Background email to Aberdeen controversy


Background email to Aberdeen controversy


John Walker Alistair MacDonald & Anne Harper

Re: Bishopric of Aberdeen and Orkney

Some weeks ago you covered the appointment of Canon Anne Dyer (pictured) as Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Attached to this email is an Open Letter to Canon Anne and the four Bishops of the Episcopal Church, who appointed her.  At the time of her appointment three of the seven Dioceses were vacant and so the decision was made by just the four remaining Bishops.   It is important to note that our protest is not personally directed at Canon Anne nor is it a resurrection of old arguments against women being Bishops or the more recent arguments on same sex marriage, which Canon Anne does support.  There are those signing the Letter who would disagree with the new Bishop over her views on such matters while there are others signing who support her views.  Our protest concerns the manner in which the appointment was carried out – and the Open Letter should not be “spun” in any way which makes it seem to be about women as Bishops or same sex marriage

The number who have signed the Open Letter represent 50% of the stipendiary clergy of the Diocese. The lay people who have signed are members of the Standing Committee and the Warden of the Lay Readers.   No attempt has been made to find further signatures, but it is known that there are many more people concerned about the process to which we are objecting than have had the opportunity to sign.

The background to all of this is that when the Preparatory Committee twice was unable to produce the minimum number of three candidates, the Bishops exercised their right to make the appointment.  That is, of course, correct under Canon Law. However, there were omissions. Despite assuring the Diocese that the Bishops would listen to the views expressed in the Electoral Synod and elsewhere they appointed someone whose views do not accord with those of the Diocese as expressed through the Synod. In addition the Electors of the Diocese were not given any opportunity of meeting Canon Anne, either prior to or subsequent to her appointment much less the possibility of voting to elect her.  A request from the senior clergy of the Diocese and members of the Standing Committee to meet with Canon Anne as soon as possible has been declined.

The Open Letter also touches upon the issue of driving. Canon Anne is said to be a non-driver and there are questions as to how she will travel the main roads, and the many backroads, of the Diocese. It may be that she has a solution to this problem and will be able to do the work of visiting congregations in remote locations as well as the centrally placed ones,  It is just that, if there is such a plan, no-one in the Diocese – to our knowledge - knows of it..

Because of their deep disquiet over the process, the Dean of the Diocese, the Very Reverend Emsley Nimmo, and a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter, Canon Ian Ferguson, have resigned. Further resignations cannot be ruled out at this stage. There is now widespread disquiet and unhappiness within the Diocese, no doubt some for the reasons outlined in the Open Letter and others because it has been written.  Whatever the cause there is now pain, unease and division in a Diocese which had been largely united in its perception of what it needs from its Bishop now and in the years ahead.

It is our hope that the four Bishops in office will find a way of allowing the Electoral Synod a vote in the election, and if that is refused, we ask that Canon Anne consider withdrawing her acceptance in the light of the divisions and pain, which we recognise is something for which she has no personal blame. Her role in the process was to accept or decline the Bishops’ invitation. But, she now will be aware of the effect of that invitation and acceptance throughout the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney