The Scottish Episcopal Church Option

So, here’s the thing. You’re sitting in your rectory in the Wolds of Nether Essex and turning the wireless dial at the end of a long day in June. Through the crackle and fizz of the static you finally find the Home Service and a plummy voice says with just the tiniest hint of surprise: “The Scottish Episcopal Church agreed overwhelmingly today at its General Synod in Edinburgh to allow gay couples to get married in its churches, becoming the first Anglican church in the UK to do so”. And you are suddenly agog. Could it be, you wonder, that there is another way of being a priest in these islands which might suit you down to the ground? Could it be that you should shake the dust of Basildon and Billericay from your feet and move to Banff or Buchan where the rainbow flag of freedom surely waves proudly in the sky? Your mind starts to imagine swapping Clacton-on-Sea for the true liberty of living in Clackmannanshire. “Harlow Nae Mair!” you cry as you imagine yourself marching with the kilt-clad masses at Helensburgh’s famous Pride March.

Before you know where you are, you are reaching for the back pages of the Church Times and applying for anything north of the border and wondering where you buy Episcopal plaid because the Holy Spirit in her infinite wisdom has revealed to you a sudden and previously unexplored call to the Scottish Episcopal Church that simply can’t be argued with.

Well, if you do seek to live out the Scottish Option, what will you find?  We’ll get to the sex bits further down the post but there’s quite a lot to talk about before we get there.

The truth is, there’s quite a lot of comings and goings between the Scottish Episcopal Church and other provinces of the Anglican Communion. One of the things that matters about the Anglican Communion is that it is relatively easy for those working in one part of the world to move to another part of the world. If you are priest (for example) in one place, then you are regarded as a priest in all places of the Communion. That’s kind of the big idea.

We see quite of lot of trade between the provinces of Scotland and England. The idea of full communion allows people from the Scottish Episcopal Church to work in the Church of England and vice versa. Well, that’s the theory though in reality some people are in fuller communion than others – I would struggle to work in Englandshire as I can’t affirm things that they’ve added to the Creed as essential such as the Five Guiding Principle of the Church of England guaranteeing the flourishing of those opposed to the ordination of women and I could never agree that I would only have a relationship with another man if I was prepared to lie about it to my bishop. But anyway, there’s full communion for some people and come and go they do.

There is quite a lot that is very attractive to people from the C of E coming north. However, one of the most difficult things about making that journey is that from a distance things look the same when in fact they are completely different.

Here’s a few things that are very different that people thinking of hitching their wagons and travelling north need to think about.

Well, the first thing that you need to think about when it comes to moving to Scotland is that you are going to have a relationship with your bishop. More so than you’ve probably had before. Not only that, but the bishop may well have a relationship with members of your congregation in a way entirely unlike  any relationship that you’ve witnessed in the Church of England. I would expect a bishop in a Scottish Episcopal diocese to know all the clergy by name and that they would also know key individuals in the congregation too. We are a much smaller church and that means that we relate completely differently. You are almost always relating to people whom you know rather than nameless officials. There’s an upside to that but there’s a downside to it too that you’ve probably not thought about. To put it bluntly, there’s no-where to hide.

Not only do I know my bishop but I also expect to know all the bishops of the church. I get to deal with them in the course of provincial business (we’ll come to that in a bit) and I would expect that if I had any cause to pick up the phone, I’d get through to any of them quickly and they would know who I am. (And I expected that when I worked in Bridge of Allan too, it isn’t simply because I work in a relatively high profile place).

When it comes to dioceses, don’t forget that there might be no-one in the diocesan office except the bishop, an administrator and maybe a Diocesan Secretary and or Treasurer who themselves may be very part time. Here in Glasgow the diocesan operation consists of a bishop, a canon missioner (currently on maternity leave), three part time people in the diocesan office doing administrative roles and the Diocesan Secretary and the Diocesan Treasurer who work part time and receive a small honorarium rather than a salary. There are no departments. There are hardly any experts. There’s no professionals. There’s just a few people holding things together who are supported by clergy and lay people from around the diocese volunteering to run various small programmes, some of which are almost invisible. It looks hand-knitted. It is hand-knitted.

The kind of clergy who tend to enjoy working in Scotland tend to be Jacks or Jills of all trades – generalists who can throw their hand to anything that their congregation throws at them whilst also join in running some Committee or Board either provincially or in the diocese.

See that word province – that’s how we talk about the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is a province of the Anglican Communion. Coming from England, you’ve probably never really thought of the Church of England as being a province of anything. (And here we’re talking about something quite different to the Provinces of York and Canterbury). You probably think a province is some kind of colonial outpost. Work in Scotland for 2 minutes and you’ll suddenly discover things about Anglicanism that you’ve never thought about in your life before. You’ve probably never realised that most Anglicans are non-conformists, people who worship in churches that are completely separate from the state and which receive no state funding. Here in Scotland you’ll find that you’re not in the most populous church nor even the second most populous church. The Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church are each about 10 times the size of the Scottish Episcopal Church. As an Anglican, you’re very much in a minority. As most Anglicans in the world are.

