The Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to face the same treatment as the Episcopal Church, USA, from the other member churches of the Anglican Communion because of their decision last June to allow same-sex marriage.
The Church Times reports:
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Strange, has briefed his fellow Anglican primates on the decision of his church’s General Synod to permit same-sex marriage. In doing so, he told them that he recognised that his church will now face that “consequences” as those facing the US-based Episcopal Church.
The primates, gathered in Canterbury Cathedral, England, spent an hour discussing the decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its canon on marriage. The discussion took place on the second day of the week-long primates’ meeting.
Confirming that the “consequences” that were applied to the US-based Episcopal Church now also applied to the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told reporters on Tuesday evening: “Bishop Mark said in his opening presentation that he expected that to happen and accepted that it would. It is left in my hands to follow that through and it will be followed through as I did after the Primates’ Meeting of 2016.”
Archbishop Welby confirmed that no vote was taken by the Primates, explaining that it is unusual for formal votes to be taken at Primates’ Meetings. There was a “consensus” he said.
The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church explained the process undertaken by the Scottish Episcopal Church leading up to the vote to change their marriage canon.
He explained that the process had included much prayer, theological debate, open and, at times, very personal testimony and that opportunity had been provided for groups throughout the Church to discuss this matter and to pray about it; this included the voice of the youth in the Church, the sharing of powerful words and stories from elderly members and hearing representation from those who hold a traditional understanding of marriage, those who see marriage as including same gender couples and those who have encountered exclusion in declaring their love.
The Primus also explained that the nature of decision reached by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is such as to allow those of different views to continue to “walk together”. It recognises that there are different understandings of marriage and that no member of clergy is compelled to conduct any marriage against their conscience. Only those clergy who wish to solemnise marriages of same gender couples will be nominated to the civil authorities for authorisation to do so.
Bishop Strange said,
“In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to change its Canon on Marriage. This decision was ours to take as a self-governing province of the Anglican Communion….
“…I recognise that this decision is one that has caused some hurt and anger in parts of the Anglican Communion and that the decision taken at the last Primates’ Meeting, which was to exclude our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church from debate on Doctrine and from Chairing Anglican Communion Committees, is a decision that now also pertains to us. We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish, and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our Church has now reached in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that Love means Love.”
For the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church, the consequences include the inability to pray together. For example, the Archbishop Justin Welby was criticized by GAFCON for allowing The Most Rev. Michael Curry to pray for the victims of the Las Vegas sniper at Evensong today. ACNS:
This afternoon (Tuesday), the Revd Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), speaking on behalf of Gafcon, said that the decision to invite Michael Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service “put the Gafcon primates in a difficult spot.” He said that they were “forced to look like they are walking together when they are not walking together.”
Later, when asked to respond to the comment during a press briefing at Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Welby said that he was “slightly taken aback.”
He continued: “Michael Curry, who is a citizen of the United States, was asked by us – after we had talked with anguish about the events in Las Vegas – we said: ‘Could you lead a prayer as we begin our prayers together at Evensong?’
“People all over the world are praying for Las Vegas,” he said. “I don’t think we ought to bring church politics into Las Vegas. I mean, it is the most dreadful, horrendous, appalling event. I suppose that I would be surprised and disappointed by that comment.”
This criticism comes even as three of the Primates leading GAFCON, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje of Rwanda, and Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda, chose to not attend to the meeting.