Statement in Response to Articles published in the Times 9/1/21 regarding Bishop Anne and the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney

Dear friends at St Ternan’s,

I am sad to have to intimate that, due to the determined efforts of one member of our congregation, two articles have appeared in this morning’s Times which bring our Bishop, our diocese and the SEC itself into disrepute.

I would ask you to hold Bishop Anne, the Primus Mark Strange, the Organist, congregation and Provost of St Andrew’s Aberdeen (formerly The Cathedral), Father Terry Taggart, the musicians and congregation of St Mary’s Aberdeen (The Pro-Cathedral) and Lord Simon Glenarthur in your prayers.

Within the Times’ reporting of the two stories there are certain inaccuracies I feel compelled to comment upon. I was not present at the service in St Mary’s Aberdeen which lies at the heart of this issue, so despite having heard numerous eyewitness accounts, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to comment upon it. My understanding is that Lord Glenarthur was not present either.

The article entitled:  Bishop at centre of ‘bullying row that threatens schism in the church”.

The phrase: “The Scottish Episcopal Church has begun an investigation after she dismissed the musical director at her cathedral and suspended a high profile priest.” Is The Times’s interpretation of being told that neither Bishop Anne nor the province are currently able to comment on this matter due to an ongoing investigation.

The Times did indeed report last year that the bishops of the SEC were having to undertake bullying training because 1/3 of licensed ministers had experienced bullying in the work place. I would like to point out that we have, at full strength, just seven bishops and for most of the past five years we have been working with 4-6. The main workplace for licensed ministers is in local charges, some of which have people quite used to getting their own way within them. From which direction is bullying more likely to come? The phrase “where Bishop Anne Dyer is the Common Link” is at best speculation.

Christopher Cromar is the director of music for St Andrew’s. St Mary’s has its own musicians. 

Whilst those clergy who signed the original letter objecting to Bishop Anne’s appointment may not have relented, the working relationships I have experienced at Clergy conference and Synod do not match those described in the article. Indeed, attendance at both is improving.

Finally, Bishop Anne has not installed herself as Provost of St Mary’s pro-Cathedral. Provost is the title used in the SEC for the Rector of a cathedral congregation, hence Isaac being Provost of St Andrew’s whilst it was the cathedral. The term ‘cathedral’ derives from ‘cathedra’ “bishop’s chair”. A cathedral is the place from which the bishop preaches most often and sends people out to serve within the diocese. A pro-cathedral temporarily houses the bishop’s chair. The bishop remains the bishop. Isaac Pooblan remains Rector of St Andrew’s. Terry Taggart remains Rector of St Mary’s. No personnel changes have been made.

The article entitled:  Bishop at centre of ‘Episcopal cathedral that once welcomed Kennedy could close permanently”.

As one of the two Seabury Canons in the world, I have a vested interest here. Whilst the closure, temporary or permanent may be recent news to Lord Glenarthur and just sinking in to St Andrew’s congregation, it has been considered at length by the Cathedral Trustees over the past eighteen months to two years. The matter was also brought openly to Diocesan Synod last year, where people of all opinions were heard. This was duly reported to the other SEC diocese who commented on the matter themselves.

It is my understanding that no final decision has been made yet. The diocese does have to consider, however, if it were to be spending £10,000,000+ should it be on historic building maintenance, or would that better be left to a dedicated charity so that the diocese might better serve the people of Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland. To characterise this process as entirely a decision made by Bishop Anne is utterly false.

Please pray for:
– understanding between the various parties.

– for the soothing of deeply felt pain.

– for the ability to forgive and to seek forgiveness.

– for the grace of the Holy Spirit to be at work in our diocese at this difficult time.

With thanks and blessings,

Canon Lynsay

A priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .