Gay ministers set to win Kirk’s blessing

THE Church of Scotland is today expected to pass a historic vote accepting gay ministers, according to a leading critic who said evangelicals opposed to the move were “pessimistic”, “demoralised” and prepared for defeat at the General Assembly.

The Rev Ian Watson, a leading member of the Church of Scotland’s evangelical wing, which believes that homosexuality is prohibited by biblical scripture, was last night gloomy about the prospect of securing enough votes to retain the prohibition on gay clergy.

He said a motion permitting gay ministers, but giving congregations an opt-out, was likely to pass as the Church seeks to “represent society”.

The minister of Kirkmuirhall, near Hamilton, told The Scotsman: “Most people realise that the revisionists will win. I have not spoken to anybody on the traditionalist wing that thinks the traditionalists will win and I also expect to lose.

“The reason is that the Church of Scotland prefers to represent society rather than be a prophetic voice in society. The evangelicals have never been so pessimistic and demoralised than they are at present.”

Today, the 725 commissioners of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which includes both ministers and church elders, will spend hours in debate and then vote on three possible options.

The first, “traditionalist”, option is that the church will not accept practising gay clergy.

The “revisionist” option would see gay ministers treated in the same way as heterosexual clergy.

A third “compromise revisionist” option, known as the “mixed economy”, would allow churches to appoint ministers in same-sex relationships but permit individual congregations to opt out if they wish.

It is the third option, which is being endorsed by David Fergusson, professor of divinity and principal of Edinburgh University’s divinity school, that is the one most likely to secure the most votes.

If passed, the issue will then go to the presbyteries for approval under the Barrier Act.

Last night, Mr Watson said: “It will happen because society wants it to happen and the Church of Scotland will not be far behind.”

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