A 500-strong church congregation has become the first to split from the Church of Scotland over the issue of gay clergy.
Glasgow’s iconic St George’s Tron church took the decision following a meeting on Monday last week (9 July).
The church’s secession decision is due to last year’s verdict by the general assembly of the Church of Scotland’ to accept gay clergy if they had declared their sexuality and were ordained before 2009.
In a press release, the church’s minister Reverend Dr William Philip alleged that the verdict ‘marginalized the Bible, the written word of God.’
He said: ‘Last year, despite having had the clear opportunity, the general assembly failed to reverse the stance taken in 2009 approving the appointment of ordained ministers in same-sex relationships.
‘Instead, it clearly and deliberately chose to set an opposite trajectory towards normalizing such relationships.
‘We believe the Church of Scotland is choosing to walk away from the biblical gospel and to walk apart from the faith of the worldwide Christian Church.’
Rev Dr Philip has been an outspoken critic of the general assembly’s verdict, which he termed at the time a ‘self-destructive folly’ and warned against the ‘inevitably of self-inflicted disaster’.
The decision to split comes despite the Church of Scotland’s insistence that no final decision would be taken on gay ordination until after the 2013 assembly.
St George’s Tron congregation is now seeking to align itself with another denomination, possibly the International Presbyterian Church.
A spokesperson for the Church of Scotland stated they were ‘saddened’ by secession and that discussion will take place with the congregation to ‘clarify the situation’.
The statement also noted that the congregation has still ‘outstanding financial obligations to the Church of Scotland and the General Trustees’ which own the kirk’s building.
Recently Reverend Ivor MacDonald became the first minister to announce his departure from the Church of Scotland which he termed as ‘radically liberal’ due to its 2011 verdict.
Equality along with same-sex marriage remain a divisive issue in the Church of Scotland.
Reverend Scott McKenna, Church of Scotland Minister for Mayfield Salisbury Parish in Edinburgh, previously told GSN that while the church’s official position is undecided, he ‘very much supports equality.
‘If you don’t support equality, you are saying that somehow heterosexual people are better, and LGBT people are somehow not as good.
‘That’s just pure discrimination and homophobia which sanctions personal pain, low self-esteem and ultimately violence against individuals and self. This is a cycle that needs to be broken!’
He also added that his congregation ‘is very supportive of marriage and don’t see what the problem is.’
The Scottish National Party will be having cabinet meeting tomorrow (17 July) to decide whether to introduce a same-sex marriage bill to the Scottish Parliament.