“Oh, you elect your bishops” you cry quaintly. Yes. That’s what Anglicans generally do. Never forget how odd the idea is that Anglican bishops are appointed rather than elected nor how curious the idea of them being appointed in the name of the head of state.

Don’t forget – the Queen is a Presbyterian.

Don’t forget – the Archbishop of Canterbury has no jurisdiction in this realm of Scotland.

Don’t forget – the Church of Scotland is not something you belong to and if you ever refer, even by accident, to the Scottish Episcopal Church as the Church of Scotland you might as well wear a large garish sign around your neck bearing the words “foreign ignoramus – do not take me seriously”.

When it comes to the Church of Scotland you may not understand the fury that the Columba Agreement unleashed until you’ve been here for some time but don’t underestimate it before coming to work in Scotland. Remember that many if not most priests in the Scottish Episcopal Church don’t really think that ministers of the Church of Scotland are or should be interchangable with priests ordained in our own church. Remember too that most Scottish Episcopalians going to a communion service in the Church of Scotland will happily join in and receive the bread and whatever it is in the cup and think loving thoughts about Jesus but may still feel that something was missing that didn’t make it feel quite the full bhuna. The statement in the Columba Agreement that Holy Communion is rightly administered in the Church of Scotland felt like a very foreign statement. The blunt reality is that lots of Episcopalians don’t feel that way about it.

But wait – before you get uppity on someone else’s behalf, don’t forget that we tend to feel the same way about worship in the Church of England. Take us down to Englandshire and we’ll try to be well behaved but inside we are still rolling our eyes at the Eucharistic prayer (if we can spot it) and on coming home we’ll readily say that there seemed to be something missing somehow.

That’s hard to understand. But look up epiclesis and realise that it isn’t just a word or an nice prayer – it is something that we think a reality.

There’s a lot of other politics to get your head around – both ecclesiastical politics and actual political politics. It is made more difficult because it isn’t all entirely settled and individuals may not entirely seem to be making sense.

Take me for example – I’m in favour of the United Kingdom because I care about the poor child in Carlisle as much as I care about the poor child in Carstairs. For that reason, notwithstanding the fact that I have no truck with the current UK government, I reject Scottish Independence. However, when it comes to religion, I’m the very opposite – hastily defending the independence of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Should the Archbishop of Canterbury put a toe over the border (something which does happen from time to time) you’ll find me suddenly taking on the role of William Wallace, picking up my two edged sword of destiny and whirling it around my Saltire be-painted head to defend the true religion from interlopers. Well, I do this using twitter, but you get the idea. Does this entirely make sense? No. Is it entirely real? Yes.

And it isn’t just me. You’ll find all kinds of things that don’t at first appear to make any sense should you move up to a charge here.

What’s that, you ask, a charge? What’s one of those?

Well, a charge is what we sometimes call a congregation or group of congregations. What else would you call a congregation without a parish?

Yes – learn this and learn it good before you even pick up a pencil to encircle a Scottish advert in the Church Times – there are no Anglican parishes in Scotland. Not one. Zilch. Nada.

Come to Scotland to work and you’ll not be working in a parish. No parish funerals. No parish weddings. No parish schools. Nothing like that at all.

You’ll be working for the people who appoint you and pay you – your congregation. Yes, that’s right, they actually pay you with money that comes from their giving. It isn’t the diocese who pays (though the diocese may appoint a paying officer to gather the money and run a payroll system). It isn’t the province. It isn’t the Queen. It isn’t the Church Commissioners. (Church who?) It is the actual people you will be preaching to on a Sunday who have to dig in their pockets and find your stipend. That’s a fundamentally different situation to that which you’ve experienced before if you’ve worked in English parishes. Make sure you understand what that will feel like. Think of it more like being a chaplain to people who happen to like worshipping this way. People are often rather derogatory when they refer to working in “chaplaincy mode” to keep a congregation going. They forget that chaplaincy models are mission models wherever they are found – just ask a chaplain.

With regards to worship, most but not all of our congregations are liberal catholic to one degree or another. Vestments are usually worn. The sacrament is usually reserved. The liturgy that we use is one that we are rather proud of.

Being a priest in Scotland is about gathering a congregation. It isn’t particularly about offering the ministrations of religion to everyone in your local territory. Someone has that responsibility and it isn’t you. And no matter how important you think ecumenism is, you’ll realise very quickly that you are not running the show.

Talking of ecumenism, ever wondered how it feels if you are not the top dog church? No, you haven’t. Of course you haven’t. You’ve never even thought of the question. But start wondering, particularly if you want to work well with others here.

I happen to love the Scottish Episcopal Church – love it more than is good for me some would say. I think that being a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church is one of the most rewarding things anyone can be called to do. I also think we’ve got stuff for sharing as we attempt to make Jesus known in the world. Stuff to be shared in Scotland and stuff to be shared beyond Scotland. This is a great part of the vineyard in which to work. However, it is only a good part  of the vineyard in which to work if you’ve really thought through how different it is from where you’re coming from.

Don’t assume you understand anything about moving into ministry if you are coming from England.

