Kelvin alerts us this morning to the Scottish Herald which has a leak of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (the state church, as opposed to the Episcopal Church of Scotland which is Anglican) report on Same Sex Relationships. The report, which was precipitated by the appointment of an openly gay and partnered pastor to one of the churches, seems to be drawing a pretty conservative line.
The Herald can reveal that the results of the ballot show 19.4% of Kirk Session members â€“ the first court of the Kirk made up of ministers, elders, deacons and key parishioners â€“ said they â€œwould consider it obligatory to leave the Churchâ€ if people in same-sex relationships are allowed. If their flocks were to follow, it could mean at least 100,000 members would leave.
Traditionalists believe this number would rise to the extent that it could surpass the Disruption of 1843, when one-third of its body left to form the Free Kirk. In the report, about one in 10 said they would leave â€œif it was forbidden for people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministersâ€.
The two-year consultation was sparked by the appointment of Reverend Scott Rennie in Aberdeen. He is the Kirkâ€™s first minister in a same-sex relationship.
Different questions raised varied responses from the Kirk leaders. One in 10 members in kirk sessions said: â€œWe regard homosexual orientation as a disorder and homosexual behaviour as sinful. Gay and lesbian people should avoid same-sex sexual relationships, and, ideally, seek to be rid of homosexual desires.
â€œUnrepentant gay and lesbian people should not have leadership roles in the church.â€
But in the same section nearly 20% said whether in a relationship or not, gay people should be â€œassessed for leadership roles in the church in an equivalent way to heterosexual peopleâ€.
You know what I’m going to say don’t you? Shall we quote a bit more so you can have more time?
The disparity in the answers casts a question mark over how the 866 commissioners â€“ ministers, elders, deacons and educators â€“ will vote at the General Assembly in May. They will be asked to maintain a traditionalist stance of not allowing gay ministers, or agree to ordain.
However, if the latter path is chosen, no gay ministers will be considered for ordination for two years as the Kirkâ€™s Theological Commission prepares another new report for the General Assembly of 2013.
That report would then examine whether those in same-sex relationships â€œshould be eligible for admission for training, ordination and induction as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons in the context that no member of Presbytery will be required to take part in such ordination or induction against his or her conscienceâ€.
A decision to keep a ban on gay ministers would similarly not be ratified until 2012.
I’ll bet you a million dollars that the report will not say that the Kirk should have a ban on gay ministers. It will say that there should be a ban on ministers who are in a same-sex relationship. There is a huge deal of difference between those two things and either the Scottish Herald is being deliberately misleading or the journalist who wrote the piece has just not bothered to listen to what the debate actually is or to communicate it in a manner that doesn’t indicate to readers the exact opposite of what will actually be proposed.
Glad to see the Kirk holding firm on the traditional position though.