A Caithness Church of Scotland minister has criticised his presbytery’s decision to oppose the appointment of ministers in same-sex marriages.
Rev John Nugent, who is minster of Wick St Fergus Church, said: “I object strongly to the language used by some people at the presbytery meeting.”
He added: “Injustice and inequality have become the norm for people in same-sex relationships. I’m concerned the vote is sending out the wrong message not only to folks who are LGBT in the community here in Wick but further afield….People I know who are gay are regularly subjected to [prejudice] purely because of who they are.”
Some of the most vitriolic opposition to same-sex marriage came from representatives of Pulteneytown and Thrumster church, whose session clerk, Mr Colin Mackay, said: “I believe that anyone who preaches for civil partnerships and same-sex marriage is a false prophet and they are seriously endangering their entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Mr Mackay’s views were echoed and supported by Rev Ian McCree, locum minister at Pulteneytown and Thrumster, who wrote in a letter read out at the meeting: “I want to speak on behalf of the many whom I have spoken to over the past few years who find it very hard to understand why the Church is seeking to pander to the whims of just two per cent of the population…” He also repeated the conservative mantra “love the sinner but not the sin” and claimed Biblical support for his views, despite the many challenges to conservative interpretations of those Biblical texts.
All 45 of the Church of Scotland’s presbyteries have been asked to vote on whether to extend the provisions covering ministers in civil partnerships to those in same-sex marriages. Currently, individual congregations can “depart” from the official church position and call a deacon or minister in a civil partnership – the Kirk’s General Assembly voted in May to extend this provision to those in same-sex marriages if a majority of presbyteries agree.
The vote at Caithness presbytery in the Highlands saw 5 in support of extending the provisions, with 12 against. Other presbyteries will be voting at different times in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, on a more positive note, a source who wishes to remain anonymous has told KaleidoScot that the parish church on Iona has voted to “depart” and to support the appointment of ministers in civil partnerhips – and potentially also same-sex marriages. According to this source, the discussion at Iona – one of Christianity’s most important sites in Scotland – was open and honest, allowing all points of view to be expressed, before reaching a unanimous decision to support equality. The Argyll presbytery as a whole will vote on 1st December.