Local Presbytery urge Comissioners to reject plans for gay ministers

Stornoway High Church has already lost members due to this issue.
Stornoway High Church has already lost members due to this issue.

A last ditch attempt to prevent the Church of Scotland going ahead with a proposal to permit gay ministers has been launched.

The Church of Scotland’s Presbytery of Lewis is urging Commissioners attending the General Assembly in May to reject plans to change the approach to same-sex relationships and the Ministry.

Already a number of members of Stornoway High Church have left the Church over this issue.

A statement from the Lewis Presbytery this week said they were ‘saddened’ and ‘dismayed’ at the trajectory being followed by the General Assembly in relation to this issue.

The Church of Scotland has stressed that the majority of Scottish presbyteries are supportive of plans for ministers and elders in civil partnerships to be able to apply for vacant charges of the Church of Scotland.

Thirty two Presbyteries voted in favour and 13 against which equates to more than 70 per cent in favour and just over 28 per cent against. 1,391 members of Presbyteries voted in favour and 1,153 against. This equates to 54.6 per cent in favour and 45.4 per cent against.

The Lewis Presbytery argue this is only a marginal majority and that the results are very different for the Highlands and Islands.

They noted that 70 per cent of Presbyters in this region voted against and 30 per cent of voted For, with 67 per cent of Presbyteries voting against and 33 per cent voting For.

They stated: “This represents an overwhelming mandate for the status quo to remain without any option for change; and to avoid further confusion and schism within the Church of Scotland over this controversial issue resulting in more Members, Adherents and Ministers leaving the denomination.”

A Church of Scotland spokesperson said: “The Church of Scotland has taken a great deal of time and care over discussing this sensitive issue and a wide range of views have been expressed.

“It has not been easy but we have faced the questions and held the debate in public.

“The proposed legislation has now been approved by a majority of Presbyteries which means that the General Assembly meeting in May could turn the proposal (or Overture as Church Law calls it) into an Act which allows a local Kirk Session to “depart” from the Church’s stance traditional stance on homosexual practice.

“In doing so they will have exercised “liberty of opinion” as permitted by the Church’s constitution. However, even if the General Assembly votes for this proposal, no congregation will be obliged to even consider accepting a minister in a civil partnership.”