The Scottish Episcopal Church - United Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway
Welcome to St John the Evangelist Church
|Welcome to St John's Church which is part of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Please take a look at our national welcome video to the left.|
|Something of the beginings and place of the Scottish Episcopal Church can be found in the introduction to our Canons - the rules which govern how we live and work together. The full Canons governing our life and work together can be found at https://www.scotland.anglican.org/who-we-are/publications/code-of-canons/. The words below are taken from the introuction to the Canons and describe something of how the Scottish Episcopal Church came into being.|
THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
In 1689, during the progress of the Revolution, the Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland, convened by circular letters from the Prince of Orange, met on the 14th of March, and on the 11th of April - after the withdrawal of some who favoured King James - offered the crown to William and Mary. William accepted the crown, and the Convention was turned into a Parliament. This Scottish Parliament, in July of the same year, passed an Act abolishing ‘Prelacy and all superiority of any office in the Church in this Kingdom above Presbyters’ and repealed the laws in favour of Episcopacy. In the following year, the same Parliament reinstated in their benefices all surviving Presbyterian ministers (about sixty in number who ‘had been thrust from their churches since the first day of January 1661’, and vested the whole government of the Church in them and in such ministers and elders as they might admit and receive. Though many years elapsed before ministers of the new regime displaced those of the old in the country north of the Tay, still as far as the will of the Parliament could effect it, or the power of the new Establishment could reach, Episcopacy was ruthlessly suppressed, the Bishops were deprived of the emoluments of their sees, and the clergy were ejected with scanty warning and no compensation. A blow of such severity and suddenness produced, as was inevitable, a state of disorganisation among those who continued loyal to the principles of Episcopacy. The political conditions were too unstable for them to be readily convinced that the Revolution Settlement was to be regarded as permanent.
The Six Canons of 1727
They took no step to adapt the Church’s organisation to its altered circumstances, nor perhaps was it possible for them to have attempted it at that juncture. The Bishops were, indeed, careful to maintain the succession of their own Order, but they refrained from appointing to particular sees, until at length as the old diocesan Bishops died out it was found that the Church was falling under the rule of a body of Bishops who possessed severally no properly defined jurisdiction. It then became evident that the first step in the reorganisation of the Church must be sought in the restoration of diocesan jurisdiction to the Bishops, and at the request of the Clergy in various parts of the country, particular districts or dioceses were gradually assigned to individual Bishops. For the better regulation of this process the diocesan Bishops, four in number, met in Synod at Edinburgh in 1727, and framed six Canons, which, though relating exclusively to the Episcopal Order, may be regarded as in some measure the groundwork of the Code by which the Church is now governed. Thus, the regulations for the election of Bishops by the Presbyters of a diocese; the subsequent confirmation of such elections by the presiding Bishop, with the consent of the local comprovincial Bishops; the direction given to each Bishop to appoint one of his Presbyters, ‘who shall be in the place and stead of a dean’, with powers to convene his fellow-presbyters, when required, for the election of a Bishop, to preside at the voting, and to return the deed of election to the Metropolitan; and the rule prohibiting a Bishop from performing any Episcopal function in the diocese or district of another without his consent, have all of them counterparts, more or less close, in the present Code of Canons.
The Articles of Agreement in 1731
A further stage in the reorganisation of the Church was reached in 1731 by the drafting of ‘Articles of Agreement amongst the Bishops of the Church of Scotland’. The Articles provided, inter alia, that only ‘the Scottish or English Liturgy’ should be used ‘in the public divine service’; that no man should be consecrated a Bishop of the Church without the consent and approbation of the majority of the other Bishops; that upon the demise or removal of a Bishop, the Presbyters of the district should neither elect nor submit to another without a mandate from the Primus issued with the consent of the other Bishops; that the Bishops should, by a majority of voices, choose their Primus, ‘for convocating and presiding only’; and that no Bishop should claim jurisdiction without the bounds of his own district. The last of these Articles assigned districts to the several Bishops, declaring however that ‘by the foresaid division of districts we do not pretend to claim any legal title to diocese’. The distinction made in this last Article finds its explanation in the views held by the Bishops at the time as to the rights of the Crown in the matter of appointments of Bishops to dioceses in Scotland.
The Canons of 1743
The Agreement did not all at once produce unanimity, and political influences still impeded the work of reorganisation. In 1743, however, an Episcopal Synod was held in Edinburgh, which resulted in the unanimous adoption of a Code of Canons, sixteen in number, for the government of the Church. In these Canons the principles embodied in the Agreement of 1731, in regard to the consecration of Bishops and the office of Primus, were reaffirmed and emphasised. The majority of the Bishops were not only to choose a Primus ‘without respect either to seniority of consecration or precedency of district’, but they might override his action in the calling of meetings; might, if he refused to call a meeting when desired by them, meet and act synodically without him; and might, at pleasure, depose him from the office of Primus. If he laid claim to any metropolitical or vicarial power, or to any further power of any kind not granted by these Canons; he was to be suspended from all Episcopal jurisdiction, even within his own district, until he subscribed and handed in to the Bishops a renunciation of any such claim. Regulations were laid down for the election of Bishops; the appointment of Deans; the ordination and institution of Presbyters; the care of vacant Episcopal districts; the placing under a Bishop’s Episcopal jurisdiction of his assistant clergy and the members of his congregation if the congregation of which he was minister was situated in the district of another Bishop; the studies of the Clergy and of candidates for Holy Orders; the admission of the Dean of every district, as a representative of the Presbyters, ‘to sit in all Synodical meetings’ (of the Bishops), ‘and to propose and reason in all matters of discipline and grievances of presbyters, but not to give any decisive voice’; the acceptance of the votes of absent Bishops if tendered in writing; the excommunication of schismatical Clergymen; and the suspension of any Clergyman who married persons belonging to another congregation without a certificate or recommendation from their proper pastor. It was further enacted that, where the Bishops were equally divided in opinion ‘in Synod or out of Synod’, that side of the question should carry upon which the Primus gave his vote. The Canons of 1743, imperfect as they no doubt were, marked a notable advance towards a complete code of regulations for the conduct of Church affairs. But the troubles that ensued after 1745, when many Episcopalians supported the Jacobite cause, and the personal and political disabilities inflicted on the Clergy and Laity by the Penal Laws of 1746 and 1748, not only arrested further progress, but brought the Church to the verge of extinction. The repeal of the Penal Laws was not effected till 1792, following the death in 1788 of the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and for some time thereafter attention was so much engrossed with matters of more immediate urgency that there was little thought to spare for the condition of the Canons; but eventually it came to be felt that the needs and circumstances of the Church demanded a thorough revision and enlargement of the Code.
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
3.1 The Code of Canons of 1811
With this end in view, a General Ecclesiastical Synod, consisting of the Bishop and the Dean of each diocese, and, a representative of the Clergy from each diocese containing more than four Presbyters, was summoned by the Primus, Bishop John Skinner, and met in Aberdeen on Wednesday, the 19th day of June 1811. The Synod, consisting of six Bishops, four Deans, and four delegates of the Presbyters, sat for two days, and published the result of its deliberations under the title of ‘The Code of Canons of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, drawn up and enacted by an Ecclesiastical Synod, holden for that purpose at Aberdeen, on the 19th and 20th days of June 1811’. The Code consisted of twenty-six Canons, and contained some new provisions of great importance. Canon V enacted that henceforth every Synod called for the purpose of altering the Code of Canons should be constituted of two Chambers, the first consisting of the Bishops, and the second composed of the Deans and the representatives of the Clergy, one from each diocese with more than four Presbyters. Canon XV was intended to secure ‘the primary authority’ of the Scottish Communion Office as the authorised service of the Church in the administration of the Holy Communion, while it ratified the permission previously granted by the Bishops to retain the English Office in all congregations where it had been in use. The Scottish Communion Office was, however, ordered to be used at all consecrations of Bishops, and every Bishop when consecrated was required to give his full assent to it. The Appendix to the Canons contained a ‘recommendation of a proper clerical habit’, in other words, the surplice, which the Clergy were recommended to wear ‘when publicly reading Prayers, or administering the Sacraments, but to introduce it with prudence and discretion, by explaining, where they find it necessary, the principles on which they have adopted the use of this very decent dress’.
