Lambeth Conference underway in Canterbury
The Lambeth Conference is currently taking place at Canterbury, where the College of Bishops has joined bishops from across the Anglican Communion.
Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2022, the conference ‘discusses church and world affairs and the global mission of the Anglican Communion for the decade ahead’. The conference started on 26 July, and ends on 8 August.
The Lambeth Conference is one of the four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion, and has met around every ten years since 1867. It has not met since 2008, after an initial delay was extended further by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The conference theme is ‘God’s Church for God’s World - walking, listening and witnessing together.’ Bishops will explore what it means for the Anglican Communion to be responsive to the needs of a 21st Century world.
At this year's conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided that the bishops gathered should adopt a process called 'Lambeth Calls.' The Lambeth Calls document can be downloaded here.
“Lambeth Calls” is the name being given to describe declarations, affirmations and common calls to the church shared by bishops that are taking part in the Lambeth Conference in 2022.
At the time of writing, there has been significant discussion around the Call on Human Dignity, which is scheduled to be considered on Tuesday 2 August.
All seven bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church are at the conference, and are providing regular updates detailing their involvement.
A round-up of headlines and stories from the Conference is posted every day on the Lambeth News hub on the SEC website.
At the official photocall of the 600 bishops in attendance, the Scottish contingent got together for their own photo, as shown at the top of this article. From left: Bishop Andrew Swift (Brechin), Bishop Kevin Pearson (Glasgow & Galloway), Bishop Anne Dyer (Aberdeen & Orkney), Bishop Mark Strange (Moray, Ross & Caithness), Bishop John Armes (Edinburgh), Bishop Ian Paton (St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane), Bishop Keith Riglin (Argyll & The Isles). One of the College members was also captured on camera by an official photographer in one of the early conference sessions. Bishop John Armes, Diocese of Edinburgh, then found himself featuring very prominently on the front cover of the Church Times newspaper!
(Main image reproduced courtesy of Rev Neil Vigers for The Lambeth Conference.)
The 'Aberdeen bishops' return to their roots
Four bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States who were ordained and consecrated in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, with small services and a minimum of three bishops attending, made a pilgrimage to the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, in advance of the Lambeth Conference.
Aberdeen holds special significance for them because that is where the first bishop of The Episcopal Church, Samuel Seabury, was ordained in 1784 in a similarly simple service with three bishops in attendance, prompting these four and three others ordained under early Covid restrictions to refer to themselves as the “Aberdeen bishops.”
The four bishops who made the trip are Georgia Bishop Frank Logue, Minnesota Bishop Craig Loya, Alabama Bishop Glenda Curry, and Missouri Bishop Deon Johnson. They are pictured visiting the site of the 1784 consecration of Samuel Seabury in Aberdeen.
The visit was picked up on by the media, and an account of the visit of the 'Aberdeen bishops' was published by the Episcopal News Service. In the report, Bishop Dean called the group’s time in Aberdeen and Orkney “a reminder that The Episcopal Church was born out of graciousness and holy hospitality” and “of what the Anglican Communion at its best can be … the future of the church is not in silos or solos, but in collaboration, connection and cooperation, and it all starts here.”
The full report can be read here.
The image at the start of this article shows the 'Aberdeen bishops' at an evening prayer service at the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney. Pictures courtesy of Bishop Frank Logue.
Rev Evans-Hills speaks at UN conference in Morocco
Rev Bonnie Evans-Hills, Priest-in-Charge at St Margaret’s in Leven, was one of the speakers at a United Nations conference in Morocco this month.
The high-level symposium on the ‘Fez Plan of Action’ was the result of two years of consultations that begun in Fez, Morocco, with leaders from different faiths and religions around the world, under the leadership of the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG).
It is the first document of this kind to focus on the role of religious leaders and actors in preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes. It consists of a set of options for actions that religious leaders can take to prevent and counter incitement to violence in situations at risk of atrocity crimes – including by engaging in dialogue with those who express radical views; countering incitement speech both online and offline though unequivocal messages; as well as supporting interfaith dialogue, education and activities that uphold respect for religious and cultural diversity.
Bonnie was asked to speak on two panels: The Role of Religious Leaders in fostering peaceful, inclusive and just society; and The gender dimension of the Fez Plan of Action: the role of women and youth of faith.
To read more, a report from Bonnie is available here.
Songs of Praise broadcast from Inverness Cathedral
The long-running Sunday afternoon BBC programme Songs of Praise was broadcast from St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness on 17 July.
The pre-recorded programme featured a congregation comprised of people from Inverness and across the Highlands. The St Andrew's Cathedral Choir, and the Cathedral Junior Choir featured in the broadcast, as well as organ accompaniment from Adrian Marple, the Director of Music, and Gordon Tocher, the organist at the Cathedral.
