Easter Letter from the Rector

The Resurrection: Port Glasgow 1947-50 Sir Stanley Spencer 1891-1959

There are lots of paintings of The Resurrection by far the majority of them are in the garden with Jesus, maybe an angel, maybe Mary, maybe another woman or two, maybe Peter, John, or both, occasionally a sleeping solider, or a solider looking surprised.  If they aren’t in the garden the setting is a road, or doorway or round a table, three people maybe breaking bread, maybe a woman servant in the foreground, like Caravaggio’s famous scene of The Supper at Emmaus.  There are a few busy ones, by busy I mean the remaining disciples and the Risen Lord gathered in the upper room, with or without Thomas, 10 or 11 figures.  In those scenes, painted thousands of times, the Resurrection is about Jesus being alive once more, however, if resurrection means anything then it must mean more than recalling an ancient story.

If faith in the resurrection means anything, then it can’t be purely as an onlooker, looking at something that happened way back when, to someone else, even if that someone else was the Son of God.  If hope in the resurrection means anything, then it must include all people not just a self selecting few.  If love through the resurrection means anything, then it must be something that transcends time and place.  If Easter means anything then it has to mean something today, not just a remembrance of yesteryear.

Stanley Spencer, painted many scenes of the Resurrection, probably his one in Cookham Churchyard is the most well known.  In them all he paints every day people from the local area climbing out of their graves in a truly joyful scene.  There are those outside the graveyard wall greeting the newly resurrected.  Within the graveyard there are people greeting one another once again, a group offering praise to God, people helping others out of the graves, some having their faces wipped, some naked.

And there is one figure in particular which tells the Easter story oh so well.  Someone it is easy to mistake for someone else, someone resting and watching on as if this scene is nothing out of the ordinary.  A gardener, with a spade resting on an enormous rock circle, oh I know he looks old for Jesus, and surely Jesus wasn’t bald, but remember that gardener in that garden, Mary didn’t recognise him.  Here in Spencer’s painting of the Resurrection, it isn’t about Jesus being raised from the dead, it is about Jesus helping raising us from the dead, the spade has dug the graves back out just as the rock was rolled away from his own grave.

Yes Jesus was raised from the death and we remember that each Easter, however Easter isn’t just about Jesus, it is also about us, Jesus died and rose again so that we could have new life.  Alleluia.

Bearsden Festival Programme

Throughout Bearsden in the shops, churches and at The Hub, you can pick up a physical copy of the Bearsden Festival Programme, if you can’t find one or want something in an electronic form please click the link below.

There is lots on offer and some of the events which are limited in numbers are fast filling up, so please have a look before you miss out.

BF programme – hyperlinked B

March Magazine

Below is the Rector’s letter from the March magazine, you will find the rest of the magazine here or you can pick up a copy in the church.

 

 In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, step within yourselves and be still.
Wait upon God and feel his good presence; this will carry you through your day’s business.

William Penn (1644-1718)

Dear Friends

As Lent begins we are reminded once more that we need to make time in our lives for God and for our spiritual health; we need to make space from the noise that accompanies us day in and day out, those noises we have control over like the radio and those we don’t like traffic noise; we need to be still and become aware of God’s presence amidst the other things that crowd in for our attention. Finding that place of stillness and refreshment can and will help us through our days and give us peace in our hearts and minds when we lay down to rest at night.
Waiting upon God is a spiritual practice that all can benefit from, psalm 40 has been sung for generation upon generation, it declares not only the benefits of waiting upon God – God hears our cry – but also the essential nature of it – God is our firm foundation and without our lives rooted firmly in God we risk sinking into the miry bog.

