Congregation to vote on leaving Church of Scotland

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A list of FAQ’s and answers, along with a Consultation/Voting Form, were this week sent to all 460 High Church Members and Adherents by the Lewis Church of Scotland Presbytery.

The Kirk Session of Stornoway High Church has also undertaken an internal consultation with its congregation members.

The dissension between the High Church – the largest Western Isles Church of Scotland congregation – and the Church of Scotland is in protest at the General Assembly decision to allow the ordination of openly gay ministers if this has the support of the congregation.

The Lewis Presbytery was made aware by Stornoway High Church Kirk Session this summer of its intention to break ties – but is urging congregation members to wait until the Church of Scotland finalises its position.

Lewis Presbytery Clerk, Rev Thomas S Sinclair, said: “The Presbytery of Lewis has a duty of pastoral care towards all the congregations within its bounds. While respecting the right of individuals and congregations to review their relationship with the Church of Scotland, Presbytery feels it would be premature for individuals to leave the Church of Scotland at present when the Church has still to establish its position.

“Through this consultation, we aim to determine what proportion of the congregation intends to remain within the Church of Scotland and to ensure that suitable pastoral provision continues in place for them.”

To help assist the Lewis Presbytery in consulting with the congregation, the Church of Scotland Council of Assembly has appointed Rev J Colin Caskie, retired minister of Rhu and Shandon and Clerk to the Presbytery of Dumbarton as an Independent Observer.

And Rev Mr Caskie will be available next week to meet and answer questions. He will be available at Stornoway High Church Hall between 10am and 2pm, and 4pm and 7pm, on Tuesday, November 12th and Wednesday, November 13th.

The Church of Scotland General Assembly 2014 will vote to decide wether to approve a move which would enable the Church to affirm its historic position while allowing individual Kirk Sessions to depart.

If granted a green light, Presbyteries will then vote on the proposal.

The Lewis Presbytery added: “Lewis Presbytery will have one vote in this process – the same level of influence as larger Presbyteries. Only if the proposed legislation is approved by a majority of Presbyteries will there be a vote at the General Assembly of 2015 as to whether it should be enacted. In any case, the legal position of the Church cannot change until May 2015, if then.”