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A gay minister for Queen's Cross Church

A Brechin minister who is in a 'live-in' relationship with another man has been chosen by Queens Cross Church of Scotland in Aberdeen: according to one influential minister, the matter could split the national Kirk.

 


 

Queens Cross churchCHURCH of Scotland leaders have approved the controversial appointment of a gay minister at an Aberdeen church despite opposition from conservative members who do not approve of his lifestyle, it has emerged.

The city’s presbytery voted 60-24 to instal the Rev Scott Rennie at Queen’s Cross Church. However, sources within the Kirk say it is highly likely that critics will lodge an appeal to block the move within the next 10 days.

The Church of Scotland General Assembly, which is divided over civil partnerships, would then make the final decision in May.

Mr Rennie is currently minister at Brechin Cathedral in Angus, where he has worked since 1999. Separated from his wife with whom he has a young daughter, he shares the manse with another man.

The Church of Scotland said Mr Rennie was widely recognised as an “enthusiastic and gifted preacher”. And Prof Trevor Salmon, joint session clerk at Queen’s Cross, said: “This appointment was given a resounding endorsement by the kirk session and congregation. “We believe Scott Rennie has the qualities to build upon the tradition of excellent ministry that has been a hallmark of Queen’s Cross worship for many years.”   Read on in the Press and Journal...

  

Meanwhile, within the Church of Scotland nationally, a group of evangelicals (Bible-believers) have been at work visibly and behind the scenes in an attempt to combat spiritual declension within the Kirk. Rev. Ian Watson is one of the Steering Group of Forward Together and on his personal blog he has commented (January 8): "The evangelicals in Aberdeen argued against sustaining the call. It's not going too far to call this [proposed appointment] schismatic."

An appeal against Aberdeen Presbytery's decision is now being considered; and, if the appeal (or a 'petition') goes through, the matter will duly come before the General Assembly in May. Watson also comments: "Make no mistake, this issue has the potential to wreck the Church of Scotland." At the time of writing, no official statement was available from Forward Together. [A notice has since appeared on the FT web site which includes the observation: "This has caused enormous tremors throughout the Church as it is aggressively taking the debate on homosexuality onto a new level."]

 

Footnotes:

Rev. Graeme Longmuir has reported in the press: "Almost three-quarters [60 - 24 Ed.] of those voting in favour of the Rev. Scott Rennie's call to Queen's Cross Church."


Rev. Rennie was born and raised in Bucksburn in Aberdeen. He served as assistant at Queen’s Cross church before winning the Scots Fellowship to study for a masters in sacred theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City: he later returned to the UK in 1999 when he was called to be minister at the cathedral.
He is on the Church of Scotland’s taskforce on human sexuality and is treasurer of OneKirk—a network of ministers and members of the Church of Scotland working for an inclusive, progressive church. He is working towards a doctor of ministry degree at Aberdeen University and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.


In the Church of Scotland tradition (and similar arrangements apply in the other presbyterian denominations in Scotland) a local congregation 'calls' a minister. This call is then ratified by the local presbytery which is a geographically-defined gathering of every minister (active and retired) and a representative elder from every local congregation within the presbytery boundaries. The mechanisms are designed to be consensual and collegiate; in practice the usual resort, at local and national level, is to a vote.
Whilst a minister is 'called' by a local congregation, he (or she) is installed and can be deposed only by the incumbent's presbytery.

----------------------------

Comment


General Assembly HallThe Church of Scotland, as a corporate body, has fought hard to evade the above issue - one over which many other denominations are also currently being exercised.

