Current Affairs

Kirk still unclear on gay couples

Rachel Charman May 25, 2007
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The Church of Scotland report on homosexuality was discussed in the Church General Assembly on Wednesday.

The aim of the meeting was to reach a consensus within the Church on attitudes to gay Christians.

The 800 members of the Assembly met in Edinburgh to watch video clips from the report’s working party.

The report, prepared by the Church’s Mission and Discipleship Committee and convened by Rev Peter Donald, called on church leaders to “at least appreciate that others were sincere, devoted Christians.”

A call for more clarity on the exact attitude of the Church to gay couples came from Rev Louis Kinsey.

Mr. Donald, however, stated that clarity would only come later with further discussion.

Just in the job, the Right Rev Sheilagh Kesting, in her best earrings and elaborate pinny, had to finesse a peace-broking report on same-sex relationships through the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Dunfermline church elder James Simpson gave a testimony about how he and his wife dealt with their son coming out 12 years ago.

“My wife and experienced emotions which ranged from despair to the shattering of dreams to, in my wife’s case, complete heartbreak,” He said according to The Times .

“I was on more than one occasion down on my knees howling like a beaten dog, but we came to realise that if my son was a homosexual that it was God’s will.”

Mr. Simpson called for more Church support for gays.

He said: “Moderator, my son deserves this report and the General Assembly needs this report.”

Rev Sandra Black then demanded that an addendum was put to the assembly.

It stated that “theological approaches to homosexuality which present gay or lesbian people as unloveable or less loved by God than any other person were unacceptable”.

It also said that being gay should not prohibit people from baptism or communion, or stop them from becoming a church member or an official.

This was met with disgreement from Rev Bruce Gardener, who said: “We are deciding the outcome of the debate before it has begun.”

After much heated debate, the new Moderator Rev Sheilagh Kesting requested a withdrawal of the addendum.

Due to pressure from the Assembly, Ms. Black agreed.

The report that sparked the debate, entitled A Challenge to Unity was published last month after a two-year writing process.

It was criticised for lacking a clear stance or any guidance on the issue of gay Christians.

The Rev Ian Watson, secretary for the evangelical group Forward Together, said:

“They haven’t grasped the nettle; it does nothing to persuade people on either side of the merits of the other’s views.” according to

“At best, there will be disappointment, but I think people are quite angry at how quite anodyne the report is.”

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