I waited patiently for the Lord; who inclined to me and heard my cry.
God drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

Psalm 40:1-2

This Lent evening prayer will be said in church Sunday – Thursday at 6pm, a time to be still, to connect with God and let God replant our feet firmly on the Rock which is Jesus. A time to feel God’s good presence and to let it give us peace for the night ahead, and be our guide for the following day. If you are not able to come along to Evening Prayer but would like to join with others in the church praying at that time, copies of the service for use in your home can be made available. Or you may wish to pray in the custom which you usually use ending with the prayer, below, which will be used in the church.

God of compassion, through your Son Jesus Christ you reconciled your people to yourself. Following his example of prayer and seeking time in your presence; pour upon us the Holy Spirit so that we may seek your presence throughout our lives and serve one another in holy love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Jesus not only went into the wilderness for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry, a time we recall with our season of Lent, but we can also read in the Gospels how he often sought time with God. Even Jesus needed to be still and wait on God’s presence when confronted by the pressures of this life, even Jesus needed those oases of calm and enrichment. None of us are immune in that need, Lent gives us the opportunity to give our spiritual practices a healthcheck, ensuring that they are still providing us with quality time in God’s presence; the kind which can best help us in our daily lives.

May our seeking for God’s presence this Lent, enrich our common life and shared spiritual journey, as it enriches us personally in our life and faith, so we may grow ever closer to God and to each other.

Blessings
KirstinImage is the sculpture ‘The Way of Life’ by Jonathan Clarke from inside Ely Cathedral.

Diocesan Cycle of Prayer

The new Diocesan Cycle of Prayer is now available, the version below is from February 2019, please check the Diocesan Web Page here for the most up to date version.  You will also find links to the Porvoo Prayer Diary, Anglican Cycle of Prayer and to a pdf file of the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer.

1st Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Those in training for ordained and lay ministries.
  • Bishop Gregor Duncan, Bishop Idris Jones, Bishop John Taylor, Bishop Gordon Mursell, all retired clergy and those in Post-Retiral Ministry.
  • The Church of Scotland.
  • The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.

2nd Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
  • Pastoral Assistants, Eucharistic Assistants, Worship Leaders and Spiritual Companions in the Diocese.
  • North Ayrshire Team: St Andrew’s, Ardrossan; St Peter’s, Dalry; St Andrew’s, Irvine (Sandy Montgomerie, Linda Whitby, Margaret Williams).

3rd Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Imaginative Outreach.
  • Lay Representatives, Alternate Lay Representatives and members of Regional Councils.
  • Holy Trinity, Ayr (Vacancy).
  • St Oswald’s, Maybole (Jim Geen).

4th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania.
  • St Columba’s, Largs (Gordon Fyfe).
  • St Ninian’s, Prestwick (Jane Ross).

5th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Aberdeen & Orkney (Bishop Anne Dyer).
  • Holy Trinity, Kilmarnock (Mary Jepp).
  • St Ninian’s, Troon (Tom Montgomery).

6th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Church of Norway.
  • St John the Evangelist, Annan; St John the Evangelist, Eastriggs; All Saints’, Gretna; (Martin Callaghan, Melvyn Redgers).
  • All Saints, Lockerbie; St John the Evangelist, Moffat (Vacancy, John Stevenson).

7th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Learning and Discipleship (David Gifford).
  • Bishop’s Staff Group.
  • All Saints, Challoch, with the Whithorn Fellowship; St Ninian’s, Portpatrick; St John the Evangelist, Stranraer (Vacancy).

8th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Church of Sweden.
  • Diocesan Council.
  • St Mary’s, Gatehouse of Fleet; St Francis of Assisi (Greyfriars), Kirkcudbright (Stephen Hazlett).

9th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Argyll and the Isles (Bishop Kevin Pearson).
  • St Ninian’s, Castle Douglas (Christopher Ketley, Douglas Allison, Alan Rumble).
  • Christ Church, Dalbeattie (Christopher Ketley, Beryl Scott, Richard Stephens).

