NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Church of Scotland to debate gay minister issue

Dominic Smart
Image caption Reverend Dominic Smart and his congregation left the Kirk over the issue of gay ministers

The Church of Scotland's governing body is to debate the issue of gay ministers.

The General Assembly will consider whether the church should ordain ministers who are in same-sex relationships.

A theological commission, appointed in 2011, has produced a report on the issue of same-sex relationships and the ministry.

The various proposals will now be discussed by General Assembly members.

The Church of Scotland said the report described the breadth of theological opinion that existed but did not represent the considered view of the Church.

A spokesman said it had been put forward by the seven members of the commission who had a broad spectrum of views.

"On the one hand the report offers the Church a way of allowing the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships who have entered into a civil partnership, while protecting both individuals and congregations who in conscience do not agree with the theological principles which underpin that choice," the spokesman said.

"On the other hand the report, while reaffirming its belief that homophobia is sinful, invites the Church to reaffirm its traditional stance that the only appropriate expression of sexual activity should be within marriage between one man and one woman."

Theological arguments

The report does not offer any recommendations.

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."

In February, the Rev Dominic Smart and his congregation of 300 at Gilcomston South in Aberdeen left the Church of Scotland over the appointment of gay ministers.

They were unhappy with the General Assembly approving the appointment of the openly gay minister Scott Rennie to Queen's Cross church in Aberdeen in 2009.

In May 2011 the General Assembly voted to allow the induction of some gay ministers.

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