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 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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