The Rt. Rev. Angus Morrison, moderator of the Church of Scotland, addresses General Synod. • Gavin Drake/ACNS photo

Adapted from ACNS

General Synod has approved an agreement that prepares the way for joint work between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.

Members voted to approve the Columba Declaration and to welcome “Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission” [PDF], 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 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 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,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester and co-chair of the Joint Study Group. “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.”

“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,” said the Rt. Rev. Angus Morrison, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The report will now move to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May.

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.

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The full text of General Synod motion:

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.

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