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Tain minister to leave Church of Scotland charge

The minister in Tain Parish Church of Scotland has written to his congregation to say that he can no longer continue with them in the context of both local and national issues in relation to Kirk's stance on sexuality.

 




Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. John 12:26

Tain Parish Church
Tain parish churchRev. Paul Gibson having been inducted just eight months ago into the pastoral charge of Tain Parish Church is now finding himself having to leave over the stances — both local and national – within the denomination in relation to sexuality.
Inasmuch as a minister is in effect 'self-employed' a demission – without good reasons that the Church would understand and agree with – is a de facto resignation.

This tragic situation is a reflection of the turmoil throughout the denomination since last May's General Assembly when the Church of Scotland effectively set itself upon a 'trajectory' which departs from the Word of God.

At a pastoral level no minister worthy of the name 'cuts the pastoral tie' lightly. Invariably there is much prayer, heart-searching and pain. However ministers can find themselves caught between personal conviction and professional responsibilities. Others can find that they do not have the support of a sufficient number of  those (elders and church members) around them. Still others can find that they are faced with 'legacy issues' – problems in a congregation which have 'carried over'. Very often a combination of these stresses can be at work. And that's without the very serious problem of their denomination 'jumping the tracks' of biblical orthodoxy.

Having come into the pastoral ministry very recently from a background in journalism and the business world, the Tain minister recently gave the following statement to his congregation:

Rev. Paul Gibson
Rev Paul GibsonDear friends,

It is with great sadness that I hereby announce my demission from the charge of Tain Parish Church. I have informed Ross Presbytery of this decision and I will formally leave the Church, God willing, in four weeks’ time.

I want to express my gratitude to the congregation of Tain Parish Church, as well as those within the Free Church and the APC, for the brief time of fellowship that God has allowed us to share with one another and I remain deeply thankful to those who have shared my own conviction and desire to do all things, by God’s Grace, in a manner worthy of the gospel.

However, in recent months it has become evident that, in light of both the local and denominational contexts, it is not possible for me to fully perform the role of ministry within this church with true integrity and in a manner, which I believe, is in line with biblical teaching and therefore honouring to Christ.

As you know we have had some very difficult and painful issues to grapple with in recent months, issues which have been challenging and upsetting for all concerned and which recently raised a matter of church discipline.

Whilst the bible’s teaching on this is very clear, it is sadly the case that, despite the efforts and support of some of the elders, the Kirk Session as a whole is not united in handling this matter in accordance with Scripture. This, coupled with the serious fracture of fellowship caused by the so-called “revisionist“ decisions of this year’s General Assembly, leads me to the conclusion that I no longer have the liberty and support within this context to exercise a biblically faithful ministry.

I never would have dreamt that my tenure within Tain Parish Church would be so relatively short. However, in God’s providence, we can only respond to situations that fall before us as faithfully as we are able to and it seems that the last of these for me in the current context is sadly, to depart.

I thank you for the privilege of being able to serve Christ and His gospel in this place and I pray that each one of you will know the eternal riches of His Grace, through repentance and faith in His Son Jesus Christ, in whose name I came and in whose name I now go

Rev. Paul Gibson

 

It will most likely be the case that there are rock-solid faithful believers in most Church of Scotland congregations; and the congregation in Tain is no exception. Pray for all those who, like Rev. Gibson,  will "having done all things, stand" (Eph 6:13).

 

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

 

General Comment:

 

What is certain in all of this is that God is at work amongst the Church of Scotland (and other denominations beyond) in identifying those individuals and congregations prepared to live in obedience to the declared Word of God which – as everyone who holds the Bible in any regard will agree – is quite clear on what God has ordained marriage to be.

 

What is also clear is that the euphemistically termed 'broad church' – the denomination's proud boast – is seen now to be more of a 'mixed bag' of belief and unbelief; some living in obedience to God's Word with others in outright rebellion.

 

In all the upset no single 'template' has emerged regarding how individuals and/or congregations have responded, are responding and – for some – are yet to respond. The very sad situation in Tain is almost certainly not going to be the last one. However pruning, refining and purifying are all (painful) means to an end; used by God in terms of building a faithful church and preparing a spotless bride.

 

 


Christians Together, 23/11/2011

Feedback:
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Editor 08/10/2012 08:58
Seamus, thank you for your understanding.

"Clearly, openness, accountability and transparency are not presbyterian values..."

Sadly the problem of course is not confined to the system that you mention.

There is also however a biblical principle which advocates discernment regarding what to say, and when (if at all) to say it.

The judgement on this is not always easy. However where the motives for remaining silent are dishonourable the Bible gives us warning that these will be exposed (cf Luke 12:2-3).
Editor 08/10/2012 09:53
Seamus, thank you for your understanding.

"Clearly, openness, accountability and transparency are not presbyterian values..."

Sadly the problem of course is not confined to the system that you mention.

There is also however a biblical principle which advocates discernment regarding what to say, and when (if at all) to say it.