As part of the programme, titled Spirit of the Highlands, presenter Claire McCollum explored the legend of St Columba’s encounter with the Loch Ness monster before hearing about the Christian behind golf's 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
The broadcast can be watched again here.
Pausing for thought during political drama
The Rev Diana Hall gave ‘Thought For the Day’ on BBC Radio Scotland during a Good Morning Scotland programme that was dominated by news of the resignation of the Prime Minister.
The day after Boris Johnson signaled the end of his tenure as Conservative Party leader, Diana said: “The demands of modern government and business mean leaders must have commitment and determination. They must be visionary and motivated. Yet history tells us that even the most assured leaders also come to rely on the wise counsel of those around them.”
The full broadcast can be heard here at the 1hr 22min mark.
It was the second ‘Thought For The Day’ from the Rector of St Anne’s in Dunbar in a couple of weeks, the previous broadcast having highlighted the desperate plight of asylum seekers who perished in a lorry in Texas, and linking to the UK Government policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.
“When reading about this politically complex and sensitive issue, Christianity invites me to look first to the marginalised, persecuted and vulnerable,” said Diana. “The scriptures teach that all humans are bearers of God’s image, inherently valuable and deserving of dignity, and that we should care for one another.”
She concluded: “It is not enough for us only to lament; our humanity demands that we act – sometimes this means being the voice of the voiceless. Together, we must strive to create a world that recognises the dignity of all people, so that all may experience safety and sanctuary, and find a place to call home.”
Last survivor of the cottage churches
Not many people know that within the small sleepy town of Ladybank in Fife is the last remaining Scottish Episcopal ‘cottage’ church, writes Roderick Baird. At one time, particularly following the rebellions of the 18th century, ‘cottage’ churches were common across Scotland. A year after the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, when James VII and II was deposed because of his Catholicism, the established Church of Scotland was confirmed as Presbyterian. Those who supported episcopacy in Scotland, a church governed by bishops, were forced to break away from the national Church.
Episcopalians tended to be staunch supporters of the Stuart dynasty and of the Jacobite risings during the 18th century. Some 70 per cent of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army were believed to be Episcopalian. The Risings resulted in Penal Laws which restricted Episcopalians in their forms of worship. The consequence of this was the decimation of the Episcopal Church throughout Scotland which was only reversed after the Penal Laws were relaxed and ultimately repealed in 1792.
During this time Episcopalians were forced to worship in small groups. Under the 1719 Act of Parliament, Episcopal priests were forbidden to minister to more than nine people at one time. This figure was reduced to just four people under the much harsher penal law of 1746. Some managed to get round the restrictions by attending ‘Qualified Chapels’, Episcopal in name but with priests from English and Irish orders who did not recognise the Scottish bishops and who were also willing to pray for the Hanoverian king. Various means of sidestepping the legislation were found; sometimes congregants would stand outside the windows of the priest’s home for services whilst others would have four people in each of his rooms allowing the service to be led from a central passageway or hall.
These difficult circumstances often led to Episcopal congregations worshiping in ‘cottage’ churches which became common across the country in the 18th century.
It was during the 19th century, after the restrictions had been lifted, that the Scottish Episcopal Church saw a renaissance with members increasing significantly thus causing a boom in church-building across the country. St Mary’s Church in Ladybank, however, was not opened until some time after this period of Episcopal expansion.
St Mary’s was originally the end cottage of a row built in 1810 to house the workers of a factory situated at its rear (as pictured above in the 1890s). By 1896 the cottage had come into the hands of Andrew Young of Kinloch, and it was he who rented out the premises to the vestry of the nearby Episcopal Church of St James the Great in the county town of Cupar. The Rector of St James’ in Cupar, the Rev Charles Edward Cooke, had first gathered a congregation in Ladybank in 1892 with services held in the town’s Masonic Hall.
At the turn of the 20th century work was started on converting the cottage at 1 Monkstown, Ladybank into a church and its inaugural service was taken by the Rev Charles Cooke on 9 December 1900. It wasn’t, however, until 1927 that the church was put on a firmer legal foundation when the heritors of the late Mr Young’s estate sold the property to St James’ Vestry for £144.
It is not clear why the church had not been given a Saint’s name for 50 years, but that omission was rectified on 10 June 1951 when the Episcopal Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, the Right Rev Brian Burrowes, dedicated the Church to St Mary “in the presence of a full Congregation of members and friends”. The interior had been redecorated and almost completely refurnished for the occasion. The altar, rector’s stall and pews were a gift from the rector and vestry of St Peter’s Church, Kirkcaldy and had come from St Columba’s Church in Linktown, Kirkcaldy which had closed in 1946.
