Scots meet to discuss, but not to decide
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
THERE WERE no resolutions, and it was
never intended that there should be any.
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When the Scottish Episcopal
Church held its fifth Provincial Conference last weekend in
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, its aim, says Frances
Burberry, a lay participant, was to “have a conversation while looking forward”.
About 330 people, lay and
clerical, spent four days at
, mainly in discussion groups based on the story of the
feeding of the 5000. They had no agenda for this part of the programme.
The hope expressed by the Primus, the
Most Revd Bruce Cameron, was that the conference would enable the delegates “to
focus on building up the confidence of the Church in its mission today”.
Leaders of other Churches (pictured), and representatives of other faiths and
the Scottish Parliament were all there to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury,
who was making his first visit as Archbishop to the province.
The participants were divided into groups
of eight or nine, and stayed with their groups throughout the four days. Dr
Williams gave the keynote address, which was “electrifying”, said the Revd
Donald Reid, Associate Rector of St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh. He says it
was “almost a Bible study of the gospel story, profound yet simple, and created
space and depth for our continuing discussions”.
There were two other main
speakers. One was the Rt Revd John Miller, a former Moderator of the Church of
Scotland, who has lived and worked in a tough housing estate in Glasgow
for 30 years. He talked about the people he worked among,
and of the importance of listening to people’s stories, as well as Jesus’s use
of stories. Miss Burberry said that this chimed well with those present, who
were given space to listen to each other for four days.
The third speaker was the Revd
Kathy Galloway, Leader of the Iona Community, who gave her audience “a
realistic description of present-day
, including the negative things we hide from ourselves, like
the fact that 25 per cent of the population live in poverty”, said Mr Reid.
“She made sure we didn’t gloss over
social problems, but also said we should stop being negative about ourselves,
as Scottish people are. We must stop saying: ‘It’ll nae work; we canna do it.’”
The conference was also overshadowed by
the horrific events at the school in Beslan, which occupied the participants’
thoughts especially during the worship. “Many people were particularly
emotional about it because of our memories of Dunblane,” said Mr Reid.