Congregation votes to leave Church of Scotland over allowing gay ministers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

More than 230 members of one of the Church of Scotland’s biggest congregations on the Western Isles have supported leaving the Kirk over a proposal that would allow gay men and women to be ordained.

Stornoway High Church consulted on a split after the General Assembly voted in May to support the plans.

Legislation will be drafted for next year.

It will then go to regional presbyteries and return for final approval in 2015.

The BBC reports that the Lewis Presbytery of the Church of Scotland carried out the consultation of Stornoway High Church members.

Of the members who were asked, 236 indicated a desire to leave the Church of Scotland, 103 said they wanted remain within its care and 121 did not respond.

The Reverend Tom Sinclair, clerk to Lewis Presbytery, said: “While we respect the views of those who cannot agree with the Church’s preliminary position on this matter, our spiritual responsibility, as a presbytery, is to those who wish to remain in the Church of Scotland.

“In the event that some members and adherents leave, there will be continued provision for all who wish to remain within the care of the Church of Scotland.”

Reverend Scott Rennie was appointed in 2009, an appointment which led to a two-year moratorium on new gay ministers.

In February, the Reverend Dominic Smart and his congregation of 300 at Gilcomston South in Aberdeen left the Church of Scotland over the General Assembly’s approval of Rev Rennie’s ordination. St George’s Tron in Glasgow has also elected to leave the kirk over the issue.

Last month, the Church of Scotland responded to the Scottish Parliament’s historic decision to support equal marriage  by saying “marriage is between one man and one woman.”