Church considers breaking with Kirk over lifting of gay minister ban

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A church in Aberdeen wants to break away from the Church of Scotland because of the institution's decision to lift its ban on appointing gay ministers.

Reverend Dominic Smart said elders at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, pictured, disagreed with the General Assembly's resolution, feeling it had "marginalised" the Bible.

He insisted the assembly's May decision on same-sex partnerships represented a "clear and deliberate move away from the authority of scripture".

Rev Smart will meet his congregation on June 27 to discuss moving away from the Kirk and then in late August or early September the congregation will vote on whether to leave the Church of Scotland.

The General Assembly has been considering the issue of ministers being in same-sex partnerships Scott Rennie, who is gay, was appointed to Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen in 2009.

According to Rev Smart, the elders' decision is based on the Bible. He said: "It is therefore with great sadness that we feel we can no longer be part of the Church of Scotland, and will take such measures as will allow us and the congregation to leave the denomination.

"Our decision is not a knee-jerk reaction. It is the culmination of careful study, sincere discussion and prayer over the past two-and-half years. We have weighed up many different options and believe the decision we have reached has the most integrity."

• Reverend Dominic Smart

He added: "Our decision is not about Scott Rennie. Our decision is a response to the way in which the General Assembly, as the highest court of the Kirk, has marginalised the Bible by approving the practice of same-sex relationships for ordained ministers."

A majority of the congregation which owns Gilcomson South Church need to back the proposal for it to go ahead.

The minister said if the congregation does decide to leave the Kirk, it will "draw breath" before making longer-term decisions such as whether to align themselves with another denomination.

The General Assembly will debate the subject again in 2013 once a report on related theological issues is completed.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: "We have not received any official notification from the congregation that they are seceding from the Church of Scotland. We have already recognised that the decision taken by the General Assembly will have caused hurt to some people within the Church.

"It is disappointing that any congregation would feel the need to leave the Church when no final decisions have been taken. And the Church has agreed to hold more dialogue on this issue leading to a further report which will not be heard until 2013."