10th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Church of England.
  • St John the Evangelist, Dumfries (Janice Aiton, James Clark-Maxwell, Andrew MacKenzie, Paul Burbridge, Ann Shukman, Steven Ballard, John Simmons, Gordon Warwick, Richard Starkey).
  • St Margaret of Scotland, New Galloway (Vacancy).

11th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Ministry with Children and Young People (Lorraine Darlow).
  • Diocesan Secretary (John Mitchell).
  • East End Team Ministry: St John the Evangelist, Baillieston; St Kentigern’s, Dennistoun; St Serf’s, Shettleston (Jim Benton-Evans, Lucy Ireland).

12th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
  • Diocesan Treasurer (Robert Burgon); Diocesan Auditor (John R. Park).
  • St James-the-Less, Bishopbriggs (Paul Watson, Kennedy Fraser, Geoff Scobie).
  • St Cyprian’s, Lenzie (Les Ireland).

13th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Brechin (Bishop Andrew Swift).
  • Companions of Our Lady & St Mungo (Ellen Barrett, Alison Joy Whybrow).
  • Holy Name, Cumbernauld (Moira Jamieson, Ray Gascoigne).
  • St Matthew’s, Possilpark (David Wostenholm, Stewart Wood).

14th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Church of Ireland.
  • Diocesan Chancellor (Bruce Erroch); Diocesan Registrar (Ronald Inglis).
  • St Bride’s, Hyndland (Kevin Francis, Gregor Duncan).
  • St Andrew’s, Milngavie; (Andrea Hagenbuch, Fraser Gold).

15th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Missional Leadership (Jane Ross).
  • Cathedral Chapter.
  • St Mary’s Cathedral (Kelvin Holdsworth, John Riches, Matthew Little, Ellen Barrett).

16th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland.
  • Diocesan Director of Ordinands; For Vocations to Ordained and Lay Ministry (Tom Montgomery).
  • St Mungo’s, Alexandria; St Augustine’s, Dumbarton (Kenny Macaulay, Liz O’Ryan).

17th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Edinburgh (Bishop John Armes).
  • Diocesan Architect (Rebecca Cadie); Diocesan Surveyor (Elliott Glenesk).
  • All Saints, Bearsden; (Kirstin Freeman).
  • St Michael & All Angels, Helensburgh (Dominic Ind, Kevin Boak, Pat Smith).

18th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Church in Wales.
  • Drumchapel Ecumenical Partnership.
  • All Saints’, Jordanhill (Sydney Maitland).
  • St Silas’, Woodlands (Martin Ayers, James Lapping, Michael Reader-Harris).

19th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Prayer and Spirituality (David Wostenholm).
  • Diocesan Property Committee (Ian Barcroft).
  • St Aidan’s, Clarkston (Nicholas Taylor).
  • St Margaret of Scotland, Newlands (Scott Robertson, Maggs McTernan, Charlotte Methuen).

20th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Lusitanian Church of Portugal.
  • Diocesan Centre Staff (Christine Hughes, Iolanthe Stack, Marion Noble).
  • St Oswald’s, King’s Park (Vacancy).
  • St Ninian’s, Pollokshields (Paul Romano, Eamonn Rodgers).

21st Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Moray, Ross and Caithness (Bishop Mark Strange).
  • Good Shepherd & Ascension, Hillington (Vacancy).
  • Holy Trinity & St Barnabas, Paisley (Vacancy).

22nd Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church.
  • Diocesan Protection of Vulnerable Groups Co-ordinator (Anne Jones).
  • St John’s, Johnstone; St Margaret’s, Renfrew (Reuben Preston).

23rd Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Welcome, Integration and Numerical Growth.
  • St Bartholomew’s, Gourock (Vacancy).
  • St John the Evangelist, Greenock (Wilhelmina Nesbitt).

24th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark.
  • Diocesan News Service (Susan Walker).
  • Heartland Group: St Mary’s, Bridge of Weir; St Fillan’s, Kilmacolm; St Mary the Virgin, Port Glasgow (David Gifford, Heller Gonzalez, Robert Chambers, Gerard McKeown).

