Scottish Episcopal Church

From Academic Kids

The Scottish Episcopal Church (or Episcopal Church of Scotland) is a member of the Anglican Communion in Scotland, formed in the 17th century after the national church, the Church of Scotland, adopted presbyterian government and reformed theology. The two names distinguish their organizational structures: the Presbyterian Church is ruled by elected elders (Greek, presbyteroi) while the Scottish Episcopal Church is led by bishops (Greek, episcopoi, literally translated "overseers").

Unlike the Church of England, the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church are elected. The election procedure involves the clergy and lay representatives of the vacant diocese voting at an Electoral Synod.

It enabled the creation of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America after the American Revolution.

This church is sometimes known colloquially in Scotland as the "English Church", but many members of the church find this term offensive.



The Scottish Episcopal Church, is a Scottish church in full communion with, but historically distinct from, the Church of England, and is composed of seven dioceses: Aberdeen and Orkney; Argyll and the Isles; Brechin; Edinburgh; Glasgow and Galloway; Moray, Ross and Caithness; and St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane.

All, except Edinburgh, founded by Charles I, are pre-Reformation sees. The bishops constitute the episcopal synod, the supreme court of appeal, whose president, elected by the members from among themselves, has the style, not the functions, of a metropolitan, being called primus. The legislature is the General Synod consisting of the Bishops and representatives of the clergy and laity. The canons have the authority of this synod.

The General Synod, administers finance. Each diocese has its synod of the clergy and laity. Its dean is appointed by the bishop, and, on the voidance of the see, summons the diocesan synod, at the instance of the primus, to choose a bishop.

The Theological College was founded in 1810, incorporated with Trinity College, Glenalmond, in 1848, and reestablished at Edinburgh in 1876. There were 356 congregations, with a total membership of 124,335, and 324 working clergy in 1900. No existing ministry can claim regular historic continuity with the ancient hierarchy of Scotland, but the bishops of the Episcopal Church are direct successors of the prelates consecrated to Scottish sees at the Restoration.

On the refusal of the bishops to recognize William III (1689), the presbyterian polity was established in the kirk, the effect of which on its ecclesiastical status is a matter of theological opinion, but the Comprehension Act of 1690 allowed episcopalian incumbents, on taking the Oath of Allegiance, to retain their benefices, though excluding them from any share in the government without a further declaration of presbyterian principles. Many non-jurors also succeeded for a time in retaining the use of the parish churches.

The extruded bishops were slow to organize the episcopalian remnant under a jurisdiction independent of the state, regarding the then arrangements as provisional, and looking forward to a reconstituted national kirk under a legitimate sovereign. A few prelates, known as college bishops, were consecrated without sees, to preserve the succession rather than to exercise a defined authority. But at length the hopelessness of the Stewart cause and the growth of congregations outside the establishment forced the bishops to dissociate canonical jurisdiction from royal prerogative and to reconstitute for themselves a territorial episcopate.

The act of Queen Anne (1712), which protects the Episcopal Communion, marks its virtual incorporation as a distinct society. But matters were still complicated by a considerable, though declining, number of episcopalian incumbents holding the parish churches. Moreover, the Jacobitism of the non-jurors provoked a state policy of repression in 1715 and 1745, and fostered the growth of new Hanoverian congregations, served by clergy episcopally ordained but amenable to no bishop, who qualified themselves under the act of 1712. This act was further modified in 1746 and 1748 to exclude clergymen ordained in Scotland.

These causes reduced the Episcopalians, who included at the Revolution a large section of the people, to what is now, save in a few corners of the west and north-east of Scotland, a small minority. The official recognition of George III. on the death of Charles Edward in 1788, removed the chief bar to progress. The qualified congregations were gradually absorbed, though traces of this ecclesiastical solecism still linger. In 1792 the penal laws were repealed, but clerical disabilities were only finally removed in 1864. In 1784 Seabury, the first American bishop, was consecrated at Aberdeen.

The Book of Common Prayer, came into general use at the Revolution. The Scottish Communion Office, compiled by the non-jurors in accordance with primitive models, has had a varying co-ordinate authority, and the modifications of the English liturgy adopted by the American Church were mainly determined by its influence.

Among the clergy of post-Revolution days the most eminent are Bishop Sage, a well-known patristic scholar; Bishop Rattray, liturgiologist; John Skinner, of Longside, author of Tullochgorum; Bishop Gleig, editor of the 3rd edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; Dean Ramsay, author of Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character; Bishop AP Forbes; GH Forbes, liturgiologist; and Bishop Charles Wordsworth.


  • Carstares, State Papers
  • Keith, Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops (Russel's edition, 1824)
  • Lawson, History of the Scottish Episcopal Church from the Revolution to the Present Time (1843)
  • Stephen, History of the Church of Scotland from the Reformation to the Present Time (4 vols, 1843)
  • Lathbury, History of the Nonjurors (1845)
  • Grub, Ecclesiastical History of Scotland (4 vols, 1861)
  • Dowden, Annotated Scottish Communion Office (1884).


The Scottish Episcopal Church embraces three orders of ministry: Deacon, Priest and Bishop. Increasingly, an emphasis is being placed on these orders working collaboratively within the wider ministry of the whole people of God.

The Church elects from among its Bishops a presiding Bishop who has the title of Primus (the title originates from the Latin phrase 'Primus inter pares' - 'First among equals'). The church is governed by the General Synod. This consists of the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. Most decisions are arrived at by a simple majority of members of the General Synod voting together. More complex legislation, such as changes to the Code of Canons requires each of the Houses to agree and to vote in favour by a two thirds majority.

All orders of ministry are open to both male and female candidates. As yet, no women have been elected to the Episcopate and thus there are no bishops who are women. Debate continues in the church as to the propriety of fully affirming the presence of lesbian and gay church members.

Mission 21

In 1995, the Scottish Episcopal Church began working through a process known as Mission 21. The Rev Canon Alice Mann of the Alban Institute was invited to begin developing a missionary emphasis within the congregations of the church throughout Scotland. This led to the development of the Making Your Church More Inviting programme which has now been completed by many congregations. In addition to working on making churches more inviting, Mission 21 emphasises reaching out to new populations which have previously not been contacted by the church. As Mission 21 has developed, changing patterns of ministry have become part of its remit.


In addition to the Scottish Prayer Book 1929, the church has a number of other liturgies available to it. In recent years, revised Funeral Rites have appeared, along with liturgies for Christian Initiation (eg Baptism and Affirmation) and Marriage. The modern Eucharistic rite (1982) includes Eucharistic prayers for the various seasons in the Liturgical Year and is commonly known as "The Blue Book" - a reference to the colour of its covers.

Dioceses & Bishops

There are seven dioceses in the Scottish Episcopal Church; these are

See also

External links

de:Scottish Episcopal Church ja:スコットランド聖公会


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