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Scottish Episcopal Synod: interfaith relations and ecumenism

14 June 2019

Adam Becket reports from the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod in Edinburgh

Scottish Episcopal Church

Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi addresses the Synod

Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi addresses the Synod

THE Synod was addressed on Friday by Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, who said that he was humbled to be present. “Today, I feel like I am part of a wider family; and, having watched you debate, it feels just like a family.”

The love that Scottish people had for one another was unique, he said: he had not seen a country like this. He said that there was a tension and a confusion politically at the moment, and that people of faith could take the lead.

The most important thing in the era of social media was dialogue, he said, so that misinformation could be avoided: “Social media is no substitute for the human touch.” He spoke of an event at which he walked together with people of other religions and denominations, from Westminster Abbey to Lambeth Palace.

Imam Razawi said that the Abrahamic faiths were built on migration: “We’re all Adam.” He said that the most important thing was faith built on compassion, across religions. Muhammad did not differentiate between people, in the same way that Jesus did not. “As we go forward, I made a pledge last year: I will advocate across the world for minority Christian communities. . . I hope we can also advocate for one another, wherever our communities are being oppressed. Let’s stand together to truly show the image of God.”

The Revd Cedric Blakey, the convener for the Committee for Relations with People of Other Faiths, thanked the Standing Committee for providing time for this debate. He said that the Scottish Episcopal Church was the first to create an interfaith committee in this manner. There would be no peace in the world unless there was peace among religions, he said, and there could be no peace among religions without dialogue. He said that he was a much better Christian and disciple because of his interfaith work.



CANON John McLuckie, the convener of the Inter-Church Relations Committee, presented a new ecumenical policy for the Synod’s approval last Friday. He said that the proposed policy showed that the Scottish Episcopal Church was a Church committed to unity, across denominations. The Church’s vision was global, and this was needed more than ever when the planet was in a fragile state.

The Revd Sandy Horsburgh, the convener of the Ecumenical Committee, from the Church of Scotland, said that he was delighted that the Scottish Episcopal Church was on the verge of adopting the same ecumenical structure as the Church of Scotland. “Ecumenism is not a discreet area of church activity,” he said — it was “serving God by serving God’s people”. Mr Horsburgh said that there need not be massive divisions between Churches, especially when they were only as wide as divisions within Churches. “Breaking bread together, and drinking wine together, is a simple thing, but its effect is profound.”

The Revd John Bremner, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Officer for the United Reformed Church, said that Scottish churches were working ever closer together. All Churches in Scotland shared the same issues, such as the number of ministers, the care of buildings, and the size of congregations.

Euan Grant (St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane) thanked Mr Horsburgh for his comments. He asked about the policy in regard to Trinitarian policy.

The Revd Peter Harris (Edinburgh) questioned the policy because it said “the life of the God of Love is essentially relational”: this, he said, was a semantic point.

Responding, Canon McLuckie, said that he was surprised to be discussing theology, but reassured those who made comments.

The motion to adopt the ecumenical policy was carried overwhelmingly.

The Synod then considered a document, Our Common Calling, regarding relations with the Church of Scotland.

The Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, the Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, said that he struggled to support the Common Calling report as it was. His amendment was brought “in a spirit of friendship”. Provost Holdsworth explained that the Scottish Episcopal Church had a different theological tradition to the Church of Scotland, and relied on “reason and tradition” as well as scripture. Ecumenical work was about friendship, and friends brought each other gifts, he said.

Canon McLuckie accepted Provost Holdsworth’s amendment.

The motion was accepted.

Motion 14

The Revd Dr David Easton, the chairman of the Synod of the Methodist Church in Scotland, encouraged members of the Synod to collaborate locally; Methodist members and Anglican clergy can work together very closely, he said. He also paid tribute to the Primus.

The motion was accepted unanimously.

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