The one in which women can become bishops in Scotland, although as yet none have, and in which the sexuality debate continues in Scotland’s churches
The Chronological Story of the 21st Century
Until a period of time has passed it is difficult to know which events in history are important and which are merely interesting (or even were just so regarded at the time). It is thus too early to know what the far-reaching effects of some of the happenings chronicled here will be.
2000 Richard Holloway retires as Primus and Bishop of Edinburgh. He has been Bishop for fourteen years and Primus for eight. In his retirement he lives in Edinburgh and has chaired the Scottish Arts Council. He continues to write books as well as reviews and articles for several newspapers. From time to time he also presents radio and television programmes.
The new Primus is Bruce Cameron, who is fifty-nine and has been Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney since 1992. He was born in Glasgow and came to the Episcopal Church through the Choir of Saint Margaret’s, Newlands, becoming one of eighteen candidates for ordination from that congregation. He studied at Edinburgh Theological College and served two curacies – Helenburgh in Glasgow diocese and Davidson’s Mains in Edinburgh. He became a chaplain at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, and youth officer for both the diocese and the Scottish Church. There followed a period as Rector of Saint Mary’s, Dalmahoy, and chaplain to Anglican students at Heriot Watt University before joining the pioneering ecumenical team ministry in Livingston. His final ministry before becoming Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney was at Saint John’s, Perth.
2000 Further changes to Canon 4 removes the Office of Lay Elector (created in 1863) and transfers the role to each congregation's Lay Representative at the Diocesan Synod. Elections will now take place at a specially convened Diocesan Synod.
2001 At the Westminster General Election the Prime Minister,Tony Blair, and the Labour Party win a large majority. in Scotland Labour holds 56 seats, Liberal Democrats 10, the Scottish National Party five and Conservatives one.
2001 Cardinal Thomas Winning dies in office as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. He is succeeded, in 2002, by the Bishop of Aberdeen, Mario Conti.
2003 The election for the second Scottish Parliament results in a continuation of the Labour-Liberal Democrat government with the Labour party holding 50 seats, the Scottish National Party 27, the Conservatives 18, the Liberal Democrats 17, the Green Party seven, the Scottish Socialist Party six,and the Senior Citizens Unity Party one. Three Independent members are also elected.
2003 A further change is made to the Scottish Episcopal Church's Canon 4 as the General Synod agrees that women priests can be candidates for election as Bishops. (No woman has yet been elected and the name of only one woman has appeared on the published short-leets - Canon Alison Peden, Rector of Holy Trinity, Stirling, was nominated in both the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway and the Diocese of Brechin).
2003 The General Synod accepts two reports - Journey of the Baptised, which affirms that the basic context for mission is the local congregation, helped by the wider church, and New Century, New Directions, which presents a vision and strategy for ministry development.
2003 The Church of Scotland withdraws from the multi-lateral talks with other Scottish churches. The Episcopal, Methodist and United Reformed Churches continue the conversations and in 2008 enter a Covenant Relationship, with a committment to working together more closely.
2003 Keith O’ Brien, Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, is appointed a Cardinal.
2003 The Diocese of New Hampshire in the United States elects a bishop who is openly in a same gender relationship and the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada agrees a service of blessing for same sex relationships.
2004 Alison Elliot becomes Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the year 2004-2005. She is the first lay person to hold the office since George Buchanan four hundred years earlier and the first woman to do so.
2004 An International Commission is established in the Anglican Communion to consider the decisions in New Hampshire and New Westminster and also where authority in the Church should reside. The Commission’s report to the Primates, the Windsor Report, leads to a “Listening Process” in each Province and Diocese of the Anglican Communion, leading up to the Lambeth Conference of 2008. Moratoria are requested on the ordination of clergy in same gender relationship as a bishop, the blessing of same gender relationships and the incursion of bishops from any Province into another.
2005 The Labour Party wins it third consecutive Westminster General Election and Tony Blair continues as Prime Minister. In Scotland the number of seats is reduced from 79 to 56 to reflect the existence of the Scottish Parlaiment. Labour win 41 of them, Liberal Democrats eleven, the Scottish National Party six and Conservatives one.
2005 The Scottish bishops say that homosexual orientation has never been a bar to ordination in Scotland (as the General Synod has not made a decision about it), but later - following meetings of the Primates of the Anglican Communion - the bishops accept the three moratoria.
2006 Bruce Cameron retires as Primus and Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney. He has been Bishop for fourteen years and Primus for six. In his retirement he lives in Perthshire, and has twice been Resident Scholar at Bruton Church, Williamsburg, Virginia, in the United States. His wife, Elaine, and he acted as interim Wardens of Scottish Churches House in the months before its closure.
