Tarbert congregation vote to split

Church of Scotland in Tarbert, Isle of Harris.
Church of Scotland in Tarbert, Isle of Harris.

Following a ballot organised by the Presbytery 94 people from the Tarbert Church, Isle of Harris, have voted to leave the Church of Scotland.

In total 131 people indicated an intention to remain a part of the Church of Scotland after 312 forms were sent out to the congregation - the return response rate was 72%.

Discussions about a possible break away in Tarbert emerged last year in response to a proposal that would allow gay men and women to become ministers.

It is expected a new congregation will form and apply to join the Free Church of Scotland with speculation the move could happen as soon as early October.

The Free Church of Scotland has already said it would offer a home to those from the Tarbert Church looking to break away.

Acting Principal Clerk, Rev Dr George Whyte, said: “We are saddened by the planned departure of around 90 members and adherents from Tarbert Church; they will be missed and we wish them well for the future.

“However, our duty now is to the 130 members and adherents who are choosing to remain with the Church of Scotland. The Presbytery of Uist will ensure that worship will continue as normal. Rev Colin Caskie remains Interim Moderator and Rev Donald Maclennan has been appointed as Locum.

“We are very encouraged that so many members wish to remain with the Church of Scotland and we will be working with the congregation and its new leaders to ensure that the Word of God is preached faithfully in Tarbert.” “