AROUND half of the congregation of Stornoway’s High Church are set to quit the Church of Scotland over plans to allow gay ministers.
The entire kirk session of the church, comprised of church elders and leaders, have resigned their posts. Around 200 regular members of the congregation are expected to follow suit and form their own congregation.
The new church, named the Stornoway High Fellowship, will meet in a hired hall until further notice.
Christopher Martin, the former clerk of the Stornoway High Church session who is now acting as spokesman for the new congregation, said: “Everyone is very sad at having to leave. But they feel there is no option but to leave friends and the building in which they worship in for many years.
“This has been going on for so long and the Church of Scotland was not making any inroads feel there is no option.”
The members of the Stornoway High Fellowship have quit over the Church of Scotland’s decision to allow openly homosexual clergy to preach.
In a recent official ballot, 236 members and adherents of Stornoway High Church voted to leave the congregation, 103 people voted to remain while 121 worshippers did not respond to the formal consultation.
It is believed the breakaway group plans to join an existing Scottish Presbyterian church but wishes to continue as a single body of worshippers.
A spokesman for the Presbytery of Lewis said: “We are saddened that a large number of members and adherents of Stornoway High Church have indicated their intention to leave the Church of Scotland.
“However Lewis Presbytery is still of the opinion that there is an essential place for the High Church congregation in ministry and mission within Lewis, a ministry which stretches back more than 100 years.”