He is succeeded as Primus by Idris Jones, who is sixty-two and has been Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway since 1998. His election as Primus is unusual in that it is decided not by a vote of the bishops but by the drawing of lots. Idris Jones and Brian Smith, Bishop of Edinburgh, each receive three votes in the Episcopal Synod and the deadlock cannot be broken in any other way. The new Primus was born in the English Midlands. He studied at the University of Wales at Lampeter and at Edinburgh Theological College and has worked in the Episcopal Church since 1980. During his time as Primus he becomes a patron of Inclusive Church, an organisation advocating a church open to all - regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
2007 The election for the third Scottish Parliament results in a minority Scottish National Party government, replacing a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition. The SNP wins 47 seats, Labour 46, Conservative 17, Liberal Democrat 16, and the Green party two. One Independent member is elected.
2007 Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdgom, replacing Tony Blair.
2007 Sheilagh Kesting is the first woman minister to be appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
2009 Idris Jones retires as Primus and Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway. He has been a bishop since 1998 and Primus since 2006. In his retirement he lives in Ayrshire.
The new Primus is David Chillingworth. He is fifty-eight and has been Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane since 2005. He is the first Scottish bishop to be elected while serving in the Church of Ireland. He was born in Dublin and studied at Oriel College, Oxford and Ripon College, Cuddesdon. His entire ordained ministry was in Northern Ireland before his election as Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane. He is the first Primus to write a blog on the internet.
2009 The sexuality debate is also taking place within the Church of Scotland. In May 2009 the General Assembly ratifies the appointment of the Reverend Scott Rennie, a gay man, as Minister of Queen’s Cross Church, Aberdeen. The Assembly later agrees a moratorium on further such appointments, while homosexual ministers, ordained before 2009, may continue in office.
2010 The General Election for the Westmisnter Parliament results in a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government replacing the Labour government. In Scotland the Labour party wins 41 of the 59 seats, the Liberal Democrat party eleven, the Scottish National Party six and the Conservative party one.
2010 Pope Benedict XVl visits Scotland, twenty-eight years after his predecessor, John Paul II, became the first Pope to do so. Later in the year the Pope announces the intention to create an Ordinariate in which Anglicans (in effect mostly those unhappy with developments concerning women’s ministry and same gender marriage) can be welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church, whilst preserving parts of Anglicanism.
2011 The Dean of Edinburgh, Kevin Pearson, is consecrated as Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. The process of appointment is unusual as the Diocesan Electoral Synod is unable to reach a decision and so the appointment is made by the College of Bishops.
2011 The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is created for the United Kingdom. Thus far two Scottish Episcopal priests - one from Inverness and the other from Stornoway - have been re-ordained within it as Roman Catholic priests. Ordinariate Masses are celebrated in Fortrose, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Stirling.
2011 The election for the Scottish Parliament results in a majority Scottish National Party government in place of the previous minority SNP government. It is the first time that a single party has been able to form a majority government since the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The Scottish National Party has 69 seats, Labour 37,Conservatives 15, Liberal Democrats five, and the Green party two. One Independent member is elected.
2011 The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland establishes a theological commission to report to the 2013 General Assembly on sexuality issues. Several ministers and congregations announce their departure from the Church of Scotland.
2011 The General Synod accepts the Whole Church Mission and Ministry Policy as a pattern to be followed over the next years. Each diocese and its bishop will take a central place and be seen as a source of new energy while General Synod boards and committees are to be enablers and supporters and will target their financial resources towards “missional endeavours”.
2012 The General Synod rejects by 112 votes to 6 the request that the Scottish Episcopal Church sign the Anglican Covenant. The concept of a Covenant for the Anglican Communion arises from the Windsor Report and has been years in the planning. The Covenant’s aim is to address the deep divisions across the thirty-eight Provinces of the Communion, triggered by the actions in the United States and Canada. The Covenant seeks to replace the “bonds of affection”, which traditionally holds the Anglican Communion together, with a more formal structure. The intention being that no Province makes a contentious decision without consulting the rest of the Communion. Having rejected the request to sign the Covenant, the Synod agrees to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury “to encourage the development of bonds of shared mission, respect and mutual support”.
2012 Mario Conti retires as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. He is succeeded by the Bishop of Paisley, PhilipTartaglia.
2012 In September The Scottish Government says that the Parliament’s legislation programme for 2012-2013 will include a Bill permitting same gender marriage in Scotland. Most main-line churches currently oppose it. The Episcopal Church in a statement in December 2011, coinciding with its response to the Government’s draft Bill, says - 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’.
2012 The Church of England’s House of Bishops removes the barrier on male priests in civil partnerships (provided they are celibate) from becoming bishops in England.
2013 The Scottish Independence Referundum Bill, setting out the arrangements for the September 18th 2014 Referundum, is presented to the Scottish Parliament in March, following agreement between the Scottish and United Kingdom Governments. and passes into law in November. The question to be asked in the referundum will be "Should Scotland be an independent country?".]