3.2 The Canons of 1828 and 1829
The next General Synod, convened by the Primus, Dr George Gleig, Bishop of Brechin, was held at Laurencekirk on the 18th of June 1828, and two following days. It consisted of four Bishops, four Deans, and six representatives of the Clergy, and enacted thirty Canons under the title ‘The Code of Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland’. Important alterations were made on the Canon relating to Ecclesiastical Synods, by the enactment that Diocesan Synods should be held annually, and that a General Synod, of which the Pantonian Professor of Theology17 was, ex officio, to be a member, should be holden every fifth year, at such a time and place as the Primus, with consent of the majority of his colleagues, should determine. The General Synod under this arrangement, however, had other than purely legislative functions assigned to it. It was directed to receive, through the Deans, and Synod Clerks, reports on the state of every congregation in the Church: to appoint a committee of one member from each Chamber to frame a general report of the situation of the Church; and the Bishops, synodically assembled, were to hear appeals from Clergy or Laity against the sentence of their own immediate ecclesiastical superior. Then followed a proviso, meant as a barrier against hasty legislation, but open to some difference of interpretation, and running in these terms: ‘Nor shall any law or Canon be enacted or abrogated until the same shall have been submitted to the several diocesan Synods, and approved of by a majority of the Clergy, as well as by a majority of those who constitute the General Synod in which said enactment or abrogation was proposed, and which Synod shall be considered merely as adjourned or prorogued, until the sense of the Church at large respecting the measure be ascertained.’ Whatever differences may have arisen with regard to the exact drift of this proviso, the Synod which enacted it was itself a proof, as the sequel showed, that some safeguard against hasty legislation was by no means unnecessary. Two of the Bishops, Bishop Jolly and Bishop Low, had objected to its being called, and had been absent from its meetings. Bishop Jolly objected to the insertion of the word ‘Protestant’, which had been introduced in the title of the Church, and still more strongly to the apparent subordination, in the sixteenth Canon, of the findings of a General Synod to the pleasure of a majority of the Clergy. The result was that another General Synod, convened by the Primus, Bishop Gleig, and attended by all the Bishops, all the Deans, the Pantonian Professor, and representatives from the six Dioceses, was held in Edinburgh on 17 June 1829. It dropped the clause of Canon XVI of the preceding year which provided for quinquennial General Synods, and amended the provision for a reference to ‘the sense of the Church at large’ by making it read thus: ‘Nor shall any law or Canon affecting the constitution of the Church be enacted or abrogated, unless the same shall have been previously submitted to the several diocesan synods or consistories, and the sense of the clergy of the Church at large respecting the measure be ascertained. But the sense of the clergy at large being the sense of the majority, and the presbyters being more in number than the Bishops, the sense of the clergy at large cannot have the authority of a Canon, unless adopted as such by the majority of the Bishops synodically assembled’. The word ‘Protestant’ was retained in the title of the Church.
3.3 The Canons of 1838
The next General Synod was held in Edinburgh from 29 August till 6 September 1838, and its Acts were subscribed by the Primus, Dr James Walker, Bishop of Edinburgh, five other Bishops, five Deans, and six diocesan delegates. It was memorable for the institution of ‘The Scottish Episcopal Church Society’, a voluntary association which did excellent service for the support of the Church and the promotion of education in poorer places, and eventually paved the way for the more comprehensive organisation of the Representative Church Council. The labours of the Synod resulted in a Code of forty-one Canons. The word ‘Protestant’ was omitted from the title and from the Canons; the office of Primus was made tenable only during the pleasure of the Episcopal College; a new Canon was added on the subject of Coadjutor-Bishops; the Scottish Communion Office was directed to be used at the opening of General Synods; the use of the surplice ‘as the proper Sacerdotal Vestment’, formerly recommended, was now enjoined; the times for the holding of General Synods were left to the determination of a majority of the Bishops; one representative of the Clergy was admitted for each diocese; written communications from absent Bishops were directed to be considered, but not to be treated as canonical votes, and an important declaration was added that the enactments of a General Synod were to be held as binding, not only the minority in the Synod itself, but all the absent members of the Church. An Episcopal Synod was ordered to be held once every year, and Appeals were to be received there. Two Canons were added in regard to Appeals, and to Accusations against Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons.
3.4 The Canons of 1863
After more than twenty years, in which there had emerged many difficulties, especially in connection with Judicial Processes, for which the Canons did not sufficiently provide, it was deemed desirable that the whole Code should be submitted to a careful revision. A committee, consisting of an equal number of the Clergy and of the Laity, was appointed by the College of Bishops in 1859 to consider and report on the subject, and a General Synod, consisting of the Primus, Dr Robert Eden, Bishop of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, six other Bishops, seven Deans, and seven delegates of the Clergy, sat at Edinburgh from 8 till 16 July, and from 30 September till 4 October 1862, and from 3 till 13 February 1863. By the Canons as then enacted, the representation of the Clergy at General Synods was enlarged, one representative or delegate being allowed from every fifteen Incumbencies and for every additional fraction of fifteen. The Laity were admitted to a voice in the election of Bishops through a representative chosen from each Incumbency; the Bishops were expressly authorised to appoint Lay Readers and Catechists for service in their several dioceses; revised and extended regulations were laid down for the formation of new Congregations, including a proviso ‘that, under special circumstances, a Bishop shall not be precluded from opening a Mission in any part of his diocese, when to him it may seem desirable’; the office of Dean was made a life appointment, with certain limitations; meetings of Diocesan and Episcopal Synods were directed to be open to the public; a Canon on Vestments, prescribing those ‘ordinarily now in use in this Church and none other’, was adopted; and elaborate regulations were laid down in regard to Accusations against Bishops, Accusations against Presbyters and Deacons, and Judicial Sentences. By Canon XXIX it was enacted that the English Book of Common Prayer ‘is, and shall be held to be, the Service Book of this Church for all the purposes to which it is applicable’. The use of the Scottish Communion Office was, under Canon XXX, directed to be continued in all Congregations whose practice had been to use that Office; while the Office of the Book of Common Prayer was to be used in all new Congregations, unless the majority of the promoters declared to the Bishop at the outset that they desired the use of the Scottish Office. Power was given to the Bishop to refuse an application for the Scottish Office whenever it might appear to him that undue influence had been exercised in the matter; and, in any case, the Scottish Office might be dropped whenever the Clergyman and a majority of the communicants concurred in disusing it. No corresponding provisions were inserted with regard to the English Office. At all Consecrations, Ordinations, and Synods, the Communion Office of the Book of Common Prayer was ordered to be used.
3.5 The Canons of 1876
As time went on, the continued growth and extension of the Church disclosed the need of further revision, and the formation of the Representative Church Council, which had been resolved upon at a conference of Clergy and Laity, summoned by the Bishops and held in Edinburgh in June 1875, called for the Canonical recognition of that body. A General Synod was accordingly held in Edinburgh from 10 till 13 October, and from 14 to 16 November 1876. Its constituent members were the Primus (Dr Eden) and six other Bishops, seven Deans, the Warden of Trinity College, Glenalmond18, the Pantonian Professor, and fourteen delegates from dioceses. The revision on this occasion dealt mostly with points of detail. Canon XXX was, by resolution of the Bishops, withheld from consideration and continued as in the Canons of 1863. Considerable changes were made in the regulations for the formation of new Incumbencies and the establishment of Missions; and the Bishop’s discretion in regard to the opening of Missions, as stated in the Canons of 1863, was modified by the admission of rights of objection and appeal on the part of Incumbents whose interests might be affected. Licensed Presbyters, after two years’ continuous work in a diocese, were to become full members of the Diocesan Synod, and to be entitled to vote in the election of a Bishop. The representation of the Clergy in General Synods was extended still further by allowing one representative for every ten electors or fraction of ten. The Representative Church Council consisting of the Bishops and Clergy, certain lay officials, and a Lay Representative from every congregation of the Church, was, by Canon XLII, ‘recognised as the organ of the Church in matters of finance only’. The Code now consisted of forty-seven Canons in all.
3.6 The Canons of 1890
The next General Synod was held in Edinburgh under the Primus, Dr Hugh Willoughby Jermyn, Bishop of Brechin, from 3 to 13 June, and on 7 October 1890. It was constituted of seven Bishops, including the Primus, seven Deans, the Warden of Trinity College, Glenalmond, the Pantonian Professor, and twenty-five clerical representatives. The result was the enactment of a Code of fifty-one Canons. The Synod declined to confer metropolitical powers upon the Primus, but assigned to him the title of ‘Most Reverend’. The title ‘Rector was substituted for ‘Incumbent’ as the canonical designation of an instituted Presbyter. A new Canon was enacted with reference to Cathedrals. The remarkable advance of Church work in various forms within recent years was reflected in more elaborate regulations in regard to the formation, status, and classification of new Congregations or Missions, Canons were added with regard to the offices of Registrar to the Episcopal Synod and of Provincial Accountant, and a provision was made for bringing the expenses of Episcopal and Provincial Synods under the notice of the Representative Church Council. The Canon dealing with the use of the Offices for Holy Communion was again withheld from consideration, and was continued, in the form adopted in 1863, as Canon XXXIV in the new Code. The Canon on Vestments was retained unchanged. The Canon dealing with the Representative Church Council was made more specific by the declaration that the Council ‘is recognised as the organ of the Church in matters of finance, but shall not deal with questions of doctrine or worship, nor with matters of discipline, save to give effect to Canonical Sentences of the Church It was also enacted that ‘the General Synod’ should thenceforward be styled ‘the Provincial Synod’.
