People sometimes speak of ‘discovering’ the Scottish Episcopal Church – as if they have happened upon a treasure. That may be because as a church it is small in size if not in ambition. And it may be because what makes us special isn’t immediately ‘in your face’. It is subtle and nuanced, and all the more special for that.
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a deeply Scottish Church whose history is interwoven with the whole story of Christianity in Scotland – back to the Celtic Saints like Ninian and Columba and through the Scottish Reformation and all the turbulence which followed. The Church is passionate about its membership of the Anglican Communion and has a global vision of its place in the world church.
In character, the Scottish Episcopal Church is diverse. The church celebrates diversity and values dialogue alongside dogma. It likes to think of itself as a thinking church and values a high standard of preaching. Alongside that thoughtfulness goes a deep commitment to spirituality and prayer. Much of the worship of the church is sacramental in character – its patterns of worship are full of drama and colour which links together the experiential with the intellectual.
In its governance, the Scottish Episcopal Church is collegial and democratic rather than centralised and directive. It delights in its non-established status. It is deeply committed to civic society and public discourse but wants nothing to do with establishment. It is more a community of disciples than an institution with membership. The SEC today pursues its calling to mission and ministry in the very secular and increasingly diverse context of Scotland and the rest of the world.
The seven bishops see themselves as ‘leaders of mission’ and the Church attempts to draw into its life people who are beginning to travel a journey of spirituality as well as those who have a well established faith; nurtured in the SEC, in other Churches in Scotland, in other parts of the Anglican Communion (such as the Church of England or the Church in Wales) or wherever else – it simply doesn’t matter.