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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‘Considerable opposition’ to homosexual’s priest training

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland says he was simply following church rules when he turned Eugene Sisneros down for progressing with a priest training programme because he was in a same-sex relationship.

Bishop Ross Bay

Bishop Ross Bay told a Human Rights Tribunal hearing in Auckland today he advised Mr Sisneros that entering the programme would be a dead end because of “considerable opposition” from church leaders on the matter.

It is the second day of the hearing over the alleged discrimination, which is being held at Auckland District Court.

Mr Sisneros claims he was barred from entering the programme because of his sexuality – a claim the bishop has denied, saying he was simply following the church’s doctrines.

Bishop Bay told the hearing he would not be opposed to changing his stance should church leaders alter the rules regarding the ordination of homosexual priests.

“There was no formal decision in effect … rather the bishops and I agreed together they would uphold such a policy while coming to a decision on this matter.”

Bishop Bay admitted he had licensed gay and lesbian priests working in Auckland since becoming bishop, but denied any inconsistencies in his upholding of the church’s doctrine in doing so.

In 2006 Mr Sisneros, 38, began a Bachelor of Theology degree and started signalling his desire to enter the training programme by writing to then Bishop of Auckland John Paterson, who said there was opposition to the ordination of gay clergy.

continue reading  – NZ Herald News.

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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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San Francisco Congregation Banned For Gay Pastor, Rejoins Church

After nearly two decades of separation sparked by its inclusion of a gay pastor, a San Francisco congregation has finally rejoined the Lutheran Church.

On Sunday, First United Lutheran Church voted to rejoin the church nearly three years after receiving an apology and an invitation to reunite, according to the Examiner.

The reunion follows a 17-year split between the congregation and the Lutheran church after the congregation ordained–and refused to abandon–an openly gay pastor. The congregation was suspended in 1990, and formally expelled in 1995. Another San Francisco congregation, St. Francis Lutheran Church, was also cut loose for its protection of two lesbian pastors in the same year.

Finally in 2009, The Lutheran Church voted to admit gay and lesbian pastors into the clergy, issuing an apology and an invitation to reunite to both of the San Francisco congregations.

“There’s been an acknowledgment that these two congregations were forward-thinking and committed to their ministry,” said Bishop Mark Holmerud to the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. “They took a stand, paid the consequences, and our church has finally seen the wisdom of our opening the rosters to all committed gay and lesbian couples. And we’re all the better for it.”

via First United Lutheran Church, San Francisco Congregation Banned For Gay Pastor, Rejoins Church.

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Gay, Christian, and Proud in Love Free or Die.

Winning a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Love Free or Die has already become a pivotal film this year as President Obama has embraced its subject matter: gay marriage. Even more timely, the Episcopal Church has just approved a same sex blessing service.

The documentary follows Gene Robinson, the first openly gay ordained Bishop who becomes a symbol of both LGBT pioneering and exemplary Christian values of compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

From Robinson’s chronicles of discrimination abroad to his relationship with his partner Mark, the film takes a personal look at the role faith plays in his and others’ lives, brushing aside the notion that Christianity is only for fundamentalists and evangelicals. Compelling for secular audiences and non-LGBT viewers, the film finds that the greater love that guides people must be shared.

Robinson has faced so much open hatred for his lifestyle that he wore a bullet proof vest to his own consecration. The film shows Robinson discovering another plot on his life, prompting deep questioning and thanks to above. Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009.

This scene of Bishop Robinson speaking before serving cups of water at the Gay Pride Parade is riveting, and a rallying cry that should be seen in its entirety and taken to heart.

–  full report by John Wellington Ellis, at Huffington Post.

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Ky. Baptist church ordains openly gay man

An eastern Louisville Baptist church has ordained an openly gay man as a minister with unanimous support from church members.

Highland Baptist Church on Sunday ordained Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, a local gay-rights advocate who started the church’s gay and lesbian outreach group last year.

Church Pastor Joe Phelps says ordaining Blanchard was “new territory” for the church but in April it moved to support his ordination.

The Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based gay rights organization, hailed Blanchard’s ordination as 1 of only about two dozen at Baptist churches in the U.S.


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