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Congregation leave Kirk building after seceding

14 December 2012

THE Church of Scotland has said that it will rebuild a congregation and provide conservative Evangelical preaching at St George's, Tron, in Glasgow, after its former congregation and minister left the Church in protest at the General Assembly's policy on homosexual clergy (News, 20 June 2012, and 25 May 2011).

The Minister, the Revd Dr William Philip, and his 500-strong congregation left the Kirk earlier this year, but retained possession of the church building, manse, and other church property.

The Kirk says that, by seceding, the minister and officials effectively resigned from the Church of Scotland charity that owned the building. It has appointed new trustees - an interim minister, and assessor elders - in consultation with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The congregation decided to leave the building last week, after Glasgow Sheriff Court officials served interdicts on a number of congregation officials, including a minister while he was leading a service at the church. The congregation held their last service at St George's on Sunday morning, and, on Sunday evening, held a service in their new home, in Bath Street.

A Kirk investigation shows that more than a dozen congregations are said to be considering seced- ing over the issue; and 20 per cent of session members (church elders and ministers) say that they consider that it would be "obligatory to leave the Church" over the issue.

A Kirk insider says that there are "one or two congregations" where officials have asked about leaving the Church, "but who have accepted what the legal implications of doing so would be".

The interdicts seek the return of a number of parish items that the Kirk says belong to its congregation, but Dr Philip said: "These gifts were donated by individual members for their own congre- gational life, and had already been moved as part of the preparations for church life after moving out."

A theological commission, set up to explore the Kirk's policy on homosexuality, is due to report to the General Assembly next May.

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