Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Openly Gay Ordained Ministers

The Church of Scotland's General Assembly voted Monday to allow congregations the choice of accepting openly gay ordained ministers, while allowing other parishes to opt out if their congregants disagree with the gay lifestyle.

Although the General Assembly's 700 commissioners did vote in approval of openly gay ministers on Monday, the vote must still pass a series of hurdles and will not be finalized for at least another two years.

After a six-hour debate on Monday at the annual assembly meeting in Edinburg, the commissioners voted to maintain their "current doctrine and practice in relation to human sexuality," meaning they still maintain their traditional view on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, but they compromised in providing more liberal congregations to allow gay ministers to lead their parish.

The vote must still go through several processes, including being approved by the church's regional presbyteries and by the 2015 General Assembly, according to The Scotsman on Sunday.

The issue of openly gay ministers in the Church of Scotland has long been disputed, especially as of four years ago, when the denomination's first openly gay minister was appointed to a congregation in Aberdeen.

Two churches have split from the church body regarding the issue: St. George's Tron Church in Glasgow and Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen.

St. George's Tron Church reportedly said at the time that by allowing an openly gay minister into its ranks, the Church of Scotland had "marginalized the Bible," according to BBC News.

The Rev. David Randall and others argued at the assembly meeting that he believes the topic of gay clergy has been forced on the Church of Scotland by revisionists, who promoted a "mixed economy" approach of allowing gay ministers in civil partnerships to be ordained while at the same time allowing congregations to opt out of the revision if they wished.

The issue of gay ministers, he reportedly stated, "has been forced upon us by the revisionists who want us to turn our backs on what common sense tells us."

"Are we to stand by Scripture or are we to go with the flow of social trends?" Randall asked.

Randall added that following such social trends would be "a betrayal of our Lord."

A spokesperson for the Free Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian and Reformed denomination focusing on biblical teachings, told BBC News that they believe the Church of Scotland must follow the teachings of the Bible first and foremost.

"We believe that Scotland needs the guidance of the national church rooted in the teachings of the Bible, irrespective of public opinion and pressure to conform," the spokesperson told BBC.

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