Today is my ordination anniversary. Nineteen years ago today on St Columba’s day I was ordained a priest. For most of that time I’ve been promoting the fundamental equality of gay and straight people in the church. With others, I founded Changing Attitude Scotland 13 years ago.
And so it will surprise no one that I’m excited by the vote, overwhelming in two houses, on a knife edge in the house of clergy, yesterday that means that those who wish, in the Scottish Episcopal Church will be able to conduct marriage services for same-sex couples.
It isn’t a way of doing it wouldn’t have been my first choice. If I could have had what I wanted I’d have had a straight vote committing the church to equality and marriages of same-sex couples everywhere. But that won’t happen. The church chose a different route, simply respecting the consciences of all – those in favour and those against. It was, in the end, a better motion than I would have devised.
I was moved beyond words yesterday to hear the speeches in Synod. Moved by people, unlikely people sometimes, who agree with me. Moved too by the presence of those who don’t agree but who see this as the only answer that will give us peace. And moved by those who disagree, those for whom this decision weighs heavily.
But I was moved overall that we are a church that just chose overwhelmingly to stay together over gay marriage. We need and love one another.
In the end I didn’t speak in the debate. My church spoke for me and I’m proud of it.
This wasn’t a vote about gay people. It was a vote about what kind of church we want to be.
This is a mainstream Anglican response to the question that has beset us. Not building windows into other men’s souls and respecting the consciences of all. This is what Anglicans do. This is who we really are. And this is the only solution that will work in the Anglican Church. Let it be seized on by all who seek peace and goodwill.
This solution to the Anglican agonies of recent years bears the label – Made in Scotland for Export.
Made in Scotland with love.
This post from thurible.net, written by Fr. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St. Mary SEC Cathedral, Glasgow, is – to my mind – a pretty representative reaction to the Synodal reception of the Scottish Episcopal Church of Equal Marriage – by those of us who dearly looked forward to the prospect of the Equal Marriage rites of faithful, committed, monogamous, same-sex couples in Anglican Church communities that will welcome such arrangements, believing the prospect to be in line with basic Christian compassion and social justice.
The necessity of accepting the fact that there are people in the Church whose theology is different from ours – who see the binary model of the Sacrament of Marriage as inviolable – is now plainly obvious, if we are to remain together as Anglicans in a worldwide Communion of Provincial Churches.
Like the Provost of Glasgow, my hope is that we will all be able to accept our differences – accepting the possibility of what might be called a ‘binary’ theological viewpoint – so that we Anglicans can learn to live together with grace, charity and compassion, not only with the LGBTI community but also with one another.
“Where charity and love are; there is God” (Maundy Thursday antiphon)
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand