Irish church leaders join the Scottish row
Some well-known church leaders from Northern Ireland have added their names to a petition encouraging the General Assembly of Scotland's national church to prohibit a gay minister from taking up a new pastoral position in Aberdeen.
The petition, organised by the Fellowship of Confessing Churches, a conservative campaign group within the Church of Scotland, also calls on the General Assembly to support a controversial Overture (or resolution) that "this Church shall not accept for training, ordain, admit, re-admit, induct or introduce to any ministry of the Church anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman". To date, more than 11,000 people have signed the online petition. Of those, more than 2,000 are members of other churches throughout the UK, including Irish denominations.
The list includes a number of former Presbyterian moderators (Dr Alistair Dunlop, Dr John Lockington, and Dr Ivan McKay, and others), a former president of the Irish Methodist Church (Rev Jim Rea), and executive level administrators within the Irish Presbyterian Church (Rev Trevor Gribben, Deputy Clerk of the General Assembly; Rev David Bruce, executive secretary of the Board of Mission in Ireland; and Rev Ronnie Hetherington, Director of Ministerial Studies). Other signatories include the Rev Martin Smyth, former South Belfast unionist MP, and the Rev Bobby Liddle, who authored the Presbyterian Church's 2007 report on homopbobia, alongside ministers from various denominations, elders, theological lecturers, students and church members.