2013 In April the Succession to the Crown Act, which, in effect, amends the 1701 and 1707 Act of Succession, receives Royal Assent after passing all its stages in both Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Among the Act's provisions is one which says “ A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith”. Under the provisions of the Act the monarch remains the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and therefore he or she cannot be a Roman Catholic. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, just before he leaves office in December 2012 to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, says that there needs to be “a clear understanding that a future heir should be brought up in an Anglican environment”.
Following the birth of Prince George on July 22nd 2013 he is named by Buckingham Palace as third in succession to the throne (following his grandfather and father). However, for the first time in more than 300 years, two Roman Catholics are also listed in the line of succession. The two children of Lord Nicholas Windsor (who converted to the Roman Church) and his Croatian wife Paola. The children - Albert, aged five, and Leopold aged three - are placed 39th and 40th in line to the throne.
2013 Saint John's Church in Aberdeen offers space for prayer in the church building to members of the neighbouring Mosque, which is too small for all its adherants to find a place inside. Those praying outside, in the cold of a northern winter, touch the heart of the Rector, Canon Isaac Poobalan, and leads to the offer, which is accepted as graciously as it was made.
2013 Three days before Pope Benedict XVl becomes the first Pope in 600 years to retire (rather than die in office) Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, resigns as Archbishop amid allegations of improper conduct. He chooses not to be part of the conclave electing the new Pope. The conclave lasts just over twenty-four hours and elects the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is the first Pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit to be elected, and the first Pope to take the name Francis.
His installation is three days before that of Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. The two send each other messages of goodwill.
2013 The theological commission appointed by the Church of Scotland in 2011 presents its report on sexuality to the General Assembly in May. The Assembly acceps a motion, tabled at the 11th hour, by the immediate past moderator, the Very Reverend Albert Bogle, which is intended to provide a compromise to avoid a split within the Church. Under it the Church maintains its traditional position of opposition to actively homosexual clergy , while providing an opt-out clause to allow liberal-minded congregations freedom to appoint gay men and women as ministers. The resolution will be drafted into the language of church law during the next year and presented to the Assembly of 2014. If it is approved, it will be sent to each Presbytery for discussion. For the new ruling to come into effect it has to be agreed by a majority of Presbyteries. The result of the Presbyteries' voting will be reported to the General Assembly of 2015.
2013 In June the General Synod of the Episcopal Church is presented with a “design process” for Church wide discussions on same sex relationships. The first step is the establishment of a design group, convened by the Bishop of Brechin, Nigel Peyton, to facilitate discussion.
The Synod hears that membership of the Church has fallen by fifteen percent over the past five years. However, the Primus, David Chillingworth, says that such statistics do not measure the missional life of the Church, its aspiration, and its faith.
The Synod also hears that the age at which stipendiary clergy can draw a pension will be raised from sixty-five to sixty-seven with effect from January 1st 2014.
2013 In June The Scottish Government introduces a Bill in the Scottish Parliament which will allow same gender marriage in Scotland. Debate on the Bill begins in the Parliament on November 20th and the Bill is expected to become law "sooner rather than later".
2013 In Westminster the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill receives Royal Assent on Wednesday, July 17th, after passing all its stages in the House of Commons and House of Lords. It applies only in England and Wales. There will now be a period of preparation to adminster the new Act and a timetable is expected to be announced in the autumn. The first marriages under the Act can take place from March 29th 2014. However, the Act specifically forbids Church of England and Church in Wales clerics from conducting such weddings.
2013 On September 19th the Reverend Pat Storey, Rector of Saint Augustine's, Londonderry, becomes the first women bishop in the Churches of Britain and Ireland when she is appointed by the Church of Ireland's House of Bishops as Bishop of Meath and Kildare in the Republic of Ireland. The new bishop is fifty three and is originally from Belfast. She is married to the Reverend Earl Storey and they have two children. Two months later, on November 20th, the Church of England's General Synod agrees to a process which may allow women to be bishops in England by 2015-16. It will now be considered by each diocesan synod and return to the General Synod in 2015.
2013 Monsignor Leo Cushley, a Vatican diplomat, is consecrated in Edinburgh as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh on September 21st 2013. He is fifty-two and was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire. He succeeds Cardinal Keith O'Brien as archbishop.
2013 Data released from the 2011 Nationl Census reveals that over half of the population of Scotland (54%) think of themselves as Christian - down 11% from the previous Census in 2001 - and that those who say they have no religion has risen by nine percentage points to 37%. The figures also show considerable confusion over the Episcopal Church's identity - with 4490 people claiming to be Anglican; 21,289 Episcopalian; and 8048 saying they are members of the Scottish Episcopal Church. In addition the Census returns show that 66,717 people living in Scotland think of themselves as members of the Church of England; 2020 of the Church of Ireland and 453 of the Church in Wales.
