'No going back' over Kirk's gay ministers

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THE Church of Scotland's move towards the ordination of openly gay ministers marks an "irrevocable change" in its relationship with parishes, the Kirk was warned yesterday.

The Rev Ian Watson, former secretary of the traditionalist Forward Together group, was speaking after last week's decision by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to report on the issue in 2013 prompted some ministers to threaten to leave.

The Rev Ivor MacDonald raised the spectre of legal battles over the ownership of churches when he asked the assembly on Friday whether congregations leaving the Kirk could take buildings with them.

MacDonald, minister of Kilmuir and Stenscholl in Skye, has opposed the ordination of openly gay ministers but not said whether he intends to go.

The issue was triggered by the appointment of Scott Rennie, who is openly gay, to Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen.

Watson, of Kirkmuirhill Parish Church in Lanark, said the impact of the decision had yet to be seen.

He said: "There will be no knee-jerk reaction, but we anticipate long, hard discussions about our future. Our relationship with the denomination (the Kirk] has irrevocably been changed by the decision.

"How this will manifest itself is too early to say."

Watson said under the Kirk's constitution, the Bible had been the supreme rule. However, he said the Church had now approved of a lifestyle which the Bible clearly stated was inconsistent with faith in Christ.

However, the Rev James Jack, chairman of the Kirk's general trustees, said he expected only "the odd congregation" would want to investigate its options.