Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Would You Adam & Steve It?

The Church of Scotland would.

On Saturday evening, the commissioners of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland ratified the appointment of Scott Rennie as minister of Queens Cross Kirk in Aberdeen. Scott Rennie is openly gay and despite winning the support and approval of his prospective congregation and presbytery, there was opposition to his appointment from within, and markedly without the Church of Scotland.

The Kirk has a commendable history of liberalism. It has long championed universal and free education, the National Health Service and the Welfare State. It has officially supported the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Scottish Consitutional Convention. And of course, it was way ahead of the game when it came to ordinating women as ministers.

Despite that record, i feared the threat of splits, literal readings of scripture and institutional conservatism might stymie the Church of Scotland's chance to be a leader again among churches of the world. I shouldnae have worried. The vote was close - 326 to 267 - but the arguments seemed to focus not on what the bible says but on what Jesus Christ would have done. As an atheist who was brought up believing that Jesus was the first socialist, i'm delighted that JC's still considered the good guy by people who know much more about him than i do.

A wonderful day for the Church of Scotland and fitting testament to the bravery of Scott Rennie. Now if they could only get over that guff about believing in God.....


  1. I feared he would become a sacrificial lamb but am happy to be proved wrong. I don't think he'll have an easy time of it though, the Anti-brigade within will plot against him.

    I wish him well though.

  2. Aye Dougie, i'm sure there will be a few entrenched bigots who'll make life as hard as possible for Rev. Scott. But he's got the backing of his own church members, presbytery and now the General Assembly and that must count for a lot with members, elders, ministers and commissioners of the Kirk whatever their personal thoughts on the man.

    I hope and expect that this case will give other gay ministers the courage to come out to their congregations.

    Scotland's come a long way since the worst thing i could call someone in the school playground was "POOF!" (which admittedly wis a fair few years ago).

  3. Very happy about this, and good for the Aberdonians in the first place.

  4. I'm not too up on churchy things but I think the United Church of Canada is similar and perhaps the migrant child of the Church of Scotland. Although there is no official church in Canada, the United Church has been influential on various social issues... gay rights being one... and thank god (heehee) for that!

    Not that I'm affected directly, being a straight atheist, but ideally I'd rather live in a country where people's uptight opinions do not stomp on the rights of others. And at least that church thinks similarly... at least officially... and has a bit of social influence here. So thank you Scotland (but you can have the haggis back ;-).

  5. Linda, I don't want to make some cheap football orientated joke about sheep leading the way for a change. Ooops....i just did. Great stuff though.

    You're absolutely right, Ms TB. Seems like many of the smaller Protestant churches and some renegade US Anglicans have been quite chilled about this for a while.

    Christian news here tends to be dominated by the big 3 - Roman Catholic, Anglican and Church of Scotland so, in my ignorance, i was unaware of the rest (other than those renegade US gadgies).

    This doesn't really affect me directly either but the whole liberalisation of attitudes towards diversity is gaining pace all the time. Which has to be barry.

  6. Great article and the Church has done it self proud and i ken your article is a few months old but my only problem is the 2 year ban to keep some of the old gaurd happy.

    " A wonderful day for the Church of Scotland and fitting testament to the bravery of Scott Rennie. Now if they could only get over that guff about believing in God."
    Hee hee aye right one thing at a time eh :)