2013 Following its first meeting in September, the Scottish Episcopal Church's "Design Group for Discussion of Same Sex Relationships" is now working on a "Cascade Conversation" and a gathering to be held in 2014. The aim is to provide a process which will "cascade" to dioceses and congregations, enabling people across Scotland, and beyond, to contribute to the conversation. The Convenor of the group, Bishop Nigel Peyton, says “The design group is meeting each month to consider a range of processes to facilitate respectful dialogue, to offer resources and opportunities for individuals, congregations and dioceses to enable such dialogue and to create a model for discussion of challenging questions in the life of the Church. We believe that the Cascade Conversation will provide such a model.”
2013 In November the College of Bishops issues a new statement concerning the blessing of civil partnerships. The statement says - 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.
On the same day as the Scottish bishops' statement is issued newspapers report that the Church of England is preparing to lift the ban on priests blessing same sex marriages. The Church of England will not carry out gay or lesbian marriages when they become legal in England in 2014 - and indeed is precluded from doing so by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act - but will, if the Report of a Church Commission is accepted, allow priests to conduct public services "to mark the formation of permanent same sex relationships".
2014 In January Canon Joseph Morrow, Chancellor of the Diocese of Brechin, Honorary Canon of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee, and Chaplain of Glamis Castle, is appointed by the Queen, on the recommendation of the First Minister, as Lord Lyon King of Arms. The office dates from the 14th century and its duties include the granting of armorial bearings and judicial rulings on who has the right to bear existing coats of arms.
2014 A service in Saint Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen, on January 25th celebrates the 100th anniversary of the church in King Street becoming the cathedral for the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney. At the Revolution in 1689 the surviving ancient cathedrals of Scotland all became Presbyterian churches and it was not until 1914, 225 years later, that Aberdeen and Orkney, the last of the dioceses without a cathedral, created one.
2014 In February The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is accepted by the Scottish Parliament (by 105 votes to eighteen). It means that same gender marriage is now possible in Scotland. The Primus, David Chillingworth, says the Parliament's decision produces an interesting situation for churches and faith groups who, like the Scottish Episcopal Church, have a historic position expressed in our Canons – or church law – that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. That is our position. We expect our clergy and our members to acknowledge and respect it – even if in some cases they do not agree with it and aspire to change it. To change it would need a significant process over two years in our General Synod and would require two thirds majorities.
2014 In February the Church of England's General Synod opens the way for women to become bishops in England. The measure is later approved by Diocesan Synods and at the July session of the English General Synod. It is likely that the first women bishops in England will be named in the early winter and be consecrated early in 2015. The February Synod also gives first stage consideration to rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, thus beginning a process of removing the safeguards for those in England unable to accept the ordination of women.
2014 Same gender marriage becomes legal in England and Wales, under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, from midnight on Saturday, March 29th, and the first such marriages take place immediately after midnight. However, the English bishops' "guide-lines" prohibit all clergy in England from contracting such a marriage. The Act itself already prohibits them from conducting same gender weddings.The guidance from the English House of Bishops says it "considers it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives". (The Scottish Parliament's equivalent Act comes into effect in December 2014).
In early April Canon Jeremy Pemberton, a National Health Service chaplain, becomes the first cleric in England to enter into a same gender marriage. In June the bishops of the diocese in which he lives and the one in which he works respond differently. The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, where he lives, withdraws his permission to officiate while the Bishop of Lincoln, where he works as a a Chaplain in the Health Service, issues an informal rebuke but does not withdraw his general preacher's licence.
A further twist to the story emerges when the priest is appointed to a new senior chaplaincy role in a National Health Service Trust within Southwell and Nottingham diocese. The acting bishop declines to give him a licence on the grounds that he has defied the House of Bishops' pastoral guidance by marrying his same-sex partner and the Trust then withdraws its offer of appointment. The priest says "I am not accepting this, and I am not going to go away quietly. This needs to be looked at in a formal context and tested". An employment tribunal claim, alleging, among other matters, discrimination under the Equality Act, is subsequently made against the Archbishop of York and the Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. In November 2015 the Tribunal rejects Canon Pemberton's claims as the Acting Bishop did not discriminate against Canon Pemberton on grounds of sexual orientation as the Equality Act provides a defence against discrimination if the employment is for the purposes of an organised religion. Canon Pemberton says he is "disappointed" and in early 2016 he is given permission to appeal the ruling.
2014 In April, as part of the process for discussing same sex relationships throughout the Scottish Episcopal Church, a Cascade Conversation – Listening across the Spectrum – takes place in Pitlochry. Sixty people, including the bishops and seven people from each diocese (chosen by the diocesan bishop), attend the two day meeting and, towards the end, participants meet in diocesan groups to consider how the experience of the meeting might be "cascaded" more widely.
2014 In May the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland votes in favour of a proposal which could lead to individual congregations being permitted to opt out of the Church's official stance and welcome ministers in a civil partnership. Following a debate, which includes the legal and theological implications of the proposal, 369 members vote in favour of the plan and 189 against it. The result means that the proposal will be sent to each of the 46 Presbyteries of the Church and their decisions will be reported to the Assembly of 2015. If a majority of Presbyteries are in favour, a final vote will be taken at next year's Assembly.