4. THE CODE OF CANONS 1911
In the years succeeding the Synod of 1890, much thought was given in the various Diocesan Synods to the subject of a further and more thorough revision of the Canons, which it was felt would ere long be necessary; and a feeling grew up that in some way or other a recognised position should be assigned to the laity in the legislative work of the Church. In 1903 a special Commission of clergy and laymen was selected by the Bishops, and instructed to inquire and report on the whole subject of legislation in the Church. After exhaustive inquiry, the Commission reported in favour of the institution of a Consultative Council for the whole Church, which should focus the opinions of both clergy and laity on all matters proposed or thought suitable for legislation in the Provincial Synod. This new Council was to consist of the Bishops, five clerical and five lay members elected by the Bishops, representatives of the Clergy chosen from each diocese in the same proportion as for the Provincial Synod, and an equal number of representative laity, to be elected by the lay members of the Diocesan Councils. The constitution of the Council was finally adopted by the Episcopal Synod on 26 October 1905, and the Provincial Synod, sitting on the same day, gave Canonical recognition to the new body by an enactment which it added to the Code of Canons as adjusted in 1890. On this occasion the Provincial Synod consisted of the Primus, Dr George Howard Wilkinson, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane, and five other Bishops, seven Deans, the Pantonian Professor, and twenty-nine diocesan Representatives. The Synod met in Edinburgh, and its scope was advisedly limited to the recognition of the Consultative Council and to certain adjustments in the Canons dealing with Provincial Synods and the Representative Church Council, in order that the fuller reflection of the mind of the Church, rendered possible by its means, might be taken into account when the general revision of the Canons came to be undertaken. The Consultative Council on Church Legislation thus created met for the first time on 13 June 1906, and at its second meeting, held in October of the same year, it resolved to take up the revision of the Canons. With the assistance of a Committee of its number (the Very Reverend John Skinner Wilson, Dean of Edinburgh, Convener), appointed for the purpose and reporting from time to time as its work proceeded, a thorough revision of the Code was made; and before the end of 1910 the Council submitted its whole suggestions for the amendment of the Canons to the Episcopal Synod for consideration by the Provincial Synod. A Provincial Synod was accordingly convened, and met in Edinburgh on 9 May 1911. Dr Walter John Forbes Robberds, Bishop of Brechin, and Primus, presided, and the Synod consisted of the seven Bishops, seven Deans, the Pantonian Professor, and thirty-two elected Presbyters. The suggestions of the Consultative Council on Church Legislation formed the basis of the deliberations. On 18 May, after sitting for seven days, the Synod adjourned to allow time for the publication of the proposed changes for the information of the Church, and for the communication of their precise terms to the Diocesan Synods and the Consultative Council. On 7 December 1911 the Synod reassembled and enacted the Code of Canons of 1911, fifty-three in number, with Appendix Forms numbering twenty-nine. The changes introduced in the Code were very numerous, though the majority of them merely aimed at making its provision more explicit. The more important alterations were as follows: In the election of Bishops the right of nomination was extended to Lay Electors: and the voting, though still to be taken by orders, was no longer required to be in separate Chambers. In the event of no election being made within three months after the date of the Mandate, power was given to the meeting of the Electors, by a majority of each order, to delegate the election to the Episcopal Synod. In confirming an election of a Bishop each Bishop was required to intimate to the Primus within twenty-one days whether he assented to the election, or had sufficient reason to be dissatisfied with the suitability of the person elected. Female as well as male communicants were given a right to take part in the election of Lay Electors, and the regulations for these elections and for securing their validity were made at once more elastic and more explicit. Power was expressly given to Bishops to appoint Commissaries for a limited period, and the powers of Commissaries were defined. Rectors absenting themselves from their cures without having made due provision for the supply of Sunday services, and without giving a satisfactory explanation to the Bishop, were rendered liable to be deprived of their incumbencies, but only with the consent of a majority of the voting members present in the Diocesan Synod. The services of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Scottish Liturgy or Communion Office according to the text adopted by the Episcopal Synod on 7 December 1910, were declared to be duly authorised in the Church for all the purposes to which they are applicable. Congregations in which the Scottish Communion Office was in use in 1910 according to an earlier text were permitted to continue the use of such text in its integrity. Canonical sanction was given to numerous additions to, and deviations from, the authorised services as being permissible in any congregation. These permissible additions and deviations were for convenience sake placed in the Appendix to the Canons. It was laid down as the normal standard that the Holy Communion should be celebrated on every Lord’s Day in all congregations where in the opinion of the Bishop it was reasonably practicable. And it was declared to be the duty of every Bishop, Priest, and Deacon to say the daily offices privately or publicly when he found it practicable. In the use of the Authorised Offices for Holy Communion, power was given to stated majorities of the communicants and the Clergyman of any congregation (unless the title-deeds or constitution of the church prescribe the exclusive use of one of the Offices) to introduce, with the sanction of the Bishop, a change of usage, whether by substituting one Authorised Office for the other, or by establishing the joint use of both, or (where a reasonable number of the communicants, and the Clergyman, desire it) by providing, through additional celebrations, opportunities of communicating according to the Office not ordinarily in use in that congregation. At ordinations, at consecrations of Bishops, and at meetings of Diocesan Synods, the presiding Bishop was given power to appoint the Office to be used: a like power being given to the Primus at meetings of Episcopal and Provincial Synods. The prohibition of the solemnisation of Holy Matrimony for parties within the forbidden degrees (as specified in the table of forbidden degrees recognised by our Ecclesiastical Laws) was re-enacted; and the Clergy of the Church were also prohibited from solemnising Holy Matrimony for persons, either of whom had had a previous marriage dissolved quoad civilia (in terms of the civil law) so long as the other spouse in the marriage so dissolved remained alive. A practically new Canon was passed on the subject of the Vestures of Priests and Deacons: a new provision was introduced requiring that no change should be made in the structure or ecclesiastical ornaments of any church unless the consent of the Clergyman and of the Vestry had been given, and the Bishop had been consulted concerning the proposed change: and the sale or disposal of the holy vessels and ecclesiastical ornaments of any church was forbidden save with the consent of the Bishop, Dean and Registrar of the diocese. New Canons were passed providing that districts should be assigned to cures of souls: and requiring every Rector or Priest-in-charge to keep a roll of the communicants of his congregation. A vote in Diocesan Synod (and consequently in the elections of Bishops, etc.) was conferred on duly licensed Presbyters of the diocese, if for the two years immediately preceding they had officiated in the Scottish Church as instituted or licensed Presbyters. An appeal of the Episcopal Synod was allowed should the Bishop withhold his concurrence from a resolution adopted by two-thirds of the voting members present in his Diocesan Synod. The Canons regulating procedure in cases of accusations and appeals were entirely recast and thrown into one; and a new Canon was added regulating the mode in which differences and disputes in connexion with congregational affairs were to be disposed of. And lastly, a practically new Canon defined the process deemed sufficient for serving notices under the Canons, and interpreted certain terms employed in the Code. The Canons were re-arranged in a more natural order.
5. THE CODE OF CANONS 1929
The Provincial Synod which was responsible for the 1929 Code began its work in October 1925, when it met for eight days. It re-assembled in June 1928, when it sat for six days, and between these two dates a great deal of hard work must have been done by the committees, as it proved possible, on 12 March 1929, to confirm in a single day not only the material for the new Scottish Book of Common Prayer, but also the new Code of Canons. It is obvious that the former of these tasks must have demanded the greater part of the Synod’s time and attention. The changes in the Canons were comparatively few, and some of these were necessitated only by the emergence of the new Prayer Book. Ordinations, for example, were now to be performed according to the new Ordinal; both the Scottish Book of Common Prayer and the English Prayer Book of 1662 were stated to be ‘The Authorised Service Books of this Church’; provision was made for the interchange, but not amalgamation, of the Services in the two Books; and a Section was added, governing the use of the ‘Benediction of a Civil Marriage’, provided in the new Book. One wise provision added at this time made it obligatory for a Rector or Priest-in-charge to make reasonably sure that changes in the services in his church, though permissible under the Canons, would not be likely to upset his congregation. Some of the other changes made in 1929 were simply for the purpose of bringing the Canons up to date. Following its disestablishment in 1914, the Church in Wales appeared for the first time as a separate body among those Churches with which our own Church was in full communion. A sign of the birth of the ecumenical movement could be found in a new Canon, which gave very cautious permission for representatives of other Churches to give addresses to Episcopal congregations, in furtherance of some ‘project of Reunion’. The old Oxford and Cambridge Preliminary Examination for ordination candidates had been replaced in the Church of England by the General Ordination Examination, which now was recognised as the syllabus for the instruction of Scottish ordinands. Besides these necessary adjustments, however, three quite new Canons were added to the Code. One gave recognition to the office of a Deaconess, indicating her duties rather vaguely, and giving regulations for her ordination. Another new Canon ‘Of Repelling from Holy Communion’ was included, establishing the fact that only a Bishop is competent to excommunicate, and laying down the procedure which a priest must follow in bringing to his Bishop’s notice a case which might call for such treatment according to the rubrics of the Prayer Book. It also defined the Bishop’s duties in the matter, and the right of the accused to defend himself. Extensive housing schemes were built on the outskirts of the large cities in the years following the First World War, and missions were required where there was no existing church to which they might readily be attached. The priests had to be men of some experience. A new category of charge was now created by the Canon ‘Of Certain Missions attached to Cathedral Churches’. The priest worked directly under the Bishop, neither the Provost nor the Cathedral Vestry having any supervisory or financial responsibility. The attachment to the Cathedral made it possible for a grant to be received from the Walker Trust21 towards the priest’s stipend.
