LAWYERS for the
Church of Scotland are to draw up plans to allow individual
parishes to opt out of the Kirk's traditional position on
sexuality, and to appoint gay and lesbian ministers, after a vote
at the General Assembly on Monday.
A report from a Kirk
theological commission proposed two options: one affirming the
Church's traditional position; and another that would have
legitimised the acceptance of homosexual ministers as the norm,
while allowing particular presbyteries to opt out.
Instead, after a full day
of debate and questions on Monday, the General Assembly voted for a
third option, proposed by the outgoing Moderator, the Very Revd
Albert Bogle. The motion, approved by 340 to 282, said that the
Kirk affirmed "the Church's historic and current doctrine and
practice in relation to human sexuality; none the less permit those
Kirk sessions who wish to depart from that doctrine and practice to
A note accompanying the
motion said that the decision "would not require the Church to
abandon its traditional position, but . . . would allow ministers
and deacons who are in civil partnerships to be selected for
training and to be . . . ordained/inducted into a charge" if the
relevant "Kirk session had decided to depart from the Church's
Draft legislation will
now be prepared and forwarded to presbyteries. They will be
balloted on the move, before it returns to the General Assembly for
a final vote.
The new Moderator of the
General Assembly, the Rt Revd Linda Hood, described the decision as
"a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church". It was, she
said, "a major breakthrough . . . but we are conscious that some
people remain pained, anxious, worried, and hurt."
The vote follows the
decision to appoint the Revd Scott Rennie, an openly gay man, to a
parish in Aberdeen in 2009. In response, the General Assembly
ratified his appointment, but put a moratorium on other gay
ministers until a specially convened theological commission could
report. It was the report of this commission that the General
Convention debated this week.
have already left the Kirk over the issue at St George's, Tron, in
News, 14 December); and Gilcomston South, in Aberdeen. Earlier
this year, the Herald newspaper, citing a Kirk
investigation, said that more than a dozen congregations, and 20
per cent of Kirk Session members would consider it "obligatory to
leave the Church" over the issue, with a potential loss of more
than 100,000 churchgoers.
The national director of
the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland, the Revd Fred Drummond, a
Church of Scotland minister, said after the debate: "I was glad to
see the sense of grace in the debate held yesterday, and also that
the traditional view on these matters has not been abandoned.
"These are deeply
sensitive issues, and, while the Evangelical Alliance does not
support the ordination of practising homosexual ministers, I was
glad the discussions were respectful and gracious in tone. . .
"We believe that in
scripture is the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, and so
we cannot support any decision that denies the importance of
scripture on any matter. We will continue to argue for this in the
Church of Scotland and else- where, and will wait to see what
happens in the Church in the year to come. . .
"I hope that the Church can now move on to rediscover both its
passion for the gospel, and its passion to transform the
communities we are called to serve in Scotland."
Moderator suspected as
Kirk's Holy Land report