The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), Bishop Mark Strange, has consecrated the province’s first female bishop during a service in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Aberdeen. Bishop Anne Dyer was elected by the Province’s Episcopal Synod last November as the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney after the diocese twice failed to complete the electoral process. The congregation, which included a number of civic and church dignitaries, battled through extreme snow to reach the cathedral. The province first opened the doors to the consecration of women to the episcopate 14 years ago; but Bishop Anne is the first female selected in Scotland.
In January, the Primus issued a public rebuke to 18 clergy from the diocese who published an open letter criticising the selection of Anne Dyer, saying it “directly goes against the established wishes of the Diocese on the views it would hope that our new Bishop would hold, and minister to us from the perspective of them.”
Bishop Mark said that the election “followed a period of deep prayer and reflection on the part of the bishops” and that “the bishops fully believe and trust that they have been led by the Holy Spirit in their election of Canon Dyer. She too shares that conviction and looks forward to becoming the new Diocesan Bishop in response to God’s call.”
The controversy centres in part on her view stated views on sexuality. In an interview this week with local newspaper The Press and Journal, Bishop Anne addressed the concerns, saying: “the Scottish Episcopal Church officially acknowledges that there is not one view on marriage within our church today. We hold differing views according to our consciences, but also after varied readings of the Bible and prayer.
“Whatever view a person holds, they are welcome. It is the bishop’s role to try to hold diversity together, to enable those who disagree to find common cause and purpose, and see Christ present in every person. But I imagine this is one matter which people will have much to say to me in the months and years to come.”
Ahead of the service, Bishop Mark commented: “it is a great privilege and honour to consecrate Anne as the new Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney and to welcome her to the College of Bishops. This will be a very special moment in the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church and it is heartening to hear of all the good wishes that people have expressed for the new stage of ministry and leadership that Anne now takes up in the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney.”
After the service, he said: “I am delighted that despite the weather conditions and travel difficulties, the Cathedral was full of people who simply rejoiced in response to the words ‘greet your new bishop’ with thunderous applause. It was for many of us a moment of spirited joy.”