Two rural congreagtions say they will vote to leave the Church of Scotland over possible further ordinations of lesbian and gay ministers. In truth, the landscape is changing, says Simon Barrow. Larger numbers may well stay or join the Kirk if it ends its rejection of same-sex relationships, than will leave for the same reason. The refuseniks are looking back, not forward.
Ask anyone reporting or commenting on the 2013 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and they will tell you that proceedings this year are being dominated by two 'issues': the reception, or otherwise, of same-sex persons in the life and ministry of the Kirk; and later this week 'The inheritance of Abraham: A report on the promised land' (which has provoked a substantial preemptive assault by the pro-Israeli government lobby, on account of its advocacy of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike).
The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.
In a statement opposing same-sex unions, the House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies tried to justify persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, reports Savitri Hensman. Meanwhile human rights activists in the Caribbean and beyond continue to work for decriminalisation and protection from violence, causes that Anglicans worldwide should support.
Evangelical Alliance general director Steve Clifford has criticised the influential evangelical leader Steve Chalke for changing his stance on homosexuality. UK-based Baptist minister Chalke now believes that the Bible does not rule out faithful, committed same-sex partnerships. While Clifford raises important issues, he is ultimately unconvincing.