Today, St Mary’s Church in Ladybank thrives. Sung Eucharist is celebrated at St Mary’s at 3pm on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Joint services are also held with its sister church St James the Great in Cupar on the fifth Sunday of the month at 10.30am, alternating between Ladybank and Cupar.
With a recent re-organisation of the inside of the church, including the introduction of chairs replacing the old pews (providing a more flexible space), it is hoped that the church will also be used by the wider community it being an ideal venue for small meetings. The private garden to the rear is also popular for parish coffee mornings and celebrations.
The congregation of St Mary’s is rightly proud that its church is the only surviving Scottish Episcopal cottage church, a truly distinctive accolade.
Standing Committee report
The provincial Standing Committee met at the end of June.
As part of its strategic planning, it considered a first draft of a consolidated work plan, comprising responses from provincial boards and committees on their expected priorities for the coming year. The exercise is “work in progress” and needs further development but the Committee found the document helpful as an initial overview of the range of provincial activity being undertaken.
The meeting also provided the opportunity for initial consideration of matters arising from the hybrid General Synod which had taken place earlier in the month. The Committee was grateful for feedback provided by Synod members using the online questionnaire and was pleased to note that the hybrid format of Synod had been well received. A short report will be issued to Synod members in due course with the draft minutes of the meeting when they are available. It was reported to the meeting that a number of Synod members had found difficulty in finding accommodation within the £90 per night provincial allowance and the Committee agreed an increase to £125.
Following receipt by Synod of the report of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group on completion if its initial remit, Standing Committee considered the setting up of a successor body to continue the work. Initially, it will arrange for a role description for the convenership to be prepared and advertised. The Committee also gave preliminary consideration to a request from the Provincial Environment Group for additional resource to support the SEC in working towards its net zero carbon emissions target for 2030.
The Committee received a report on the development of new health and safety resources for congregations, including the running of a pilot project later in the summer.
It also considered various vacancies and will advertise in inspires online for expressions of interest in the positions of SEC representatives on the Anglican Consultative Council.
Finally, the members of the Committee spent time considering their role and responsibilities as charity trustees in the specific context of the ongoing situation in the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney.
Ethical Investment Advisory Group – nominations requested for new convener
In June this year General Synod adopted the revised Ethical Investment Policy Statement for the SEC Unit Trust Pool (UTP). Drafting this was the final part of the remit of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) which had been set up to look at specific issues relating to the UTP arising from General Synod 2019.
Standing Committee has agreed that EIAG should be reconstituted with a new remit. Standing Committee is therefore seeking a member of the SEC (lay or ordained) to convene the new group for the next five years. An interest in Christian ethics and a basic knowledge of investments is essential. The ethics of investments are complex and the convener will have oversight of a group where differing views are held in tension. The group will work closely with Investment Committee and report to Standing Committee.
The focus of the new group will be to provide advice to Investment Committee on matters relating to ethical investment, principally to consider how the broad aspirations in the Ethical Investment Policy Statement and the associated Policy on the use of Pooled Funds (2019) can be put into practice for the UTP. It is envisaged that the work will include discussion of topics recommended and requested by Standing Committee and other committees, as well as responding to concerns raised by members of the SEC in relation to the implications of current events.
The overarching aim will be to provide advice that is grounded in Christian theology, but practicable for Investment Committee to implement.
It is anticipated that the group will meet twice a year either online or in person at the General Synod Office.
If you would like to register an interest in the Convenership post or would like more information about it please contact Malcolm Bett (email@example.com) or Daphne Audsley (DaphneA@scotland.anglican.org).
Anglican Consultative Council
Expressions of interest are invited by the provincial Standing Committee in relation to one existing vacancy, and one prospective vacancy, in the positions of the Scottish Episcopal Church representatives on the Anglican Consultative Council. The Scottish Episcopal Church is entitled to two members on the ACC.
The existing vacancy, for a member of clergy, arises as a result of the Rev Dr Jenny Wright taking up a post in the Church of England. A new member requires to be appointed in advance of the next meeting of the ACC which is scheduled to take place in Ghana 10-20 February 2023.
In addition, the SEC’s current lay member on the ACC, Alistair Dinnie, is due to complete his term of office following the 2023 meeting of ACC and a vacancy will arise after that.
Information about the ACC is available at: https://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/instruments-of-communion/acc.aspx The term of office spans three consecutive meetings of the ACC (which normally take place every 2 or 3 years – in practice membership tends to be for a period of 7-9 years ).
Expressions of interest should be sent to John Stuart, Secretary General by 31 August 2022: firstname.lastname@example.org
Provincial Buildings Committee
Expressions of interest are invited in relation to a vacancy which has arisen on the Buildings Committee.