By the way, we’re as friendly as we’re feisty. We think the two things go together. Odd, isn’t it?

Now before I sign off, and you go to buy your kilt for your interview, what about the sex bits.

Firstly, if you’ve heard about the Scottish Episcopal Church’s recent decision about opening marriage to same-sex couples and think you can come up here because anything goes – please forget this and see a qualified therapist. The truth is, gay couples in the SEC are going to get the opportunity to be married because generally speaking their relationships look to those around them like a stable sacramental way of life that they already recognise. If you want a life of flighty gay fancy, you are probably looking in the wrong direction by looking north.

However, it is the case that I suspect that there will be people who look at the decision that we’ve made and the way that we’ve made it and think that they would quite like to be part of a church that behaves as we have done.  I don’t think that will be limited to gay folk either. The truth is, we’ve worked hard at that decision and gone about it in as grown up a way as any church I know. There’s plenty of room for clergy who want to live and work in a church like that and who think that there a chance that God is calling them to help congregations in Scotland to grow a bit.

If that’s you, we need you. Not only that, we’ll love you and we’ll welcome you.

It says so on the sign by the door.


PS – We don’t have flying bishops. I hadn’t thought of mentioning this because, well why would anyone ever come up with the idea of flying bishops and think it was a good idea? However a friend contacted me and suggested I make it crystal clear as those coming from the south might wonder.

All our bishops ordain men and women. We don’t have any resolutions suggesting that some priests are not really priests.

In a sane church you wouldn’t, would you?

PPS – for what it is worth, I think that it is a very difficult thing to move successfully into Episcopal ministry (ie being elected bishop) in another province of the Anglican Communion to the one you are working in. It might work but there are plenty of examples of people who just didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for. I’d say that I’ve seen more examples of people trying to do that who have ended up miserable than I would have liked to see. It shouldn’t be surprising that it isn’t an easy transition to make. However, I’ve known several who just didn’t bank on how different it all is. See above.



  1. William MacKaye says

    Who are the Scottish congregations the ACNA crowd claims are calling for the oversight of the so-called “missionary bishop”? I haven’t seen a word from or about these folks in any of the coverage of the Wheaton, Illinois, consecration. Who paid for all those prelates to fly in for the event anyway?

    • I don’t know anything much about the ACNA – they don’t have a big following in Scotland.

      There were three clergy at the press conference who are incumbents at three individual churches. I know two of those churches and both would contain people who were against marriage being offered to same-sex couples worshipping alongside people who are in favour of it.

      It remains to be seen whether this is a significant movement. The actual change to the canons which was made allowed a great deal of space and grace to all people simply to regard the matter as an issue of personal conscience. One could see the point of a schism if everyone was obligated to believe one thing or another. There seems to be rather less point when the church has explicitly ruled that we don’t all agree anyway.

      I suspect this is really more about England anyway.

  2. Mary Ayers says

    The Scottish Episcopal Church looks very familiar to those of us in the Episcopal Church in the USA 🙂 And if I remember my church history, it was the Scottish Episcopal Church that enabled us to have our own bishops during the Revolution and is the source of our use of the epiclesis in the Eucharistic Prayer.

    • Yes – I feel more at home when I’m in church in the USA than if I find myself at an English parish.

      We have lots of visitors from the USA on Sundays who say it works both ways.

      • Sarah Lawton says

        Since I worshipped on back to back Sundays in Edinburgh and then London last fall, I can say this is true. The SEC is more like home. Especially the sense that we are doing (and contributing funds for) voluntary local mission work.

        Re bishops being elected – I can’t count how many times we had to say that Gene Robinson was *elected* by the Diocese of New Hampshire (and then his election was consented to by General Convention). We would say that clearly, but the English press, including or especially the church press, would still say he was appointed. As an American I find the whole establishment / Crown thing is equally inexplicable, I suppose.

    • Bro David says

      I never realized that one could have Eucharist without an Epiclesis. SEC is mother to TEC, so grandmother to my home church, la Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico. I’ve never communed without one, unless I was at a non-Anglican church service and many of them invite the blessing of God’s Spirit as well!

      I really like this essay Kelvin. I love it when you get all worked up & inspired! 🙂

  3. Rosemary Hannah says

    Some SEC priests will find there are more sympathetic relationships with neighbouring Roman Catholic parishes than they have expected too – differences openly acknowledged but kinship warmly owned. Also you will need to live in Scotland not merely worship and work here.

  4. I would be interested to see other comments from Scottish Episcopalians naming things that I’ve missed out. Particularly from those who have made the journey north at one time or another.

    • I came north over 2 years ago, and have a charge of 4 churches in Highland Perthshire. I came with eyes wide open to a place where my parents in law have lived for over 40 years, and have felt at home from the beginning. So for me it was an easy move and I can honestly say that I would in no way want to go back. But can see how things could go wrong ifyou don’t understand the profound differences in the SEC. If wanting to come north, just remember Scotland is another country.

  5. Kimberly says

    You forgot poetry. Scottish Episcopalians expect the words of liturgy to be poetic and the liturgical space to be an extension of heaven rather than an extension of home.