6. AMENDMENTS FROM 1952 TO 1972
The next Provincial Synod met in Edinburgh in April 1951 and February 1952, and a few changes were made in amendment of the 1929 Code. Most of these were of small importance. Ordination candidates were no longer expected to study the Articles of Religion in Latin, but in English only. The Canon ‘Of the Admission of Clergy of other Dioceses to Officiate’ was divided into two. The provisions for such clergy, strictly speaking, were relegated to a new Canon bearing the old name, while most of the material in the old Canon was renamed ‘Of the Admission of Clergy of other Provinces and Churches to Officiate’. The list of Churches with which the Scottish Church was in full communion was again adjusted, so that the ‘colonial and daughter-Churches of the Church of England’ became ‘all other Churches of the Anglican Communion’, and the successful outcome of the 1931 conversations with the Old Catholics on the Continent made it possible to add to the list ‘the Old Catholic Churches in communion with the Metropolitan See of Utrecht’. Permission was also granted to the Episcopal Synod to add to the list from time to time. A good deal of tidying up was done on the long Canon ‘Of Accusations and Appeals’, and one important change was made in procedure. Henceforward a clergyman in trouble was to be judged by the Bishop, not as heretofore sitting in his Diocesan Synod, but in consultation with the Cathedral Chapter. Finally the Scottish Church adopted as its own a new Table of Kindred and Affinity, which had been devised by the Church of England in order to bring ecclesiastical law into line with civil regulations in the matter of the deceased wife’s sister, and also to define the relationship between the increasing number of half-brothers and half-sisters. The relevant item in the Appendix to the Canons was accordingly altered, by the substitution of the new Table for the old. The Provincial Synod which met in Edinburgh in November 1960 might be described as an epoch-making event in the history of that institution. The Consultative Council on Church Legislation, whose origin and history can be found in Chapter 4, had proved to be of great value. On the one hand, it had been open to receive suggestions from what we should now call the ‘grass-roots’ of the Church, from the working clergy and from the Church’s lawyers and businessmen. On the other hand, when it took up a suggestion as being worthy of exploration, the Council did not rest till it had been put into such a form that the Provincial Synod could with little change adopt if for consideration. Now, however, it was thought that all that was good in the Consultative Council might well be integrated into the Provincial Synod itself, and that the laity might so be given a direct voice in the Church’s legislative body. A Committee had been appointed in 1958, consisting of the Primus (Bishop Hannay) as Convener, Bishop Warner of Edinburgh, three senior priests, and five experienced laymen, with a remit to consider and recommend changes in the Canons to make more efficient and more representative the machinery of the Provincial Synod. The Committee reported its findings to the Consultative Council, and as a result a greatly revised version of the Canon on Provincial Synods was laid before the Synod of 1960. With slight modification it was then accepted, and confirmed the following year. As this was the Council’s ‘swan song’, the Canon on the Consultative Council was rescinded and removed from the Code at the same two meetings. The chief effects of this revised Canon ‘Of Provincial Synods’ were two in number. First, it made the calling of the Synod a regular matter. Hitherto the Bishops had called a Provincial Synod only when there seemed to be some obvious need for its labours. But now in 1962, and every fifth year thereafter, the Episcopal Synod was required to decide how many clerical members each Diocese was entitled to elect, and in the year following, the calling of a meeting of the Synod became mandatory (Section 12). Strictly speaking this still seems to be the only meeting which was obligatory, though a second meeting in the next year would be required if any canonical decisions needed confirmation. Other meetings might be called if the Episcopal Synod considered them necessary. In fact, however, the Provincial Synod met annually after 1960, partly owing to the overlapping of business, and partly by reason of a general broadening of the area of Church life on which the Synod was called upon to deliberate. The Inter-Church Relations Committee, for example, was transferred to the Synod as one of its special committees, and made its reports to that body, although no mention is made of this matter in the Canon itself Another cause which contributed to the lengthening of the agenda of Provincial Synods was the new Section 28, which provided that the College of Bishops, through the Primus, might ask the counsel of the Synod ‘at any time ...on any matter’, especially if the Bishops were contemplating the issue of a public statement. The second innovation concerned the membership of the Synod. The gradual process by which that membership had expanded in time past can be traced in the earlier Chapters - first the Bishops alone, then the Deans also, then other representatives of the Clergy, but only on the subsidiary Consultative Council were there any representatives of the laity. In ecumenical circles one of the criticisms of our Church was that the laity had no place in the ‘supreme court of the Church’, comparable to the position of elders in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The changes made in 1961 brought this state of things to an end. The Synod of 1960-1 made the Vice-Principal of the theological College an ex-officio member, if the Principal was also the Pantonian Professor, and the Registrar of the Episcopal Synod and the Convener of the Executive Committee of the Representative Church Council also became ex-officio members, as did from 1972 the several Diocesan Chancellors, so that the Synod might have the benefit of their special knowledge. Every fifth year from 1963 onwards the College of Bishops might appoint up to five lay members of the Synod, the Diocesan Synods were to elect their quota from among their brethren, and each Diocesan Council by the votes of both clergy and laity, was to elect lay members of the Provincial Synod, roughly in the proportion of one lay member to every two clerical members allowed to the same Diocese. These lay members might be of either sex, and were not necessarily members of the Council. At meetings of the Provincial Synod the old procedure was maintained, of having two Chambers. The First Chamber consisted of the Diocesan Bishops, and the other clergy and the lay members together formed the Second Chamber. In practice, nearly all the business of the Synod was transacted at a joint meeting of both Chambers, but when a vote was called for, the votes of the two Chambers were separately recorded, and no motion was carried unless it had received the required majority in each of the two Chambers. It may be convenient to mention here that as the new Canon went into operation certain difficulties came to light, as for example in the filling of casual vacancies, and amendments were duly devised, passed and confirmed. The other amendments made in the Canons in 1960-1 may be more briefly dealt with. The Bishops were allowed to grant a licence to extra-parochial clergy, such as University Chaplains, and also to retired clergymen, living in the Diocese, but not attached in an honorary capacity to any particular ‘sphere of duty’. This latter kind of licence would give the Priest concerned a seat in the Synod of the Diocese, but not a vote. The appearance of several important new translations of the Bible was recognised, by allowing the Episcopal Synod to permit the readings in church to be taken from versions other than the Authorised and Revised Versions, although only if the Bishop gave his sanction, having heard the objections of any members of the congregation who were opposed to the change. Schemes for the redecoration of a Church and alterations in the heating and lighting, were added to the list of ‘Church furniture’, changes in which required the sanction of the Bishop, or of an advisory committee appointed by him. The old rule was also abolished by which Priests who were newcomers to the Scottish Church had to wait for two years before having a vote in the Diocesan Synod. At this time too, two new Canons were added to the Code. The first of these dealt with the duty of the clergy to make themselves available for the hearing of Confessions, and with the so-called ‘inviolability of the seal’, the complete secrecy which attaches to all things heard in Confession. The other provided for the possibility that a member of a Religious Community having its Mother House in Scotland might wish to leave the Order, or might be expelled from it. To make it possible for a person in such a predicament to return to civil life, this Canon declared that the College of Bishops has the right to release such a person from the vows of the Religious Life.
