The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Church of Scotland’s vote has angered many Irish presbyterian leaders, who accuse their Scottish counterparts of “mov[ing] away from the historic and biblical position”.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the largest denomination in Northern Ireland, has historically sent a representative to every General Assembly of its sister church. However, this long-standing tradition has been broken after the Irish church’s own assembly voted by a majority of 99 to 84 for the boycott.
The boycott will last for one year only and will not affect the invitation to the Kirk to send its own representative to next year’s General Assembly in Belfast. Interestingly, the vote appeared to ignore the wishes of the incoming moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Rt Rev Dr Ian McNie, who spoke of the need for “greater tolerance” and of tolerance being “a two-way street”.
However, a spokesperson for the church defended the decision, telling the Belfast Telegraph: “While we have not taken a formal stance on the Scottish vote, as we said at the time, many would have felt a sense of sorrow and deep regret at the Church of Scotland’s decision to allow the ordination of ministers who are in a same-sex marriage.
“In a heartfelt and finely balanced debate at the General Assembly last week, members judged that they would express this deep regret by taking a symbolic step not to appoint representatives on this occasion to go to Edinburgh in 2016.”