2014 In June campaigning officially begins for the September 18th Referundum in Scotland, which will decide whether Scotland becomes an independent country or remains part of the United Kingdom. Opinion polls indicate that around 40% of voters say "Yes" to independence and 47% "No", with 13% undecided.
2014 In June the Scottish General Synod meets in small groups, each with a facilitator, to discuss same gender relationships, but no opportunity is given for any decision to be reached. The "Cascade" process will continue in dioceses until the end of 2014 when the Mission and Ministry and Faith and Order Boards will "discern what can be seen of the mind of the Church" before "a substantial discussion" at the General Synod of 2015.
A motion, discussed by the entire Synod as a single group, asks the Bishops to prepare a new form of statistical return which better reflects the total activity of the Church, the claim being that the current method consistently shows a downward trend and does not properly take into account newer ways of being a Church.
The Synod also hears that the Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church is re-named the Scottish Episcopal Institute and Canon Anne Tomlinson, Mission Development Officer for the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, is its Principal.
2014 August 1st is the 300th anniversary of the death of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, and the accession of George I. The Westminster Parliament's 1701 Act of Settlement by-passed fifty Roman Catholic heirs before establishing Sophia, Electress of Hanover - and her non-Roman Catholic successors - as heirs apparent. The English Parliament sought to persuade the Scots Parliament to pass a similar Act, which it eventually and reluctantly did, and which led to the Union of the Parliaments in 1707. Sophia died two months before Queen Anne's death and was succeeded in both Hanover and the United Kingdom by her son George. The Hanoverian link lasted in Britain through the reign of five kings and ended with the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, as Hanoverian law did not allow a woman to become monarch of the Kingdom of Hanover (as it had become in 1814). That crown passed to Victoria's uncle, the Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, but the kingdom disappeared when Hanover was annexed by Prussia in 1866. The last King of Hanover, George V, died in 1878 and is buried at Saint George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
2014 September 18th is the day of historic importance with the national referendum on independence. Three hundred and seven years after the Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments, the question asked of all voters in Scotland is Should Scotland be an independent country? By the following morning it is clear that almost 85 percent of those registered to vote had done so (the highest percentage of any election in the United Kingdom for almost 100 years) and the answer is No. Fifty-five percent of those voting said No while 45 percent said Yes, so Scotland remains - for the immediate future at least - part of the United Kingdom. The First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party, the Right Honourable Alex Salmond, announces his intention to resign as party leader and First Minister in November. A Consitutional Commission is established with Lord Smith of Kelvin as its chairperson. Representatives of the Scottish National, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green parties are to seek consensus on which extra powers should come to the Scottish Parliament and to make recommendations by Saint Andrew's Day.
The Bishops issue a statement which says -
Speaking on behalf of the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Primus,the Most Reverend David Chillingworth, says “The people of Scotland have decided that Scotland will continue to be part of the grouping of nations which make up the United Kingdom.
"The Scottish Episcopal Church is an historic Scottish Church. Our story is interwoven with the story of Scotland. We commit ourselves to work with all the people of Scotland as our relationships with our neighbours continue to evolve.
“We hold particularly in our hearts and in our prayers today those for whom this decision brings a feeling of hopes dashed and vision lost. With our partner churches and all in the faith communities, we pledge ourselves to work for reconciliation and pray for healing in our community.”
2014 On October 13th The Scottish Government announces that, following the vote in the Scottish Parliament in February, same gender marriage in Scotland will become possible and legal from December 31st 2014. Those already in Civil Partnerships may, if they so wish, convert the partnership to marriage from December 16th.
2014 On November 18th the General Synod of the Church of England gives final approval for the ordination of women as bishops in England. At the same time it emerges that some senior women priests have received training to prepare them for possible selection as English bishops. The first appointments may be made within a few weeks.
2014 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, makes a two day visit to the Scottish Episcopal Church on November 24th and 25th - the last of his visits to all 37 Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion.The Archbishop and Mrs Welby stay with the Primus and Mrs Chillingworth in Perthshire and during his two days in Scotland he meet Scotland's newly elected First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, church and faith group leaders, the bishops of the Episcopal Church and the clergy of the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane. He visits a Church Army project at Saint Luke’s Church, Dundee, and the congregation at Saint Columba's Church, Aberdour.
2014 On November 26th the Smith Commission (established after the September Referundum on Scottish independence) publishes its recommendations on extra powers for the Scottish Parliament. The compromise reached is welcomed by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in Scotland as more than meeting their pre-Referendum promises, while the Scottish National and Green parties say that, as 70% of Scottish tax revenues are still to be controlled by the Westminster Parliament, much of the governance of Scotland continues, as before, from London.
