Kirk ministers and members officially join Free Church

Stornoway High Church was left divided by the gay clergy debate with about 250 members leaving to join the Free Church.

A group of disaffected ex-Church of Scotland ministers and congregation members from across the west Highlands have officially joined a rival denomination.

The Free Church of Scotland yesterday welcomed the Rev David Macleod, who led the Kirk’s Lochcarron, Applecross and Torridon parish, and the Rev Roddy MacRae, formally of the Glenelg and Kintail congregations, into the fold.

Greetings were also extended to people who used to worship at a Church of Scotland in Tarbert on Harris and Stornoway High Church on Lewis.

The two ministers decided to quit the Kirk over what they described as the church’s continuing drift from the teachings of the Bible.

They, along with the congregation members, have taken issue with a move towards allowing congregations to appoint a minister in a same-sex relationship and a Kirk partnership with the Humanist Society of Scotland to lobby for religious observance in schools to be replaced with a “time for reflection”.

A total of 10 former Kirk ministers have recently joined the Free Church

Mr Macleod, 40, said: “I’m delighted to have been accepted to serve in the Free Church, where there is a determination to hold to the authority of God’s Word and such enthusiasm to reach out with the good news about Jesus Christ.”

Mr MacRae, 44, added: “I leave the Church of Scotland with a heavy heart.

“I am gutted at the direction it has taken over the years and what I believe is tragic for Scotland.

“Yet I am absolutely delighted to be joining the Free Church.

“I am very grateful that they have opened their doors for me and other evangelicals.”

Both ministers are now available for a call to churches with vacant charges and the two new congregations are expected to form their own kirk sessions next week.

The Tarbert group will be known as North Harris Free Church and the Stornoway group as the High Free Church Stornoway.

North Harris held their first services yesterday which was attended by around 100 people.

The High Free Church has regularly attracted around 300 people in Stornoway Primary School since leaving the Church of Scotland earlier this year.