Glasgow kirk quits Church of Scotland over gay clergy row

Image caption,
The St George's Tron congregation has voted to secede from the Church of Scotland

A Glasgow kirk has become the first to split from the Church of Scotland over the issue of gay clergy.

St George's Tron Church said it had taken the decision after more than 12 months of thought and prayer.

Last year, the Kirk's General Assembly voted to accept gay clergy provided they had declared their sexuality and were ordained before 2009.

The 500-strong St George's Tron congregation believes this decision "has marginalised the bible".

The decision to formally secede from the Church of Scotland was taken by the congregation on Monday.

'Opposite trajectory'

Rev Dr William Philip, minister of the church which is based in Buchanan Street, said: "Our decision to separate from the Church of Scotland is the culmination of careful thought, sincere discussion and prayer for over 12 months.

"Last year, despite having had the clear opportunity, the General Assembly failed to reverse the stance taken in 2009 approving the appointment of ordained ministers in same-sex relationships.

"Instead, it clearly and deliberately chose to set an opposite trajectory towards normalising such relationships.

"In doing so, the highest court of the kirk has marginalised the Bible, the written word of God."

Rev Philip said the congregation believed the Church of Scotland was "choosing to walk away from the biblical gospel, and to walk apart from the faith of the worldwide Christian Church".

"We are saddened that the Church of Scotland has departed so dramatically and decisively from its moorings in the historic, reformed and biblical faith," he said.

'Supreme rule'

"We believe the Bible is the supreme rule for what God wants us to believe and how God wants us to live.

"We are unashamed to retain a clear conviction about what the Bible teaches."

Rev Philip said that although the congregation was no longer part of the Church of Scotland, its leaders remained "in positive and constructive engagement with the denomination".

He added: "Our goal is to ensure that all issues around this separation are dealt with reasonably and peaceably."

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: "The Presbytery of Glasgow and the Church of Scotland General Trustees are saddened at the decision of the minister and members of Glasgow St George's Tron to leave the Church of Scotland.

"Discussions will take place with representatives of the Tron over the coming weeks to clarify the situation and determine the best way of preserving a Church of Scotland ministry presence in Glasgow city centre.

"No decisions have been taken about the on-going use of the building, or the outstanding financial obligations to the Church of Scotland and the General Trustees."

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