    Christingle services are occasionally found, but generally superfluous. There’s plenty of fun to be had with candles, sheep, donkeys and angels.

    Members of the congregation will care about what is happening in the Province and in the Anglican Communion, and will know and care more about it than most clergy in England.

    Coffins are received into church the night before the funeral. This is the most beautiful part of the funeral.

    We have no problem at all putting on a full Easter vigil, with huge bonfire and stunning music for 12 people. We assume Jesus had no problem with it either.

    We don’t particularly think of ourselves as Miserable Offenders and get weary of liturgies that say otherwise. Instead, lives are offered for transformation at the eucharist.

    There is no such thing as an Iona service (unless you are on Iona).

    As many funerals as not are a full eucharist. Why wouldn’t they be?

    The eucharist is how we welcome people. It is the most hospitable thing in the world.

    (I’m sure I have more, but I should let someone else have a turn.)

    • Pam Barrowman says

      I wish this blog had a like button, I’d be clicking away at every point, Kimberly!

      • Archie Thom says

        I was just thinking the same thing, Pam! I especially like the bit about some clergy who have come up from Englandshire and been very unhappy here – reminds me of someone I know . . .

    • Once a pisky always a pisky, as the Lincolnshire vicar proves.

  6. An informative and interesting post. I am not considering a move to Scotland, particularly as I am not a Priest. But my mother was a MacGlashan whose father hailed from Glasgow.

    The differences between the SEC and CofE are marked, perhaps by the independence of parishes, not having all of the baggage of the Parish system that we carry, but value highly here. But the struggle to pay the share, while trying to keep a roof over our heads as well as being mission in our place sometimes seems a struggle too far. We look with envy on two thriving Baptist Churches within 500 years of us, and wonder what independence would look like? But UDI is impossible as those who fled to the Ordinariate a few years ago discovered to their cost.

    But the SEC seems to function and flourish despite the things that you describe, perhaps the Holy Spirit speaks a little louder north of the border?

    • I’m less convinced that the Holy Spirit speaks a little louder north of the border than that the continued precarious existence of the Scottish Episcopal Church is the ultimate proof that God exists.

  7. Pam Barrowman says

    I’ll be doing my thing at the Dunblane summer school (RSCM) tomorrow. I’ve been slaving over a hot keyboard all day to increase the length from a 20 min. paper to a 50 min lecture, mostly expanding the historical and political context, as that was the bit that got the most attention in Canterbury. THEY REALLY DONT KNOW DIDDLEY SQUAT but were fascinated to learn about the genesis of the SEC, and the differences. I’ll be wearing my “no jurisdiction” badge.

  8. Keith Battarbee says

    A quick comment from south of the Border – from an Anglican who has until recently been worshiping mainly in the C of E’s Diocese in Europe, which is in many ways perhaps more like other Anglican provinces than like its mother church, the C of E, not least in its structure of Chaplaincies and (sub)congregations rather than parishes – but Fr Kelvin, your jibe about the epiclesis is way out of touch. In the Common Worship liturgy, all 8 Eucharistic Prayers have an epiclesis – in fact 2 of them have *two* epicleses!, one before and one after the Words of Institution. Similarly, all 4 Eucharistic Prayers in the Alternative Service Book of 1980 had an epiclesis, as did the 1928 Prayer Book. Your jibe does, sadly, apply to all the C of E’s Books of Common Prayer from 1549 onwards to 1662 and thus to the present day, whereas north of the Border you’ve had epicleses since Laud’s unfortunately-controversial Scottish Book of 1637 (but not earlier than that, I think, in the vernacular liturgy).

  9. Cedric Blakey says

    A few extras:
    1. Don’t ask about swearing an oath of allegience at your installation. No one will understand. (They would have done 400 years ago, and they would have chased you out of the church.)
    2. So do some homework reading up on Scottish Church History before your removal vans depart. Henry VIII had no jurisdiction in this Kingdom. It’s a different story. A Scottish one. Some congregations were not only Non-Jurer but also Jacobite.
    3. Ask to see the congregation’s constitution. They are all different and you will be expected to sign it in public. For instance you may not have churchwardens. But you will have a Lay Representative (who attends the diocesan with you and is the lay elector for your next bishop). And and an Alternate Lay Rep.
    4. Ask about the Vestry. This is your congregation’s body of trustees. There are no PCCs.
    5. Read the Canons. They contain an important back story and they are your friends.
    6. Don’t expect a visit from the archdeacon. There aren’t any. Not one Venerable. Ask to speak with the Dean instead – they have a charge like you do, and are appointed to serve as Dean for a period of time by your Bishop.
    7. There are no vicars either. You are most likely to be a rector.
    8. Your rectory will probably be owned by the Vestry. The Dean will help you check it’s up to scratch. Do ask to see the last quinqueniel inspection report and work progress. Some rectories are tenements.
    9. Your CofE pension will be frozen. Check terms and conditions with the Pensions Board and the deal with the SEC pension scheme. There is no lump sum.
    10. The cathedral is funded just like any other congregation. The person in charge is called Provost.
    11. You can employ as many clergy as you want – there are no limits or allocations. You just need to find the funds to pay their salaries and pension and housing costs.
    12. Your vestry does have a quota to pay – this contributes to the Bishop’s salary & provincial costs (voted on each year by General Synod) including lay & clergy ministry training.
    13. Expect to record numbers carefully. There is no hiding place – attendances are reported to General Synod annually.
    14. There are no rural/area deaneries. You will find relating to your Bishop more like relating to your rural/area dean. As Kelvin says, they will know your charge(s) very well.
    15. Everyone knows everything about everyone. SEC colleagues? They trained together. Loved each other. Fell out together. There are no secrets. But friendships stick, and endure in spite of their differences and contrasting traditions. They have more in common than anything that divides them. And to be welcomed by them is a fabulous experience.
    16. England soon feels like another country.

