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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).

 

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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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Peter Carr 25/11/2011 09:26
Morag,

You only have to look at church history to see that what is being said on this thread is tame compared to what has happened in the past. That is not to excuse rudeness etc, but to explain the extreme positions, and even conduct when it comes to division amongst Christians.
Alisdair Smith 25/11/2011 11:18
Morag,
I agree that there are some comments that could have been phrased in a more loving manner. Whenever Christians speak with the force of truth yet without love and sober reflection, there is always a danger of it slipping into self righteousness, which provides the enemy with something he can really use to sow division. Having said that, you will appreciate that there is a difference between judging a person and judging what a person says or does. Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." does not provide a blanket ban on all judegement as you seem to be saying. After all only a few verses later Jesus warns, "“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." How can one tell a false prophet without judging what he says or does. No, we can't cut up scripture like that to get it to say what we want. When we begin to read scripture as one coherent whole then we can beging to think God's thoughts after Him.

We cannot judge if a person is saved or will be saved or not, sure, but as Christians surely we are called to make judegments every day. We must judge if what our leaders are telling us accords with scripture, elders must judge sound doctrine and should be capable of teaching it. We all judge it wise not to employ a paedophile as a babysitter. The very fact that you made the post above means that you made a judgement on what had been written before, doesn't it?

So it's not that a Christian is not to judge, but rather we are called to judge wisely always remembering that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Perhaps there are too many both inside and outside of the Kirk that have no trace of fear in their eyes. We would all do well to remember our true place before an almighty and soveriegn God.
Alan Keely (Guest) 25/11/2011 14:23
I agree with John Parker, there is a battle going on and it is for God's truth to be revealed, and it is long overdue as far as I am concerned. Let me tell you about a man I encountered on the street one evening recently, and how he made me feel that more has to be done in this country to see God's truth upheld for all to see.

This man was in the Army, we got chatting and when I said I was a Christian he said to me “You people need to start sticking up for what you believe in” I was a bit shocked at his very direct approach, but he went on to say “ I have been in the Army for a little over 20 years” he said and went on, “I have now been posted in Scotland to do some training for the Army with new recruits etc, just until my time is served out”.

He then asked me this “Do you know what I have been doing for the past 20 years in the Army?”
No I said, he went on “I have been fighting Muslim wars around the world” He said, and went on “Whether you think they are right or wrong, the Muslims are fighting for what they believe in” then came the statement that floored me “You call this a Christian country, this is not a Christian country at all, and that is because you people won't stand and fight for what you believe in”

I have to say at this point, I hung my head in shame, I had no reply that could present him with anything even remotely close to the contrary of his findings.

What does that tell us about fighting the good fight? I am not any shape manner or form condoning war, or trying to have a poke at the Muslim faith at all, so please don't think that I am, I am merely telling you about this encounter and how a man with no faith travels the world fighting in the name of the British government, and we are sitting in our nice warms houses, hoping no one asks us our opinion in case we say something that offends them. Then this man comes home and basically calls the Christians in this country spineless, and he is right.

I am not suggesting for a moment that we dust down our AK47 assault rifles and scale the building in 121 George street, break the windows, throw in a couple of flashbangs to disable the people inside and then cable tie their hands and frogmarch them out of town, no, not at all!

But this man got me thinking about things on a big scale. When war breaks out the first thing that the most organised side do is take out the necessities of their opponents. This is braking one or all of the following, food supply, communications/media, power and water. If this is achieved then needless prolonged battles can be avoided.

So, with that in mind, what I am suggesting is this. If you feel that the hierarchy within the Church of Scotland has taken a path that strays from the Word of God, surely, we have to engage them as is our Christian duty, and take out their necessities, this is very simple in this case, If you withhold the monies that God provides us to build His Church, putting them aside and not forwarding any of it to 121 George street, let me tell you brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, it won't take them 2 years to reply to you, they will be out of a job, and as a bonus, we regain God's Church and start rebuilding again in this country.

What are your thought's on this, is this time for another Reformation of the national Church?
Rosemary Cameron 25/11/2011 15:11
A very thought-provoking comment Alan. I am so fed up of people telling me that they are not happy with what's going on in the Scottish Parliament but when I suggest they write to their MSP they won't do it. It's the same with the CofS. If its members are not happy with the direction being taken, they should make their feelings known to the leadership, withholding money if necessary to make their point. We are called to be good stewards of the money God gives us and giving to organisations which have departed from the word of God is not being a good steward in my book. I think another reformation is long overdue.
Peter Carr 25/11/2011 17:24
Alan,

Your soldier is right in that this is no longer a Christian country, however it is a country with Christians who need to become more vocal as individuals, and not pass the buck to the so called national church.

Each Christian will one day be held accountable for what we did with the revelation that we were given (the bible - God's word).

Yes, the so called national church has over the decades failed this nation, but so have countless Christians of that and other denominations. It is time for the true Christians of this generation to put aside badges and petty squabbling, and to stand shoulder to shoulder for God's truth. That is the only reformation that is required!!
Alan Keely (Guest) 25/11/2011 18:17
Thanks to Rosemary and Tartan for your comments.

Yes Tartan, I do agree, many individual Christians are not standing up, and surely we are to all be held accountable when the good Lord passes His Judgement on our lives. I also agree many other denominations have had there own issues over the decades, which is obviously concerning to us all. The reason I am asking for comments on the national Church and Reformation is that this very thread is in a response to the awful position Paul Gibson finds himself in because the national church of which he belongs as a minister have taken down a path that can only lead to hell to be quite blunt about it. As I said Tartan, I am concerned for all Christians in our country to unite, but surely the hierarchy of a national church that refuses to acknowledge, and refuses to obey the sound doctrine of Our Lord and Master, needs to be Reformed for all our sakes, and only when that takes place I would think a new alliance could be agreed upon which would incorporate all denominations, but sadly at the moment, no other denomination would want to hang their hat with such a national church.
Morag Macdonald 25/11/2011 18:24
It is not just the judging side of it Alisdair.it is the way we talk to each other and that is not what god wants i mean we are rude. aggressive and we can be just so unfriendly
Peter Carr 25/11/2011 18:26
Alan,

What we are witnessing is history repeating itself. Were not the Gospel Halls and The Salvation Army birthed due to liberalism in the national church.

IMO the national church in Scotland is a lost cause, it is time to regroup. Yes, that will lead to a reforming, but that has always been the case down through church history. Let us reform under The Lord's banner, not under men's failed institutions!
Alan Keely (Guest) 25/11/2011 18:44
Brother Tartan - I would sign up to that! I am so frustrated with how this whole mess has come around Brother, of course, you are right, it is a failed institution, a cancer to Christianity at the moment my friend.
Peter Carr 25/11/2011 19:42
Alan,

That makes 2 of us. Maybe this forum could become the catalyst for change!
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Current News > Tain minister to leave parish