(It’s Time) To Build A Cairn

The last seven days have been difficult ones. I know that I speak for a lot of people in the Scottish Episcopal Church when I say that we have been made to feel angry and ashamed. I stand in sorrow and solidarity with my LGBT friends who are called to ministerial vocations in the Church and who in this last week have been made to feel threatened. We are all left asking questions about what kind of church we are, what kind of church we want to be, and what kind of church we want to belong to.

I suspect that the answer is: not one that behaves like this.

It is clear that for those of us in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the fight is far from over.

But that’s for tomorrow, because marriage equality will become the law of our land at midnight tonight and that is a thing for which we must be joyful and celebrate. It has been a long journey and one that I am and will always be proud to have been on.

Through the ages, people on great journeys have stopped at important places and at decisive moments to build cairns at the roadside to which they and others can always return. Our lives consist not only in being but also in becoming — they are journeys in which we grow and are transformed. This has been a great journey that we have travelled and, in different ways, will continue to travel together. Today, we pause at a decisive and important moment for us all. We mark this decisive moment now, adding to the cairn the stones of our love, our pride, and our prayers. *

And now, one more time, all together, one, two, three:

* Adapted from the Marriage Liturgy of the Scottish Episcopal Church (2007).


  1. Cheers for the gift of love becoming law – but as always, I’m sorry when God’s people are the ones lagging and not leading. Bad precedent, that. Love the song and the views of Scotland. Weird to be homesick for someplace I only lived for five years…

    • As it is currently illegal under Scots law for a member of the SEC clergy to solmnise marriages which happen to be between persons of the same sex, it was entirely right and proper for guidance on that to be given by the SEC. Yes. I agree with this and I have said as much to the Bishops.

      My problems with the actual guidance that has been given are multiple.

      The most substantial problem is that very little of this is necessary for the SEC to be in line with the law of the land, nor does most of it relate to what we have previously understood to be the position of the Church. The advice on clergy solemnising marriages forms a quite small part of a quite big document. The ban on using marriage liturgies for blessing marriages between people of the same sex? That’s new. We’ve been blessing civil partnerships with that liturgy since 2007. The ban on clergy and lay readers converting civil partnerships to marriage? The threat to ordinands and lay readers in training on what should happen to their ministry if they marry? It’s all new, and none of it was expected. It hides behind the doctrinal understanding of marriage as stated in Canon 31 Clause 1, but it’s time we started remembering that Canon 31 has more than one clause. We recognise under Canon law marriages that fall outwith the Clause 1 understanding of marriage and we offer them benediction. Why are LGBT clergy less worthy of benediction than clergy who are married for a second or third time?

      And then there’s the issue of timing. It was sent out at a time that led a large number of people to believe that this was the official outcome of Cascade. It isn’t, but I can’t fault them for thinking so and it’s disingenuous of the Bishops to claim that they didn’t see it being read like that. It was timed to come out so close to the marriage law coming into force that that will have thrown plans into disarray. There are people who will have planned weddings whose jobs and homes will now be in jeopardy if they go ahead with their weddings.

      Finally, it’s written in a tone that I and many others have found to be unhelpful, exclusionary, and threatening. It sets the Church up as exclusionary and as behaving in a way that decent society does not.

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