Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against, during today’s General Assembly, in a debate, that lasted almost four hours and included 31 of the Church’s presbyteries endorsing the move to 14 who opposed it.
— Church of Scotland (@churchscotland) May 16, 2015
The decision comes into force with immediate effect and means that the Kirk will not change its traditional stance – marriage is between a man and woman – but individual congregations can opt-out if they wish to appoint a minister or deacon in a same-sex partnership.
Co-ordinator of the Principal Clerk’s office, Very Rev David Arnott, said: “The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decided today to allow individual Kirk Sessions the possibility of allowing a Nominating Committee to consider an application from a minister living in a civil partnership.
“During a vacancy a Kirk Session may, but only if it so wishes, and after due deliberation, agree to a Nominating Committee accepting an application from such a minister.
“No Kirk Session may be coerced into doing so against its own wishes. This decision was in line with a majority of presbyteries who voted in favour of such a move.”
Since the debate predates the legalisation of gay marriage the proposed change mentions only civil partnerships, not same-sex marriages.
The Assembly will be asked on Thursday to consider amending today’s new Church law to include ministers in same-sex marriages.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended the opening of the General Assembly for the installation of Rev Dr Angus Morrison as Moderator of the General Assembly.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 16, 2015
The current Moderator Very Rev John Chalmers said: “We cannot go on suffering the pain of internal attacks which are designed to undermine the work or the place of others. It’s time to play for the team.
“And let me be very clear here – I am not speaking to one side or another of the theological spectrum. I am speaking to both ends and middle.
“It is time to stop calling each other names, time to shun the idea that we should define ourselves by our differences and instead define ourselves by what we hold in common – our baptism into Christ, our dependence on God’s grace, our will to serve the poor and so on.”