The church at the centre of a row threatening to split the Church of Scotland has offered public support to openly gay minister Scott Rennie.

Rev Rennie was appointed to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen earlier this year, but was opposed by 12 members of the Presbytery over his lifestyle as an openly gay man.

Eighty per cent of his congregation voted for him.

In a letter to the Herald today, Judith and Trevor Salmon, joint session clerks of Queen’s Cross Parish Church, said: “Queen’s Cross wishes to re-affirm its belief that Scott Rennie was the best candidate from an outstanding field. He fulfilled all the key requirements contained in the parish profile.”

They added that the congregation were “fully conversant” with all relevant facts before they voted for and signed the Call to Scott Rennie.

“Our Call is based upon his gifts and our needs, and upon our real sense that he is the person best equipped to serve alongside us and to offer leadership to us,” the clerks said.

This week, Rev Rennie’s former wife Ruth also spoke out in his defence.

Ms Rennie said: “I see very little compassion in the way some people are treating Scott.

“In his ministry, Scott is a naturally sensitive and caring person and what he has faced up to has probably made him an even better pastor.

“It will be a tremendous loss to the church if he is prevented from taking up his post at Queen’s Cross.”

Mr Rennie’s appointment to Queen’s Cross Church will be debated in the General Assembly on May 23rd.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the decision to ordain him to be struck down.

The ordination of Rennie, who lives openly with his partner, to the church in Aberdeen has been described as the biggest issue to face the Church in 160 years, after the disruption of 1843.