Yes Anglo-Catholic in comparison to the surrounding desert of evangelicalism, it would not be considered extreme in many Anglican dioceses. I was brought up evangelical when many Sydney parishes were still recognisably Anglican as well as evangelical but found welcome at St James. Even my sister, who does not know how to make the sign… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Is this about two declining ‘established’ churches ganging up in the hope that together they will have a greater influence than they have apart?

What ever lies behind it isn’t very honourable anyway, and the slipping out of the announcement of the declaration at the festive season smacks of trying to bury it. Or perhaps it’s just another cofe cock up.

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

I must reply and risk boring readers. (1) I disagree with “gay marriage” (not with civil unions) and support “traditional marriage” but am not guilty therefore of “denigration”! Again, I have theologically little in common with many clergy of my Diocese but attributing “ungodly hatred” to the “the majority” is another unsubstantiated and silly exaggeration. (2) The Uniting Church still allows for a diversity of views (though to my mind not sufficiently) and I guess there would be a diversity of views and a variety of sexual orientations in St Stephen’s, a church of which I am an “Adherent” and… Read more »

Sheila Rosenthal
Guest
Sheila Rosenthal

Where does any or all of this leave those of us ordained in the CofE and working in the Episcopal Church in Scotland?

Brian Ralph
Guest
Brian Ralph

To quote a retired professor, lay preacher at St James. “I have never seen such hatred in the eyes of people as those who came up almost spitting on me” after he had moved a LGBTI friendly motion in Synod which obviously did not get far. I was removed from the readers roster in several Sydney churches after I came out to the Rector (usually after a vitriolic sermon) but then no women ever read the lessons in those churches either, arranging the flowers and pouring the tea was their lot. I know a number of gay people who have… Read more »

Sheila Rosenthal
Guest
Sheila Rosenthal

All of this could be seen as the death throes of two organisations who have dwindling personnel and increasing irrelevance to society. But
where does any or all of this leave those of us ordained in the CofE and working in the Episcopal Church in Scotland and, more importantly, those who worship and financially sustain any of the Churches involved? (I realize ‘democracy’ is not a concept recognized by feudal organizations.)

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

If this is ‘crass’ and a ‘blunder’ and a cause for umbrage, would this not then equally apply to the fact that the CofS and the CofE have been meeting regularly in order to produce such an outcome for several years now? None of this has been done in secret, but has been a part of discussions by both bodies for some time now.

Jo
Guest
Jo

Discussing things is different from announcing decisions that impact on others. It would be perfectly reasonable for the CofE and CofS to discuss any of these proposals, but then I would expect them to approach the SEC and URC and discuss the implications before making any announcements. Not even being able to get the SEC’s name right smacks of careless disregard.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Not even being able to get the SEC’s name right smacks of careless disregard.”

The whole thing smacks of an eagerness to engage with the dominant local church, whether it is Anglican or not.

Which makes one wonder what next week’s gathering is all about.

Heather Macdonald
Guest
Heather Macdonald

I am very concerned to read Bishop David Chillingworth’s words about his fear of the Church of England encroaching on the ecclesiastical life of Scotland and the following negative comments made by many contributors. Clergy from the Scottish Episcopal Church would be always be most welcome in England. The Scottish Episcopal Church chose not to take a leading part in the proposals for the Columba Declaration. The decision was made to withdraw from the discussion with the Church of Scotland and the Church of England at an early stage and only an observer attended the negotiations. This led to the… Read more »

PeterGeorge Dillistone
Guest
PeterGeorge Dillistone

The heat is justified, but it burns. Light is so much more fruitful and constructive – thank you so very much, Heather MacDonald. May I take your contribution to Diocesan Synod next week?