Back in 2000, the embryonic Scottish Parliament was severly tested and the nation as a whole was aflame over the issue of how and whether homosexuality would be taught to school children.
In customary fashion during the May of that year, the Church of Scotland held its annual General Assembly in Edinburgh.  Whilst this annual convocation was once described as 'the nearest thing that Scotland has to a Parliament', the yearly gathering has fallen in esteem, and no longer attracts the same public and media attention as once it did. However in that year, many in Scotland stood on tiptoe and strained their ears to hear what the General Assembly would say on the very important issue. But sadly, when eventually some sound was heard, it struggled out of the Assembly Hall as a confused and muffled note. Accordingly, the Kirk was seen  as 'tried and found wanting' - and the people of Scotland were failed - by the body which purports to be 'the national church'.

 

Decision time

However, God has a concern for us and His church, and He cannot abide waywardness. About two thousand seven hundred years ago He said through the prophet Amos: "Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people...." He was setting His righteous standard into their midst. And as any builder or surveyor knows, there are not 'degrees of plumbness': a structure is either vertical or it's not.


Yet the Church of Scotland, and not just the Church of Scotland, has been ducking and weaving to avoid confronting the issue; and prevarication, obfuscation and procrastination have been the order of the day. But the God of the church of Jesus Christ is perhaps bringing these denominations to a point of decision. Moses called for a definitive response: "I have set before you life and death". So choose life that you may live". Joshua also laid it on the line: "Choose you this day whom you will serve." And he made his personal choice clear. Later the prophet Elijah rebuked the people of God: "How long will you hesitate between two opinions?"

The proverb states: "Where there is no vision, the people cast of restraint." Where there is no leadership, every man does what is right in his own eyes. And when those who are charged with tending the flock lack assurance and courage, then the sheep become unsettled and are vulnerable to all manner of prey.

 

So the nation needs an answer. The condition we are in is dire, but the root of the problem and the basic remedy is neither socio-political nor economic: it is spiritual. And the nation - in the pew and in the street - is being denied clear spiritual direction.

 

The issue is fundamental; and there are consequences

 

If the issue were of minor import then the tragedy would not be what it is. However the matter of right sexual relationships is fundamental to God's creational order for the family, representing as it does the basic building block on which all societies, if they aspire to be healthy, depend. The devil knows this, and what we are seeing is a diabolical, enduring and insidious attack on God's fundamental principles for wholesome living.

 

And we need to remember that God will not contend for ever with us - neither with individuals, nations nor denominations. Ultimately He will give us over to the consequences of our rebellious hearts. This is what Paul wrote about to the church in Rome:

 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

Rom 1:21-24

 

Payer needed

Rev. Watson rounds off his blog entry: "Pray for the Church of Scotland. Is God finished with her? "  The question assuredly is not merely rhetorical.

Pray also for Forward Together. The group's response to this (and other critical issues) will test its mettle; and the situation provides opportunity to show real leadership in this 'vacancy' of clear biblical standards in Aberdeen presbytery; and certainly in and from the national church. Pray also for the many biblically-faithful men and women in the Kirk - in pulpit and pew.


Even outwith the C of S some have expressed the view that if revival is to come to Scotland, it will be through the national church. Who knows? Certainly if some calamity were to strike the nation, it would be to their local parish church that many unchurched people people would turn.

However, others see too much emphasis and far too much drain of effort being put into maintaining denominational and ecclesiastical structures, rather than on faithfully defending and proclaiming God's word - irrespective of the consequences for denominational cohesion.


-------

 

Perhaps in an allusion to the dynamic in Amos' day,  Derek Prince who, in his lifetime, was an international and highly-respected Bible teacher once remarked:

quote

"If God wishes to revive the church, he first of all electrifies the fence."


What he meant by this remark of course, is that He will not allow us to continue sitting on it.

 


Homosexualtiy - Signs of Messianic Era (Derek Prince)

 

Update report (17/01/09):

Twelve Church of Scotland ministers and elders are trying to block the appointment of a gay minister in Aberdeen, it emerged last night.

They object to the decision to instal Scott Rennie at Queen’s Cross Church because they do not approve of his lifestyle.

