Two more Church of Scotland ministers have defected to the Free Church as the gay clergy row continues to rumble on for the Kirk.
Last night Rev David Court, 51, and 42-year-old Rev David Randall were admitted to the denomination, and both men are now available for a call to vacant congregations.
Both preachers, understood to be unhappy at the Church of Scotland’s stance on gay ministers, are well-known to evangelical congregations in the central belt with Mr Court having ministered to New Restalrig in Edinburgh and Balshagray Victoria Park in Glasgow since his ordination to the ministry in 1989.
Mr Randall, whose brother Andrew and father David have also recently left the Church of Scotland – although have not joined the Free Church – had previously pastored the Loudoun Newmilns congregation in Ayrshire as well as Bo’ness Old Kirk.
Mr Court, who had also been convener of CrossReach - the Church of Scotland’s social care arm - for four years, said: “I am excited to be joining the Free Church of Scotland, a denomination that is known to honour the Scriptures; to love the Lord Jesus Christ and to have a passion for the work of the gospel here in Scotland.”
Mr Randall added: “I’m excited to be coming into a denomination that takes the Bible seriously and seeks to engage that biblical message with 21st Century Scotland.
“What Scotland needs most today is the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, presented faithfully in engaging ways, and it seems to me that the Free Church is well placed to do exactly that.
“I’m grateful to the Free Church for the warmth of the welcome extended to me and look forward, under God, to the next stage of ministry that lies ahead.”
The pair are following in the footsteps of several other ministers and congregations thoughout Scotland, particularly in the Western Isles, who have quit the Church of Scotland’s following its decision to allow gay ordination.
Many believe the Kirk has walked away from the Bible on moral issues and it is understood the recent developments on gay clergy and the
Kirk’s lack of clarity on marriage have contributed to the decisions of the latest ministers to join the Free Church.
A Free Church spokesman said: “It is clear from last week’s census figures that many people go about their everyday lives without any
thought of God or spiritual things.
“The need for preaching and sharing the Gospel is so great in Scotland today, and we believe Rev David Court and Rev David Randall will be important assets in communicating God’s word in a changing environment over the years to come.
“Mr Court has a passion for church planting and to reach people who ordinarily wouldn’t cross a church door on a Sunday.
“Having grown up under years of solid Bible teaching from his father, Mr Randall is one of Scotland’s most gifted preachers and we look forward to supporting him in his ministry.”
Rev Court is starting a new congregation in Edinburgh on Sunday in partnership with St Columba’s Free Church in the capital. It is understood a number in his former New Restalrig congregation have also left, and may follow the minister.
He is presently chair of Reformission Scotland - a charitable trust with the aim of encouraging the planting of new reformed, missional, Presbyterian churches in Scotland.
He is married to Alison, and they have three children – Samuel, Jonathan and Ruth. In his spare time he enjoys watching - and playing - football, golf and eating curries.
Rev Randall is joining the Free Church on his own, as the Newmilns congregation is divided on what to do next.
He is married to Linnea, and they have four children – Luke, Steven, Sophie and Megan.
Brought up in Macduff on the north coast of Scotland, Mr Randall graduated from Robert Gordon University in Business Studies before completing his studies for the ministry at Aberdeen University.
He enjoys spending time with his family, football, running, current affairs and reading.
A Church of Scotland spokesperson commented on the departure of Rev Court, saying: “It will be business as usual at New Restalrig Church this Sunday, and indeed on every Sunday to come.
“The Rev George Whyte will lead this Sunday’s service and we have appointed a locum minister who will lead the congregation in the coming weeks and months.
“A new Kirk Session is already in place which will help secure the future of this church.”
He added: “We are encouraged that at least 50 members of the congregation have said they will stay with us and we look forward to welcoming them and to making plans to grow and develop numbers who worship at New Restalrig.
“We are saddened by the departure of the former Minister and a number of members and wish them well in their new place of worship.”