THE Synod approved the recommendations of a joint study group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.
Introducing the debate on the recommendations in the group’s report Pathways to Partnership: Practical steps, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, who chairs the Council for Christian Unity, moved that the Synod welcome recommendations in the final section of the group’s report. It emphasised the theology of baptism, and respected the “fraught nature” of the theological discussions between north and south Britain in the past which resonated in the present.
The Scottish Episcopal Church would be a full partner in the next set of discussions with the Church of England and the Kirk. If the Synod approved, the Bishop of Chester would be the Church of England representative to the Kirk. The Kirk had appointed the Very Revd Alan McDonald, a former Moderator of the General Assembly, as its representative at the Synod.
The Synod was given a 12-page summary of the report.
The Very Revd Dr Alan McDonald (Church of Scotland), in his maiden speech to the Synod, said that the document had come out of the meetings of the two groups from either side of the border. What the groups had done was to concentrate on what united them.
Fr Thomas Seville CR (Religious Communities) said that the report was a good way forward. He was, however, concerned about the absence of theology in the summary.
The Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett (Northern Suffragans), talked of the theology of baptismal bondedness which underscored the report, and said it might bring the two Churches “nearer to ever-fuller reconciliation”.
Dr Elaine Storkey (Ely) was delighted to strengthen ties with the Church of Scotland, but was disappointed that the report was “a tad obsessed with consultation”. She said that there should be much more to the Churches’ partnership.
Peter Haddock (Southwark) said that the historical element of the report was too thin, and that the Church of Scotland’s experience as a national Church did not come across as it might have.
The Revd Dr Peter Ackroyd (St Albans) said that he hoped this would pave the way for deeper engagement with the Scottish tradition.
The Revd Professor Paul Fiddes (Baptist Union) welcomed the report. There were two principles to reflect on: continual dying and rising in Christ might mean even dying to the good gifts that God had given in the Churches’ history; and, second, the heart of the matter was public recognition of the relationship outside the Church.
The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, drew attention to the shared mission history of the two Churches and also to the unity through Crown and Parliament.
Anne Martin (Guildford) had a C of E upbringing, while her husband was brought up in the Church of Scotland. Their policy was always to worship in the parish church where they lived. The C of E’s welcome to members of the Church of Scotland had much improved.
Gavin Oldham (Oxford) raised the matter of respect for the Christian sabbath, north of the border. Sport on Sunday mornings was cutting across the Church’s ministry to children and young people: “We have a lot to learn from the Church of Scotland about how to make Sunday special.”
The motion was carried.