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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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Peter Carr 01/12/2011 09:25
Thank you, there is also the danger of a church's laundry being done in a very public way!!
member of tpc (Guest) 01/12/2011 09:40
If you lived here you would know that it is a small place and this was already in the public domain. Much prayer is needed.
Editor 01/12/2011 10:20
It is also incumbent on the Christian community to be open with a public that is very able to detect any hypocrisy and obfuscation.

But apart from that it would seem that God is exposing problems in the political, media and financial sectors. And Scripture tells us that the church is first in line for the spotlight.

"“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17
How much damage has the Roman Catholic Church brought on itself from trying to 'cover up' problems.

However this thread is not about that issue; the issue in question on this thread revolves around a minister who has had to leave because of opposition to him operating biblically on a matter of critical importance in the Gospel. Let's keep it focussed on that.
John Miller 01/12/2011 11:13
In Mat.10 and Luke 9 Jesus sent His disciples out to preach. He ends His instruction with a very solemn word about what they should do if their words are rejected. Now let me make it absolutely clear that I am not suggesting that this applies directly to the situation in Tain or indeed anywhere else where liberal preferences are being allowed to sully the name of our Lord Jesus by the insistance on permitting evil. Paul Gibson is not an Apostle nor could he fulfil all the Lord's instructions given at the time. However what these verses establish is a principle that God takes account of the response, not only of individuals but also of communities, to the preaching of His word. That is very solemn. The churches laundry does not come into this. What is at stake are the principles of the House of God. Our God is holy and He says "Be ye holy as I am holy". It is not optional.
RobertJ.Macdonald (Guest) 01/12/2011 11:15
Thank you editor.
I am less inclined to respond to an anonymous Zip or Tartan Paint and shall probably make this my last contribution for that reason. I would refer you to the post from Graham 24/11 for a direct quote from Paul Gibson to his congregation
Rev. Paul Gibson resigned because he was rejected. Our problem came down to a simple matter of church discipline and membership of the body of Christ. The majority of the Kirk session and indeed the congregation chose personalities over and above the Word of God. Unfortunately what is being played out in Tain is an example of what is happening and will continue to happen within the CoS. No one person or institution can be all things to all people and CoS would do well learn that lesson. In its desperate attempt to appease everyone at all cost it is in fact only serving to suck the life from its own heart.
John 14:6

Peter Carr 01/12/2011 11:46
"It is also incumbent on the Christian community to be open with a public that is very able to detect any hypocrisy and obfuscation."

Matt 7: 6 "“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."



Peter Carr 01/12/2011 11:47
"I am less inclined to respond to an anonymous Zip or Tartan Paint and shall probably make this my last contribution for that reason."

Editorial policy allows this situation.
Editor 01/12/2011 11:50
Robert, thanks for your contribution(s) and I'm sure all concerned would be sorry to 'lose' you. Some choose to use 'Screen names' but are aware that their identities are probably know (from a time previous to the use of 'Screen names'). Also registered site members can also contact 'screen name' users if the latter so permit. But please don't let this explanation of mine 'disturb the flow'.

There has been (as most are aware) considerable upset amongst Church of Scotland members. A substantial part of the reason for this has been the CofS's attempts to muzzle discussion. It could well be the case that this thread (your own contributions included) is providing a pastoral input into many situations.
George Orr 01/12/2011 11:55
'the issue revolves around a minister who has had to leave because of opposition to him preaching the Truth. Let's keep it focussed on that.'

Again I ask should we have to leave because of opposition?

Should we not expect opposition if we live and speak the truth? Are we not promised it?

John 15:20
Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

Why should we surprised when the opposition and persecution comes from within the 'church'? The religious establishment has always been the source of such things.

We do not know the meaning of persecution in this country. I do not know the full circumstances of this case, but I know that when or if persecution comes to the church in this land then we had best get standing because that is what we are called to do and keep on doing.

Hebrews 10
35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,

“He who is coming will come and will not delay.

38But my righteous one will live by faith.

And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.”

39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Hebrews 12
2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

2 Timothy 22
4 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

For this to happen we have to be engaged with people.

If God has called this man to this place then told him to move on then fair play and say so. However, if the rattle is out of the pram.......,


Peter Carr 01/12/2011 12:38
Zip said, "Should we not expect opposition if we live and speak the truth? Are we not promised it?"

The problem Zip, is that too many churches want to leave it to the minister only to be the truth teller. If more of us as Christians took our God given responsibilities more seriously when it comes to truth telling, the Christian voice in the UK would be better heard, and ministers less stressed!!!


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