7. THE CODE OF CANONS OF 1972
We must now proceed to indicate the later measures taken during the lifetime of the two quinquennial Synods, which made the printing of a new edition of the Code of Canons in 1972 a necessity. In the first place, the much greater frequency of meetings of the two quinquennial Synods, and the wider field of business which was now open to the Synod, meant that proposals were almost bound to be made from time to time, whose implementation would require changes in the Canons. The ecumenical situation, for example, seemed to make it desirable that our Church should show itself more hospitable to those outside its membership. To this end it was enacted (1963-4) that a minister of any Trinitarian Church, though not episcopally ordained, might be allowed to assist in one of our churches at a wedding, funeral or memorial service, to which was added later ‘a service or occasion of an ecumenical nature’ (1966-7). The nature and extent of such participation was left to the decision of the College of Bishops. In the same context, but at a different level, a new Canon was confirmed in 1965 ‘Of Admitting to Holy Communion’. Exploratory inquiries among the bodies which the Synod would be bound to consult at a later stage had shown that the Church was not prepared to jettison, or substantially modify, the so-called ‘Confirmation Rubric’, which required that communicants must first be confirmed, or at least be ready and willing to be confirmed. The Synod did, however, feel free to concede to the College of Bishops the right to sanction occasional exceptions to the ‘normal rule’, not in any arbitrary way, but according to directions which the College would draw up, after making ‘such reasonable inquiry as they think right, to satisfy themselves that the causes are good and sufficient and not unacceptable to this Church generally’. Permission was also granted for a layperson of our own Church to assist the Priest in the administration of Holy Communion (1966-7). One important decision of the Provincial Synod at this period should be chronicled here, although it finds no place in the Canons. In 1961 a number of small experimental changes in the Scottish Prayer Book had been approved by the Synod, and a Schedule containing them was printed in the 1962 Supplement to the Canons, entitled ‘Variations and Additions permitted for experimental use’. The Synod of 1966 decided that these should be made authoritative, so that after their confirmation in 1967 they were printed again, with some slight alterations, in the 1968 Supplement, as a ‘Schedule of Variations adopted as permanent’. This did not, however, close the path to further experimentation. Even before the adoption of the changes as permanent, permission had been granted (1964-5) to a diocesan Bishop to allow for experiment ‘variations in the services contained in the books named in Section 1’, that is, those of 1662 and 1929. The scope of such variations was limited to such as ‘may be authorised by the College of Bishops after consultation with the Liturgical Committee of the Provincial Synod’. It is strange now to find that so little Canonical change was made by the meetings of the Synod from 1963 to 1969, but even so these alterations, together with the amendments to the Canon on the Provincial Synod itself, mentioned above, required the printing of a number of small booklets, as Supplements to the Canons, and it became clear to the General Committee early in the life of the second series of annual Synods, that these piecemeal corrections would need soon to be integrated into that body of the Canons. The Committee also felt that a reprinting would offer a good occasion for introducing other desirable changes. This latter process was described generally as a ‘tidying-up’ of the Canons, but it is not surprising that some elements crept in, which could hardly be said to come under that description. This, was the second reason for the issue of the 1972 edition of the Canons. The first part of the Code (Canons I-XXI) was concerned mainly with the ministry. The first two Canons, being fundamental, were rightly left unchanged, but the third was revised, so as to clear up some doubtful points on the duties of the Primus. It was recognised that, when he is acting as Primus, he not only takes the Chair at meetings of a provincial nature but also presides at services of a similar kind. Again, though not himself a Primate or Metropolitan, he is required to act as these other Prelates do, in maintaining an inter-Church correspondence with them, and with the official described in the Canon as ‘the Executive Officer of the Anglican Communion’ but now known as the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council. Canon IV ‘Of the Election of Bishops’ was the first instance of a radical rewriting. No change was made on any point of principle, but a number of important changes in procedure were brought in. The customary preliminary meeting of the electors became obligatory (with the possibility of one or two adjournments), at which a committee of not more than seven was to be chosen, to receive from electors the names of persons who seemed worthy of consideration, and to compile and circulate a dossier of ‘factual particulars’ about each of them, for the information and guidance of the electors, and of the Primus and his brother-Bishops. The College of Bishops was also permitted to submit to the Dean not more than three names, which were to be dealt with in the same way as those suggested by the electors. Even at the Electoral Meeting it would still be possible to bring forward a new name, if the suggestion had the support of at least a fifth of the electors, but in this case the Election was postponed for not more that twenty days, to allow for the collection and circulation of the required information. At the actual Election the old procedure was maintained, of proposal, seconding, a vote by ballot, and the admissibility of voting by proxy for named persons in the case of a sick elector. Three other changes remain to be noticed. For the expediting of the Confirmation of the Election, the College of Bishops might depute the Primus to carry out this duty on their behalf at the earliest possible moment, even before the Electoral Meeting had broken up. In time past, this might have been a hazardous proceeding in some ways, but by 1971 it seemed safe enough) since the other Bishops had already been informed by the Primus who the persons were from whom a choice was to be made (1971-2). The other two relevant changes were to be found in Canon V ‘On Lay Electors’. At the congregational meeting to choose a Lay Elector, the age at which a person might vote was reduced from 21 to I8, and the meeting was no longer obliged to choose a male person (1969-70). Two casualties in the process of revision were the Coadjutor-Bishops and the Catechists, neither of whom should be allowed to disappear without a word of gratitude. It is hard to see how the Apostolic Succession could have been maintained in the eighteenth century without the help of the Coadjutors; and the work of the Catechists, who for a mere pittance kept large and faithful congregations together in the Highlands, in the absence of any regular priestly ministrations, was invaluable. By 1971, however, such a type of ‘Colleague-and-successor’ Bishop did not seem to be needed, so the relevant Canon was deleted. The Catechists too lost their place in their Canon, leaving this kind of subsidiary ministry to the Lay Readers alone, who might in future be either men or women (Canon XX)(1970-2). Another Canon that was deleted was that concerning Scottish Priests serving overseas, which did not seem to say anything significant in the current circumstances (1969-72). The two Canons on the residence and studies of the parochial clergy were combined into one longer Canon, XVII, ‘Of Clerical Studies and Manner of Life’, and provision was made in Canon XIX for the possibility of a clergyman who earned his living in a secular occupation, but did not wish to be debarred, for that reason, from the exercise of his ministry (1969-72). Another small but useful change in Canon XVIII made it the rule that when a clergyman forsook his ministry, and later wished to be restored, that duty was assigned to the Bishop who proposed to employ him, and not, as in time past, to the Bishop of the Diocese in which he had last served (1969-72). Canon XXI ‘On Deaconesses’ was enlarged, in order to make quite clear the field of duties in which a Deaconess might be employed (1971-2). One other item may be mentioned at this point. In Canon XV, the list of Churches with which we are in full communion was extended by the addition of no less than five new entries. Three were Churches of the ‘Old Catholic type’, in the Philippines, in Spain and in Portugal, while two were new ‘united’ Churches, namely those of North India and of Pakistan (1971-2). Nothing need be said here regarding the second part of the Code, consisting of Canons XXII-XXXV, all of which dealt with the services of the Church and things connected with them. All the changes of importance in these were made at the earlier Synods, and have been already noted. When, however, we come to the third part, Canons XXXVI-XLII, we find a minor revolution in the classification of local churches, and in the terms that described them. All alike were now ‘Congregations’. First in Canon XXXVI there were ‘Congregations known as Incumbencies’, and in the Canon about them a fuller account was given of the steps which a Bishop might take in dealing with an Incumbency which had fallen on evil days. The Cathedral Missions, having served their purpose, disappeared, and their Canon with them. They now joined the former Independent Missions, in Canon XXXVII as ‘Independent Congregations other than Incumbencies’, while the Dependent Missions became ‘Dependent Congregations’. This alteration of categories and names necessitated many verbal changes throughout the Code, but only one really new provision was made, in Canon XXXVIII in the recognition that a Priest licensed as Chaplain to the Anglican members of some institution, like a University, might be deemed to have a ‘pastoral charge’ in the field of his labours (1971-2). The last two Canons of this part dealt with the Registers to be kept by the parochial clergy. Canon XLI ‘Of Communicants’ Rolls’ dropped the old Scottish custom, known as ‘lifting one’s lines’, so that newcomers were not required to bring a certificate of good standing from their former churches, before being admitted to Holy Communion (1969-72). The other Canon, XLII, ‘Of Registers and other Records to be kept by Clergymen’ was expanded somewhat, mainly in order to ensure the safe keeping and maintenance of records during a vacancy, so that they might be readily available to the new priest (1970-2). The rest of the revised Code of Canons can be quickly disposed of. The Canons (XLIII - XLIX) dealing with diocesan and provincial officials were extended in some cases, so as to cover as many as possible of the duties of these important priests and laypeople. The Canons, (L - LII), on the three kinds of Synods only required a certain amount of ‘tidying up’ at that time, as did also the lengthy and tedious, but very necessary, Canon LIV ‘On Accusations’, which happily rarely requires to be acted upon. In Canon LVII which treats of the interpretation of the Code, four new definitions were added to the list of terms which might prove difficult in meaning. Canon LVI, mentioned at an earlier stage, on the secularisation of ex-members of Religious Orders was brought in here, as having no other obvious place in the Code, and a new concluding Canon, LVIII, was added, based on a section of the Canon on Provincial Synods, but expanded in order to emphasise the authority which the Code of Canons claims over all persons and situations in the Scottish Church.
