Church of Scotland votes for gay ministers

Right Reverend David Arnott (centre), Reverend John Chalmers (left), Reverend Janet Mathieson (right) during the debate today.
Right Reverend David Arnott (centre), Reverend John Chalmers (left), Reverend Janet Mathieson (right) during the debate today. Photo: Press Association

The Church of Scotland has voted in favour of allowing openly gay men and women to become ministers by permitting congregations to depart from their current stance on the issue.

The General Assembly backed a motion affirming the Church's "current doctrine and practice in relation to human sexuality", but permitting liberal congregations to depart from that approach if they wish to do so.

The decision, made following a lengthy debate on the issue, will come back before next year's General Assembly for further analysis. Scotland Correspondent Debi Edward reports

The issue has divided the church for many years and had been expected to vote on three options today:

  • To reject the future ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships
  • To treat openly gay minsters in the same way as heterosexual clergy, or
  • To allow congregations to appoint ministers in civil partnerships whilst permitting individual congregations to opt-out.

However Church commissioners voted in favour of a last-minute option brought to the table by the Very Reverend Albert Bogle, which pledged to:

Affirm the Church's historic and current doctrine and practice in relation to human sexuality, (but) nonetheless permit those Kirk Sessions who wish to depart from that doctrine and practice to do so

Mr Bogle's motion was carried with 340 votes in favour in a final ballot on the issue.

Today's historic vote effectively means that the traditionalist position holds, but congregations will be able to choose themselves to have a minister in a civil partnership if they wish to do so.