Aberdeen congregation splits from Scottish Episcopal Church over 'continued liberal trajectory'

Westhill Community Church has voted to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church(Photo: Facebook/Westhill Community Church)

A congregation in Aberdeen is parting ways with the Scottish Episcopal Church because of concerns that biblical authority is being compromised.

Westhill Community Church is splitting with the SEC after 83 per cent of its members voted to leave.

Announcing its decision, the church said it was concerned about the 'continued liberal trajectory' of the SEC.

The Rector of Westhill, Canon Ian Ferguson, told the Anglican Communion News Service that the SEC had taken 'a number of decisions' that it '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,' he said.

Canon Ferguson said the church would be taking some time to consider its next step although he was sure that 'we will remain Anglican'.

Westhill Community Church in Aberdeen, Scotland(Photo: Facebook/Westhill Community Church)

'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,' he said.

'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.'

The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Anne Dyer, said she was 'deeply saddened' by the news.

'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,' she said.

The Primus of Scotland, Bishop Mark Strange, said he had received the news of their decision with 'great sadness' and was praying '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,' he said.

'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.

'We will continue to pray for unity and understanding as we strive to further the mission of God to our nation and around the world.'

In 2017, the Scottish Episcopal Church was barred from leadership roles in the Anglican Communion after it voted to allow same-sex couples to be married in its churches. 

The Anglican Communion has been fractured over the issue of homosexuality for many years, with the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in the USA becoming increasingly liberal while other provinces, notably those in the Global South, continue to hold to orthodox teaching. 

The US Episcopal Church was also sanctioned in 2016 for allowing clergy to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.