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ACNS3257 Scottish Churches' first steps to union
"Anglican Communion News Service" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 15 Jan 2003 15:32:22 -0000
ACNS 3257 | SCOTLAND | 15 JANUARY 2003
Scottish Churches' first steps to union
The Scottish Church Initiative for Union (SCIFU) began its work in 1996 in
the closing years of "the ecumenical century of the Christian Church" when
Christians from different traditions - "often bitterly and even violently
divided" - began to talk, work and witness together and even re-unite after
long separation. SCIFU is more precisely, the "child" of the Multilateral
The fruit of seven years' work towards the unity of the Christian Church -
"a few, first steps on the way to union" - were published on Friday 10
January in a report by the SCIFU group.
Recommendations for a model of a united Church call on the churches involved
reaffirm their commitment to the goal of full visible unity
welcome the theological principles of the SCIFU report, which are an
expression of that commitment
approve the SCIFU proposal in general terms as an appropriate model for
pursuing full, visible unity in Scotland, recognising there are many stages
in the process
initiate consultation throughout the life of the four churches and, not
excluding other churches, to share resources and integrate structures,
grasping the opportunities arising from the many changes currently occurring
in all of them
promote and facilitate the piloting of the model locally and more widely
where relations between any of the participating churches are sufficiently
continue the search for full visible unity through a new group appointed by
the four, to complete the unfinished business of the SCIFU proposal and
prepare a Basis and Plan of Union
At the heart of the proposal is the 'Maxi Parish' in which worshipping
communities would work together under one leadership body and be grouped
together in Regions, with the office of Bishop and a 'Regional Council' to
carry out the responsibilities at this level.
Fundamental to the life of each congregation and in line with commitment to
"the ministry of the whole people of God," would be a 'Church Meeting' of
members and a 'Congregational Council' to enable each congregation to carry
out its responsibilities.
A 'National Council' meeting annually, would be "the chief locus of
authority" able to declare the mind of the Church in matters of life and
witness and final court of appeal approving the united Church budget and
specifying sums available for the Church's various areas of work. Elders
would be a vital part of the Church, locally, regionally and nationally.
Deacons - perhaps one in every maxi parish - would "stir up consciences" on
justice, peace and integrity of creation, "encouraging them to get
politically involved with issues of justice and environmental concern." The
Bishop would be "a pastor to the pastors," their families and the ministry
team. He or she would work closely with office bearers of the region and be
expected to give "personal leadership and inspiration" to evangelism,
fostering and nurturing communities of faith and articulating the demand for
social justice for all in Christ's name.
The 1964 British Council of Churches Conference on Faith and Order, held in
Nottingham, challenged churches to "covenant together to work and pray for
inauguration of union in appropriate groupings such as nations." Since 1997
four Churches have been working towards unity: the Church of Scotland; the
Methodist Church; the Scottish Episcopal Church; and the United Reformed
The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the United Free Church were
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