The judgement on this is not always easy. However where the motives for remaining silent are dishonourable the Bible gives us warning that these will be exposed (cf Luke 12:2-3).
Ewan Wilson (Guest) 22/10/2012 20:38
The problem with the Church of Scotland evangelicals/reformed is that they have, often by their own free admission, neglected their wider ecclesiastical obligations, not fought forthrightly in the various church courts and as a result have learned to live with all sorts of wider denominational corruptions and on going downgrades. They have , many of them, displayed contempt for their genuine evangelical, presbyterian brethren in the doctrinally sounder presbyterian denominations, miscalling them 'secessionists'/ schismatics, etc.
As the Rev David Silversides of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland reminded us some time ago, however, the true 'schismatic' is the one who insists on adhering to and supporting a 'mixed bag' of heretics and brethren when there exists a far more faithful body of beliers. The Biblical position is simple and stark and by seeking to ignore it for decades the Kirk Reformed have brought this present clamitous situation upon themselves- and more to the point, have left Scotland with a weak and badly tattered/divided witness to the Reformed and so authentic Gospel.
One has immense sympathy with all those quitting an apparently hopeless situation but I cannot help but feel that having freely chosen the 'in it to win it' strategy, those who have the stamina to stick it out till the crunch General Assembly where in presbyterian solidarity they can present a very public witness of Formal Protest which will effectively ensure their expulsion, is the procedure the Lord will most bless. Of course in the present fraught circumstances of heightened emotions and resentments it is perfectly possible not a few faithful men will be 'felled' by more local situations such as in Tain, by all accounts, and a sadly perfect example of the ultimate unworkableness of trying to fuse Reformed, regenerate Christian leadership with worldly, anti-Scriptural 'liberalism' and its various manifestations. When the canker's been left to spread for too long it eventually destroys the body. God works by solemn Covenant sanctions and they are now coming home fully to roost in the Kirk. We just pray many will be given grace to flee the idolatry, to touch not the unclean thing and remember the gravity of the warning that but a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump so our complacency, our satisfaction, our denominational glorying is not good.( 1 Cor Chap 5 )
Ewan Wilson (Guest) 22/10/2012 21:34
I was also interested to learn here that the Moderator designate of the momentous General Assembly is to be a 'card carrying evangelical' and the first such for years if not decades. Brethren, I have ambivalent feelings about this but predominantly I simply do not trust the motives behind such an odd manoeuvre. The 'powers that be' in the Kirk must have great confidence in this individual to be a loyal kirk man and it bodes ill surely that in the circumstances he will preach a downright message from Scripture on the two pressing issues facing the Kirk- toleration of sexual immorality and, even worse, playing host to various false religions, idolatries and heretical sects. Paul rejoiced that whatever the motive the Gospel got preached but it chills us to think some in the echelons of 121 have sat down and cold bloodedly calculated that this might just be the 'sop' needed to delude a few of the more gullible more 'evangelicals' to remain on board. It is not the first time in denominational feuding that I have seen a matter of solemn doctrine being thus manipulated for base political expedient ends.
Still, we must NOT forget that despite the many casualties already, the Kirk has not yet unreservedly and definitively sided with immorality and idolatry, though all the pointers are it will be seduced into doing so. Nevertheless I cannot see a fudge will satisfy the more honourable Kirk leaders and members and I equally cannot see how the Kirk can reverse its disastrous decision from 2010 to allow at least some immoralists to remain in good standing.
It is striking, too, that Queen's Cross, Abderdeen has been a focal point for both the immorality and the spiritual harlotry of false gods and idolatry.
Equally, the Presbytety of Glasgow, all the while it has been harassing the congregation of St George's Tron out the door, was welcoming into its city centre headquarters a speaker from the Christian Science unspeakably heretical sect. So much for Apostolic injunctions from John in his Second Epistle not to so much as receive such an anti-Christ into your house, let alone wish him and his cause God speed unless you wish to be partakers of such vile doctrine, denying Christ has come in the flesh- a perfect fit of Christian Science's sad delusions. When Glasgow Presbytery evangelicals are berating their former Reformed Tron brethren, are they doing anything to avoid being partakers of the spirit of anti-Christ? It is so shameful it makes me weep. May Christ never be despised like this again.
Editor 29/11/2012 10:17
Rev. Paul Gibson is taking up a charge at Perth Free Church.

It's likely that the induction will be on Friday 15th February.

John Miller 14/01/2013 13:26
Paul Gibson's induction at Perth Free Church has been confirmed for Friday 15th February at 7 pm, God willing.
John Miller 17/02/2013 20:39
We were priviledged to attend Paul's induction on Friday. There was a tremendous attendance. The building was packed, standing room only. It was surely an encouragement to Paul and his family.

I just wondered if any of the Tain parishoners were present.
adnaim (Guest) 24/02/2013 14:47
In answer to your question, John, there were a number of us from Paul's old congregation in Tain who travelled down to Perth for the induction. A few of us are still members in TPC. I too felt privileged to be there and experience the warmth of the Christian fellowship and the sense of God's presence. Although inevitably tinged with sadness for me, the overwhelming feeling was of joy that by God's grace we were able to share with God's people in such a happy and important event. Also the feeling was of anticipation that God is going to do something wonderful in Perth. I pray that God will bless Paul's ministry there.
John Miller 24/02/2013 16:02
Adnaim, thank you for your reply. I know that Paul has very warm feelings for those of his one-time flock in Tain who appreciated his desire to bring the message of the cross and the risen Christ to them.

As I read your reply I pray that God will yet graciously be pleased to demonstrate His pleasure in Paul's faithful service in your parish.
Angus Maclean (Guest) 24/02/2013 16:17
Admain, you friend Paul is taking up ministry in a city which has been displaying 'Gospel' billboards for several years now, so he can know that there are great encouragements around him in his new situation.
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