A REBEL Minister and his congregation, who quit the Kirk in the row over the ordination of gay ministers, are being allowed to move back into their former church after finding themselves without a home.
In a remarkable gesture, the members of the Aberdeen Presbytery of the Church of Scotland have agreed to offer members of the former congregation at the city’s Gilcomston South Church the temporary use of the city centre building while they find a permanent base for their breakaway church.
Almost every member of the Church of Scotland congregation at the Union Street church left the Kirk last month following the official resignation of the church’s minister, the Rev Dominic Smart.
The breakaway congregation - now known as “Gilcomston Church” - had planned to hold Sunday services at a city centre hotel but the move had to be abandoned after the hotel told the congregation that they were no longer welcome following complaints from guests.
The former Gilcomston congregation held a recent service in the Aberdeen City Council owned Beach Ballroom. But they are now set to move back into the building they vacated following a meeting of the Aberdeen Presbytery.
A Presbytery spokeswoman said: “The Presbytery of Aberdeen met to consider the situation at Gilcomston South Church of Scotland following the demission of the Rev Dominic Smart and the departure of a significant number of members. Presbytery agreed that the remaining Church of Scotland members of Gilcomston South shall worship, for the time being, with the congregation of South Holburn Church of Scotland.
“As an interim measure, while Presbytery considers the future of the Church of Scotland congregation, it was agreed to invite the new congregation of Gilcomston Church to make use of the church premises.”
Mr Smart and his family are also being allowed to continue to live in the church manse on a temporary basis.
The Rev George Cowie, convener of the Special Committee which was considering the Gilcomston situation, said: “It is deeply sad when people choose to leave the Church of Scotland. We believe that the
Church of Scotland is a broad church and that it can accommodate people who hold differing views. In this case, however, the situation has not involved conflict, scandal or litigation.
“All parties have shown respect for one another and it has been a good Christian witness for us to engage with one another in this manner.”
Mr Smart said: “We are very happy about the decision the Presbytery have made and I am impressed that they have found a creative solution to the problem.”