On 16 February the Church of England issued the following Press Release:
“General Synod votes to approve historic agreement with Church of Scotland
16 February 2016
An historic agreement recognising the longstanding ecumenical partnership between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England and paving the way for future joint working between the two churches has been backed today by the General Synod.
Members voted to approve the Columba Declaration and welcome Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission, a report by the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, as a ‘significant development’ in the relationship between the two churches.
The General Synod also called on the Council for Christian Unity to oversee the implementation of the commitments in the Declaration and to set up a Contact Group to coordinate future work between the two churches.
The motion backed by the General Synod also notes the Church of England’s valued relationship with the Scottish Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion and requests that the Council for Christian Unity ensures that the Scottish Episcopal Church is invited to appoint a representative to attend meetings of the Contact Group.
Moving the motion, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, co-chair of the Joint Study Group, said: “The dialogue and partnership between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland is shaped by our shared calling as ‘national’ churches, which have a parish structure covering the nation, and a recognition by the State and wider society.
“As our country has become more secular, we find ourselves drawn together as we face common problems, and opportunities.
“For all the ways in which our recognition and calling as national Churches has had very different histories and legal structures, we have found that we have more in common, in our common tasks in mission, than we might have been led to suppose.”
Commending the report and Declaration, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, told the General Synod: “The strengthening of the bonds which already exist between us can only serve the ‘advance of the Gospel’ which is our united desire and aim.”
The report will now go to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May for approval.
The Columba Declaration is set out in the 15-page Joint Study Group report and commits the two Churches to grow together in communion and strengthen their partnership in mission.
To read the report and the declaration in full, along with a cover note from the Council for Christian Unity and a preface from the study group co-chairs the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster and the Rev Dr John McPake, here.
Audio of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison’s speech, is available here.
Here is the full text of the motion that was passed by the General Synod
‘That this Synod,
(a) welcome the report of the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (annexed to GS 2016) as a significant development in the relationship between the two churches;
(b) approve the Columba Declaration, consisting of mutual Acknowledgements and Commitments, as set out in paragraph 39 of the report;
(c) request the Council for Christian Unity to oversee the implementation of the Commitments contained in the Columba Declaration and set up the Contact Group proposed by it; and
(d) grateful for the Church of England’s valued relationship with the Scottish Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion, request the Council for Christian Unity to ensure that the Scottish Episcopal Church is invited to appoint a representative to attend meetings of the Contact Group.’”