Church of Scotland Moderator warns Kirk to stop ‘navel gazing’ over gay clergy

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Moderator of the Church of Scotland has warned the Kirk at its General Assembly to stop “navel gazing” over gay ministers.

The Right Reverend John Chalmers said the church would risk being left behind by younger generations if it did not remain accessible, reports the Herald Scotland.

Chalmers said he was looking forward to a time when the issue of human sexuality did not take up a high space on the Church of Scotland’s agenda, and that it could get back to focussing on “urgent business”

He said: “We have dealt with our own internal struggles and we have sent to our presbyteries an overture which may pave the way for a period of Church life when we will set the issue of human sexuality to one side and focus on the urgent business of mission, ministry and service to the people of Scotland.”

Referring to the ongoing debate surrounding gay ministers Chalmers told commissioners on the last day of the assembly: “We have heard some worrying facts this week. Facts that we cannot turn a blind eye to: a quarter of our charges do not have an inducted minister; we only have two ministers under the age of 30… (and) four times the number of ministers will retire in the next six years than we are likely to recruit in the same time-frame.

“A tide has to be turned because a generation of people out there are being invited to live a life of disbelief – if not unbelief. And there is no justification for that.

“This Church of ours has to stop its navel gazing, get out from under subjects that no one is actually talking about and get out there and capitalise on the fact that people still want purpose and faith in their lives.

“They just need it to be accessible, relevant, generous, forgiving. Actually they need it to be like Jesus: accessible, relevant, generous, forgiving.

“But let me tell you, we don’t have time on our side.”

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland yesterday voted in favour of a proposal which could eventually lead to the ordination of ministers in civil partnerships.

Earlier today, Reverend Scott Rennie, who is at the centre of a debate around gay ministers in the church, said he hoped the Kirk would rethink its opposition to same-sex marriage.