repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book . Here is what
God really requires from the chosen people:
series of essays in the Episcopal Church
A Scottish Response to the Windsor Report
A Scottish Response to the Windsor Report
This is also available in PDF format
Changing Attitude Scotland is a network of people, gay and straight, lay
and ordained, working for the full affirmation of lesbian and gay
Christians within the Scottish Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican
Communion. Because of our aims and objectives, we welcome the opportunity
the Windsor Report gives us to join the debate which is underway within the
Anglican Communion and to make the following points.
- We are concerned that the strengthening of the Instruments of Unity will
create the means of dividing the churches, not necessarily bringing them
- We believe that creating new Instruments of Unity may simply result in the
creation of new venues for the same bitter debates which have characterised
the Anglican Churches' dealing with issues of human sexuality.
- It is our experience that very many Episcopalians in Scotland had never
heard of Instruments of Unity before this crisis. Furthermore, we are aware
that many Episcopalians were unaware of their place within the Anglican
Communion before this crisis. We would be surprised if a great percentage
of Episcopalians in Scotland could name the Instruments of Unity even now.
This contrasts greatly with, for example, the way in which the Roman
Catholic church experiences its unity in relation to the papacy, something
which the average Roman Catholic could name and explain with some ease.
- As people committed to the full affirmation of lesbian and gay people
within the Anglican communion, we have a passion for the Bible. We read the
Scriptures constantly in our corporate worship and in our private
- It is not our understanding that the only way of viewing scripture as an
Anglican is to see it as the supreme authority in all matters of life and
- We are surprised that the Windsor Report relies so greatly on the Pauline
and pseudo-Pauline biblical material. We believe that this has led to a
particular view of the experience of the early church which would benefit
from wider scholarship and much further reflection. In particular, we would
welcome reflection on the Johannine texts, especially on the emphasis which
we find there of 'abiding in love' as a model for the life together of the
people of God. We would also wish to incorporate into future reflection
that insight which many have gleaned from scripture of God's determined
interest in the marginalised. This would include the Lukan material in the
Greek Testament and the themes of liberation and justice which can be seen
running through the Hebrew Scriptures.
- We believe that God is a higher authority than scripture.
- Many of us have joined the church believing that Anglican tradition
embraced Hooker's famous three-legged stool illustration, which emphasises
our appeal to scripture, tradition and reason. Three-legged stools which
have one leg longer than the other two tend to be uncomfortable, if not
dangerous. We have believed that this was the point of this illustration.
- We discover as we read the scriptures that hypocrisy is condemned with much
greater force than homosexuality by the biblical witnesses, if indeed
homosexuality is condemned at all.
Scottish Church History
- The experience of the Scottish Episcopal Church is that Covenants can be
used, and are used, to exclude and even to persecute. Episcopalians in
Scotland lost livelihoods, livings and even their own lives as a result of
the National Covenant. This makes us very wary of any attempt to use a
Covenant as a means to hold the Anglican Churches together at this time. As
a result of this heritage we believe that it would be very difficult to
persuade a Scottish General Synod to sign up to the kind of document which
the Windsor Report suggests.
- People in Scotland often deeply resent what they perceive as interference
from England. For this reason, many are suspicious of any proposals to
enhance the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
- The Scottish Episcopal Church does not have archbishops. It does not have
them because it does not want that kind of government. It has far less of a
hierarchical structure than the Church of England, with which we share a
common geographical border. It is our understanding that this is the way
that Scottish Episcopalians like their church and we believe they would
resist attempts to reassert models of hierarchy which have already been
- Our bishops act corporately within the College of Bishops. Within this
collegiality, autonomy is understood to lie with individual bishops within
their own dioceses. We do not have suffragans or area bishops, nor do we
have 'flying bishops'. We do not have a Metropolitan in the sense that some
provinces of the Anglican Communion have one.
Elections to the Episcopate
- It is only very recently (within the last 2 years) that it has been
possible to consider any member of the clergy for elections to the
Episcopate (with the new possibility of including both men and women on
shortlists). We believe that such a move has represented real progress in
the life of this church. We further believe that this has given real
ecumenical benefits with other denominations, particularly the Church of
Scotland, United Reformed Church in Scotland and the Methodist Church in
- We believe that a moratorium on consecrating gay people who are honest and
open would be wrong and unjust. We also would argue that it is contrary to
the United Nations Convention on Human Rights.
- It is important for us to recall that Gene Robinson is not the first gay
bishop in the Anglican Communion. Scotland has already had one bishop who
came out as an openly gay man in his retirement.
- We believe that God works through synodical government.
