Message to the Diocese from the Acting Bishop

The Rt Rev Dr John Armes has issued a letter to the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney, following his appointment as Acting Bishop.

The Bishop of Edinburgh is serving as Acting Bishop in Aberdeen & Orkney for the duration of the suspension of Bishop Anne Dyer, following the lodging of formal complaints of misconduct.

The Acting Bishop spent two days in the diocese following his appointment and met a variety of people who briefed him about the life of the diocese and various ongoing initiatives. Further visits have been scheduled, and Bishop John will also be available by telephone and Zoom call while in Edinburgh.

In his letter, Bishop John has outlined detail of what the suspension means in the present context.

He explains: “It [suspension] is intended to be neither punitive nor to indicate any opinion about the outcome of the Canon 54 process. Bishop Anne is required to step back from all her duties as Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney – these include ex officio trusteeships and responsibilities in the wider Province, but they do not include personal trusteeships (those which pertain to Bishop Anne regardless of her role as diocesan bishop).

“Bishop Anne is not expected to forego her normal social relationships and friendships whether within the diocese or in the wider province, but will not, through these, seek to pursue any matters relating to the ongoing governance and mission within the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney.”

Bishop John also confirmed worship arrangements for Bishop Anne during the period of suspension, adding: “I would emphasize that the suspension is not intended to cut Bishop Anne off from her support networks. You will understand, I am sure, that such support is vital at a time like this.”

The letter acknowledges that ‘divisions and anxieties’ exist within the diocese, and the Acting Bishop asked for all to speak to each other with respect, and to pray for others.

“In my brief encounter with you I have discovered that the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney is full of examples of Good News,” says Bishop John. “I would emphasize this – God is faithful. But I am also well aware that there are divisions and anxieties – strong emotions ready to surface. Whilst I recognize that we rarely behave at our best when we are anxious or angry, I ask you, nevertheless, to be careful how you speak to and of your sisters and brothers in Christ, to treat them always with respect and to pray for them all. For it is as we pray for others that we begin to see them as God sees them, deeply beloved and called by name.

“Forgive me if I am stating the obvious – these things, however, bear repetition. St Paul gives us much to ponder in his letter to the Galatians (5.13ff), not least in his listing of the fruits of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ Or again, in his often-quoted hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13, he invites us to examine ourselves against a very high standard of behaviour.

“May we who have been reconciled through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ also be reconcilers, and may we produce a rich harvest of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit.”

The suspension does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed.

The complaints are being considered in the first instance by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee in accordance with Canon 54 of the Scottish Episcopal Church Code of Canons.