8. AMENDMENTS TO THE CANONS FROM 1972 TO 1994
8.1 General Synod :Canon 52
The greatest single change during the above period was the establishment of the General Synod in 1982. As we have seen, the General Synods of the 18th century, which took over the legislative powers of the Episcopal Synods, were clerical only. The laity were given a place in the financial affairs of the Church, through the Representative Church Council, from 1876. By 1890 a desire to include the laity in the legislative decision-making process was growing and in 1906 the Consultative Council was formed - with consultative powers only. By 1960 the Church was ready to integrate this Council with the Provincial (erstwhile General) Synod. During the subsequent twenty years it was increasingly recognised that the separation of the ‘spiritual’ and ‘temporal’ affairs of the Church between the business of Provincial Synod and Representative Church Council was a distortion of the Gospel and a misuse of scarce resources. The Church needed to be relieved of excessive bureaucracy and open to change in the pursuit of its Mission. To that end a new administrative and policy-making body, the General Synod, was inaugurated in 1982. Membership of the General Synod, unlike that of the Representative Church Council which embraced every charge in the Province, was restricted to the seven diocesan Bishops, seventy-six clergy, seventy-six laity, the Principal of the Theological College and those Conveners of boards who were not already members by election or office. At the General Synod in 1994 the first reading of an amendment to Canon 52, Sections 4 and 5 received approval. Its purpose was to determine by Resolution of General Synod rather than by Canon the numbers appointed to serve on General Synod. General Synod provided for three Boards, each with main and subsidiary committees. By General Synod 1993 this number had reached five. The Houses could opt to meet separately, but the Synod would normally meet and debate in plenary. In making alterations to the Canon Law, however, the votes of Bishops, clergy and laity would be counted separately, a simple majority in each House being required on the first reading, two thirds in each House on the second. Between first and second readings the opinions of the Diocesan Synods were to be sought, and could be incorporated in the Canon if not inconsistent with its general tenor. In 1988, deacons became eligible for membership of the House of Clergy. Such a process of streamlining was seen to require, more than ever, certain qualities and skills in the Church. Among these were mutual trust, the willingness and ability to listen both to God and to one another, an effective network of communication at and with all levels, the willingness to release adequate resources and the involvement of the whole body, men and women, of all ages and from every walk of life. The effectiveness of General Synod would constantly be reviewed and difficulties ironed out. Since its inauguration a number of amendments to Canon 52 were approved making for greater effectiveness and clarity. With the objective of simplifying the Canons many administrative details which were formerly part of the Canon itself were moved to a separate body of ‘Resolutions’. Prior to 1983 it had been canonically required of clergy that they wear a cassock at meetings of Synod. In pursuit of a more relaxed atmosphere this requirement was deleted from the Canon in that year. This decision was symbolic of a shift in the general feel about synodical formalities. Some questioned whether such informality had, perhaps, gone too far! It was always realised that many matters remained, and would continue to remain in need of improvement. Three particular problems remained.
(a) A constant concern that agenda at every level are overloaded. In the face of this General Synod often felt rushed and forced into a rubber-stamping role, and dioceses and congregations felt swamped. Against that must be set the experience of many invaluable debates of matters of substance.
(b) There was the perennial problem of engaging the informed interest of the Church at large.
(c) Behind these two questions lies the third, which the very creation of the General Synod brought to the fore – that is the question of Authority. It seems likely that this subject will exercise the mind of the Anglican Communion for some time to come. It is a far cry from those days of stability when the Provincial Synod met but once in twenty-two years (1929-1951).
8.2 The Election Of Bishops : Canon 4
The meeting of the four diocesan Bishops in 1727 first set the pattern for the election of a Bishop. Since then the search for an improved pattern has emerged at fairly regular intervals. The process in force up to 1972 had certain fundamental premises: viz.
(a) The electoral body is diocesan containing clergy and laity.
(b) The electoral process is private and confidential.
(c) The other diocesan Bishops of the Province have the duty of confirming or setting aside an election.
During the 1970s a growing number of people felt uneasy about these premises. A committee of the then Provincial Synod, after widespread consultation, published a set of underlying principles, which were adopted by the Synod of 1979 by substantial majority. Their basis was the radical one of giving to the diocesan Bishops a realistic and responsible role in the election process and, thereby, of avoiding the potentially invidious function of confirming or setting aside after the election. Subsequently, in 1980, a revised Canon 4 ‘Of The Election Of Bishops to Vacant Sees’ based on these principles, was submitted to Synod, and at its first reading received an equally substantial majority. However, at that meeting, only three Bishops were present and when the Canon came up for second reading in 1981 it failed to attain the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Bishops. The quest continued and a further set of proposals was put to General Synod in 1985 but was rejected. The problem was, at heart, a matter of finding the right balance between the proper concern of the diocese for its freedom of election and the equally proper concern of the College of Bishops to witness to and safeguard the role of a Bishop in the world-wide Church. Anxious to achieve a more satisfactory solution the General Synod of 1991 authorised the Committee on Canons to proceed with a further revision of Canon 4 using certain agreed principles. These included that of making provision for the presence of a provincial element at an early stage in the process and the question of confidentiality recognising that leaks do happen, and asking to what extent confidentiality serves a useful purpose. At the same time, in 1991, deacons were admitted without restriction to the electoral body. This was seen to be not only a matter of justice in view of the number of permanent deacons but also a significant matter in view of the special relationship between Bishop and deacon in the doctrine of the ministry. The resulting Canon, adopted in 1993, was a comprehensive rewriting which incorporated the following core principles.
(a) The principle of confidentiality was maintained except that the list of proposed candidates was to be made public after presentation to the Electors.
(b) The Provincial dimension was introduced through the creation of the Vacancy-in-See Committee to which was given responsibility for all preparations for the Electoral Meeting. Membership of this Committee was to include a representative of the College of Bishops and elected representatives of the clergy and laity both of the Province and of the Diocese concerned. A clear distinction was drawn between Meetings of the Electors and the Electoral Meeting. The Vacancy-in-See Committee was empowered to play a full part in all Meetings of the Electors but those who were not Electors were to have no part in the Electoral Meeting. The confirmation of Election by the Primus, with the support of a majority of the other diocesan Bishops, was retained.
(c) The Vacancy-in-See Committee was responsible for preparing and distributing to all Electors adequate information on each proposed candidate.
(d) If there were more than three proposals the list of candidates would be reduced to three by a series of votes before the election took place.
In other respects the Canon reflected the tenor of its predecessors.
8.3 Ministry : Canons 11, 14, 17 and 57
The recognition of the important place of women in the Church began, tentatively, in 1911, when they achieved equal status with men in the process of electing Lay Eectors. In 1929 the office of Deaconess was recognised and, in 1972, the appointment of lay-readership was opened to women. Previously, in 1961, membership of the Provincial Synod had been opened to women. It was not until 1978 that the question of the ordination of women into the three-fold ministry was brought before the Provincial Synod. At that stage it was clear that Synod was not ready to discuss the ordination of women to the presbyterate though a study of the question was then commissioned. At that stage the matter of the episcopate and women had scarcely risen above the horizon. But much debate ensued about the diaconate in general and in regard to women’s possible place in it. In this debate it was generally accepted that arguments against the ordination of women to the presbyterate did not apply to the diaconate. What the debate helped to sharpen up, however, was the wider question of what the place of the diaconate is in the Church. It was recognised that its role as a ‘probationary’ year prior to ordination to the presbyterate is unsatisfactory on a number of counts. A study of this question had been undertaken in the early 1950s with little impact and a fresh study was now commissioned. It reported in 1987. Discussion of this paper along with that of the Multilateral Conversations entitled ‘Deacons for Scotland’, (1990), will doubtless occupy the Church for some time to come. Though some wished that discussion to be undertaken before decisions about women and the diaconate were made their view did not prevail, and an amendment to Canon 57 ‘Of Notices provided for by this Code of Canons and of the Interpretation of the Code’ authorising such ordination was passed at its second reading by General Synod in 1986. Meanwhile, following on the study of the report on the ordination of women to the presbyterate which had been commissioned in 1978, motions to authorise such ordinations were defeated on a number of occasions in Provincial and General Synods. However, in 1988, the issue of ‘sacramental hospitality’ was raised. By this time a number of women had been canonically ordained priest in other provinces of the Anglican Communion and it was felt that provision should be made for them to exercise their ministry in Scotland. Such provision, termed ‘sacramental hospitality’, if made, was not to be taken as constituting a precedent in any subsequent considerations of the question of the ordination of women to the presbyterate in Scotland. In 1989 it was agreed to move the issue from the area of canonical action into that of a Resolution of Synod remitting the question to the jurisdiction of each diocesan Bishop. In adopting this route the Synod drew upon a model previously used in the development of Local Ecumenical Parishes which is referred to later in this account. In 1994 a further revision of section 6 of Canon 57 was passed with significant two-thirds majorities in each of the three Houses of General Synod. It affirmed that phrases in Canons and Ordinals which referred to male laity, deacons or presbyters (priests) ‘shall be deemed to include persons both male and female’. The development and growth of the ministry of non-stipendiary clergy was a marked feature of the Church’s life in the fourth quarter of the 20th century. Stimulated by the experience of the Disciples of Christ, by the writings of Vincent Allen and by the economic pressures of the 1970s, the Church encouraged this growth and drew up canonical provisions and regulations by which their training and authorisation to spheres of ministry would be governed. To this end in 1979 Canon 14 ‘Of Clergy who are not Incumbents’ was amended so as to allow for a diverse level of involvement by such clergy. Three levels were provided for (a) A Commission where there was active participation in the worship and pastoral life of a charge. It was to carry an obligation to attend Diocesan Synod with a right to speak and vote. (b) A Warrant where the pastoral responsibility was less. It carried a right to attend and speak at Synod but not to vote. (c) Permission to Officiate authorised a specified sphere of duty for a limited period. It carried only permission to speak at Synod and that by invitation only. Because of the increasing diversity of training courses it was agreed in 1975 to amend Canon 11 ‘Of the Qualifications, Age, and Title of Candidates for Holy Orders’ to allow for a wider range of qualifications required of ordinands. At the same time the Canon was abbreviated. During this period there also developed lay training programmes of varying intensity. Thus, canonical provision, Resolutions and regulations in the last quarter of the 20th century saw a very striking growth in varieties of ministry and a considerable shift from what was a largely male and clerical body of ministry into one which was, with the exception of the episcopate, more balanced between male and female and which was increasingly seen as one involving the whole community of the baptised.