The Aberdeen Presbytery members, who include ministers Louis Kinsey of St Columba's at Bridge of Don, Peter Dickson of High Holburn, Hugh Wallace of Newhills and Nigel Parker of Bucksburn Stoneywood, have signed a letter of protest to Kirk’s HQ in Edinburgh.

Prof Trevor Salmon, Queen’s Cross joint session clerk, said members, office-bearers and Mr Rennie are “dismayed” by the protest and branded the dissenters “small-minded”. A Kirk spokesman confirmed an appeal has been lodged against Mr Rennie’s appointment.

If the complaint is upheld, it will be referred to the Kirk’s General Assembly in May.

Aberdeen-born Mr Rennie is separated from his wife, with whom he has a young daughter, and shares the manse with another man.

Read on in the  Press and Journal....

Footnote: The options which required consideration by those who are opposed to the proposal were to either appeal against it (which is now the chosen course of action) or alternatively put a petition to the General Assembly in May. There were (are) pros and cons in terms of due process; and whether the issue would be addressed as being particular to the present case, or in general relating to the wider principles involved.



Christians Together, 09/01/2009

Feedback:
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Peter Carr 05/05/2009 09:51
sam said, "it has existed in the animal kingdom since the dawn of time and you dont see animals signing petitions or picking on their gay counterparts, thats because it doesnt matter!"

Can I respectfully suggest that the real reason that we don't see animals signing petitions is because they cannot read and write, nor are they to be compared with human beings who are uniquely made in God's image.

You may not think that it matters in this life, but there will come a time when it really will matter!

From God's (not man's word) Heb 9: 27 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,"
Penny Lee 05/05/2009 10:18
Regardless of what one feels about the rights or wrongs of homosexuality, one thing is simple fact. The Bible clearly states that God sees it as wrong. Since the whole Christian faith is based upon the Bible, how can anyone expect to just airbrush these references from it?

What do those with this lifestyle do when they reach these parts of the Bible? Do they just skip past them as if they don't matter? How can anyone put themselves in the position of teaching others about the Bible when they are living in a way which is condemned by it? Is that not hypocritical?

I'm also puzzled why those without belief at all, and who have no interest in attending church, feel justified in telling those within it what they should believe and accept. I wouldn't dream of going to a Freemason's meeting (not that I'd even get in!) and tell them they should allow women in. We all know what kind of response would follow, and why not? They have every right to decide this for themselves.

What a sad state of affairs when Christians are condemned for simply believing what is in the Bible. Is that not the whole point of it? You can't decide which bits of if you like - you either believe it or you don't.
Peter Carr 06/05/2009 08:16
Andrea said, "How can anyone put themselves in the position of teaching others about the Bible when they are living in a way which is condemned by it? Is that not hypocritical?"

And how can they expect God to bless their ministry, and annoint them with His Spirit?
John Parker (Guest) 06/05/2009 08:57
'Annoyed but not homosexual', just in case you missed an earlier link, have a look at -
http://www.igroops.com/igroops/sbm+webpages+5 (and that's just one story amongst many others)

Regarding Peter's valid question "How can they expect God to bless...." - of course he won't, He just removes His Spirit who quietly leaves the scene.
Alec (Guest) 06/05/2009 09:43
I said I wasnt going to say anymore, but I couldnt let the irony of this one pass. At the top RHS of the home page we read "Add you support to the petition of FOCC and Lochalsh and Skye Prebytery's petition etc etc" by clicking on the link

And then, this is the good bit, immediately below is the banner (for another page) "Persecution of Minister"

It would be funny if it werent so sad.

BTW, it is "Lochcarron and Skye Presbytery" not "Skye and Lochalsh" Maybe a bit of attention to detail might be in order, or are the eyes misted over with the fever of the persecution?

After all the same persecutors accused Mr Rennie of adultery and "leving his wife"

Think deep shame, the lot of you.
Penny Lee 06/05/2009 10:25
Alec,

I know this is an emotive issue but many people feel this is not something which can be condoned purely because of God's stance on it. What do you personally think about the references in the Bible which forbid the practice of homosexuality? To me they are unambiguous.

