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Home  >  Features  >  General Assembly 2013: Day three

General Assembly 2013

Jackie Macadam
Jackie Macadam

Monday May 20 2013

Church approves 'mixed economy' position on same-sex relationships and ministry

The Church of Scotland has taken a further step towards affirming the right of congregations to call as their minister a person in a same-sex relationship. However, the General Assembly has stopped short of overturning the church's traditional teaching on homosexuality.

After around six hours' debate, conducted mostly in good spirit, the Assembly passed a counter-motion by the immediate past Moderator, the Rt Rev Albert Bogle, which affirms 'the church's historic and current doctrine and practice in relation to human sexuality (but) nevertheless permit those Kirk Sessions who wish to depart from that doctrine and practice to do so'.

This was preferred to either of the options presented by the Theological Commission in Same-sex Relationships and the Ministry. The 'revisionist' option won the most votes in the three-way vote, which eliminated the 'traditionalist' option. But then most of the traditionalist votes passed to the counter-motion.

However, a final decision has been delayed by a further year. As the counter-motion was brought too late for the Overture - the legal act - to be drawn up, this will now be brought back next year.

Earlier, during the Communion service, the Moderator, the Rt Rev Lorna Hood, reminded the Assembly that the roots of Communion were 'not of one people who were of one mind'.

"This sacrament comes as a gift from God to sinful human beings always. But knowing them as he did he gave them a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you..."

She added: "We don't ignore our differences but we do commit ourselves to resolving them without destroying one another or the Church Christ died for.

"A church without conviction lacks integrity (but) convictions should never become blind passions or, dare I say, lead us to separate one from another."

In a statement issued by the Church last night, Mrs Hood said: “This is a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church.”

She added: “This was a major breakthrough for the Church but we are conscious that some people remain pained, anxious, worried and hurt. We continue to pray for the peace and unity of the Church.”