THE Church of Scotland has voted in favour of allowing people in same sex civil partnerships to be called as ministers and deacons.
The historic decision was made by the General Assembly on the Mound in Edinburgh on Saturday, where the motion was passed by 309 votes in favour and 182 against.
The outcome is the culmination of years of deliberation within the Church. The motion has faced a series of debates and votes before the final decision was arrived at this afternoon. This included 31 of the Church’s presbyteries endorsing the move to 14 who opposed it.
This means the Church has adopted a position which maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to ‘opt out’ if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership.
In a speech on Saturday the outgoing Moderator Very Rev John Chalmers said: “There’s something else that we have to learn as a Church and that is the power of harmony.
“Of course we need the freedom across the Church to shape the life and worship of the Church according to local needs and local gifts (and we have seen wonderful examples of this – from Soul Space at Johnstone High Parish to the Shed in Stornoway) but we cannot go on suffering the pain of internal attacks which are designed to undermine the work or the place of others. It’s time to play for the team.”
Because the debate predates the legalisation of gay marriage the proposed change mentions only civil partnerships, not same-sex marriages.
The Assembly will be asked on Thursday to consider amending today’s new Church law to include ministers in same-sex marriages.
Nicola Sturgeon also attended the opening of the General Assembly for the first time as First Minister.