The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), led by former Seagoe rector the Most Rev David Chillingworth, has voted to support same-sex marriage, despite being told it will face sanctions for doing so.
The church’s General Synod has passed a first reading of a change to its canon on marriage, which will remove the doctrinal statement that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman”.
The Rev Chillingworth was rector of Seagoe Parish Church for 19 years before moving to Scotland in 2005. He has been primus of SEC since 2009.
He said that in a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby he was told that the SEC would face similar “sanctions” to The Episcopal Church (USA) for similar changes to it canon law.
The former Seagoe rector explained, “Two weeks ago, I went to London and met with Archbishop Justin specifically to ask the question, ‘Will this also apply to us if we complete the process of Canonical change in 2017?’ The answer is that it will. Most directly, I will be removed from the role of Anglican co-chair of the International Anglican-Reformed Dialogue.
“But other effects are limited. Our bishops will be present and fully involved in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020. We shall continue to be actively involved in our network of Diocesan Companionships and in the Anglican Networks.”
A statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church, “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 proposed change will have a second reading in June 2017 and, at that stage, 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.