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Scottish Episcopal Synod: Overseas work should ‘repair relationships’

21 June 2024

Read more reports from the SEC General Synod here


Members in discussion

Members in discussion

THE overseas work of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) should aim to “repair relationships” and foster exchange, according to the Primus, the Most Revd Mark Strange.

“We’re told we live in a global world, so the Church needs to be a little bit better at not just worrying about its own little corner of that world,” he told the Church Times in an interview on Saturday, at the end of the SEC’s General Synod.

The previous day, Bishop Strange, who is also the Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, had told members about a trip to Jamaica in April.

He spoke about an encounter he had had several decades ago, during his first incumbency in Worcestershire. He was speaking to a woman from the Caribbean, and was surprised to find out that her surname was Mackintosh — the name of a Highland clan.

“They owned us,” she explained, and Bishop Strange admitted that his instinctive reaction was not to believe her. “I had a bias that my people couldn’t behave like that,” he said.

This realisation of his old biases was part of what prompted him to travel to Jamaica, he said, as it showed how important it was to learn about the history of Scotland’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

Asked whether this might involve financial commitments to regions impacted by slavery, Bishop Strange said that he had been “very open from the word go on the present financial state of the Scottish Episcopal Church”, and drew a distinction between the involvement of Anglicans in Scotland — who at the time were being persecuted — and the Church of England’s institutions

Last week, the chief executive of the Church Commissioners for England, Gareth Mostyn, defended research done on links between C of E investments and the slave trade, which inspired the creation of a £100-million impact investment fund intended to benefit communities impacted by the legacies of slavery (Comment, 14 June).

On Friday morning, the Synod heard about the history of Scotland’s overseas missionary work from the convenor of the SEC’s Global Partnership Committee, the Revd Dr Hamilton Inbadas. He charted the changing name of the group, which had begun as the Board of Foreign Missions in 1872, responsible for missionary work in southern Africa and India.

Over time, the name changed to the Overseas Mission Board, as the number of places in which the SEC was operating multiplied. Next it became the Provincial Overseas Committee, which focused on grant-giving rather than directly running projects abroad.

This is mainly how the Global Partnership Committee still operates, but Dr Inbadas said that they were asking whether they could do more than just offer funding.

Members were asked to discuss what the SEC’s global mission should look like in the 21st century, as well as to consider aspects of local mission. Feedback from members will be provided to the Mission Board.

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