The Episcopal Church

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St. Mary’s is part of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). The SEC divides Scotland into 7 historic regions, called dioceses, each of which has its own Bishop. We are in the Glasgow and Galloway Diocese and our Bishop is the Rt Revd Dr Gregor Duncan.

The SEC is part of the Anglican Communion. Although we have never been part of the Church of England, we are in full communion with the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, and the Church in Wales. The SEC traces its roots back to early Christian missionaries to Scotland such as St. Ninian and St. Columba. The SEC delights in its non-established status.

How the SEC is structured

In its governance, the Scottish Episcopal Church is collegial and democratic rather than centralised and directive. The SEC is governed by a representative body called the General Synod, and each diocese has its own Diocesan Synod. Bishops, Clergy and Laity share in decision-making in these councils.

Congregations within a Diocese will usually be led by a Rector who works with the Vestry in planning the life and mission of the local church community.         

Quick history of being Episcopalian

The roots of the Scottish Episcopal Church trace back to the beginnings of Christianity in Scotland.

The distinctive identity of the Church was shaped by the Scottish Reformation in the sixteenth century, which was followed by over a century of alternating between an Episcopal or Presbyterian national church.

The 1689 Revolution established the national Church of Scotland as Presbyterian and an independent non-established Scottish Episcopal Church was formed.

After the abdication of James VII (James II of England) in 1688, the Scottish Bishops refused to acknowledge the authority of King William and Queen Mary. The Presbyterian Church of Scotland became the Established church of the realm and Episcopalians found themselves penalized and even outlawed throughout much of the eighteenth century. Indeed, many Episcopalians supported the uprisings against the crown in 1715 and 1745. Both of these uprisings were defeated and led to more severe penalties against the Episcopal Church. But following the death of the last Stuart heir, Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1788 Episcopalians began to support the monarchy and in due course all penalties were removed.

You can read more about the history of the Scottish Episcopal Church on the SEC website.