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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Church of Scotland moderator ‘terrified’ ahead of vote on gay clergy

The moderator of the Church of Scotland has revealed that she is “terrified” of an upcoming debate on the ordination of gay ministers, which has the potential to cause the largest schism within the church since the 19th century.

The Church of Scotland is due to decide whether it will continue to allow the ordination of lesbian and gay ministers on the condition that they remain celibate. A lot rests on the decision, which will take place following a debate on Monday 20 May.

50 congregations have intimated that they may leave the church over the issue. Although they may only be a small part of over 1,400 congregations that make up the church, it would still mark the largest split since the Disruption of 1843.

Reverend Lorna Hood, Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, will be chairing the debate.

She told the Sunday Times: “I’m terrified. Fear and excitement vie for first place in my mind all the time. But the amount of support — cards, letters and congregations offering to pray for me — has been absolutely overwhelming. I have to rest on that and be carried by that. So I just think: come on, get on with it.”

She compared the issue to the decision to ordain women as ministers, which she claimed was even more divisive.

“The ordination of women was for a number of presbyteries a huge, huge issue but here we are now,” she said. Reverend Hood added that she hoped the use of professional mediators during the debate would help prevent a split.

Reverend Bruce Dempsey, the head of two congregations in Coupar Angus, said he was dismissive of her hopes of compromise: “I am not sure what room for mediation there would be. If we are talking about a complete departure from what the Bible teaches, then it follows that the Bible is no longer considered the Church of Scotland’s supreme rule for faith and life.

“The question then is, what is? Where does that leave the integrity of all of the church’s teachings?”

He added: “We cannot cherry pick the Bible to suit ourselves. To my mind the Bible is unambiguous and very clear. In this case it is an either/or situation. There is no middle ground.”

continue reading  –

(Note to Rev Dempsey: “Cherry Picking” the bible is precisely what the traditional opponents of homosexuality do – basing their stance of uncompromising hostility on a handful of verses, most of which are of dubious relevance and inaccurate translation, while ignoring the overwhelming biblical evidence on the fundamental importance of love and inclusion).

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Jesus was a radical … wouldn’t he have supported gay clergy?

The Church of Scotland this month will finally confront the issue of whether a homosexual can be ordained into the ministry. There is a real danger that the church will end up on the wrong side of history.

By Ron Ferguson

Sunday 5 May 2013

GEORGE Bernard Shaw once said that if all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.

The Church of Scotland this month confronts the issue of gay ministers

The same might be said for theologians. The Church of Scotland has got its ecclesiastical knickers in a twist once more; this time over the question of whether a gay or lesbian Christian in a civil partnership can be ordained to the ministry. The issue will come to a head on May 21 at the Kirk’s General Assembly in Edinburgh, where a report by a theological commission on same-sex relationships and the ministry will be presented. However, after two years of study, the only conclusion that the commission has come to is that it cannot reach a conclusion.

Here’s the back story: the Church of Scotland, like many other churches, is divided on the issue of homosexuality. There are two main groupings, usually identified as “liberals” and “conservative evangelicals”, but which the commission labels “revisionists” and “traditionalists”.

Revisionists take the Bible seriously, but not literally. They point to contradictions within the sacred text, and argue that while the Bible is an inspired treasury of spiritual wisdom and is indispensable written testimony to the foundational events of Christian faith, parts of it deal with historical situations that have no direct relevance for today. Traditionalists love scripture and fear that a revisionist-dominated Kirk would emasculate the Christian gospel and turn it into a mirror of the world rather than providing an alternative critique.

read more – Herald Scotland.

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Church of Scotland to decide whether to ordain gay clergy

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will decide whether to ordain gay clergy when it meets next month.

The Church of Scotland General Assembly will decide whether to ordain gay ministers.

The Church of Scotland General Assembly will decide whether to ordain gay ministers.

Two years ago the General Assembly set up a theological commission to help find a definitive answer to whether gay clergy in civil partnerships could become ministers.

Now the commission has published its report, and although it does not represent the opinion of the Kirk itself, it does set out the two ways the General Assembly can proceed when it meets next month.

The first would see the Kirk legislating to allow the ordination of ministers who are in same-sex civil partnerships while the second would reaffirm traditional teachings that the only appropriate sexual 
activity is between a man and a woman in a marriage.

However, in a bid to prevent the church splitting, if the General Assembly does vote to allow the ordination of gay ministers, congregations disagreeing with that ruling would be able to veto the appointment of a homosexual minister.

The proposal would also allow ministers to perform services recognising civil partnerships although, again, ministers would not be obliged to perform these.

However, the second option would forbid the ordination of gay ministers, whether in a civil partnership or not, and would see the Kirk reaffirm its position that homophobia is sinful.

The Rev John Chalmers, principal clerk to the General Assembly said: “The report and the options which it provides are offered at this stage without comment from the convener or members of the commission — it will be for the General 
Assembly alone, based on the substance of the theological arguments to come to a mind on this matter.

“In the meantime, the report which is wide ranging and detailed is commended to the whole Church for prayerful study and consideration.”

The row over gay clergy in the Church of Scotland exploded in May 2009 when Scott Rennie was appointed to Queen’s Cross Parish Church in Aberdeen.

via The Courier.

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