Scotland’s first openly gay minister has told of his joy after the Kirk’s General Assembly voted to change its historic position on same-sex clergy.
Rev Scott Rennie of Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen said he was “delighted” that commissioners passed a law on Saturday which gives congregations the freedom to call a person in a civil partnership as their minister if they wish.
Commissioners approved a so-called mixed economy proposal by 309 votes to 182.
The new law, which comes into force with immediate effect, means that the Kirk will not change its traditional stance – marriage is between a man and woman.
But individual congregations can opt-out if they wish to appoint a minister or deacon in a same-sex partnership.
Kirk leaders say the policy is not aimed at resolving differences persay but designed to find a way to allow people to live together.
Mr Rennie is in a civil partnership with David Smith and unwittingly sparked the debate in 2009 when he was appointed to Queen’s Cross Church.
“I am delighted that the General Assembly has passed the overture with such a large margin,” he added.
“The Church has been fortunate over the years to have many gay ministers, although like in so many other facets of society,
they have had to hide their sexuality.
“But this is modern Scotland in 2015 and I am glad we are moving to a truly national church where all of Scotland’s people – lesbian, gay or straight – can find a home and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ.”
But the Rev Andrew Barrie of Kinmylies Church in Inverness claimed passing the overture would continue to promote “disunity and pain” within congregations.
“The minister before me felt that because of the trajectory we are on as a church, he could not remain in our denomination with integrity,” he said.
“During this uncertainty our church has suffered and our mission work in the community has suffered.”
Aberdeen presbytery representative Stefanie Fowler urged delegates to reject the overture.
“People do not come to Church because it is culturally relevant, people do not come to Church because it is moving with the times,” she said.
Commissioners have until today to formally record their dissent.
It remains to be seen if many more Kirk members will leave the denomination as a result of the vote.