The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church faces two historic decisions this week: whether to accept women bishops and whether to back plans for a three-way "super-church" merger in Scotland.
The Church's General Synod will decide on Thursday whether to end centuries of tradition and open the door to women becoming bishops. If the vote is passed it could give Scotland the first female bishops in the UK.
The first reading of the motion to accept women in the top job was passed overwhelmingly at last year's meeting of the General Synod. After that vote, the issue went out to the seven dioceses for further debate.
On Thursday, the motion will receive its second and final reading. It will need the support of two thirds of the Synod - made up of the seven bishops and 156 representatives of the clergy and congregations - to go through as a change to the church's rulebooks.
At present, only the Anglican churches in the USA , Canada and New Zealand have employed women as bishops. The Anglican Church in Ireland has voted to allow women bishops but has yet to appoint one. The Church of England does not allow women bishops.
The General Synod will also be asked whether it wants to press on with plans to merge with other Protestant churches in Scotland - despite the Church of Scotland's rejection of the proposals at its General Assembly last month. Members will debate whether to commend historic proposals set out by the Scottish Church Initiative for Union (SCIFU).
The proposals include plans to create "maxi-parishes" served by teams of ministers from all church traditions, led by "bishops" elected by regional church councils.
The governing bodies of the two other Churches involved in the SCIFU talks - the Methodists and the United Reformed Church - have both already overwhelmingly backed the merger proposals.
The Rt Revd Michael Henley, Episcopal Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, and convener of the SCIFU working group, said, "The ideal of Christian unity does not live or die on the decision of one church. I am still very interested in pursuing the SCIFU initiatives with the Methodists and the URC. This idea is not going to go away."
If the general Synod supports the merger plans, they will go out to the dioceses for further debate before returning to the Synod next year.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)