The Church of Scotland (CoS) has voted to allow gay clergy to become ministers and to remain in their same-sex civil partnerships.
At its latest General Assembly, which was attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the CoS voted in favour of allowing congregations to ordain practising homosexuals in civil partnerships, with 309 delegates in favour and 183 against. This followed a debate among all 45 presbyteries, in which 31 voted in favour. A later debate extended this permission to ministers within same-sex marriages.
In a statement, the CoS said it was time for the church to be inclusive and recognise the ‘mixed economy’ of modern Scotland. A spokesman said the Church had adopted a position which ‘maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to opt out if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same-sex civil partnership’.
The CoS — often referred to as the Kirk — previously voted to accept gay and lesbian clergy, although maintains that no Kirk session can be forced into doing so.
In 2009, some CofS members attempted to block the appointment of Rev. Scott Rennie, who is gay, to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen. Later, in 2011, commissioners voted to accept gay and lesbian clergy, on the condition they had declared their sexuality and were ordained before 2009.
In a blog post on the Free Church of Scotland’s website, Rev. David S. Randall, minister of Falkirk Free Church and a former CoS clergyman, said, ‘It is with ongoing pain and frustration that I read the reports of proceedings across the road. I reflect on these things, not because I cannot let go of my own past, nor because I want to kick former colleagues when they are down, but because what happens in the national church affects the wider church and the nation. The fact is that the CoS has now demonstrated consistently over the past six years that it is intent on following the world and not the Word, and therefore the Kirk is a “church” that cannot any longer seriously claim to be a part of the mainstream Christian faith’.