Kirk questions facts behind anti-gay ordination appeal

By staff writers
December 18, 2014

The Church of Scotland has issued a statement in response to the formation of a group launched in Glasgow on 18 December 2014 opposed to the ordination of gay ministers.

The Rev Prof Andrew McGowan, minister of Inverness East Church, one of those involved in a new group called the Covenant Fellowship, is inviting "everyone in the Church who feels the same way to stand with us".

"The hope is that the Covenant Fellowship, which begins today as a protest against recent events, will grow to become an effective campaign group within the Church on behalf of those who believe in Christian orthodoxy," he says.

But acting Principal Clerk for the Church of Scotland, Rev Dr George Whyte, responded: "The Church of Scotland welcomes Professor McGowan's continued commitment to remain a member and a minister but there are in his statement accusations which we believe are not accurate.

"The proposed legislation which is the focus of the group's criticism has been painstakingly considered by the Church across the nation. We know that for many people the discussion has been difficult and it has always been clear that we could never come to a common mind on the matter.

"This pain and disillusionment has been felt by those, like Professor McGowan, who think the Church is going in the wrong direction and those who desperately want a Church which would go further on their chosen route. Yet the issue has to be discussed and we are a Church which recognises 'liberty of opinion.' Our General Assembly has agreed that this proposal – to allow a congregation call a minister in a civil partnership - falls into that category. It is not, therefore, an attack on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith.

"We share Professor McGowan's abhorrence of further disruption and we hope and pray that across Scotland Christians will find ways to continue to work together despite their varied opinions."

Those in the Kirk who support the full inclusion of LGBT people, partnered or otherwise, in the life and witness of the Church strongly dispute the idea that opposing the ministry of gay people amounts to 'Christian orthodoxy', and argue that there are solid grounds within the Christian Gospel for a change of heart and practice in the life of the church.

The issue in question is proposed legislation within the Kirk that would permit congregations, if they were so minded, to call a minister in a civil partnership. It also provides safeguards for those who disagree.

Last year's Church of Scotland General Assembly agreed to send the resolution to Presbyteries to approve before the end of the year- and it has to be agreed once more by the Assembly in May 2015. A majority of Presbyteries have now voted in favour.

One insider told Ekklesia: "It is a compromise, but it is essentially progressive. Because it all started a few years ago it hasn't dealt with those in same-sex marriages. It's been described as a mixed economy, starting by saying that although the church formally still takes a traditionalist position, we'll allow congregations to take a different view. It appeals to moderate evangelicals."


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