Glasgow congregation votes to leave Episcopal Church of Scotland

St Silas Church is the fourth congregation to leave the Episcopal Church of Scotland since 2016(Photo: St Silas Church)

A congregation in Glasgow has become the latest church to quit the Episcopal Church of Scotland over its liberal interpretation of Scripture.

St Silas Church, in the West End of Glasgow, voted to discontinue status as a licensed private chapel within the SEC after an overwhelming majority of the congregation - 86% - voted to leave following a period of consultation and prayer. 

"Recent decisions of the Scottish Episcopal Church have made clear to us that the denomination does not regard the Bible as the authoritative word of God," the church said in a statement.

"With deep sadness, we have therefore decided that for reasons of integrity we can no longer continue as part of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

"We want to leave with goodwill towards those with whom we are parting company, and sincerely pray for God's blessing for the SEC in the future, and its renewal around God's word." 

It is now seeking to come under the alternative oversight of GAFCON, the Global Anglican Future Conference, which is a fellowship of orthodox Anglicans within the Anglican Communion. 

Rector Martin Ayers said that although the church would "welcome anyone and everyone", it had increasingly come to feel it could not remain within the SEC. 

In a statement, he said the principal issue was the SEC's position on the Bible.

"There are many presenting issues that have caused difficulty within the Scottish Episcopal Church in recent years, but for us this is simply about the central place of Jesus and his words in the life of our church," he said.

"We feel that the Scottish Episcopal Church has moved away from the message of the Bible, and that we cannot follow them."

He continued: "We have taken the decision to leave because of our commitment to Jesus Christ and his word. Above all, though, our vision remains unchanged.

"We are a community of ordinary people who believe in an extraordinary God, and we are seeking by our words and actions to make known in Glasgow the life-transforming news of His love, revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

He said the church's goal was to become part of a "network of faithful Anglicans in Scotland" through membership in GAFCON. 

St Silas welcomes around 225 people through its doors each Sunday, making it one of the largest churches in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.

It is the fourth congregation to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church since 2016. 

Earlier this year, 83% of the congregation at Westhill Community Church, near Aberdeen, voted to leave the SEC over its "continued liberal trajectory". 

Canon Ian Ferguson, Rector of Westhill, said at the time: "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."