An Evangelical group which spread false rumours about a gay minister has been forced to apologise.

Forward Together told its members that Scott Rennie left his wife and young daughter to live with another man.

In fact, Mr Rennie’s wife left him and he did not meet his partner until two years after she left.

Mr Rennie, 37, was appointed to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen in January.

The decision to appoint him is threatening to create a schism in the Church of Scotland.

Forward Together chairman Douglas Cranston had sent a statement to his members saying: “It is difficult to understand what would constitute an unacceptable lifestyle in terms of our ordination vows if a man who leaves his wife and child and sets up home with another man as his partner is deemed acceptable.”

After Mr Rennie’s solicitor contacted the group, it released a statement saying: “Forward Together apologises unreservedly for giving the impression that Mr Rennie left his wife and child for his present male partner and for any distress this may have caused Mr Rennie, his wife and his family.”

The group has also paid Mr Rennie’s legal costs.

Forward Together spokesman Ian Watson told the Press and Journal that it had been an honest mistake and there was “no intention to distort the truth or create trouble”.

Twelve members of the Aberdeen Presbytery objected to the decision to accept Mr Rennie as a minister because they do not approve of his lifestyle.

A poll carried out by the Sunday Times last week found that one in six Church of Scotland ministers may quit if the Kirk allows Mr Rennie to serve.

Despite the opposition, more than 80 per cent of his congregation voted for him

The matter has now reached the General Assembly.