Columba Declaration – Just a thought

On Sunday Alison our rector spoke in brief about the Columba Declaration. It has been controversial at times and the Primus +David spoke briefly during his Visit to Holy Trinity about the very issue, he has commented extensively on his blog that can be found here.

Following the approval by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland of the joint report with the Church of England ‘Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission’, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, said:

“We are grateful to the General Assembly for extending an invitation to the Scottish Episcopal Church to appoint a member to the contact group being created to take forward this agreement between the Church of Scotland and Church of England. That will give us the opportunity to be actively involved in future developments. Our representative at the Assembly this year, the Rt Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, was able to express our common desire to move forward in furtherance of the Gospel of Christ and expressed our thanks for the gracious apology given by the Archbishop of Canterbusaint-giles-cathedralry during his address to the Assembly.”

+Mark from Morey Ross and Caithness attended the COS General Assembly in Edinburgh to represent the Episcopal Church alongside Rowan Williams former Arch Bishop of Canterbury. +Mark was given the opportunity to speak to our neighbour church about his thoughts (published via his facebook), can be found below.


“I stand here this morning in the company of people who have shared with me this week the love and pride they have for their church, just as I love my church and I am very aware that I am in the company of people with who I do share and could share so much more together.

Many years ago I first sat down with my new books in readiness for Henry Seftons Church history lectures I discovered the spaghetti map, that is lineal map showing all the divisions and reunions of the Scottish Church and there we were the Scottish Episcopal Church divided from our brethren by the question of Apostolic Order, and loyalty to a royal dynasty. Our sister church the Kirk and ourselves have remained divided over that and other issues but we still have the same roots, we came through the same reformation.

So this Episcopal limb of the Church of Scotland that survived despite the political pressures placed on it, begins to make new friends, firstly with the Americans who received the orders of Bishop’s from us and then as we made friends with the other Episcopally led churches of the UK and became part of the Anglican communion. The first non colonial part of that family.

Now all seems sorted. In Scotland we are in company with our sister church, I myself am a corresponding member of Inverness Presbytery, and in the rest of the UK we share much with our friends in the Anglican Communion. I was trained and ordained in England. So it was a bit difficult when our sister begins to take an interest in our best friend, especially when best friend shows interest back, we just needed a bit of time to go away and sort that one out in our heads, to observe the relationship and to wait for the promised report of the relationship to be published. But oh gosh there is an unexpected announcement and we are hurt.
Now let me ask you, if this happens in your family then surely you try and sort it out when this happens of course you try to fix it.

And so my Lord Archbishop, I thank you for your words today, acknowledging those difficulties, and the surprise of the announcement.

I am also very aware that the many questions we asked of both churches have now been answered or will be answered when we meet to discuss the issues of authority, the place of the local bishop in licensing clergy and other issues I am sure are still to be uncovered.

And to my sister church here in Scotland, we see many things differently, that happens when you have lived with a theological divergence for over 300 years but that doesn’t stop us loving one another and finding ways to work together. In Scotland there are many issues we need to work on with each other, not least the issues of territoriality, and not just in the wonderful wilds of the North but also in those places of Urban deprivation and in communities filled with new Scots.

I have heard much that is good this week, the work of Cross Reach, the powerful concerns of the Church in Society programme, and we are already united in our responses to the environment our sharing in our care for this nation we love and in so much more.

You will now make your own decisions about this deliverance and that is right.

But having now acknowledged our very human responses to this document and heard the concerns from all, having established ways of keeping us talking, through the “Our common calling” initiative, then now is the time to get on with the real task in hand, sharing all we have in the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ.”