Theological Commission on Same-Sex Relationships and the Ministry publishes report to General Assembly

The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly will meet from 18 to 25 May in Edinburgh this year. Our Minister, the Rev Peter W Nimmo, and one of our elders, David Smillie, will be Commissioners.

One item being considered will be a report by a commission set up at the 2011 Assembly on the matter of whether persons in same-sex relationships ought to be able to be Ministers or office-bearers within the Church. The Commission’s report is now available on the Church of Scotland website.

The Church of Scotland has said the following about the report:

The 2011 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland appointed a Theological Commission to bring to the General Assembly of 2013 a report on same sex relationships and the Ministry.

The report describes the breadth of theological opinion that exists within the Church on the question of whether the Church of Scotland should ordain ministers who are in same-sex relationships. It also offers the General Assembly a choice of either legislating to allow for such ordinations or reaffirming the traditional understanding that it is inappropriate to ordain ministers who are in same-sex relationships.

Neither the report in its entirety nor any individual proposal, represents the considered view of the Church of Scotland. The report and the diverse proposals have been put forward by the seven members of the Commission who have a broad spectrum of views.

The General Assembly which is the sovereign body of the Church, will consider the various proposals.

On one hand the report offers the Church a way of allowing the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships who have entered into a civil partnership, while protecting both individuals and congregations who in conscience do not agree with the theological principles which underpin that choice.

On the other hand the report, while reaffirming its belief that homophobia is sinful, invites the Church to reaffirm its traditional stance that the only appropriate expression of sexual activity should be within marriage between one man and one woman.

The report does not offer a recommendation of one option or the other but leaves this open for the Assembly to decide.

The Rev John Chalmers the Principal Clerk to the General Assembly said:

“The Report and the options which it provides are offered at this stage without comment from the Convener or members of the Commission; it will be for the General Assembly alone, based on the substance of the theological arguments to come to a mind on this matter. In the meantime, the report which is wide ranging and detailed is commended to the whole Church for prayerful study and consideration.”

A previous special commission on this matter asked for the views of each Kirk Session and Presbytery. In 2010, we held education events on the topic, after which our Kirk Session considered the questions which the commission asked us. Part of the Session’s response included the following statement, which was agreed by a substantial majority:

Our interpretation of the Bible is that God’s grace is inclusive and the life of Jesus emphasized God’s love and openness to the powerless and the marginalized in society. Therefore it would be wrong to discriminate in the Church on the basis of sexual orientation.

If you would like any further information on this matter, please contact the Minister.

You can read some sermons which touch on these issues here .

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