    • Cedric says

      17. You will never, and must never, read banns of marriage. It’s not Scots Marriage Law. The registrar does the business and issues a Marriage Schedule which is the document to be signed at the ceremony and which must be returned for them to issue the marriage certificate the following week.
      18. If approached to marry a divorcee expect the Bishop to invite the couple to meet with them.
      19. After all that, and after 30 years of ordained ministry in England, I feel incredibly grateful to the SEC and very very proud to be serving within it.

      • David Allen says

        Marriage banns were what got the ball rolling for marriage equality in Canada, in 2001. The pastor of MCC Toronto, the Dr Revd Brent Hawks, CM, ONB, read the banns for two same-sex couples three Sundays in a row as Ontario law stipulated and when the time came officiated the marriage. The Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the marriages and the rest is history.

        If only Scotland, someone gutsy like Kelvin and it all may have come about quicker!

        • No – reading banns has no legal effect in Scotland. Not for anyone. No-one can be made married by the reading of banns here. There are no marriage banns in Scotland. You could be as brave as you liked with banns but you’d just have looked stupid and the couple would be just as unmarried. The point is, no-one at all can get married by the reading of banns in Scotland. Not straight people and not presbyterians. No-one.

          • David Allen says

            Sorry that I was so cryptic in my closing sentence. I will rewrite it.

            If only Scotland had marriage banns, someone gutsy like Kelvin and then it all may have come about quicker.

          • Well no, not really. England has marriage banns but reading them for a gay couple won’t result in that couple ending up married.

          • Phil Gardner says

            No-one at all can get married by the reading of banns in England either. Not straight people and not Anglicans. No-one. Banns are just an archaic way of ensuring that a couple’s intention to marry is publicly known, so that people who know them can object if the marriage would be unlawful. They are a precondition of being married in a C of E church, but not part of the marriage itself.

          • That’s not the point Phil.
            The point is simply that this archaic way of giving notice doesn’t exist in Scotland and can’t be performed by priests (or ministers) in Scotland.

            Clergy in England sometimes ask couples to get a cleric in Scotland to read their banns. They can’t.

          • David Slater says

            Kelvin, a minor point – presumably at the time of abolishing the reading of banns in Scotland, when civil marriage law was reformed a bit – the Kirk passed Act 3 1978, which while abolishing the Kirk law relating to them, did still allow for the reading of banns (in the parish church) for someone resident in Scotland but getting married elsewhere, if that was legally required for that other jurisdiction. Presumably having no civil legal force in Scotland. (Still ‘current’ in CoS law although I don’t know if there’s any other jurisdiction in the world that would require it)

            When I got married in England (mid 1990s) the Rector did (wrongly) advise we’d need to get Banns read in the SEC in my home town! I didn’t know about the above legislation at the time, or might have asked our parish minister for it as well as making arrangements with his wife who was the local registrar!

  10. Matthew says

    I’m a server, not ordained. I went from what I suppose was 8 or so active years serving in the SEC (varying from a mission church in one of the poorest areas in Scotland – where my primary ‘duty’ was piping at mixed RC / CoS weddings which were held in St Ninians as ‘neutral ground’) to the full err, whatever, of the Province of Canterbury. SSC variant.

    I’m glad to be home. It was weird. Especially when people lapsed in to Greek.

  11. Matthew says

    Oh, sorry. IPhone. From mission church to St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh. With the ArchBishop to the Media as an episcopal activist.

    Then to the CoE.

  12. I am a lay person who ten years ago almost to the day was sitting in front of a computer and wearing just such a “foreign ignoramus” placard as I typed “Church of Scotland” into Google. Let me see if I can redeem myself a little, as I have learned a couple of things in the past decade.

    People relate to their Diocese and to the Province differently in the SEC than was my experience in the Church of England. I have a sense in the SEC of being part of something larger than the place I go on a Sunday and that that something is important and relevant to me. In my parish church in England, my particular church was important to me and my sense of belonging to the Church of England felt much more of a nominal thing. My sense of belonging to the Diocese of Newcastle even less so.

    People relate to their neighbouring churches differently, too. In England, the congregation might not know, much less care, what Father down the road does on a Sunday. In Scotland, we feel (to me) a great deal more interconnected and less able to live in our own bubbles. You may see that as a good thing or as a bad thing, but it is certainly a different thing.

