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Church – Denominations part company

August 2018

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has broken off formal ties with the Church of Scotland (CofS) over the latter’s moves towards same-sex marriage.

In its general assembly in Belfast, ministers and elders in the PCI voted 255 to 171 to cut ties. The PCI affirms the authority of Scripture, with its teaching that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman.

The divergence marks the end of a centuries-old kinship between the two Presbyterian churches. Writing in the Belfast newsletter, commentator Billy Kennedy said: ‘Presbyterianism was founded in Ulster by 17th century Scots’ army chaplains, and for centuries, worshippers in meeting houses here and in Scottish kirks have had close religious and cultural affinity’.

It means the PCI will no longer welcome the Scottish moderator to its general assembly, and the Irish church will not send any representatives to the CofS. The responsibility for the breakdown rests squarely with the CofS, with its departure from the clear teaching of Scripture.