Arbroath clergyman takes over gay minister row church

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The Rev Stuart Irvin, his wife Lynne and their two young sons.

An Arbroath minister has taken the reins of a church which is getting back on its feet after a gay clergy congregation split.

St Catherine’s Argyle in Edinburgh quit the Church of Scotland along with minister the Rev Robin Sydserff in 2014 over the ordination of same-sex clergy.

Mr Sydserff said he and the elders came to the decision because of what they regarded as the Church of Scotland’s “departure from the authority of the Bible”.

The congregation of St Catherine’s has since re-vitalised itself following the painful split and has appointed the Rev Stuart Irvin to lead the flock.

Mr Irvin, who is married to Lynne with whom he has two young children, was previously associate minister at St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath – a position he held for three years.

He moved from Stonehaven to Arbroath in February 2013 to take up the post in Arbroath where he worked in close partnership with the Rev Martin Fair.

He has vowed to help his new church continue to grow and flourish after being inducted into the role in Edinburgh in front of 224 people including family and friends.

The 31-year-old said he was delighted to be joining an inspirational and energetic group of people who are deeply committed to their faith.

Asked why he was attracted to St Catherine’s Argyle, which lost over 200 members in 2014, Mr Irvin said: “I got a real sense of God’s presence and peace when I preached there as sole nominee.

“I was encouraged by how welcoming the congregation were to me and my family.

“I was excited to see what they are doing and really encouraged by what they are about.

“The commitment they have is really clear.”

Mr Irvin, who grew up in Edinburgh and attended St Columba’s Church in Blackhall said he was “excited to be getting on with the task of ministering”.

The former groundsman, who enrolled at the University of Aberdeen at the age of 22, said he was delighted that so many people attended his induction service including Mr Fair and key figures from his life such as the leader of a Scripture Union camp where he became a Christian.

Mr Irvin, a keen climber and hillwalker, said: “It was a very uplifting service and I felt very well supported by the congregation and all those who journeyed with me through my ministry formation.”

Angus Grant, session clerk at St Catherine’s Argyle which is in the Grange area of Edinburgh, said he was delighted to welcome Mr Irvin.

He said there were 110 members of the church roll and around 50 people attended each Sunday.

A total of seven Church of Scotland ministers have been newly ordained and inducted so far this year across Scotland.