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ABERDEEN: Westhill Church Votes 87% to disaffiliate from the Scottish Episcopal Church

ABERDEEN: Westhill Church Votes 87% to disaffiliate from the Scottish Episcopal Church
Parish will affiliate with Scottish Anglican Network under Bishop Andy Lines

By David W. Virtue, DD
January 18, 2019

An evangelical parish in Aberdeen, Scotland, has voted to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church by 87% to 13% and join the Scottish Anglican Network charging what they called the denomination’s “continued liberal trajectory.”

Speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service, the Rector of Westhill, Canon Ian Ferguson, said: “We have been on a journey for many years – when I say ‘we’, I mean a group of evangelical Episcopal rectors – in talking to bishops about the trajectory the Scottish Episcopal Church has set itself on going. This culminated in a number of decisions that the SEC took which some of us found that we could not accept.

“Our church was not able to feel they could go on the trajectory that the SEC are going and they wanted to maintain their sense of biblical authority and their fellowship with the wider Anglican Communion which is being torn apart by decisions of some provinces.”

Responding to the decision, the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Anne Dyer, said: “the congregation of Westhill Community Church is a much loved and valued part of our diocese, and I am deeply saddened that they have indicated that they want to pursue potential separation from the Scottish Episcopal Church.
“I will continue to work with Westhill as we begin discussions to enable this potential separation, and will continue to pray for the Rector, Vestry and congregation members in the weeks and months ahead.”

The Primus of Scotland, Bishop Mark Strange, said: “I have been informed that Westhill Community Church, Aberdeen has voted to prepare to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church, and therefore the Anglican Communion. I have received that news with great sadness and will pray that, painful though this process will be for the Church and for the local Diocese and wider community, we will all remember that we are all striving to serve as disciples of Christ.

“Being a member of the Anglican Communion is important to the Scottish Episcopal Church and we are working hard to strengthen our role in it. Our bishops are preparing to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2020 and have begun inviting bishops from around the Communion to join us in Scotland for pre-conference hospitality.”
Canon Ferguson said that the leadership team at Westhill “are going to take our time to think about what lies next; but what we are strong on is that we will remain Anglican.

“We have received some amazing support throughout the Anglican Communion, in particular the Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, and Sydney who have been very supportive and welcoming to us. . . For all of us involved this has been a very painful time and a very difficult decision to make but we have been put in that position by the decisions of the SEC.”

VOL has since learned that the church will affiliate with the Scottish Anglican Network under the authority of the Rev. David McCarthy and GAFCON Bishop Andy Lines.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, said in a communique, "We praise God who through the Holy Spirit empowered this Church to do so. As Chairman of GAFCON, it is my privilege and great honour to welcome them into the fold of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. we can assure them of a rich and wonderful fellowship in the GAFCON family. we are Anglicans who uphold Orthodoxy in faith and practice. By joining GAFCON, they are in fellowship with more than half of the Anglican world."

This is not the first evangelical parish to leave the liberal Scottish Episcopal Church. In August last year, St. Thomas in Edinburgh, the latest evangelical parish quit the official Anglican church in Scotland over its support of homosexual marriage.

The move to split from the SEC was seen as a major blow to Scottish bishops trying to hold together the deeply opposed factions over homosexual marriage.

A number of other churches have either left or are considering leaving in the wake of the decision to change the Scottish Episcopal Church's (SEC) definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.


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