Highlands & Islands

Tain Parish Church minister resigns over gay clergy

A minister has resigned his charge of a Ross-shire kirk just eight months into the post after the issue of gay clergy caused divisions in the congregation.

The Reverend Paul Gibson is the latest in a line of Highland Church of Scotland ministers to resign.

In a statement, he said Tain Parish Church had gone through a "challenging" and "upsetting" past few months.

The Rev Gibson said he had informed Ross Presbytery of his decision to formally leave the church.

He told the BBC News Scotland website that he did not wish to add any further comment to what he had said in his statement.

The statement announced his demission of the charge of Tain Parish Church.

Over the past year other ministers in the Highlands and Islands have announced their decisions to quit Church of Scotland charges.

The Reverend Ivor MacDonald said he was leaving Kilmuir and Stenscholl on Skye and the Reverend John Murdo MacDonald resigned from Lochalsh in October.

Secret ballot

In June, a Western Isles congregation's plans to split from the Church of Scotland were put on hold.

The kirk session of the High Church in Stornoway, on Lewis, had recommended breaking away.

In a vote, 74% of the congregation backed the move.

However, the figure fell just short of the 80% threshold that the kirk session had agreed was necessary before a split could take place.

The congregation, which has about 400 members, voted in a secret ballot.

The General Assembly voted in May to accept gay and lesbian clergy provided they had declared their sexuality and were ordained before May 2009.

However, no further gay clergy will be ordained until a theological commission has reported in 2013 and final decision has been made by the general assembly.

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