Ten Evangelical groups have urged the Church of Scotland to back the ordination of openly gay Reverend Scott Rennie.

Rennie, who lives openly with his partner, was appointed as minister of Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen by his congregation.

After anger from traditionalists over his selection, the General Assembly is to debate his selection in the next week. The row is threatening to create a split in the Church of Scotland.

In a statement, groups such as Accepting Evangelicals, Baptist Network Affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians and Changing Attitude England said that the church had “erred” in its rejection of gay people.

The statement said: “There are thousands of faithful people sitting in pews, standing in pulpits, working in your Kirk Sessions who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered.

“We urge the Assembly to embrace the message of transformational grace and, inclusion, to stand for justice and mercy and signal the openness of God’s compassionate love to his children – straight and gay. You will be in common with a vast and growing number of evangelicals and others across the world who do not exclude homosexuals but understand that the Church has erred in its rejection of them.

“The question you are facing is, will you send a clear message of God’s love and welcome, or one of rejection and fear. We urge the General Assembly to take this opportunity to act biblically, in the spirit of the inclusivity, holiness and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be pastorally sensitively to the LGBT community within the Church of Scotland.”

The General Assembly is to examine Rennie’s ordination and an ‘overture’ from a Presbytery which would forbid any practicing homosexual to be ordained. Critics say it would result in ex-communication.

Rennie’s opponents wanted the overture to be heard before his case – which his supporters say would prejudice the case and make the Overture retroactive.

However, the Assembly has voted to hear the case first, then the overture. If the overture passes, a majority of the 48 Presbyteries would need to pass it as well in order for it