25th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: St Andrew’s, Dunkeld and Dunblane (Bishop Ian Paton).
  • Canon Missioner (Audrey Stewart); Digital Missioner (Petko Marinov).
  • Holy Trinity, Motherwell; St Andrew’s, Wishaw (Richard Kilgour, Charles Sargent).

26th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad.
  • Mothers’ Union (Jill Cameron).
  • St Cuthbert’s, Cambuslang; St Mark’s, East Kilbride (Paul Fletcher).

27th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Development Team for Worship and Liturgy (John Davies).
  • Diocesan Ecumenical Relations Co-ordinator (Sandy Montgomerie).
  • St Mary the Virgin, Hamilton; St Andrew’s, Uddingston (Ian Barcroft, David Jasper, Jonathan Livingstone).

28th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Porvoo Link: The Lutheran Church in Great Britain.
  • Interfaith Relations (Maggie McTernan).
  • Christ Church, Lanark (Drew Sheridan, Lee Johnston, Robert Burgon, Richard Evans).
  • St Paul and St John the Evangelist, Monklands (Patrick O’Maoil Mheana).

29th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: General Synod Office (John Stuart, Secretary General).
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Provincial Standing Committee & Provincial Boards.
  • Chaplaincy in Hospitals, Education and Commerce.
  • Anglican Chaplaincy, University of Glasgow (Kevin Francis).

30th Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • The Anglican Communion (Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury).
  • The Primates’ Meeting.
  • The Anglican Consultative Council (Alistair Dinnie).

31st Day of Each Month

  • The Primus, the Dean, the episcopal candidates and all who faithfully and prayerfully walked this discernment journey.
  • The Methodist Church in Scotland (David Easton).
  • The United Reformed Church (David Pickering).
  • EMU Partnership Agreement.

 

Three candidates short-listed in vacancy for new Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway

-official Announcement from the Scottish Episcopal Church begins-

Three candidates short-listed in vacancy for new Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway

Three candidates have been short-listed for election to the office of Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, following the retirement of the Rt Rev Dr Gregor Duncan in October 2018, having served the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway as Bishop since 2010.

The three candidates have been selected by a Preparatory Committee consisting of clergy and lay church members from the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway and across the wider Scottish Episcopal Church. The next stage in the election process is a meeting of each of the candidates with an Electoral Synod (representatives of clergy and lay church members from the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway only).  That meeting will take place on Saturday 9 March with the election of the new Bishop on Saturday 16 March.

The candidates are:

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow.

The Rev Dr Michael Paterson, Director of the Institute of Pastoral Supervision & Reflective Practice, consultant in spiritual care for NHS Education for Scotland and assisting priest at St Margaret’s, Rosyth.

The Rev Canon Dr Scott Robertson, Rector of St Margaret of Scotland Church, Newlands, Glasgow.

Commenting on this stage of the process, Acting Bishop during the episcopal vacancy the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says “I thank members of the Preparatory Committee for the work they have done and am delighted that three candidates are being nominated to the Electoral Synod.  We hope that the discernment in the Electoral Synod will enable them to elect a new bishop who will lead the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway in its future ministry and mission, and ask that we hold each of the candidates and the Diocese in our prayers during this process.”

-Official Announcement ends-


Diocesan Prayer for Episcopal Discernment

God of Grace and Glory, we give you thanks for all the blessings of our common life and ministries as the United Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. We thank you for the faithful work of the Preparatory Committee and for all who have offered themselves to your service in this season of transition and change. May the Holy Spirit continue to infuse this process with the gifts of faith, hope and love. We give thanks and pray for Kelvin, Michael, and Scott. May they be filled with vision, courage, patience and hope as our work of discernment continues. 
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

You are invited to hold in your prayers the candidates and all who faithfully walked this discernment journey.

