Celebrating a Global Companionship

Andrew Swift | Diocese of Brechin

The Rt. Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop of Iowa, writes about participating in the consecration service for the Rt. Rev. Andrew Swift as Bishop of Brechin in Scotland:

“Habemus episcopum!” With these words Jeremy Auld, Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee, welcomed the participants in the consecration of Andrew Swift as the 155th Bishop of Brechin. Bishop Andrew comes from the diocese of Argyl and the Isles where he was Dean. He exchanges an expansive pastoral area which required overnights and trips by boat and air, for the compact geographical pastorate of Brechin where the furthest of the twenty-three congregations can be covered by car inside ninety minutes. Of course, Argyl traffic and Dundee traffic probably don’t compare.

Symbolizing that God uses the community of the Church to fulfill God’s mission to the wider community of all creation, the vested procession of choir members, acolytes, lay readers, diocesan and visiting priests and deacons, coped diocesan canons and the visiting and Provincial college of bishops marched from Dundee City Hall across a large public square over to the Cathedral. Onlookers who were spending their customary Saturday afternoon shopping or simply enjoying the downtown, were left to enjoy the pageantry. A bagpiper led the group and then stood on the steps of the Cathedral piping until the opening hymn took up the refrain of praise.

It was Anglican worship at its finest. There are seven dioceses that make up the Province of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Bishop Mark Strange is very clear that as Primus, he represents the Province among his peers as a Primate of the Communion, and among his colleague bishops he is only an appointed first among equals for the sake of Church order. The Provincial College of Bishops can work as one liturgically for an occasion like this. For a while their numbers were down to four, with Brechin, Aberdeen and St Andrew’s in the search process. You could sense the excitement of having a potentially full College with the recent consecration of Anne of Aberdeen, (the first woman bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church) and the elections of Bishops for Brechin and St Andrew’s. In October it will be St Andrew’s turn to celebrate the consecration of their bishop-elect, Ian. The Bishops formed a semi-circle around the bishop-elect of Brechin throughout the service, being joined by the rest of the visiting and retired bishops for the actual act of consecrating prayer.

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