Minister Resigns After Church Vote for Gay Clergy

An experienced Church of Scotland minister has announced his resignation in response to last week’s controversial General Assembly vote, which moved the Presbyterian Church towards the ordination of gay clergy.

The Rev. Andrew Coghill, who has ministered at Leurbost Church in Lochs, Lewis, for nearly 20 years, expressed his firm opposition to plans for gay clergy at last week’s GA. However, his warnings were made in vain, and following a near-seven-hour debate, the GA voted in favor of preparing a way for gay ordinations.

Coghill announced his intention to step down from his post at Leurbost on Sunday, telling his congregation that his decision had been made with the “utmost sorrow and heartfelt grief.”

“The Cross is not simply to be preached, it is to be lived,” he was quoted as saying by the Scotsman.

Coghill said he was not encouraging others to follow suit as he is uncertain about his own future beyond the Church of Scotland.

“I do not know the direction of my own future,” he said. “I know only that whilst many good, Godly and devout Christian men and women will continue within the fold of the Church of Scotland, I personally cannot continue to serve a Church which as an institution, has chosen its own Gods, and departed from the God of the Bible, whatever words may be used to contrary.

“I have taken you as far as the Lord has allowed me to do.”

The recent vote by the Church will allow gay ministers to take on parishes in Scotland’s largest Protestant church body for the first time since its formation 450 years ago.

A temporary moratorium was initially imposed in 2009 following an uproar at the appointment of the first openly gay clergyman, Scott Rennie, as a minister in the Church’s history. However, the Presbyterian Church’s law-making body voted last week to lift that ban, which now opens the prospect of the church body moving toward allowing civil partnerships for gay couples.

Rev. Coghill’s decision to resign follows an announcement by Rev. Roddy MacRae, minister of Glenelg and Kintail, who last week reported of his intention to leave the Church of Scotland following the vote.

The Church of Scotland’s vote came just weeks after the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. also approved a similar measure. A majority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s district governing bodies voted in favor of deleting a requirement from the church constitution that requires clergy to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”

(Karen Peake contributed to this article)

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