The Primus, David Chillingworth, who was invited to the launch of the Recommendations, says "Most impressive was the way the Scottish politicians spoke – warm tributes to Lord Smith of Kelvin and strong endorsement of the agreement reached. Yet they were not afraid also to say what they would have liked to see in the agreement and didn’t get.That’s mature politics and to be celebrated".
Over the coming months legislation will be drafted at Westminster to put the recommendations into effect, although no vote on them in the London Parliament will take place until after the May 2015 General Election - and meanwhile Westminster attention also turns to proposals for "English votes for English laws".
2014 In December, shortly before same gender marriage becomes possible in Scotland, the Bishops issue a statement affirming that the General Synod of the Episcopal Church has not (as yet anyway) altered its Canon Law and has thus not opted into the new legislation. It is therefore not legal for any cleric of the Episcopal Church to conduct a same sex marriage, and the Bishops further expect clergy and ordinands to abide by the General Synod's view and not themselves enter into such a marriage.
2014 On December 17th the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in the Scottish Episcopal Church is celebrated at a Eucharist in Saint Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen. The preacher is the Right Reverend Bruce Cameron, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney at the time, and the celebrants of the Eucharist include the present Bishop and four of the nine women ordained in Aberdeen in 1994.
On the same day the Church of England announces that the Reverend Libby Lane, Vicar of Hale and Ashley in the Diocese of Chester, is to be its first woman bishop. She will become the Bishop of Stockport, a Suffragan Bishopric within the Diocese of Chester.
2014 On December 31st Scotland becomes the 17th country in the world in which it is legal for same sex couples to be married. Seventeen couples are married on the first day, and it is also revealed that 250 civil partnerships in Scotland have been converted to marriage since this became possible on December 16th.
2015 On January 7th The Church of Scotland reveals the voting figures from its Presbyteries on allowing Kirk Sessions the possibility of appointing candidates in same-gender civil partnerships as parish ministers. As a majority of Presbyteries voted in favour a final decision can be taken at the General Assembly in May of this year. Thirty-two Presbyteries (71.1%) voted "Yes" with thirteen (28.9%) saying "No" . However, the individual voting figures for members of the Presbyteries show a closer result - 1391 people (54.6%) voting in favour and 1153 (45.4%) against .
2015 On January 22nd the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, reveals the draft legislation for additional powers for the Scottish Parliament, promised if Scotland voted against independence in the September 2014 Referendum. The forty-four clauses, if enacted by the Westminster Parliament, will, among other things, give the Scottish Parliament control over income tax rates and bands in Scotland, borrowing powers, control of some areas of welfare and employment matters and the ability to lower the voting age to sixteen. However Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says that some of the draft Clauses still require the Scottish Parliament to ask for approval from a Westminster Secretary of State and the overall powers are less than promised.
2015 On March 26th the result of a survey of voting in the Independence Referendum, conducted by the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Essex among a representative sample of over 4500 people in Scotland, is released and reveals that a majority of native born Scots (52.7%) voted for independence while nearly three-quarters (72.1%) of those born elsewhere voted against.
2015 On successive days at the end of March the Church of England announces its second and third woman bishops. Canon Alison White, priest-in-charge of Riding Mill, Northumberland, and wife of the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle, is appointed Bishop of Hull, a suffragan see in the Archdiocese of York, and the Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney in the Diocese of London, as Bishop of Gloucester - the first woman diocesan bishop.
2015 On May 2nd Princess Charlotte is born - a second child for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the fourth person in line of succession to the throne.
2015 On May 7th a General election for the Westminster Parliament results in a majority Conservative government, replacing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. In Scotland the Scottish National Party wins 56 of the 59 seats with one seat each going to the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties.
2015 In May the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland votes to allow congregations who so wish to appoint a minister or deacon who is in a civil partnership. The voting was 309 in favour and 182 against. The decision follows a consultation following the 2014 Assembly in which 31 Presbyteries voted in favour and 14 against. The decision maintains the traditional view of marriage as being between a man and a woman, with individual congregations having to "opt out" if they wish to appoint a minister or deacon who is in a civil partnership. The Assembly also decides to remit to Presbyteries for discussion a proposal to go a step further and allow people in same sex marriages to be appointed as ministers or deacons, deferrng a final decision on this for at least a year.
2015 The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church meets in Edinburgh and decides to begin the process of changing Canon Law to permit clergy to conduct the marriages of people of the same gender. The Synod agrees by 103 votes to 17, with three abstentions, to proceed, essentially by removing the opening section of Canon 31, which describes marriage as "the physical, spiritual and mystical union between a man and a woman". A conscience clause is likely to be added to the Canon to ensure that no bishop, priest or deacon is obliged to conduct a marriage which is against his or her conscience. As with all proposed Canonical changes approval needs to be sought at further meetings of the Synod.
2015 The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States makes Canonical and liturgical changes to provide marriage equality for Episcopalians - the first member church of the Anglican Communion to do so. The decision follows that of the United States Supreme Court five days earlier to legalize same sex marriage in the United States.
