The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church opened on Thursday on a sombre note, as the Primus, the Most Revd Mark Strange, read out a pastoral statement about the continued suspension of the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer.
Speaking at noon, Bishop Strange opened the first session of this year’s Synod by saying that the situation was “a source of concern and sadness. Over the course of the summer and autumn last year, formal accusations were received under Canon 54, the Church’s clergy-discipline canon, and Bishop Anne was suspended.”
The Primus explained: “Accusations under Canon 54 are sent to the Preliminary Procedures Committee as a first stage in the canonical process. The Preliminary Proceedings Committee is independent to the College of Bishops. The committee has been working hard to discharge its responsibilities, in the context of a process which inevitably takes time to complete, and I would like to express thanks to its members for the attention they’ve been devoting to the matter.
“Since a formal process is under way, you will understand that I’m not able to provide detailed comment nor am I able to respond to questions on this subject. However, I would like to ask you to join with the College of Bishops in continuing to pray earnestly for all those involved and for a fair and just resolution, and to respect the confidentiality and sensitivity of the ongoing process in all we say and do over the next three days. The offer of pastoral support has been made to those involved. We must keep praying.”
Synod representatives from the diocese, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed frustration at the lack of any timeframe for the process, and the difficulties that this created in planning the way forward. The Primus’ pastoral statement amounted to saying “no comment”, they suggested.