The Rev. Andrew Coghill, Minister of Crossbost Church of Scotland in Lochs, Lewis, for the past 18 years, has informed his congregation that he intends to demit his charge and resign from the Church following the General Assembly a decision to allow lesbians and homosexual men to serve as church ministers.
The Rev Andrew Coghill, Minister of Crossbost Church of Scotland in Lochs, Lewis, for the past 18 years, has informed his congregation that he intends to demit his charge and resign from the Church following the General Assembly a decision to allow lesbians and homosexual men to serve as church ministers.
In a statement to his congregation yesterday (Sunday), and also the to High Church in Stornoway where he is Interim-Moderator, he said: “In the light of the General Assembly’s decision it is with the utmost sorrow and heartfelt grief that I have today informed the Kirk Session, and yesterday informed the Clerk to the Presbytery of Lewis, of my intention to demit the pastoral charge of Lochs Crossbost, and to resign from the active ministry of the Church of Scotland with effect from August 31.
“I realise that this is rather longer notice than is customary, but there are a number of commitments and engagements which I feel obliged to honour before leaving. I also hope the additional notice may give the Presbytery a little more time to find the necessary replacements for the Presbytery posts which I currently hold. Naturally I hope it will also afford a little more time for myself and the family to arrange our domestic affairs.”
The statement continued: “There will be those among you who will feel my decision to be entirely the wrong one. What of the flock? What of the people who will be left leaderless, and without a shepherd? I am not insensitive to such claims, nor am I out of sympathy with them. But what kind of shepherd, what kind of leader would I have been, had I preached to you of taking up the Cross to follow Christ, and then to refuse any sacrifice the Lord may require of me? The Cross is not simply to be preached, it is to be lived.
“That said, there will be many Church of Scotland ministers who will share my point of view but will not, in all conscience feel that they must lay down their charge and demit, and their individual consciences must, must, be respected as honourable and right for them, and between them and the Lord. I think no less of those honourable evangelical brethren who feel their place is to stay, and I hope and pray they will think no less of me whose conscience now dictates that I must leave.
“I do not expect, encourage or require that any of you should follow me out of the Church of Scotland, for I have nowhere to lead you, and I do not know the direction of my own future. I know only that whilst many good, godly and devout Christian men and women will continue within the fold of the Church of Scotland, I personally cannot continue to serve, and receive the stipend, of a Church which as an institution, has chosen its own gods, and departed from the God of the Bible, whatever words may be used to contrary. I have taken you as far as the Lord has allowed me to do.’
The statement concluded: ‘Over the past 18 years opportunities to have left this people, this parish, and to have served elsewhere, have been many and varied, but I have never felt it to be the Lord’s call -- until now. Nothing but the Lord could compel me to sever these pastoral bonds, or to depart from the Church of my Fathers. Much less could anything but the necessity of faithfulness to the Lord persuade me to embark upon a course of action which has been the cause, and doubtless will continue to be the cause, of so many tears, such heartbreak, and such utter devastation to every single member of my family. And to me.”