THE Bishop of Brechin, Dr Nigel Peyton,
convener of the Scottish Episcopal Church's Design Group for the
Discussion of Same Sex Relationships, said that there had been
"courageous and moving, painful and wise moments" during the
Cascade conversations in Pitlochry, in April, in which 60 people,
and six invited contributors, took part.
"I believe many of us now better understand how our own views,
and those of others in our Church, have evolved and maybe changed
over time - and how the contemporary challenge of same-sex marriage
particularly presses upon the Church's theology and practice," he
The Synod Standing Committee had opted for a staged "fishbowl"
conversation instead of a debate, facilitated by Hugh Donald, of
Place for Hope. The four participants, the Very Revd Jeremy
Auld (Brechin); Ruth Jeffries (Moray,
Ross & Caithness); the Revd Samantha Ferguson
(Aberdeen & Orkney); and the Revd Malcolm
Round (Edinburgh) were of one mind that the process had
They spoke of wariness and cynicism having been replaced by
respect for process; and about the grace-filled nature of the
But there were also warnings that the conversations should not
be "kicked into the institutional long grass", or "end up in a
Neverland". Many at the Synod had wanted this staged conversation
to be complementary to a debate, and Christine
McIntosh (Argyll & The Isles) had challenged the
process by speaking against the motion to suspend standing orders
and go into different form of meeting.
That challenge failed: 93 voted for the motion, and 32 against.
Members went on to discuss in table groups the questions: "What has
shaped your views about same-sex relationships over the years?" and
"What considerations should the SEC take into account when
exploring whether to incorporate same-sex marriage into its
A motion by Dr Beth Routledge (Glasgow &
Galloway), proposing a framework for taking forward equal marriage,
had not been included on the Synod agenda. On the opening day of
the Synod, she had brought in Rule 10 of the Rules of Order, which
allows for a motion to be put to Synod in two stages if it is
supported by a proposer, a seconder, and 12 voting members. A
two-thirds majority is needed to take the motion forward to open
Her motion asked Synod to note the recent legislation that
allowed same-sex couples to marry in Scotland; the principle
established in Scots law that no one should be forced to act
against his conscience in that area; and that Scottish
Episcopalians were not of one mind about these and other
The result of the voting was 77 for, and 55 against: a
58-per-cent majority, but not the two-thirds majority required.
The decision had come out of the synodical process, the Primus
said in the statement on sexuality that followed the two votes on
the issue. "But I think those who brought the Rule 10 Motion can be
forgiven if they feel disappointed that their Motion did not reach
the Synod agenda," he said.
He acknowledged "a significant feeling in this Church that we
should be moving on human sexuality issues. How far and in what
timescale - that will be for this synod to decide."
The Cascade process will run to the end of 2014, when the
Mission and Ministry, and Faith and Order boards will discern what
can be seen of the mind of the Church.
Quiet conversation with particular individuals and groups, and
work on the theology of marriage from the Doctrine Committee will
precede what the Primus promised would be a "substantial discussion
at the General Synod in 2015".