2015 - Figures released in July show that only 30% of marriages in Britain take place in Church. The statistics, which are for 2012, show the lowest percentage of church weddings since records began. In the same month "Church Growth Modelling", a research project which uses mathematical sociology to understand the growth and decline of the Church, predicts that the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales and the the Episcopal Church in the USA are firmly under the extiction threshold. In Scotland and Wales the predicted extiction date is calculated as 2043, in the United States as 2055 and for the Church of England 2082. Commenting on the figures the Primus, David Chillingworth, says The statistics make sobering reading....I don't believe that the Church will be extinct by 2043. But it will almost certainly look very different.
2015 September 6th is the 300th anniversary of the Raising of the Standard by the Earl of Mar at Braemar, the beginning of the Jacobite Rising of 1715. The Rising had initial success and James VIII and III landed at Peterhead in December but, as hopes of success faded, he returned to France from Montrose on February 5th 1716. The Jacobite Army, numbering almost 20,000 at its peak, was largely Episcopalian and after the failure of the Rising this had repercussions for the Church (For a fuller account click here to go to the 18th century page and scroll down to 1715 in the chronological story. For more detailed background of the Rising click here for the 17th century page and scroll down to the entry for 1687 and read to the end of that century's entries in the chronological story.)
2015 In September the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, invites all 37 Primates of the Anglican Communion to a meeting in Canterbury in January 2016 "to consider recent developments, but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion". Newspaper reports suggest that the Archbishop is concerned about the stress caused in parts of the world by the decision of the bishops in the United States of America to allow the celebration of same sex marriages in churches. The Archbishop is said to think that the present structure of the Anglican Communion is unsustainable and would prefer one in which Provinces could be in communion with Canterbury, but not necessarily with one another.
2015 In November the three-week long Synod of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome decides (by a single vote over the two-thirds majority necessary) that those who have been divorced may make their communion (from which they have been banned) after consideration on a case by case basis. The decision follows a call from Pope Francis for the Church to be more merciful.
2015 On Christmas Eve the Columba Declaration signifies the intent of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, as the two "national" churches of the United Kingdom, to work together more closely. The suggested agreement, reached after years of discussion, will be put before the governing bodies of each church during 2016. Among specific commitments are welcoming into membership those who move across the Border; the leadership speaking jointly on social and political issues; and a working towards "inter-changeability" of clergy.
The announcement is said to be made in response to a newspaper enquiry and it takes the Scottish Episcopal Church by surprise. A spokesperson for the Scottish Episcopal Church, commenting on the Church's website, says - We have noted the announcement today about the Columba Declaration agreed between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England. We welcome the opportunity for the further ecumenical discussion referred to in today’s press statement and look forward to being able to consider the full text of the report when we receive this. We fully understand the desire of the Church of Scotland and the Church of England as national churches to discuss and explore matters of common concern. However certain aspects of the report, which appear to go beyond the relationship of the two churches as national institutions, cause us concern. The Scottish Episcopal Church, as a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, represents Anglicanism in Scotland, and we will therefore look forward to exploring the suggestions within the report more fully in due course.
In mid-January 2016 the Church of England's General Synod approves the Declaration, although almost 100 of its members either vote against or abstain - a sign of unease within the Synod about the hurt felt within the Episcopal Church. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland also approves the Declararation, without any dissent, at its meeting in May 2016. The Archbishop of Canterbury travels to Edinburgh to address the Assembly (the first Archbishop of Canterbury in office to do so) and apologises to the Scottish Episcopal Church for the way in which the announcement of the Declaration had taken place and says he takes personal responsibility (which is typically generous of him as it is suggested, from other sources, that the Archbishop had not been involved). The Archbishop tells the Assembly that the Episcopal Church is both the Church of Scotland's partner in Scotland and also one of the Church of England's closest Anglican neighbours, and as such must be able to play a full part in the continuing ecumenical talks.
2016 The meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, called by tihe Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, takes place in private in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, between January 11th and 15th. The view, trailed in December, that the Archbishop favoured a relationship in which the different Provinces of the Communion might be in communion with Canterbury but not necessarily with each other is not - at least yet - the outcome. Nor does the total split - predicted by many - happen, although the Archbishop of Uganda leaves the meeting at the end of the second day in protest after the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church in Canada decline his request voluntarily to withdraw from the meeting Until they repent of their decisions (on same sex marriages) which have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. In a statement to the Bishops, Clergy and Lay Leaders of the Church of Uganda, the Archbishop says I have left the meeting in Canterbury, but I want to make it clear that we are not leaving the Anglican Communion. Together with our fellow GAFCON Provinces and others in the Global South, we are the Anglican Communion. The future is bright.
