When Rev Canon Anne Dyer was appointed as the latest bishop of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, not everyone was pleased. Canon Dyer is to be the first female bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and she was appointed by an Episcopal synod, after the Diocese failed to produce a short list during two searches. This is in accordance with church canon. However, certain members of the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney are not happy, and they expressed their displeasure in an open letter to the College of Bishops and the Bishop Elect, published on Friday, January 5. “We the undersigned, clerical and lay members of the United Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, who hold a wide variety of views on the current matters of concern within the Church, wish to protest over the process by which the Episcopal Synod of the Church appointed a Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney. We acknowledge that Canon Dyer was not herself involved in the decision to appoint her simply accepting the Bishops’ invitation. Our protest is not in any way personally directed at Canon Anne and should not be construed in that way,” they wrote. The primary protest is over the way Canon Dyer was appointed, but other concerns are raised, such as that she is not a car driver, and that this could prove a difficulty in a largely rural parish. The signatories ask for Canon Dyer to take back her acceptance of the election. The full text of the letter can be found here.
Today, the Most Rev’d Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, responded with an open letter of his own. “We have been greatly concerned to receive your letter. We regard it as particularly regrettable that you have chosen to communicate with us by publicly releasing your letter and press release without any prior indication to us of your intentions and we are dismayed at the invidious position in which it places Canon Dyer as the Bishop elect of the diocese.” He goes on to reiterate the canonical nature of the appointment, and expresses dismay over the request for Canon Dyer to reject the appointment. “You state in your letter, and your accompanying press release, that your “protest” is not personally directed at Canon Dyer, and also that it does not concern arguments about women bishops or same-sex marriage. We are glad to note that and simply observe that to invite her to withdraw her acceptance of election seems entirely inconsistent with those assertions. Your letter does not purport to speak for the Diocese as a whole and we would wish to point out that there are many in the Diocese who have expressed their delight at the prospect of Canon Dyer becoming their bishop.” Most Rev’d Strange ends by appealing to the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney as a whole to come together to welcome Rev Canon Anne Dyer as their bishop. The full text of his letter can be found here.