    The difference in the liturgy is wider ranging than the Epiclesis. The shape of the liturgy will be mostly familiar, but when you first arrive in Scotland the words will feel thoroughly unfamiliar. Until the first time you visit England, when you will suddenly be aware of words you thought you’d known all your life tasting like a foreign language. This is all right, because the Scottish liturgy is better.

    The idea of doing remote and rural ministry doubtless sounds terribly romantic. It did to me when I decided to spend a summer doing remote and rural medicine. If you are in England, you are within a couple of hours drive, at most, of a fair to middling size town or city. (And we have cities in Scotland! Fabulous ones! With churches in them, even!) But if you are tempted to circle an advert in the Church Times for a charge on an island or in the Diocese of Moray, Ross, and Coos, remember that when you go out to visit your flock the chances are high that at some point you will have to stop your car for the actual sheep in the actual road.

  13. Oh, and another thing. The 39 Articles.

    We don’t have to pretend we believe them.

    Indeed, we don’t have ’em at all.

    • David Allen says

      TEC has them, they’re in the back of the book, page 867, under Historical Documents!

      • We used to have them but not since the 1970s.

      • Meg Rosenfeld says

        What’s TEC? Sorry, writing from California and fascinated by all of this, just unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary.

        • David Allen says

          TEC – The Episcopal Church (US)

          SEC – Scottish Episcopal Church

        • Whit J says

          TEC is an abbreviation that stands for “the Episcopal Church”. I would not use it on this site because it is not clear which Episcopal church one is referring to, though I suspect that David was referring to the one that’s based in the US. On this website I would always use PECUSA to refer to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

          • Meg Rosenfeld says

            . . . or, as we say here in California, ECUSA. Don’t know why, but we seem to have dropped the “Protestant.” Thanks for clearing that up. Now I’m waiting for someone to make a witty song or poem about all the abbreviations.

          • Why Protestant? We never ordained Samuel for you to go and turn protestant on us. Meg and those in California get a gold star.

          • That, believe it or not, is the legal name of the American church.

  14. Pat Smith says

    I’m starting to plan a move south to be nearer to family in old age, and have been looking more closely at CofE churches than I would have done in the past. The thing that horrifies me is the compulsory fees for marriages and funerals. No wonder people don’t come to church for a wedding if there’s a fee, even for church members, of over £400 (which I understand doesn’t even go to the church)! At my church there is no charge for members, and I know of fellow clergy who have happily waived charges for non-members who cannot afford to pay. The SEC is certainly more welcoming!

    • We charge for weddings at St Mary’s. Not fit funerals. But yes, the lack of a standard fees policy in Scotland is very different.

    • Jonathan Tallon says

      ‘Even for church members…’

      Remember that in England, everyone in the parish is a church member (well, we don’t have church members, just electoral roll members, which is different). So one set fee for all. The incumbent (for the diocesan part of the fee) and PCC (for church part of the fee) have the power to waive fees in case of clear financial hardship.

    • We charge the same for everyone for weddings no matter their connection with the church. Some fees are waived automatically for anyone on benefits.

      • Meg Rosenfeld says

        I’ve no idea how widespread the custom which I’m about to mention might be, but the parish church which I attend, All Saints (San Francisco) does not charge for the wedding of a member of the parish, or for the use of the parish hall–which meant that our daughter’s very lovely wedding and reception were comparatively inexpensive!

  15. FrPip says

    This is a great post Kelvin, and describes the church I know and love.

    One difference I’ve found in conversations with C of E clergy is our liturgical flexibility. The rubric in the 1982 liturgy means that as long as you show your Bishop your liturgy and don’t commit any major heresies, you can add or subtract at will. Many in practice don’t even do that. Most don’t take advantage of it, but it does mean you can tailor your liturgy a little to the needs of the congregation, and there is far more seasonal flexibility. If in doubt call it “Celtic”.

    • I think we tend to be less inclined to muck about with the liturgy though.

      In most of our churches, the Eucharistic prayer will be the same according to season. In England, so far as I can tell, it seems to be chosen by the whim of the celebrant or Rector.

  16. Daniel Lamont says

    One distinctive thing about the SEC which I don’t think anyone has mentioned is that we don’t have Archbishops. We have a Primus ie first amongst equals. Nor do we have sufragan bishops. This means that the Primus as well as being the most senior churchman is also running his diocese just like any other Scottish Bishop in addition to his duties as Primus. One consequence of being a small and poor church is that there is little grandeur and pretension about the Scottish Bishops – for one thing they don’t live in Palaces.

    On the matter of the 39 Articles, it is worth remembering that these were imposed on the SEC in 1804 by the British Government as the price of being allowed freedom of worship. As Kelvin says they were abandoned in 1974. I cannot emphasise too strongly that if you want to worship regularly here, let alone work as a member of the clergy here, you need to understand the history of the SEC. There is a useful account here

    You also need to understand that, notwithstanding the Act of Union, Scotland is a distinct country wth its own history, language, literature and culture and that is not what my old University Tutor called ‘balmorality’ ie tartan, whisky and shortbread.

