Local churches in snub to gay clergy

The Church of Scotland General Assembly will make the final decision.
The Church of Scotland General Assembly will make the final decision.

Local Church of Scotland ministers have bucked the national trend and voted against the ordination of clergy who are actively gay or lesbian.

The Kirk has revealed that 32 of its 45 presbyteries were in favour of allowing ministers and deacons in a civil partnership to apply for vacant posts.

However, ministers and other representatives from congregations in Hamilton Presbytery voted 73-53 against the move.

The issue, which has caused divisions in the church for several years, now goes to the General Assembly which usually accepts recommendations from the presbyteries.

Reverend Les Brunger, of Burnhead Parish Church in Viewpark, voted against the ordination of gay ministers.

He said: “I’m happy with the Hamilton vote, but disappointed with the national outcome. I’m still hopeful, though, as the General Assembly has the opportunity in May to vote against this.”

Rev Brunger pointed out that Burnhead’s Kirk Session had voted against it previously.

Some ministers have already left the church over the prospect of gay ministers being appointed, but Rev Brunger stressed: “I was called to serve God in the Church of Scotland and will continue to do so irrespective of the final decision.

“This vote does not change my position or belief that the Word of God is my principal rule.”

Rev David Doyle, of St Mary’s Parish Church in Motherwell, voted in favour of gay clergy.

He said: “When the issue was discussed by our Kirk Session some years ago there was a fairly 50-50 split, but I suspect that after all that’s happened in recent years people are more open-minded about the prospect of gay ordination.

“After all we are supposed to be a broad kirk. I think younger folk are happier to be broad-minded than older people and I think that speaks volumes.

“However, church congregations will continue to choose their own minister. That is an inalienable right.”

Some ministers refused to say how they’d voted. One, who asked not to be named, expressed surprise at the result as Hamilton Presbytery is not regarded as particularly conservative.