An Edinburgh congregation has “come out” in support of LGBTI inclusivity.
Greyfriars Kirk, situated in Edinburgh’s Old Town, has confirmed it wishes to become an “affirming congregation” within the Church of Scotland.
Affirmation Scotland, an organisation within the Church aiming to “affirm the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in The Church of Scotland and the Churches in Scotland”, is supported by a network of sympathetic local churches known as “affirming congregations” who have made public declarations promoting LGBTI equality and inclusion. Greyfriars is the latest addition to this family.
Rev Lezley Stewart, Associate Minister at Greyfriars Kirk, explained to KaleidoScot that “at Greyfriars we have always sought to be an inclusive community and to affirm each individual as a child of God. We have a ministry that seeks to support the vulnerable, and those who find themselves marginalised, and in identifying ourselves as an Affirming Congregation, we see the benefit in being part of a wider network that identifies us readily as a church with a progressive and inclusive theology. We also share in an ecumenical partnership with local progressive congregations, St Columba’s by the Castle, and Augustine United.
“In some ways there is a sadness that congregations should still have to identify themselves as open and welcoming of LGBTI, but where there are more often negative messages coming through louder than positive, the need is still there. Like many, we hope that in time to come, the celebration of diversity will be a given, rather than having to be declared.”
The convenor of Affirmation Scotland, Rev Blair Robertson, welcomed the announcement from Greyfriars, adding that “whilst the press likes to make headline news over a congregation splitting – or leaving the Kirk – over sexuality issues, there are more Affirming Congregations listed on [the Affirmation Scotland] website than congregations which have left or split.”
Greyfriars’ statement of beliefs includes the mission to be “an inclusive community, where no-one is turned away or rejected”, while their vision is to be a church in which life is celebrated “in all its fullness”.