I have two friends who have this lifestyle and they are very good and longstanding friends of ours. It is none of my business what they do because they are not asking me to condone it or have it in my own home etc. so God alone will be their judge as He will be mine.

However, the difference here is that this man has chosen the calling of being a minister to take God's message of the gospel to others. How can he do this when he is living a lifestyle which is so clearly forbidden and condemned by the God he claims to follow? Do you honestly think God will bless this ministry? This, though, is a separate issue to what part we all play in it. No one of us will have to answer for anyone else's wrongdoing, but, we will be guilty if we have condoned it and encouraged it to continue.

I have to one day stand in front of the same God as everyone else and am only too aware that I will be required to answer for anything I have personally done which has been in direct denial of what I know to be true. I know what the Bible says about this subject and I know what warnings and judgements were given to NT churches who refused to deal with difficult issues, including ones similar to this.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of the 6,000+ people who have signed this petition are not interested in a personal attack against Mr. Rennie but want to honour God by keeping the teaching of the church in keeping with what God Himself directed through His word. I don't see how we can be criticised for that. Are you actually asking for Christinas to deny the truth of the Bible and why would you want them to do that?
Editor 06/05/2009 14:32
Some press articles from the Times and the Press and Journal. (Note: MSPs have now joined the fray.)

The dark days of bigotry and dogma haunt the modern Kirk. The case of the gay minister Scott Rennie is forcing the Church of Scotland to confront its own hypocrisy
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6229981.ece

'Third of Kirk ministers sign anti-gay petiton'
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6229725.ece

Gay Church of Scotland minister hits back at evangelical critics
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6222672.ece

Now MSPs attack bid to bar gay clergyman
http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1203172

A decision by churchgoers in Aberdeen to appoint an openly gay man as minister has created deep divisions in the Church of Scotland. Morag Lindsay considers the controversy that threatens to rock the Kirk to its foundations
The religious divide
http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1202185

Support for embattled minister
http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1202273
Penny Lee 07/05/2009 23:44
After posting on another thread about the above church supporting local Muslim groups in campaigning for Sharia Law, I then noticed an article stating that the Church of Scotland themselves are supportive of it!

They certainly don't speak for many (possible most) of those in the pews and I foresee another petition looming in the near future if they decide to lend their support to it.

If ever an organisation was careering ahead with self-destruction, this is it!
Pam Burnett (Guest) 08/05/2009 07:24
I am not religious but have Christian values but i always believed god accepted everyone. I believe that anyone who judges another human being should not be walking in to a church in the first place. If a person was to apply for a job and got refused because of their sexuality they could be taken to court why should the church be any different. I wish Mr Rennie all very best.
John Parker (Guest) 08/05/2009 08:38
Hi Pam. God loves EVERYONE so much that He sent Jesus to die for us and take the punishment that we are due for the wrongdoing that each and every one of us commits. And the Bible tells us that in terms of 'judging us' that it will be done by Jesus/God at the end of this age. But when we talk about 'having Christian values' unfortunately multitudes of people have Christian values (and that's good because Christian values are good). But no matter how good we are, we cannot 'work our way to God'.

Every other religion is a matter of man/women trying to work our way up to God through good works.
Christianity is God coming down to reveal Himself to us through His Son. And the Bible tells us -

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' Acts 2:21

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

And regarding how it conducts its affairs the church (and that really just means all those who follow Christ) it is ultimately answerable to God and his standards in the Bible, not to human courts.

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! Acts 5:29

God says that whosoever seeks him with all their heart will find Him. If you do not have a personal living relationship with God then ask him sincerely to reveal Himself to you. But you need to be very careful - it could change your whole life.

It certainly changed mine and millions of others who follow Jesus Christ and have found new life in Him.

God bless you!
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