At the Press Conference at the end of the meeting the Communique issued states that the Primates agreed To walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences as a deep expression of our unity in the Body of Christ. However, the Episcopal Church of the USA, for a period of three years, will No longer represent the Communion on ecumenical and inter-faith bodies, will not participate in the Standing Committee and not take part in decision making on issues of doctrine or polity. At the Press Conference the Archbishop of Canterbury makes a personal apology for the hurt caused to gay and lesbian members of the Church.
The Anglican Church in Canada is not included in the exclusion with the United States as a decision on whether to change its marriage doctrine to be non-gender specific will not be be discussed until its General Synod in July (where the change is agreed with the necessary two thirds majority in each "house" of Bishops, Clergy and Laity). A second vote will take place at the Canadian General Synod of 2019 and, if approved then, the change will come into effect in 2020. However, several Canadian bishops announce the intention to give their clergy immediate permission to conduct such marriages.
Commenting on the meeting the Primus of Scotland, David Chillingworth, says In advance of the Primates' Meeting, there were many predictions of breakdown and of fracture in the life of the Anglican Communion. It is therefore encouraging that the Primates have agreed to ‘walk together’ and that a Task Group will be established to work on our ongoing relationships. However that unity has come at some cost to the ability of the Communion to express the diversity which has always been a valued characteristic of the Anglican Way. The consequences which follow the decision of The Episcopal Church (in the United States) to change its Canon on marriage are a sign of that change. The Scottish Episcopal Church sees itself as a diverse church in a diverse Communion. It is important to us that we seek to sustain our unity as we continue to address issues of human sexuality in our General Synod. Further consideration will be given to these matters by our Faith and Order Board and by the College of Bishops.
2016 The election for the fifth Scottish Parliament (since the end of the long recess in 1999, which began with the creation of the Westminster Parliament for the United Kingdom in 1707) results in the Scottish National Party falling two votes short of continuing to have an overall majority. The Party forms (as in the third Parliament) a minority Government with Nicola Sturgeon continuing as First Minister. The Conseratives replace Labour as the second largest party and for the first time since the Parliament was re-established in 1999 no independent members are elected.
The composition of the 2016 Parliament is
2016 In May the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland General Assembly agrees by 339 votes to 215 to change church law so that ministers and deacons who are in same-gender marriages can be called to serve congregations. However the theological position of the Church on marriage remains unchanged and no same gender marriages can take place within Church of Scotland congregations. The Principal Clerk to the Assembly, the Very Reverend John Chalmers, tells a Press Conference that same-sex weddings in Church and allowing clergy in same-sex marriages to minister are two different discussions.
2016 Three weeks later in June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, meeting in Edinburgh, makes the first step in agreeing to same gender marriage. A first reading of a motion to remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman and which adds a conscience clause for those who would not want to conduct a same-sex marriage is approved by 97 votes to 33 with three abstentions.
Commenting on the vote, the Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway and Acting Convener of the Church’s Faith and Order Board, Gregor Duncan, says "The current process will enable the Church come to a formal decision on the matter. The passing of the first reading will bring great joy to some; for others it will be matter of great difficulty. The wording of the proposed change recognises that there are differing views of marriage within our Church and we have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to sustain our unity in the midst of our diversity.”
The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Bob Gillies, who opposed the change comments “As one of the two bishops who voted against this motion I feel comfortable with the fact that we have arrived at the position in our Church where those of us who did vote against the motion can nonetheless live with the outcome. Along with others, I suspect, who voted the way I did, there was no way in conscience or with integrity that I could have supported this motion. However we have demonstrated how potentially divisive and destructive issues can be sensitively and carefully, and with due process, come to both a good and indeed the best possible outcome for all.”
The Primus, David Chillingworth, describes the vote as an important moment for the church -“Today's debate was notable for two things - the atmosphere of the debate was warm and accepting and there was a notable lack of tension. It was also encouraging to hear members of the evangelical community, many of whom hold a traditionalist view on the nature of marriage, affirming the outcome of discussions which have taken place during the year between them and members of the College of Bishops and the Faith and Order Board. Those discussions led to agreement on a number of provisions both Canonical and pastoral. The intention is to sustain the diversity of our Church and to make it possible for those who cannot support the motion to continue to be part of and to minister faithfully within the Scottish Episcopal Church.”
Further debate will take place at a meeting of the General Synod in 2017, when a two-thirds majority in each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity will be required if the change to Canon Law is to be made. Discussions in the seven Dioceses of Scotland will continue before the General Synod vote in June 2017. However, if final approval for the change is given, the Scottish Church may face sanctions within the Anglican Communion, as did the Episcopal Church of the United States in January 2016.
2016 The Referendum on June 23rd on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave it results in a narrow decision to leave. However, the four nations of the United Kingdom are divided with England and Wales voting to leave and Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain. Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, insists that Scotland should not be taken out of the European Union against its wishes. On June 24th David Cameron says that he will resign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom when a new leader of the Conservative Party is chosen. Within a fortnight Theresa May, the former Home Secretary, becomes Prime Minister
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