Monday, 22 September 2014

A Good Week to Bury Bad News

Now that the excitement of the Independence Referendum is over and we can get back to normal, I can reveal that the first of the Church of Scotland presbyteries have started to vote on the issue of the ordination of practicing homosexuals.

Most would not think of Argyll Presbytery  as a hotbed of liberal activism. Its website describes its geographical areas thus, “Its bounds more or less coincide with the former County of Argyll plus the island of Bute plus a small area of Perthshire and Stirlingshire round Crianlarich. The principal centres of population are Oban, Dunoon, Campbeltown and Rothesay.”  Oban is not exactly a metropolis having a population of around 8500 and around 10% are either Gaelic speaking or having at least some ability in the language.  There are around 60 congregations in the presbytery.

We might imagine that a rural, West-coast, Gaelic influenced area would be socially, if not theologically, conservative.  Far from it.  Some 67% of the presbyterers in the Presbytery of Argyll voted in favour of active homosexuals in office!

I know that the media have been more concerned with our other vote, (on Scottish independence), but it is interesting that the presbytery vote has not featured in the local or national press, on the presbytery website nor on the denominational website.  You might imagine that they wanted to keep it quiet for some reason.

The staying-in-at-all-costs evangelicals tell us they are fighting this issue, but even their website, Forward Together, carries no news of this vote.  I rather suspect that the hope is that members will settle into an acceptance of this moral apostasy and neither rock the boat nor leave for a biblical and evangelical presbyterian denomination.

To bring this post back to where I started, I found it ironic that one T.V. interview before the Referendum featured a divided family, a father and his sixteen year old daughter who would be voting on different sides. They were at a polling station housed in St Catherine’s Argyll Church, Edinburgh.  The video was recorded in front of the church noticeboard.  The name of the minister, of course, was blacked out on the noticeboard.  Horatius Bonar was their first minister; their last was Robin Sydserff who, with the support of the Kirk Session, has led the majority of the congregation out of the Church of Scotland over the continuing doctrinal and moral apostasy of the denomination..  They now worship as Chalmers Church, (  ).

I imagine that if the Presbytery of Argyll vote is an indicator of how the presbyteries will vote there will be other congregations following the example of St Catherine’s Argyll.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for drawing this to our attention, Robert. Argyll Presbytery does not have a majority of evangelical ministers and there have been very few evangelical ministries historically, so it goes without saying that even "traditionalist" elders in the churches will go with the flow of the "new tradition", so the vote is not a surprise at all. The last time an issue of this nature came up was in 2006, when 36 Presbyteries to 9 voted against the General Assembly's decision not to discipline any minister who conducted a blessing service for a couple in a civil partnership. Such a strong vote on arguably a much less contentious issue should give cause for hope that a similarly robust position will be taken by the Presbyteries this time as well. Will 14 of those 36 really change their minds? It remains to be seen. But if Presbyteries want to stop more ministers and congregations from leaving, they would do well to vote in favour of Jerry Middleton's overture. It should also be pointed out that Lewis Presbytery has also voted - unanimously - for Jerry's overture. One all - 43 to go...