A historic agreement to enter into an ecumenical partnership with the Church of England was unanimously approved at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 25 May 2016.
As well as opening up future possibilities of working closer together, under the terms of the Columba Declaration ‘both denominations would welcome one another’s members into congregations and ordained ministers would be allowed to exercise ministry within the existing discipline of each church, though only within England and continental Europe’.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England, addressed the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland as part of the debate.
‘The Columba Declaration is one that I support strongly and I hope you will, but the handling of its announcement caused much consternation and deep hurt to the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). That hurt is exclusively my responsibility and I want to put on the record to you and to them my apology. We know that the goal of unity envisaged in the Columba Declaration cannot be pursued by some churches in isolation from others, and in our context that must mean a particular place for the Scottish Episcopal Church as your Anglican partner in Scotland, and as our immediate neighbour in the Anglican Communion’, said Archbishop Welby.
A transcript of Justin Welby’s address to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is available on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website. For more details on the Church of Scotland’s ecumenical agreement with the Church of England see the Church of Scotland website.