Kirk 'heads for split' on gay minister as petition hits 10,000

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OPPONENTS of an openly gay Kirk minister claimed that the General Assembly is in danger of becoming out of step with ordinary church members if it does not heed their protests.

The claim comes as the number of signatures on a petition against the appointment of the Rev Scott Rennie to Queen's Cross Parish, Aberdeen, passed the 10,000 mark yesterday.

The Rev Peter Reid, convener of Forward Together, an evangelical group who are the driving force behind the petition, said: "In some ways I thought we would hit this figure, as people have very strong feelings on this and the petition has allowed them to express these feelings."

He added: "It indicates something of the flavour where a significant segment of grassroots opinion lies.

"It maybe will help the Assembly avoid becoming out of step with ordinary congregations assembled around the country."

Mr Reid also pointed out that, during the debate on allowing ministers to bless civil partnerships three years ago, while the Assembly voted narrowly for it, congregations voted overwhelmingly against it.

The controversy has stoked division between the evangelical and liberal wings of the Church of Scotland in the weeks before the annual General Assembly, due to start next week.

Members of the One Kirk group, which promotes gay rights within the church, have accused the Forward Together group of massaging and overstating the figures, and drawing other churches, such as the Free Church of Scotland, into the Kirk's private legal business.

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