    • Yes – no flying bishops, no area bishops, no archbishops, no bishops of the forces, no suffragan bishops, no bishops for male headship, no Bishops of Lambeth or Dover.

      One bishop, one diocese.

      • David Allen says

        What do you do with retired bishops?

      • Whit J says

        Who has episcopal oversight of, say, the Episcopal chaplain at HMNB Clyde? The bishop of Glasgow and Galloway or the CoE Bishop to the Forces?

        • Any Anglican chaplain comes under the Bishop of the Forces.

          Occasionally they have chosen to worship with us at St Mary’s if they don’t have a Sunday service on the base.

  17. Beverley Phillips says

    As an Australian, who these past two weeks has felt absolutely dismayed and furious at the deeply divisive actions by the Abp of Sydney and his lackey the Bp. of Tasmania, in spite of the Primate, who both participated in the Canon Lines ordination as Bp. I take great heart from what I have read above. I trust that SEC understand these actions do not represent the views of the Anglican Church here, and that the wonderful Scottish feistiness I hear above will accord an appropriate ‘welcome’ to the disrespect this person will represent. Thank you SEC for being a beacon to others.

    P.S. To read the statement from our Primate and our Archdeacon just look at my Facebook page.

  18. Julie says

    Very pleased, that Vice Provost Cedric has mentioned “The Jacobites” in his comment.
    Yes, Clergy and new members of SEC congregations travelling north should know about the allegiance of the SEC to the Jacobite Cause.
    For example: Episcopalian Chaplains accompanied Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army to Derby and to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The repercussions re culture, language and population reverberate today.
    Earlier, the Genocide, which took place at Glencoe in 1692, was more than a consequence of taking the Oath too late, but of being ‘on the wrong side’ and opposing the Hanoverian King.

    Take yourselves to NMS and see for yourselves the Exhibition:
    Bonnie Prince Charlie & The Jacobites (23 June-12 Nov), which has been described as one of the best expositions of the SEC and its place in Scottish history.
    On display is a Jacobite broadsword. On the blade is engraved the motto:
    For the prosperity of Scotland and NO Union……For God, my Country and King James the 8.

    Like the Church of Wales, here in Scotland, we offer Services and celebration of the Eucharist in Gaelic.
    The spirituality of the language adds another dimension to worship.
    (see website of Diocese of Argyll & The Isles/Gaelic and SEC Gaelic Society)

    • While I agree that the exhibition is wonderful in many ways, and a visual treat, I really don’t feel that one comes away feeling that the 21st SEC is either explained nor justified by it. There is very little rebutting, either in text form or in the form of artefacts to what was really a Victorian, Walter Scott fuelled romanticisation of what was a much more politically and morally complex situation. Certainly the theological and liturgical waters closed very quickly over the Jacobite cause long before the death of the (by then) alcoholic and abusive “Young” Pretender, leaving the modern SEC to be shaped more by the scholarship of Bishops Maxwell and Wedderburn in its distinctive Eucharistic theology.

      • Julie says

        Sorry that Pam B came away with the impression she has described above.
        When the Principal Curator guided our group around the Exhibition, before we set off, he made 2 points, which I summarise in my own words:
        1 The Exhibition was not a re-run of Sir Walter Scott’s “fuelled romanticisation……..”
        2 The Exhibition focussed on Prince Charles and his character pre your description of “the alcoholic and abusive” elderly man. There were many artefacts on display, which demonstrated & reinforced a very different character and one which we should know about.

        As to “text form”…..if you only mean the labelling & information boards, then it is essential to read the Exhibition book, which is an academic tome of 10 Chapters:
        Chapter 8 ‘True Religion: Faith and the Jacobite Movement.
        Chapter 9 ‘A’Ghaidhealtachd and the Jacobites – the area to which I belong and our Episcopalian faith was shaped and formed by our Jacobite ancestors.

        • Yes, I have the book, and am reading it. It cost a hefty £25, which is a great way to ensure that the message is put across…to those who can afford it. Let’s not get into a contest of Jacobite ancestry.

  19. Anthony Birch says

    On the matter of the epiclesis, what has not been mentioned above is the double epiclesis in the SEC 1982 Liturgy. The gift of the Spirit is asked to come on both the people and the elements. In one of the felicities of language in the liturgy, the effects of that gift are put in the reverse order. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the drafting group who pulled the 1982 liturgy together, + Michael Hare-Duke, Gianfranco Tellini and John Symon. According to the last Michael was there for the language skills, Gian for the theology and he himself for common sense. To our great sadness in St Mary’s Dunblane John died last week. His funeral will be on Monday 17th at 11am.

  20. I’ve always refered to my (U.S.) Episcopal church as a “parish”—but I recognize that what I (and most Yank Episcopalians) mean by “parish”, is not the same as in an English sense.

