I took a bus into Edinburgh’s city centre and managed to get in to see the debate over Scott Rennie live at the General Assembly. The public gallery and the video-link hall were both packed full. The debate lasted four hours and was (mostly) of a high standard, I thought. It was a court case carried out without public broadcasting cameras, so I don't want to go into detail on speeches. Kirk votes to back gay minister, says the BBC headline – and it did, by 326 votes to 267. Scott Rennie’s call to Queen’s Cross Church and the ratification by Aberdeen Presbytery have been upheld. I don’t know Scott, but I’m glad for him and wish him well. It was the right decision.
But the motion passed was more complex than the BBC make it appear. The motion recognised that the church has not yet expressed a clear-cut view on matters of homosexuality and ministry, and the decision on Scott Rennie was expressly stated not to prejudice that debate, which was originally to take place afterwards tonight in terms of the motion issued by Lochcarron & Skye Presbytery:
“That this Church shall not accept for training, ordain, admit, readmit, induct or introduce to any ministry of the Church anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman.”
However, due to the initial court case taking so long, it’s been postponed until Monday at 4pm.
In other words, the Church of Scotland General Assembly has decided that, under existing church legislation, the Presbytery of Aberdeen acted properly in upholding Scott Rennie’s call to Queen’s Cross Church. However, if the Overture issued by Lochcarron & Skye is passed on Monday, people engaged in sexual relationships, outside marriage between a man and woman, won’t be allowed to take up office as church ministers (in the future). So more or less everything is still at stake.