8.4 Worship : Canons 2 and 22
In 1976 a radical review of the Eucharistic and Ordination rites of the Church was begun. The intention was not, primarily, to introduce modern English, though that was asked for. It was, rather, to incorporate into these rites theological insights gained from the international and interdenominational scholarship of the past three hundred years and, more particularly, of the previous fifty years. This implied completely new texts. The Eucharistic Liturgy: The first product of this process was an Experimental Rite authorised in 1977. In the light of experience gained from its use in worship a revised text was prepared, the Scottish Liturgy 1982, together with a commentary. This rite was authorised for further experimental use and, in 1987, was designated an ‘authorised service’ of the Scottish Episcopal Church along with the 1970 Liturgy. The Ordination Rites: Similarly, draft rites, with commentary, were published in 1983 and received full authorisation in 1984, subject to the proviso that they should be construed as being consistent with the terms of Canon 2 ‘Of the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons’. This was added in the interests of ensuring continuity with the Church’s historical ministry. In 1987 a revised Canon 22 ‘Of Divine Worship and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church’ was passed which clarified the status of the various rites authorised for use as well as for experimental use under the existing Canon 23 ‘Of Regulations affecting Divine Service’. A distinction was drawn between those which are specifically the expression of the faith and worship of this Province and those which were merely taken over from other parts of the Anglican Communion. The former were designated ‘authorised services’ and the latter ‘permitted services’. The English Book of Common Prayer (1662) ceased to be one of the normative standards for worship in the Scottish Episcopal Church. This distinction marked a further stage in the long history of tension within the Scottish Episcopal Church between the Scottish and English rites, a tension which, at the local level, usually arose from a congregation’s historical roots. Canon 24 ‘Of the Use of Authorised Offices for Holy Communion’ had laid down a complicated process of consultation and voting when a congregation was considering the substitution of one rite for another. The process had many defects, not least that it made no provision by which a congregation might experience the alternative rite before reaching a decision. By the late twentieth century these historical roots had in most cases ceased to be living issues and the passing of the new Canon 22 was accompanied by the repeal in 1987 of Canons 23 and 24. The new provision created a more flexible system whereby changes in the conduct or form of worship must be discussed by the clergy, vestry and congregation, with preparation and explanation, in order to ascertain that the proposed change is ‘not unacceptable to the congregation generally’. Provision was also made in Canon 22 for the College of Bishops to authorise services for experimental use for a limited period.
The Scottish Calendar: In 1991 the General Synod approved a radical revision of the Calendar to replace that contained in the Scottish Prayer Book. The principles guiding the Liturgy Committee were four: universality, inspiration, healing and celebration.
8.5 Marriage : Canon 31
In 1975 the Provincial Synod placed on its agenda the exploration of the possibility of an amendment to Canon 31 ‘Of the Solemnisation of Holy Matrimony’ so as to provide for the marriage in Church of a couple, one or both, of whom had a previous partner still living. The path towards that goal was set out in 1977 and a draft Canon introduced in 1979.
Two ways forward were studied.
(a) The path leading to a declaration of Nullity, mirroring the Roman Catholic practice. This commended itself as avoiding a direct conflict with the Markan prohibition25. Yet many felt that it was flawed in that it could lead to confusion or conflict with the civil courts; that it was difficult to prove; that it was open to abuse; and that it was not pastorally satisfactory because it gave support neither to those who were seeking new beginnings nor to those who were persevering in a marriage fraught with pain.
(b) The other path envisaged a recognition of the civil court’s judgement of irretrievable breakdown and sought a solution through pastoral rather than legalistic channels. This commended itself because it seemed more honestly to face the reality of failure and to offer a new beginning in forgiveness and in a process where faith and hope and love were the dominant factors rather than legal niceties. Its flaw was, of course, that it seemed to be a denial of our Lord’s injunctions. This would have been an insuperable obstacle if it were it not for the Matthean exceptions26 which were interpreted as giving the Church authority to follow that line.
The debate in 1978 gave a clear indication of the Church’s preference for the latter path and a revised Canon was approved in 1980.
In doing so the Synod agreed to certain principles, viz. -
(a) In the Canon there should be a clear affirmation of the Church’s adherence to the principle that marriage is a lifelong union.
(b) An affirmation of the role of civil law.
(c) The service to be held in church should be the same as that for a first marriage. This in spite of strong representations that there should be some, however sensitive, element of contrition.
(d) There should be justice for all. The couple concerned should have an absolute right to have their case put to the Bishop; the clergy involved should not be obliged to officiate at such a service when authorised, though they would not be allowed to inhibit the use of a church building where they had jurisdiction.
8.6 Lay Electors : Canon 5 and Lay Representatives : Canon 63
In 1984 the minimum age in Canon 5 for a Lay Elector was reduced to eighteen from twenty four.
Provision was made in 1978 for any body of communicants of not less than thirty to elect a Lay Elector. Thus was recognised the way in which the Church grows in new areas.
A 1992 amendment to abolish the requirement that the Lay Elector ‘be a communicant member of the Episcopal Church and of no other ecclesiastical body not in full communion with the same’ was carried. This on two counts: first that if obeyed to the letter the Canon as it stood disenfranchised congregations which were members of a Local Ecumenical Parish, and, secondly, that it was contrary to the spirit of ecumenical relationships in general.
Whereas, in 1980 a move to link the offices of Lay Representative and Lay Elector was defeated, in 1990 it was agreed that, if, in a given congregation, the office of Lay Elector should, in certain specified circumstances outwith the Church’s control, fall vacant during a vacancy-in-see, the Lay Representative of that congregation should act as Lay Elector until the see was filled.
Since the abolition of the Representative Church Council there had been no provincial rules covering the appointment of Lay Representatives. A new Canon 63 ‘Of the Office of Lay Representative’, drawn largely from the former Representative Church Council Constitution, was passed in 1993.
8.7 Deans And Synod Clerks : Canons 43 and 44
In 1984 Canon 43 ‘Of the Office of Dean’ was fundamentally altered. The work load of Deans had greatly increased over the years and their relationship with the Bishop of the diocese had become more important. It was therefore decided that a five year tenure of office should be the norm with possible extensions by mutual consent, and provision for the incumbent to remain in office for one year after the installation of a new Bishop was included. These provisions were not retrospective.
In 1993 Canon 44 ‘Of the Office of Synod Clerk’ was amended and the tenure of office of the Synod Clerk was similarly altered and provision was made for the incumbent to act for the Dean in certain circumstances.
In 1994 a revision of Canon 43, Section 5 received its second reading. It authorised the Dean, under the direction of the Primus, to administer the Diocese, during a vacancy in the see.
8.8 Admission To Holy Communion : Canon 25
From time to time during the period under review the pastoral needs of children who have not been confirmed but who regularly attend Holy Communion had exercised the mind of Synods. It was decided that the question was best left to the Bishops’ Regulations since Canon 25 ‘Of Admitting to Holy Communion’ already made their admission to Holy Communion lawful. It was emphasised that children so admitted in any congregation should carry that authorisation with them if and when they moved.
8.9 Ecumenical Relationships : Canon 15
In 1984 The Church of South India was added to the list of Churches with which the Scottish Episcopal Church is in full communion. This move represented a considerable change in the Scottish Episcopal Church’s approach to matters involving the unification of ministries between parties in a uniting Church.