    Loves me my epiclesis! [Where does an English Anglican know when—in the Eucharistic prayer—to cross themselves w/o it? ;-/]

    • Keith Battarbee says

      I agree with JCF that ‘parish’ *is* used in Anglican provinces outside England, but it then refers to the ‘gathered’ congregation associated with that church, rather than the geographically and demographically inclusive concept of the parish in the C of E. Similarly, in the Diocese in Europe, altho’ our regular term is ‘chaplaincy’, I have often heard references to chaplains as ‘parish priests’ – and much of the non-civil regulations applying to incumbents (rectors and vicars) in the C of E within England also apply to Dio Europe chaplains,

      • William R MacKaye says

        In the U.S., “parish” is indeed frequently heard as a synonym for “congregation,” but some U.S. dioceses, my own Diocese of Washington for one, do have geographical parishes defined by “metes and bounds.” The practice dates back to colonial times. A recent bishop, now retired, arrived in town planning to do away with the parish structure, but encountered enough opposition that he dropped the plan. Those who favor retaining geographical parishes hope they remind congregations to maintain a particular concern for the neighborhoods in which their buildings are located.

  21. Keith Battarbee says

    But on a separate point – When JCF asks “Where does an English Anglican know when—in the Eucharistic prayer—to cross themselves w/o it? ;-/”, I guess they are referring to the celebrant/president at the Eucharist, not the gathered people around them? – And the answer is that a) not all Anglican clergy bother with or approve of such papist frumperies, but those who do follow good catholic liturgical tradition know when to make the sign of the cross over the elements either through their ordination and post-ordination training or/and by consulting one of the good handbooks to Common Worship such as Ben Gordon-Taylor (or indeed Fr Michno’s excellent US Episcopalian handbook).

  22. Keith Battarbee says

    And, to repeat my earlier Comment: *all’ the C20-C21 C of E Eucharistic Prayers have at least one, and in many cases two epicleses.

  23. Meg Rosenfeld says

    Fascinating. This ignorant west-coast American Episcopalian would love to know what (a) Christingle might be.

  24. David Allen says

    It is used at Advent & Christmas in a number of denominations but evolved through our Moravian brothers & sisters.

    A Christingle usually consists of:
    • An orange, representing the world
    • A candle pushed into the center of the orange, then lit, representing Jesus Christ as Light of the World
    • A red ribbon wrapped around the orange or a paper frill around the candle, representing the blood of Christ
    • Dried fruits and/or sweets skewered on cocktail sticks pushed into the orange, representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons

  25. Andrew Swift says

    Back to one of Kelvin’s opening queries: what differences do you meet when as an Anglican/Episcopalian you come north/go south?

    Three more, from a rather pragmatic Dean/Archdiaconal perspective… :

    1) No faculties for church building changes in Scotland. A system (unique to each diocese…) that can be actually much more streamlined, with exemption from Listed Building Consent for internal changes to listed churches. This really does make a difference in developing and using your plant effectively…

    2) Every church/charge is a standalone charity (whatever its income), under a different regime in Scotland (OSCR) to the English Charity Commissioners. So every member of a vestry is a charity trustee. You sometimes find yourself checking that a potential vestry member’s convictions ARe actually spent to allow them to stand. None of the ‘effectively-having-charity-status-under-the-C-of-E-umbrella’ that we had in England. It focuses the mind, actually being a clear-cut charity trustee.

    3) Kelvin pointed out that charges pay their clergy directly – this has a consequence that a charge is technically as a church or set of churches that can afford to pay for a priest. Rather tricky for a diocese to want to impose a top-down ‘pastoral structure’ when it is funded in a bottom-up, pennies in the plate system.

    I’m sure there’s more. And agree wholeheartedly with most of the observations above. Although as someone trained in Common Worship, its liturgies can work well if you are competent…

  26. I’ve followed this thread with interest, but with an increasing feeling that my own experience of the SEC is different from that of others. There is, in the various congregations to which I minister, little awareness of the wider church, even within the Scottish province, let alone the farther reaches of the Anglican Communion. I’m not alone in thinking this: our outgoing Primus has been concerned for some time about the growing tendency towards congregationalism, which is becoming the besetting sin of parts of the SEC. The fact that each charge has its own constitution is a symptom of this.

    With regard to financial structure, the fact that clergy are, in general, supported by their own congregations can, in optimal circumstances, be the basis for deep bonds of loyalty and affection, but there is a downside. To my certain knowledge, some congregations have taken the view that since they ‘pay their clergy’, they are entitled to expect that the Rector or P-in-C will do their bidding in every detail. Some clergy have been driven to near-breakdown or premature resignation by congregational bullying.

    It needs to be asserted very loudly that we do not ‘pay our clergy’ in the normal sense: a stipend is not a salary. Clergy are not remunerated in turn for the work they do, but supported materially so that they can be available to their people 24/7. It’s the oldest zero hours contract.

  27. Dr. Julia Ellis Burnet says

    Thank you Kelvin. If anything were to wrinkle me out of my village it would be to support a rural congregation in Alba. I don’t know if there is an age limit but I do have “independent means” ie an aged pension.
    My rejection for ordination by the then Bishop of Canberra in 1989 was a painful experience but reading through the Glasgow & Galloway Diocesan description I would hope that in a small way I could stop the closure of a rural church and this I am willing to do if acceptble.

  28. Sounds very familiar to me as a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, Kelvin.

Speak Your Mind