A Church of Scotland presbytery has nominated an openly gay man to begin training as a minister.
The unnamed gay man, who is in a civil partnership, was nominated last Tuesday by Hamilton Presbytery, the third largest in Scotland.
The church narrowly avoided a schism earlier this year with the ordination of Scott Rennie, who lives with his male partner.
Although Rennie’s congregation overwhelmingly supported him, the appointment caused deep divisions. The General Assembly voted to allow his appointment to stand but placed a two-year moratorium on ordaining new gay ministers.
A report on the issue will be presented to the Kirk in 2011 by a special committee, after which a decision on the church’s stance on gay ministers will be made.
Church officials said candidates should “not suffer prejudice” before the special commission presents the findings of its report.
They also stressed that training was not a guarantee of a job as a minister.
Advice from the Ministries Council, an internal Kirk body that supports potential trainees, says that they should be aware the Kirk may decide against ordaining gay ministers in 2011, although they should not be deterred from applying.
According to the Times, the man had initially been told by the Hamilton Presbytery Committee to wait until 2011 to apply for training but this decision was changed at the last minute. It has been suggested the man took legal advice over his application.
A spokesman for the Church of Scotland told the Scotsman that human rights legislation meant applicants were legally entitled to training.
The man’s nomination will now be subject to a ten-day appeals window, in which opponents can submit complaints.
Some have already voiced their dissent, including the Rev Ian Wilson, the former head of evangelical Forward Together group, which was forced to apologise after spreading malicious rumours about Rennie.
Wilson wrote on his blog: “They are, in effect, saying that being a practising homosexual is not a bar to training for the ministry. One must ask the question: what kind of decisions relating to human sexuality are prohibited if nominating is not?
“If practising homosexuals are being accepted to train for the ministry, with all the investment of time and money that this entails for the church as well as for the candidate, then it seems to me that those responsible for training are quite certain that the ordination of practising gays is just around the corner.”