Church of Scotland to decide whether to ordain gay clergy

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.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will decide whether to ordain gay clergy when it meets next month.

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.

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