The Rt Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness was the Scottish Episcopal Church’s representative at this year’s General Assembly of Church of Scotland. Speaking during the Ecumenical Relations session and following the address from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Assembly Bishop Mark said:
“I stand here this morning in the company of people who have shared with me this week the love and pride they have for their Church, just as I love my Church. I am very aware that I am in the company of people with whom I do share, and could share so much more, together.
“Many years ago I first sat down with my new books in readiness for Henry Sefton’s Church History lectures. I discovered the spaghetti map – the lineal map showing all the divisions and reunions of the Scottish Church, and there we were: the Scottish Episcopal Church – divided from our brethren by the question of Apostolic Order, and loyalty to royal dynasty. Our sister Church, the Kirk, and ourselves have remained divided over that and other issues but we still have the same roots, we came through the same reformation.
“So this Episcopal limb of the Church of Scotland that survived, despite the political pressures placed on it, begins to make new friends. Firstly with the Americans who received the Orders of Bishops from us and then as we made friends with the other Episcopally-led churches of the UK became part of the Anglican Communion. The first non-colonial part of that family.
“Now all seems sorted. In Scotland we are in company with our sister Church. I myself am a corresponding member of Inverness Presbytery, and in the rest of the UK we share much with our friends in the Anglican Communion. I was trained and ordained in England. So it was a bit difficult when our sister began to take an interest in our best friend, especially when the best friend shows interest back. We just needed a bit of time to go away and sort that one out in our heads, to observe the relationship and to wait for the promised report of the relationship to be published.
“Now let me ask you, if this happens in your family then surely you try and sort it out when this happens of course you try to fix it.
“So my Lord Archbishop thank you for your words today, acknowledging those difficulties, and the hurt and surprise of the announcement.
“I am also very aware that the many questions we asked of both Churches have now been answered, or will be answered when we meet to discuss the issues of authority. The place of the local bishop in licensing clergy and other exciting matters, I am sure, are still to be uncovered.
“To my sister Church here in Scotland, we see many things differently, that happens when you live in a theology of divergence, but that doesn’t stop us loving one another and finding ways to work together. In Scotland there are many issues we need to work on with one another, not least the issues of territoriality, and not just in the wonderful wilds of the North but also in those places of urban deprivation and in communities filled with new Scots
“Having now acknowledged our very human responses to this document and heard the concerns from all, having established ways of keeping us talking, then now is the time to get on with the real task in hand – that of sharing all we have in the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ.”