Well I was doing just fine until we got to Article 3 of the Articles Declaratory at the Church of Scotland Assembly. Which of course is very interesting. Think of the Labour Party removing Clause 4 and you have some sense of what Article 3 means to the Church of Scotland. It’s territoriality. It means that, on whatever be-heathered hillside one stands, one can be glad that one is within the pastoral reach of the C of S.

Dorothy Neilson is quite right – all mad. Get a life, etc., etc.

Except that the Church without Walls was sort of central to what was going on. And all clergy dudes – as Dorothy calls us – know that Synods and Assemblies are getting close to the heart of things when people seem to be excited about things that would make the Telephone Directory seem controversial. So the Special Commission on Structure and Change made the daring suggestion that ‘an ecumenical outlook would be more effective in reaching all Scotland with the Gospel’. It gets interesting when you couple that with the [slightly hidden] debate about what might happen at each level of the church – particularly the regional/Presbytery level. Which seemed to be code for ‘the centre has got far too powerful and the Presbytery plans are being driven by financial criteria.’

How interesting it all is. I put my smart card in the fancy slot and suggested to them that this was the same debate as we [ought to] have in the SEC about where the church is best energised for mission – in the diocese, in the local church or at the centre. No prizes for guessing what I think is the answer. And I think I shall see if I can cajole/sweet-talk/encourage the Presbyteries in our area into some talking about shared mission.

So there we are. I have to say that I actually enjoyed it. Great networking. I was very impressed by the quality of debate, the chairmanship of the Moderator and most of all by the excellence of the Convenors of the Boards and Committees.  They also do that wonderful thing of synods at their best – no matter how obscure or arcane the matter under discussion, somebody will always stand up and display expert knowledge.   And the lady in the cloakroom now knows that when I say I have come to collect my bike I mean the folded Brompton in the corner.


  1. Well yes – but Church without Walls is one of the best things about the C of Scotland. To use that phrase which I really dislike … it’s a way of ‘being or doing church’ which steps outside the staid norms. You’ll find it at hurc

    Meanwhile, like you I have an affection for territoriality. Mainly because it is one of the few things which impedes the drift of the church to the affluent suburbs.

  2. I haven’t followed this thread, (so have probably missed something crucial!), but isn’t territoriality about being a church without walls? It means everyone has a claim to a place somewhere. It has been an important factor in the growth of our little church – people sensing that although they may belong nowhere there is somewhere they are welcome by virtue of where they live.

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