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EDINBURGH 18-23 May 2013 Church of Scotland holds General Assembly

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is expected to be a turning point for the Presbyterian faith as the most controversia

May 18, 2013 - NULL

EDINBURGH 18-23 May 2013 Church of Scotland holds General Assembly

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is expected to be a turning point for the Presbyterian faith as the most controversial order of business is a vote on the ordination of openly gay clergy. Up to 50 congregations aim to move to the more fundamentalist Free Church if the change passes. The exodus would almost double the number of Free Church congregations and prompt fears of a schism on a scale of the Disruption 170 years when nearly 40 per cent of the ministry and a third of

EDINBURGH 18-23 May 2013 Church of Scotland holds General Assembly

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is expected to be a turning point for the Presbyterian faith as the most controversial order of business is a vote on the ordination of openly gay clergy. Up to 50 congregations aim to move to the more fundamentalist Free Church if the change passes. The exodus would almost double the number of Free Church congregations and prompt fears of a schism on a scale of the Disruption 170 years when nearly 40 per cent of the ministry and a third of the congregations broke away to form the Free Church. One expert sees the possibility of the Church of Scotland becoming a loose federation of congregations with members choosing to go to the one that suits them best.

The fundamentalists place an emphasis on scripture, and believe the Bible outlaws homosexuality. The liberals believe the Church needs to recognize that science has established being gay is innate, as opposed to a lifestyle choice.

The Scotsman notes that the crisis comes at a time when Church of Scotland membership has fallen by more than two-thirds in the past 40 years. According to the newspaper, the Church imposed a moratorium on actively gay ministers, then later voted to accept them so long as they had declared their sexuality and were ordained before 2009. The final decision was deferred until a long-awaited report from an inquiry into the issue by the Theology Commission on Same Sex Relationships in the Ministry.

Ron Ferguson, religious writer and former leader of the Iona community, who noted the potential for the church to become a federation of loose congregations, explained in The Scotsman that whatever the outcome of the vote, it will not be possible for the Church to cohere and hold together as a national institution.

The Assembly comprises around 850 commissioners who are ministers, elders and members of the diaconate. The first General Assembly was held in December 1560, which was the year of the Scottish Reformation and which marks the beginning of the Church of Scotland as its is now known. (WRITTEN APR 2013)

RELATED READING:

The Church of Scotland
http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/

Church of Scotland faces exodus over gay clergy (Scotsman 23 Apr 2013)
http://www.scotsman.com/news/church-of-scotland-faces-exodus-over-gay-clergy-1-2904009

Date written/update: 2013-05-18