February Magazine

Below is the Rector’s letter for February, you can download the February Magazine here.

Dear Friends

During the later part of the season of Epiphany our readings on a Sunday give us glimpses of the glory still to come.  We have welcomed The Babe and all people have seen his glory; from the lowly shepherds, to the foreign Magi, to the faithful Jews, Simeon and Anna, now as the season of Epiphany draws to its conclusion we are given glimpses of an even greater glory to come, glimpses of resurrection.

The picture above is from the dramatic West Screen at Coventry Cathedral, where I spent part of my Sabbatical.  The artist John Hutton depicts prophets and saints alive once more, between dancing angels, clothed in robes which can also be understood as tattered burial strips.  Our Old Testament Reading for 10th February immediately reminded me of this window, however it was only when I looked once more at my photos I realised I had an image of Isaiah that was acceptable (it was not an easy window to photograph).  The passage from Isaiah is one of the prophet’s most well known.  It is where he conjures up an image of heaven, the seraphs with their six wings singing; “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” as they flit around heaven and the Throne.  What had struck me about the image in Coventry’s West Screen was how small the seraph was, Isaiah gives us no indication of a size, but I had always imagined them being large creatures, while Hutton’s seraph is knee height and puts me more in mind of a pet than a mighty angel, but I digress.

This time of glimpses of coming glory are given to encourage us, they are set here in the lectionary as reminders to take into Lent.  So as we journey through the remainder of Epiphany let us store up these glimpses of God’s glory.  Sometimes in a great scene of glory, like Isaiah; sometimes in the more homely rejoicing of a son’s return, like Joseph; through the words of the Beatitudes and the author of the book of Hebrews reminding us that Jesus didn’t come for angels but humans; all being rounded off with the glory of the Transfiguration on 3rd March.  God’s glory is all around us, in the small everyday things and in the great events, there to encourage and strengthen, there to help us live as resurrection people, born anew in the power of the Holy Spirit each and every day of our lives, be it Easter, Epiphany or any other season.

Blessings

Kirstin

Advent Hangings

On Advent Sunday we dedicated our new Advent Hangings, made by Tabitha Craig.

They depict the Advent candles with the four words which are sometimes used in connection with the 4 weeks of Advent.  Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.

Primus addresses the Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting on Scottish Episcopal Church’s decision to change its Canon on Marriage

At the Primates’ Meeting today the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church was asked to explain the process undertaken by the Scottish Episcopal Church in its move towards an adjustment of its Canon on Marriage to enable those who felt called to offer marriage to same gender couples the ability to do so.

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.

The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says “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.

“However, 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.”

Statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church following the approval of Motion 14 Regarding the Canon on Marriage

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.

Commenting on the first reading today, the Rt Rev Dr Gregor Duncan, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway and Acting Convener of the Church’s Faith and Order Board, said:

General Synod last year engaged in extensive debate in relation to possible changes to our Canon on marriage. It asked the Board to bring forward canonical legislation this year to remove from the Canon any doctrinal statement regarding marriage. That would pave the way for clergy of the Church who wish to be able to solemnise weddings between people of the same sex. Synod has this year accepted the proposals brought forward by the Board by giving a first reading to the canonical change. The process will now continue and not be completed until General Synod 2017. If second reading is agreed at that stage, the change to the Canon will take effect.

The Synod’s decision this year is important because it represents the beginning of a formal process of canonical change. The Church has been engaged in recent years in a series of discussions at all levels. The current process will enable the Church come to a formal decision on the matter. Views within the Church are, of course, wide and diverse. The passing of the first reading today 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.

Results of ballot

For Against Abstentions Total Votes
(including abstentions)
Total Votes
(excluding abstentions)
Number % of votes cast Number % of votes cast
Bishops 5 71.4 2 28.6 7 7
Clergy 43 69.4 19 30.6 62 62
Laity 49 80.3 12 19.7 3 69 61