Irish church to boycott Church of Scotland over gay clergy plans

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has snubbed an invite from the Church of Scotland – after it approved plans for gay clergy.

The Kirk’s General Assembly convened last month, voting by 309-182 in favour of proposals to allow the ordination of gay ministers, after last year securing the backing of a majority of local presbyteries.

However, the Church has haemorrhaged support from more conservative Evangelical groups following the decision – with the ultra-conservative Russian Orthodox Church cutting its ties completely.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is following in the footsteps of the Russian church by snubbing the Kirk – and will boycott the Scottish church’s next annual general meeting.

The two Churches have long-held historic ties and have previously had a close relationship – but the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly voted by 99 votes to 84 to boycott the Church of Scotland.

A spokesman for Presbyterian Church in Ireland said: “As self-governing Churches, both clearly have the right to come to their own conclusions on theological and governance matters.

“That being said, I’m sure that many ministers, elders and people within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will feel a deep sense of sorrow at the decision to allow for ordination of ministers in civil partnerships within the Church of Scotland.

“In a heart-felt and finely balanced debate at our own General Assembly last week, members judged that they would express this deep regret by taking a symbolic step not to appoint representatives on this occasion to go to Edinburgh in 2016.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We are sorry to learn that the PCI has decided not to send representatives to our General Assembly next year.

“We have always valued our close contacts with the PCI and it is our hope that we can continue to speak to each other on a range of issues.”