The remit of the Buildings Committee is to consider appeals under Canon 35 in relation to alterations to church buildings. It also considers responses to Government and other consultations on buildings matters and, where appropriate, provides general advice and guidance to Diocesan Buildings Committees and charges on buildings and property matters. An issue of particular focus for the Committee at the present time is the development and provision of training and resources for charges in relation to their health and safety responsibilities. The Committee is required within its membership as a whole to include expertise in architecture, ecclesiastical artefacts and liturgy.
Expressions of interest should be sent to John Stuart, Secretary General by 31 August 2022 at: email@example.com
Sabbath rest, not recharge
The sabbath rest is unique to Judeo-Christianity, writes the Rev Dr Michael Hull, SEI Director of Studies. To a certain extent so too are our holidays when rightly understood. We do not rest in order to recharge, as it were. We rest to enjoy God’s gratuitous generosity. Rest is an end in itself.
The Book of Genesis provides a matchless account of creation wherein God speaks and the universe as we know it comes into being and order, wherein humanity is made in God’s image and likeness, and wherein the account incorporates rest into creation (Genesis 1 and 2). God fashions and blesses his creation, and he pronounces it good, still the account uses one word solely for the sabbath: the seventh day is ‘hallowed’ or ‘consecrated’ (Hebrew: qādash). The grand finale of work is rest, not more work. The sabbath is for rest, not for revitalising for more exertion. The sabbath is an end in itself.
Genesis 3 goes on to present a picture of our preternatural state that precludes output. God has done all the work and placed us in the Garden of Eden where we are in a state of rest. All is well, and God walks with us, until we sin. Cast out of the Garden, it would seem that rest of any sort is a lost luxury, yet rest is a gift God does not retract. God neither revokes his fashioning nor his blessing nor the sabbath rest at the Fall. He incorporates, instead, the gift of rest into the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20.7–11 specifically reminds us of the hallowing of the sabbath in Genesis. And Deuteronomy 5.12–15 equates inability to consecrate the sabbath with the Hebrews’ bondage in Egypt. One who cannot rest is a slave. But again, the rest spoken of in Exodus and Deuteronomy, as in Genesis, is not for any purpose other than God’s scheme for us. Our humanity is not ordered to productivity. We are most ourselves when we are free to rest in God.
Sabbath rest, though, is often confused with recharging: as if the value of rest is found in enabling productivity, as if human labour and its products are our purpose. Ideologies that, like atheistic communism or laissez-faire capitalism, value refreshment only insofar as it enhances yield denigrate humanity. We are made in the image and likeness or God and, furthermore, redeemed in Jesus Christ. It is counter-intuitive to us in our fallen state to know, as the Psalmist reminds us, we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ as ends in ourselves (139.14–16). We were not created and redeemed for an earthly end but for a heavenly one. Sabbath rest is a temporal foretaste of the beatific vision wherein we shall enjoy God for eternity. So important is this insight, and so easily missed, that God includes it in the Decalogue. God does not order us to work. God orders us to rest. To keep the sabbath is to fix our eyes on God rather than things, even good things. It is to dwell now, as least partly, in the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21.
One day a week is set off for rest in God wherein we worship and enjoy leisure, and every holiday is best cast in the mould of the sabbath vis-à-vis our freedom and Redemption. It behoves us to keep this in mind as we plan and relish our holidays. Holidays, akin to the sabbath, are best when they are allied to our ultimate end in God’s fulness and peace. Misunderstandings of industry would suggest that our holidays are worthwhile when they recharge us to produce or renew us for this-worldly tasks. Nothing could be farther from the truth or more ignorant of God’s design. Our misguided fascination with fabricating as if we could build a city of God on earth by the sweat of our brow results in frustration akin to the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11.1–9). God has a different blueprint for our lives here on earth and hereafter in heaven. Jesus picks up on Isaiah’s words (28.12) when he says, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Matthew 11.28–30).
The gift of sabbath rest is not only for Sundays. It is a gift that allows us to turn our holidays into holy days, wherein we hallow and consecrate them to God. To rest and to enjoy God’s gratuitous generosity is its own reward in this world and our definitive end in the world to come.
Storytelling is the theme of Scottish Interfaith Week
To tie in with Scotland’s Year Of Stories, the theme for Scottish Interfaith Week 2022 is to be Storytelling.
"Over five million people live in Scotland and we each have a story to tell," say organisers. "As Scotland’s only interfaith festival, we have the unique opportunity to explore how faith and belief impact our communities and offer resilience, connection and joy.
"Through storytelling we can step into each other’s worlds for a moment – through a poem, a song or a photograph. Stories enable us to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes and start important conversations.
"Hold an event for this year’s festival and share your stories. Through your exhibitions, conversations, and performances, we look forward to showcasing Scotland’s diversity through the power of storytelling."
Scottish Interfaith Week takes place from 13 to 20 November 2022. More details are available here.