Scottish Churches seek unity

Christian Churches in Scotland are looking to undergo arevolutionary change, if the latest talks between them bearfruit.

The Methodist Conference in Huddersfield in June welcomedongoing discussions about a unity scheme in Scotland between fourmajor denominations.

The latest report on unity proposals says that where currentlyseveral of the Churches in Scotland form a minority ("one amongmany") they cannot make an effective contribution towards shapingsociety or people's spiritual awareness.

At a time of renewal for Scottish identity, the report says: "Werecognise a responsibility to the nation. At a time of change, weneed to ask what kind of Church would best serve the people ofScotland."

The Methodist Church in Britain (which includes two Districts inScotland) has been in discussion with the Church of Scotland, theScottish Episcopal Church and the United Reformed Church. TheBaptists, Roman Catholics, The United Free Church, The Free Churchof Scotland and The Free Presbyterian Churches are not part of theprocess.

The Second Interim Report of The Scottish Church Initiative forUnion (SCIFU) was received by representatives at the MethodistConference (24-30 June), which directed the Scotland and ShetlandMethodist Districts to discuss the details of the process.Methodism's legal bodies will also carefully examine thesuggestions.

Opinions on the proposals are being sought from Methodists rightacross the Church in Britain, particularly from district synods andcircuit meetings. These views will help the Methodist Conference todecide on its response to the detailed suggestions in the mostrecent report.

It is anticipated that by 2002 a document will be published onwhich the participating Churches will be asked to decide to goforward to union or not. Any effective union would not happenbefore the end of 2010 at the earliest.

The Second Interim Report itself runs to more than 30 pages(A4). A useful summary, which was presented to the MethodistCouncil in April, is now available.