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Scottish and US-based Episcopal Churches celebrate historic bonds of communion

Posted on: November 6, 2017 5:39 PM
The ornate crests of the American states on the ceiling in the nave of St Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Aberdeen symbolise the deep connection between the Scottish and US-based Episcopal churches.
Photo Credit: Matthew Davies / Episcopal News Service
Related Categories: Abp Curry, Abp Strange, Scotland, USA

The Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church (TEC), Michael Curry, has delivered a sermon at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Aberdeen to celebrate the historic links between two of the earliest churches in the Anglican Communion outside England. TEC traces its roots back to 1784 – the year after the Americans defeated the British in the American War of Independence. The Church’s first US-bishop, Samuel Seabury, was required by the Church of England to swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown before they would consecrate him. He refused, and bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) agreed to conduct the consecration.

“Our bishops today trace their succession to Samuel Seabury . . . so our roots really are here in Aberdeen, Scotland. Indeed, Scotland is our mother church, so it was good to come home and give thanks to our mother church and to affirm our continued partnership in Jesus Christ,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in an interview on Monday with the Episcopal News Service.

The historic bond that St Andrew’s Cathedral shares with the Episcopal Church includes an invitation for the presiding bishop to nominate someone to be installed as an honorary canon. Sunday’s serviced marked the installation of the Revd Dr Canon Charles (Chuck) Robertson - canon for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church – as the honorary canon.

“The affection for our church and our affection for the Scottish Episcopal Church is longstanding and deep,” Curry told ENS. “And now we must take that affection into concrete work that helps to change the world into something akin to God’s dream for it, and so Canon Robertson being made an honorary canon was a symbolic way of incarnating that in a human person.”

The service on Sunday was attended by civic leaders and dignitaries and people from other churches and faith communities, as well as people from across the Scottish Episcopal Church. Today (Monday), Curry and Robertson took part in a symposium exploring the social history and common interests of the Scottish and American Episcopal Churches. Later, the visitors will travel to Edinburgh to take part in a clergy conference and a visit to the Scottish Parliament, which may include a meeting with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

“The Scottish Episcopal Church is proud of its role in the coming into being of what is now the world-wide Anglican Communion,” the Primus of Scotland, Bishop Mark Strange of Moray, Ross and Caithness, said, “and I am delighted to welcome the Presiding Bishop in his first visit to Scotland when we can share our past, present and future bonds of communion and concern for the people we serve in our respective provinces.”

  • The Episcopal News Service carries a fuller report with videos and background to the Seabury consecration and the conditions placed upon it by the Church of England.