From the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
16 October 2003
I am writing this note on my return journey from the meeting of Anglican Primates at Lambeth Palace called by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This as you know was as a result of the controversy created by the election of Canon Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire in the USA and the decision by the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada to authorise a liturgy for the blessing of those in committed same sex relationships
I have been very grateful to many of you who have in recent weeks sent me messages assuring me of your prayers and sharing with me your own concerns and convictions from both sides of the argument. The tone of such messages has always been generous and considerate - in contrast I have to say to some I have received from other parts of the world!
The full statement of the Primates meeting is to be found on the Anglican Communion website www.anglicancommunion.org and I would encourage you to read this alongside any newspaper reports. If you are not on the Internet then Lorna Finley at the GSO Office can ensure that you have a copy.
The meeting itself was one in which strong views were expressed and especially by those Primates mainly from the global south who have felt particularly upset by the decisions taken in Canada and the USA. I sometimes felt that we were locked in a struggle out of which there would be no resolution. Some of us experienced what might be described as being on a 'rollercoaster' of emotions as the mood of the meeting changed on a number of occasions. Yet through the sensitive and, as Robin Eames commented, 'prayerful' guidance of Rowan Williams we found a way to say that "what we had in common is greater than that which divides us in proclaiming Good News to the world". Serious problems and divisions still exist, of course, and it is very likely that some provinces will take their own action after the ordination of Canon Robinson as indicated in the statement. The challenge is in whether we allow these problems to be destructive of our common together as Christians within the Anglican Communion. The statement identifies some ways forward for the Communion to address this matter.
In our own Scottish Episcopal Church we have often described ourselves as seeking to be a church which reflects the Gospel through a welcoming, open and inclusive attitude; which values the rich diversity that exists within our shared Christian journey; and which is ready to explore the difficult issues of faith and order with, I hope, honesty and love. None of that, I believe, is compromised by this statement. But I hope it may also challenge us to take more seriously the study of scripture, acknowledging as the statement says 'a legitimate diversity of interpretation' ; and to continue, as the Lambeth Conference 1998 resolution on human sexuality asked us, to listen to the experiences and struggles of homosexual people in the church.
Finally, whatever happens in the coming weeks in ECUSA regarding the ordination of Canon Gene Robinson I hope that we will uphold in our prayers all those in our sister church with whom we have strong historical and continuing friendships.
I could say more - and indeed will write an article for the 'Scottish Episcopalian' after I've had some more time to reflect on these past two days. But given that the press will inevitably put their own particular 'spin' on the event I felt it important to share with you as soon as possible my own initial reflection. Do feel free to share this with others.
Once more my thanks for your prayers and support