Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

United Kingdom-Scotland

Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

United Kingdom-Scotland

Article excerpt

SCOTTISH CHURCH INITIATIVE FOR UNION (SCIFU): Church of Scotland [Presbyterian]; Methodist Church; Scottish Episcopal Church; United Reformed Church.

Sheilagh M. Kesting

In 2002 the SCIFU Group published its proposal and circulated it to the churches for their consideration. The final report was an accessible document for use in local and regional church bodies. It presented a picture of an incomplete journey. A Basis and Plan of Union still lay in the future. The report sought agreement on the shape of a united church and a commitment to go forward on that basis to draw up the detailed plan. The Group had set out six recommendations and requested that each Church should give an answer to each one. In this way it would be clear where the sticking points were.

This report called on the four churches

1. to reaffirm their commitment to the goal of full visible unity.

2. to welcome the theological principles of the SCIFU report, which are an expression of that commitment.

3. to approve the SCIFU proposal in general terms as an appropriate model for pursuing full visible unity in Scotland, recognizing that there are many stages in the process.

4. to initiate consultation throughout the life of the four churches, and not excluding other churches, in order to share resources and integrate structures, grasping the opportunities arising from the many changes currently occurring in all of them.

5. to promote and facilitate the piloting of the model locally and more widely where relations between any of the participating churches are sufficiently developed

6. to continue the search for full visible unity through a new group appointed by the four churches with the remit to complete the unfinished business of the SCIFU proposal and prepare a Basis & Plan of Union.

The Scottish Synod of the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland accepted all six with no significant opposition. The Methodist Conference and the United Reformed Church General Assembly accepted the Scottish decisions. The Church of Scotland opted not to put the recommendations one by one but to put the whole report to its Assembly for acceptance. The report was overwhelmingly rejected and the decision was taken to withdraw from the talks forthwith. It was to be a further year before discussion in the Episcopal Church dioceses were brought to the General Synod. The Scottish Episcopal Church accepted recommendations 1 and 2 and amended 4 to include a reference to "not excluding other churches". It did not accept 3, 5 or 6 but did agree to "fostering and deepening relationships both locally and nationally with all denominations in Scotland, and, in particular with the Methodist and United Reformed Churches".

The debate in the Church of Scotland was hostile. An attempt to accept the first five recommendations and not the sixth received little support. From the responses it was clear that the SCIFU Group had not succeeded in allaying Presbyterian fears about bishops. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.