Following the timely intervention of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, progress has been made in the ongoing dispute that has affected the Episcopal Cathedral in Dundee, Scotland.
The relationship between the first woman Provost in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, the Very Revd Miriam Byrne, and the Bishop of Brechin, the Rt Revd Neville Chamberlain, had deteriorated seriously. The dispute over the running of St Paul's Cathedral in Dundee had led to the suspension of the Provost, with the Bishop bringing a number of charges against the Provost to the church courts. The Provost was also pursing claims relating to her employment through the civil courts.
As part of the agreement negotiated with Archbishop Tutu's help, the Provost has been reinstated, and all ecclesiastical and civil proceedings have been withdrawn and nullified.
The Provost and Bishop travelled to Atlanta, Georgia, for a meeting in February with Archbishop Tutu. After two days of discussion, a process was agreed upon that incorporated some of the methods and style of the South African Commission for Truth and Reconciliation.
"A key part of the time with the Archbishop centred on the need to listen to others, to put others first," wrote the Bishop in a pastoral letter to everyone in the Diocese of Brechin. "The Archbishop wanted us to see the good in each other and enable the good in others to come out when we got back home."
The process of resolution and reconciliation will involve a number of trained facilitators, and will take place during Lent. It will seek to bring together the various injured parties in confidence. The process itself will promote reconciliation between those involved, rather than achieve it directly.
"The process of healing at St Paul's is not going to be easy," said Bishop Neville Chamberlain. "Forgiveness is not cheap, and the outcome may be difficult for some. By our joint agreement we are setting aside our differences for the greater good of the Cathedral and the Diocese."
Senior colleagues of the Bishop of Brechin, and the Cathedral Vestry, have expressed strong support for the move towards reconciliation, which will be a period of healing for the past and present membership of the Cathedral.
"I am delighted that it has been possible...to move to a point where we can provide a worthwhile example to demonstrate that intractable and profound differences can be solved by discussion," the Very Revd Miriam Byrne said. "I have a clear vision for a new start for St Paul's...moving forward in partnership with the highly motivated Vestry to build a modern, living Cathedral, which will be a credit to its congregation and the City of Dundee."