AGM Report – Equal Marriage in Scottish Church

How did the Scottish Episcopal Church do it? This was the question in the minds of those who gathered for the Changing Attitude Ireland AGM lecture by the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow, the Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, in Dublin on Saturday 28th October. As a key member of Changing Attitude Scotland, Holdsworth has been at the heart of the campaign to permit its clergy to solemnise marriages in church regardless of the couple’s gender.

“The key turned out to be the core value of ‘conscience’, and the importance of Christians respecting each other’s conscientious decisions”, the provost explained in the Molesworth Hall. The SEC has simply decided that clergy who wish to marry same-sex couples in church may register with their bishops to do so. But there is no pressure on clergy who do not wish to do this. We came through to the view that respect for conscience must go both ways; so some clergy will and others will not be available to officiate at marriages between Christians of the same gender.”

In his sermon at Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, Provost Holdsworth referred to the disputations between the Pharisees, sometimes involving Jesus, in 1st century Jerusalem. Such disputation has always continued to be part of church life, he argued, and dialogue and mutual listening are essential if we are to move towards the fullness of truth. At a certain point, though, decisions must be made, and courage is needed, lest we give way to fear in the face of threats.

The SEC has made an important and difficult decision on an ecclesially controversial matter without causing an internal split. Courage and respect for conscience were key factors in the achievement.

Changing Attitude Scotland is now about to close, having achieved its objective.

A video of the event is below.

The following were elected to serve on the committee for the coming year.

  • Scott Golden (Chair),
  • Leo Kilroy (Hon Sec),
  • Mark Bowyer (Hon Treas),
  • Niamh Allen (Membership Sec),
  • Canon Ginnie Kennerley (Press Off),
  • Stephen Spillane (Web Master),
  • Pam Tilson (Social Media),
  • Adrianne Elson,
  • V Revd David Godfrey,
  • Revd Sarah Marry,
  • Peter Gaughan,
  • Karen Godfrey.
  • Gareth Williams (Methodist Church in Ireland Observer)