Relation of College of Bishops to the General Synod

Someone asked me recently what the relationship was between the College of Bishops and the General Synod.

It is a good question. Fortunately, the code of canons is quite specific about this.

Canon 52 Section 20 is helpfully clear:

The Primus may at any time, when requested to do so by the College of Bishops, take councel with the General Synod on any matter; and thereafter the College of Bishops may make, if they see fit, a pronouncement on such a mtter, or if the College of Bishops so decide, they may submit a proposed pronouncement by them for approval, amendment, or other action by the General Synod.

I like the fact that we have such a collaborative process written into the Canons, which are our effective constitution.

That’s a really good way of trying to square the circle between episcopal leadership and synodical governance, isn’t it?

Latest official response from the Scotland to the Covenant proposal

The Faith and Order Board of the Scottish Episcopal Church has published a response to the St Andrews Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

You can read it all here.

Mothering Sunday

Here is a treat for Mothering Sunday – here at St Mary’s we are having the annual “Come to Mother Church” shindig at 6.30 pm. We’ve got massed musicians from all over the diocese singing some great music, a pinch of poetry, a wee sermon from me and the delight of singing songs of praise in good company in a great building. We’re even going to try to offer a cuppa afterwards, not an inconsiderable task for those numbers in a building without great facilities.

We are presuming to take the theme of the Annunciation this time. (The proper date is next Wednesday, but we’re anticipating it by a few days – think of it as the angel’s ponderings as he was on the way to Nazareth).

+Idris will be there. Choristers are coming by bus from the Galloway end of the diocese. Even the Angel Gabriel is coming. Don’t let the only person missing be you.

All welcome.

Petition and Parliamentary Update

You’ll remember that I was going on about people signing a petition to allow gay couples the same access to marriage as straight couples. Here is the update on what happened when the petition was presented.

On Tuesday afternoon, the petition was heard by the Scottish Parliamentary Public Petitions Committee. There was cross party (Green, Liberal Democrat, Labour, Conservative, Nationalist) agreement to write to the Scottish Government asking them whether they would bring in legislation to amend the Marriage (Scotland) Act accordingly and requesting that, if the government refuses, to give reasons for its refusal. Various bodies will now also be consulted, including Scottish Inter Faith Council, Equality Network, Humanist Society of Scotland and the Pagan Federation (Scotland).

So, congratulations to the Petitioner, Nick Henderson for organising this, and to all those who helped gather the thousand or so signatures.

The official record is here.

In other news, Patrick Harvey’s hate crimes bill, the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Bill received unanimous approval at its first reading on Wednesday afternoon. This is an important piece of legislation which will ensure that that homophobic, transphobic and disability-related hate crime is taken as seriously as racist and religious hate crime.

Collating Fr James

To Hyndland this afternoon for the collation of Fr James Milne as Rector of St Bride’s Church. (For those who care about ecclesiastical arcaniana, a collation happens when the bishop is the sole patron of the charge, whilst an institution happens in almost all other cases).

It was a splendid occasion. Over a hundred and thirty packed into St Brides and filled both bits of the church, which is as asymmetrical as Ms Quant’s hairstyles.

It is good to be able to wish James well. I’ve known him since we both trained for the priesthood together. In the end, I was ordained sooner than he was as he kept getting sent off on jollies (to places like Melanesia and Milton Keynes). He is a good priest and the people at St Bride’s would be wise to love him and keep him.

It was nice to hear James Macmillan’s A New Song sung by the choir which originally premiered it. They also sang the lovely setting of Darke in F.

St Brides is one of the nearest neighbours to St Mary’s. Up the hill in Hyndland, they take their faith seriously and gloriously. This collation marks a new start for Fr James and a new start for all of them, and it is not difficult on a day such as today to wish them blessings all round.

(BTW, does anyone know why we were invited to St Brides’s, Kelvinside rather than St Bride’s Hyndland? I thought for a moment when looking at the invitation that there must have been a schism).

To the synod office

scottish-field-754831To General Synod Office in Edinburgh yesterday, where I discovered lying prominently in the reception room (Room 1) an up to date copy of Scottish Field and a small pile of Scottish Fields for recent months.

Can anyone confirm whether this is anything to do with the fact that the leader of the Scottish Tory Party has been asked to speak at the Provincial Conference? Does the one follow the other as night follows day, or are these two things in fact unrelated?

HMS Pinafore – the Carl Rosa Opera, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

shipThe libretto of HMS Pinafore has at its centre a character, in the form of Sir Joseph Porter, who has risen to a status far exceding his talent. There was a certain irony then in the casting of Mr John Savident who, though he looked the part, was wading way out of his depth and would have been wise to keep his feet firmly ashore, treading the familiar pavements of Coronation Street. He could not sing and he could not remember the words that he was supposed to be singing. The ability to sing and to do so using Mr Gilbert’s words are not entirely optional in the production of the Savoy Operas.

Even at its best, there did not look to be a competent crew aboard this Pinafore and whenever the Admiral strode the deck, a palpable sense of nervousness seemed to be catching amongst the rest of the company. The sisters and the cousins and the aunts of the female chorus did a little better at annunciating their words than the sailors, not all of whom knew the lyrics any better than their first Sea Lord, but neither the gentlemen nor the ladies spent the whole evening singing in time with what was going on in the pit.

Rare patches of sunlight shone on the production in the form of some beautiful singing by Olivia Safe as a lovely Josephine.

There can be something endearing and even charming in the production of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan even when performed by amateur companies who can make up for a lack of talent with boisterous enthusiasm and commitment. Such things were absent amongst this professional outfit who looked under rehearsed and under prepared.

Even the bows at the end of the production got into a fankle when the orchestra were acknowledged by Miss Safe before all the cast (in particular Mr Savident) had received the lukewarm adulation of the crowd. One felt she had a point.

This was the first night of a three and a half month tour that will take the ship to Brighton, Wimbledon, Norwich, Belfast, Bath and other points around Blighty.

However the production ends up by the time it gets to Windsor in June, one thing was clear from its opening night in Glasgow.

This ship was not fit to sail.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Biretta Watch – Snowy Day

biretta5Anyone who has read my 100 things knows that I wear a biretta when it is snowy. People sometimes ask me why. I tell them that it is to keep my head warm. This makes them laugh though I find it hard to understand why. People sometimes ask me whether I know how ridiculous it makes me look. I reply that I do, but am conscious of how much more ridiculous any other hat would look on top of a priest in vestments and ask whether they had thought of that. The answer is usually more hilarity.

I’m fairly sure that I have not given more pleasure to the world this year, than by the simple act of donning that hat on Sunday morning to welcome the faithful. Certainly, members of the choir, which included the young trebles this week, were particulary thrilled to see it.

There is now some debate about what colour my pom-pom should be going on on facebook. Magisterial Purple vs Canon’s Red are the two liturgical options, but I was taken by the suggestion that I should sport a white pom, to represent the snow.

Biretta wearing (in snow or in sunshine) does seem to me to be an inherrantly missional part of the clerical task. It binds the community and draws people ever closer in.


Further Biretta coverage here, here and here.

Sermon – 8 March 2009

Here is yesterday's sermon.

Last Chance

signature-877745Last chance to sign the petition on marriage equality today and tomorrow.

Go on. How often do you get the chance to give other people the best day of their lives? Make people happy. Help open all the sacraments to all the baptised.