Subsequently it was considered that the Church of North India’s method, whereby all existing ministries were re-authorised within a newly formed church, was less desirable than a recognition of one another’s ministries as each entered a united (episcopally ordered) church.
The fact that, apart from Canons 5 ‘Of Lay Electors’ and 52 ‘Of the General Synod’ already noticed, no canonical changes affecting relations with other churches had occurred in the twenty years under review should not be taken to indicate no progress. Various Resolutions, most notably concerning Local Ecumenical Parishes, were adopted in recognition of the changing climate in this field from one of a degree of exclusiveness to one of co-operation and openness.
8.10 Rolls and Registers : Canons 41 and 42
Revisions to Canons 41 ‘Of Communicants’ And Other Rolls’ and 42 ‘Of Church Registers’ were approved in 1992. These were mainly of a clarifying and tidying up nature but a new clause was added making it mandatory for the cleric in charge to make the communicants’ roll available to members of the congregation on the two Sundays before the annual meeting.
8.11 Clergy Retirement : Canon 62
During the 1970s a number of attempts were made to set a fixed retirement age. Draft Canons to effect this were passed at a first reading but were not confirmed. The main arguments against were that such a rule would be contrary to the principle of clergy ‘freehold’ ad vitam aut culpam27, and that it would inhibit that flowering of a pastoral ministry which so often came with ‘the wisdom of age’. However a new Canon 62 ‘Of Retiral of Clergy’ was passed in 1991 setting seventy as the mandatory retirement age for stipendiary clergy whilst recognising that sixty-five was the retirement age for pension purposes. The Canon was not retrospective.
8.12 The Repeal Of The Scottish Episcopalian Relief Act Of 1792 : Canon 12
This was finally accomplished in 1977 thereby removing the last of the civil penalties ensuing upon the Episcopal Church’s involvement in the Jacobite Risings. This had one quite significant consequence for the Episcopal Church, regarding the status of the ‘Thirty-nine Articles of Religion’, adherence to which had been a statutory requirement ‘of all who should be ordained or appointed to clerical office in the Scottish Episcopal Church’. Certain of the Articles had for long been an offence to many and the Provincial Synod of 1979 removed them from Canon 12 Of Subscription to the Scottish Book of Common Prayer and Promise of Obedience to the Canons and Tribunals of this Church. They remain as one of our historical documents.
9. THE CODE OF CANONS 1995
It became clear in the early 1990s that a wholesale revision of the Code was needed in order to remove inappropriate gender-specific language which was no longer considered acceptable. This task led to the approval, for the first time since the eighteenth century, of a complete set of Canons. At the same time a number of changes were also agreed by General Synod, which had come to light in the process of revision. It was no longer expected that ordinations would take place only in the Ember season (in Canon 2 ‘Of the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons’, Section 2 was repealed); and the provision for the Episcopal Clerk of the Episcopal Synod was removed from Canon 51 ‘Of Episcopal Synods and the College of Bishops’ , Section 1, as this official no longer had any function. It was also decided to restructure Canon 15 ‘Of the Admission of Clergy of Other Churches, Provinces and Dioceses to Officiate’, Section 1, which listed those churches in full communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church, so that such churches were named in a Schedule attached to the Canon, the content of which was the responsibility of the Episcopal Synod, subject to the consent of the General Synod.
Two other changes took place as a result of this revision: the numbering of the Canons was altered from Roman to Arabic numerals; and the opportunity was taken to publish the Code in a ring binder, containing all the Canons, with the date of promulgation on every page, and with a dated list of Canons at the front of the binder, to ensure that it was clear whether any particular set was up to date.
10. AMENDMENTS FROM 1995 TO 2003
The years following the issue of the new Code saw a number of major revisions and additions, which reflected the synodical nature of the church and the need to respond to changes in the society in which it was placed
10.1 The Episcopate : Canons 4 and 57
The revision of Canon 4, ‘On the Election of Bishops to Vacant Sees’, which took place in 1993 was still considered problematic, and further changes were introduced in 1997 to enable the electors to meet with the candidate before the election took place. A more radical change was approved in 2000, which transferred elections to a specially convened meeting of the Diocesan Synod, thereby removing the office of Lay Elector, which had first been introduced in 1863. The process whereby a list of candidates was presented to the electoral synod was placed in the hands of a Preparatory Committee, comprising both diocesan and provincial representatives, convened by the Primus. The meeting of electors with candidates before the election was retained and further defined; and a new element was introduced whereby the Electoral Synod could determine that none of the candidates proposed by the preparatory committee was acceptable. In view of the new process of producing the list of candidates, the College of Bishops were required to give their assent to all those on the list before the election took place.
Another, and more fundamental, change took place in 2003, when, after much discussion at diocesan and provincial levels, the General Synod agreed that the episcopate should also be open to women. This was achieved by amending Canon 57 ‘Of Notices provided for by this Code of Canons and of the Interpretation of the Code’, Section 6.
10.2 Discipline and pastoral breakdown : Canons 53 and 54
The provisions of Canon 54 ‘Of Accusations’ were regarded as unsatisfactory, not least because it placed the Bishop of an accused cleric in the position of investigator, judge and executioner, a role which made almost impossible the normal pastoral functions of the Bishop. A revision of the Canon was approved in 1998, which set up a preliminary committee to receive accusations, which, if considered valid, would proceed to a hearing before a new Clergy Discipline Tribunal. At that tribunal, the church would be represented by a Procurator, who was to be a practising solicitor or advocate.
The process under the new Canon 54 was set alongside another new Canon, 53 ‘Of the Resolution of Situations of Pastoral Breakdown and Other Differences an Disputes’, which replaced the former Canon 55 ‘Of Differences and Disputes and of Appeals’ . This was to deal with cases in which there was no question of an accusation but within which the situation within a congregation had reached a point at which normal pastoral ministrations were impossible. Mechanisms were provided for reconciliation of the various parties, failing which the relevant Bishop was to set up an enquiry, undertaken by a Provincial Advisory Board, and to take appropriate action to resolve the situation, based on the report of the Board.
10.3 Diocesan and congregational structures : Canons 8, 13, 15 and 35
In 1997 a major change was made to Canon 8 ‘Of the Separation, Subdivision or Union of Dioceses, and of Altering the Limits thereof’, which took the matter of diocesan boundaries out of the sole control of the Episcopal Synod and placed it under the ultimate agreement of the General Synod, with the initiative for any change still coming from the Bishops.
An attempt was made, also in 1997, to deal with the situation of incumbencies which no longer had the resources to maintain a cleric, whereby the status of the incumbency could be suspended for a period of three years, to enable the congregation to restore the position before the status of the charge was changed. This was incorporated into Canon 13 ‘Of the Conditions and Mode of Institution to, and of the Resignation and Vacation of, an Incumbency’.
At the same time, a change was made to Canon 15 ‘Of the Admission of Clergy of Other Churches, Provinces and Dioceses’, to enable the position of Local Ecumenical Projects and other joint ventures with other denominations to be recognised within the Code.
The need to further define the church's procedures with regard to its buildings, and in an attempt to ensure that ecclesistical buildings continued to be exempt from some of the procedures under planning laws and regulations, led to changes in 2000 to Canon 35 ‘Of the Structure, Furniture and Monuments of Churches, and the Due Care thereof’, and the setting up of Diocesan and Provincial Buildings Advisory Committees.
10.4 Clerical incapacity and other issues : Canons 64, 3, 7, and 17
In 2002 a wholly new Canon 64 ‘Of Clergy who become Incapacitated’ was agreed by the General Synod, in order to systematise the treatment of such persons, and this was extended in 2003 to cover the Primus and other Bishops with changes to Canons 3 ‘Of the Election and Office of the Primus’ and 7 ‘Of the Resignation of Bishops and Vacating of Sees’.
Also in 2002 a change was made to Canon 17 ‘Of Clerical Studies and Manner of Life’, Section 6, reducing the period of time that a cleric could be absent from a charge without specific episcopal permission from nine to six weeks.
10.5 General Synod : Canon 52
Finally a number of small but not insignificant changes were made to the way in which the General Synod operated. In 1996, the point at which any new canonical material became operative was more clearly defined (Canon 52 ‘Of the General Synod’, Sections 18 and 19); in 1999, the size of the majority within the General Synod required to allow discussion of a motion proposed from the floor was reduced from three-quarters to two-thirds; and in 2001 any members of the church who were appointed as representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council were automatically to be members of the Synod.
This prayer first published in the Code of Canons 1972 is still appropriate-
May this new edition of the Code of Canons be accompanied by the prayers of all faithful Church-people,
that it may prove to be to the glory of God,
and to the just, wise and peaceful government of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Amen.
|Daily Prayer in the Scottish Episcopal Church is an important part of our spiritual life and can be followed here|