- We recognise and respect the way in which the Diocese of New Westminster
and ECUSA have deliberated over the issues involved. We discern within
their careful and prayerful processes the work of the Holy Spirit.
- We struggle to understand how Communion can be conceptualised by Christians
as something which can be impaired. We struggle to understand degrees of
communion. However, the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster and the
actions of ECUSA have increased the (already strong) bonds of affection and
love which exist between the Anglican Churches in the USA, Canada and
- It should be noted that Scotland has a distinct Code of Canons which are
specific to the life and work of the Scottish Episcopal Church. We would be
surprised if the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church would
accept within our canons the concessions which the Windsor Report suggests.
Furthermore, we expect that any attempt to impose such concessions would
bring strain to the current collaborative working patterns of the College
of Bishops, the Boards and Committees of the Church and the General Synod.
- We long to be able to contribute within our church to the theological work
that is currently needed to formulate appropriate sexual and relational
ethics for all people within the church. We are saddened that the current
controversies make this task more difficult.
- We do not believe that God expects different ethical standards for the
laity and the clergy.
- We do not believe that God expects different ethical standards of the
different orders of ministry.
- The Scottish Episcopal Church does much of its theological deliberation
over the production of liturgy. Lex orandi, lex credendi (roughly - as we
pray, so we believe) is a reality for us.
- The most recent liturgy which has been developed in the Scottish Episcopal
Church is a new liturgy for marriage. We note that the theological
construct of Christian marriage which underpins this liturgy is utterly
different from that which underpins the liturgy of marriage in the Scottish
Prayer Book 1929. In the more recent, the couple are treated as equals, in
the SPB, the woman is treated as a chattel to be handed over from one man
to another. The existence of these two liturgies in our church alongside
one another tells us much about diversity of belief which is an aspect of
our life together as a church. We are therefore not fearful of different
liturgical practice developing across the Anglican Communion to meet new
circumstances in appropriate pastoral ways. This is the way in which we
operate in Scotland.
Civil Developments in Scotland
- Within months, there will be new opportunities for gay couples to register
and regulate their relationships in new Civil Partnerships. This
development raises all kinds of questions to which our church will need to
find answers, including how we address the pastoral concerns these changes
- We have been given informal assurances, that the church will not attempt to
evade its legal obligations towards pension rights for the partners of
members of the laity and members of the clergy whose relationships are
regulated by Civil Partnerships who are members of the church pension
scheme. We now look for these assurances to be expressed publicly.
- We expect that some couples entering a Civil Partnership will look to the
church to mark this moment yet we feel that the church is unprepared for
this mission opportunity.
- We recognise in the person of Jesus Christ someone who practised a radical
hospitality, challenging religious and societal norms in his life and
mission. As his disciples, gay and straight alike, we are committed to
carrying on that life and mission in the world today.
- Increasingly, the Scottish Episcopal Church is emphasising the importance
of local context to decision making. We are learning to apply
contextualised theological methods and biblical reflection from parts of
the world church which have emphasised liberation as a key theme in
mission. Much within this theological emphasis comes from the 'global
- We would not now presume to impose the priorities and practices of the
majority of members of the Scottish Episcopal Church on churches in Africa
and other parts of the Global South. We believe the imposition of the
cultural norms of such parts of the world on the people of Scotland to be
equally inappropriate. We enjoy learning about the experience and witness
of Christians in these parts of the world. Amongst the diverse voices which
we hear from all parts of the globe are the voices of lesbians and gay men
who have been hurt by the current controversies. The cost of 'unity' can be
very high for some people. As part of our belief in the mission of God in
the wider world, we call for the human rights of gay and lesbian people to
be respected wherever such people are found.
- We are unable to separate the struggle for justice from Christ's current
mission and activity on earth. At this time this includes, but is by no
means limited to, the need to affirm fully and incorporate the experience
and witness of God's gay and lesbian children in both church and society.
- We believe that being an inclusive church is fundamental to the gospel and
to the mission of the Scottish Episcopal Church. We further believe that if
that inclusivity is challenged or diminished the very fabric of our church
would be damaged. We fear that without a common commitment over the long
term to such inclusivity the very being of our church would be threatened.
Many of us believe that if the Scottish Episcopal Church were to lose its
distinctive inclusivity, God would have little purpose for it.
- We affirm the presence and activity of lay and ordained gay and lesbian
people working within the whole church. We discern in Scotland, that the
Holy Spirit is at work, as the whole people of God strive together to bring
in God's new kingdom of justice, peace and joy.
You are welcome to submit your essays for consideration for this
series. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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