Over the last thirty years three organisations have encouraged renewal and biblical orthodoxy in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Members of these organisations, Forward in Faith Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Evangelical Fellowship and the Scottish Episcopal Renewal Fellowship, were amongst those who responded strongly to the Bishops’ Statement of the 4th March 2005, which stated:
“The Scottish Episcopal Church has never regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained ministry. Indeed, the Windsor Report itself in suggesting that a moratorium be placed on such persons being consecrated bishops, itself acknowledges the existence of many such relationships within the Church.”
The press, and organisations in favour of relaxing the discipline of the church in this area, took the plain meaning of the bishops’ statement, and it appeared that the bishops now permitted homosexual practice for clergy. We questioned the biblical basis for this position and how we had arrived at it, when the Church had not discussed the matter in Synod. We noted too that it put our Church at odds with the position adopted by the majority of the churches of the Anglican Communion, as stated by the Bishops of the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10.
A web site was quickly created to enhance communication and we began to work out how we might respond. Three meetings with the bishops followed on the 7th April, 22nd April and 4th May, when six representatives of the Scottish Anglican Network (as we were dubbed by the press), listened to the bishops’ reasons for their statement, and they were able to hear our concerns. On the 7th June, the bishops released a second statement to the whole church. Sadly, this failed to answer many of our questions, nor convince us that the Scottish Episcopal Church had not adopted a stance which was against orthodox biblical teaching, the tradition of the ‘one holy and catholic church’, as well as the majority of the Anglican Communion.
Our response was sent to the bishops on the 7th July.