General Synod Friday 12th June 2015

June 12, 2015

Morning worship was led by the Rev Dave Richards and members of St Paul’s & St George’s Church.

Committee for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults

Day two of General Synod business started with the presentations of Motions 11 and 12 in relation to the Anglican Communion Safe Church Charter.  Both Motions were carried.

Motion 11: That this Synod adopt the Safe Church Charter as commended by the Anglican Consultative Council and encourage the whole of the Scottish Episcopal Church including dioceses and congregations in developing a culture of safety.

Motion 12: That Section 2.2.9 of the Digest of Resolutions be altered by the inclusion of the words “and vulnerable adults” after the words “the protection of children and young adults” as set out in the paper included in the Synod Papers for this Synod.

Liturgy Committee

Motion 13: That, upon the recommendation of the Faith and Order Board, there be added to the Schedule to Canon 22 the Service of the Word (2015).

Please see Agenda & Papers, page 144.

Motion 13 was carried and will now be added to the Scottish Episcopal Church’s list of liturgies.

College of Bishops

The final session of the morning was a presentation by members of the College of Bishops on various ways of engagement with the wider Church.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus spoke of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s relationships and role within the world wide Church saying “Within our membership of the Anglican Communion, one of our most important and historic relationships is with The Episcopal Church of the United States.  It’s historic because their first bishop, Samuel Seabury was consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish Bishops.  In ten days time I shall go to Salt Lake City for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.  It would be an exaggeration to say that I am greeted like one of the Pilgrim Fathers.   But the feeling that we are an important and valued part of their history is very much alive today.  When I go there on your behalf, I am greeted and honoured in that spirit.”  Bishop David spoke about the role and responsibilities of the Office of Primus and highlighted a conference he attended earlier this year in explaining “in March this year, I responded to an invitation from Archbishop Thabo, Primate of Southern Africa, to attend what became known as the Eco-Bishops Conference in Hermanus, South Africa.  We have had a tentative relationship around ecological/environmental issues with South Africa.  I went partly to foster that link.  Most of those attending came from parts of the developing world where climate change isn’t just a matter of debate but is a daily reality of life.  I was particularly impressed by the contribution of those representing the indigenous people of the world – particularly the indigenous people of Northern Canada.  They have a way of seeing themselves in God’s creation which is revelatory for us – but which also calls us back to explore again our roots in Celtic spirituality.”

In conclusion Bishop David said “I have also been serving as Chair of the Reference Group for the Continuing Indaba movement which attempts to develop a culture of ‘honest conversation across difference’ right across the Communion.  Continuing Indaba has attempted to foster conversation between provinces – more recently it has moved towards conversation within provinces.  We recognise that while ‘headline’ disagreements in the Communion are often seen as inter-provincial, every province experiences and must work with its own diversity.  Our own Cascade Conversations are part of that broader movement.  That movement in turn is linked to reconciliation as one of four ministry priorities of the present Archbishop of Canterbury.”

The Rt Rev Dr John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh, followed by speaking about the link of friendship and partnership between the Diocese of Edinburgh and Cape Coast, Ghana saying “there’s something hugely enriching about getting beyond national boundaries and learning to appreciate at first hand a culture very different from our own but also one that can teach us so much about what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  Our link was never about money it was always about people and about faith”

The Rt Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness spoke of his role as a Bishop in facilitating and enabling the ministry of hospitality and opening of doors in developing wide spread links and relationships , giving specific examples of opportunities that have been developed as part of a number of visits by people from across the world to the Highlands of Scotland.

The College of Bishops session was concluded by an overview from the Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton, Bishop of Brechin, who spoke of the Church and Statistics saying “It seems to me that in the missionary and ministry endeavours of our Church there are two contrasting matters we need to know about, to understand, and to take responsibility for. One the one hand here are statistics we should rejoice in, our growth points and the extent of our activities reaching into local communities. On the other hand there are realities we need t face up to, for example the apparent decline in communicant membership reported in 2014 compared with 2013.

Mission and Ministry – Whole Church Mission and Ministry Policy

The Synod passes two motions relating to the governance structures within the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Overseas Committee

The Rev Val Nellist, Convener of the Overseas Committee introduced Emily Alldritt and the Rev Kate Reynolds. Emily Alldritt spoke of her role on the UN Commission on the Status of Women and her attendance at the recent UN-NGO Convention on the Status of Women, and urged Synod members to consider gender balance in their own churches. The Rev Kate Reynolds spoke about her two week visit to Israel/Palestine at the end of last year. Attending on behalf of the Committee, and organised by the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland, she said “everyone we spoke with said they wanted Peace”.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Primus, then proposed Motion 16 ‘that this Synod encourage members of the Scottish Episcopal Church to join Scottish ecumenical initiative, promoted by Christian Aid, in praying for Israel/Palestine on the 24th day of every month’ and said “I want to commend this initiative to you.  This pattern of constant prayer is a good one – regular reminder of the importance of an issue and a feeling that one is in solidarity with others around the world. At the Anglican Consultative Council meeting of 2012 in New Zealand, I was asked by others to introduce the Report, Land of Promise,  it’s available on line from the Anglican Communion website.  I believe that it is the best statement which we have of the interplay of faith, history, culture and politics in Israel and Palestine.  It describes itself as ‘An Anglican exploration of Christian attitudes to the Holy Land, with special reference to Christian Zionism.’ Writing in the introduction to this Report, Archbishop Rowan Williams said, ‘we have to prod, nag and encourage – in the context of Motion 16 he might have said ‘prayerfully encourage’ – the religious leadership in the Holy Land on all sides to speak as if they believed in a God who acts, not only a God who endorses their version of reality.’ It is hard to see how deeply embedded conflicts such as this will be resolved by political negotiation alone.  Somehow those involved have to transcend the conflict.  Somehow there has to be transformation which leads to resolution.”

The Motion was carried.

Church in Society Committee

The Rev Prof David Atkinson introduced the work of the Church in Society Committee, and gave a presentation, which included hearing from Dr Martin Auld of RSPB Scotland and Prof Alan Werrity who spoke about Ethical issues related to Climate Change and care of the environment.

Synod then voted on the three Motions related to the presentations and to urge all congregations to pay the Living Wage to all staff by 2016 and welcoming the establishment of the Churches Mutual Credit Union. All Motions were carried.

The morning came to a close with the first of several Motions being presented in relation to a potential change in Canon 31 on Marriage.