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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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Agree (Guest) 01/12/2011 13:15
If various presbyteries and 121 took their God given responsabilities more seriously when it comes to truth, telling the Christian voice in Scotland would be better heard, and ministers less stressed !!!!!!!!!!!!
Editor 01/12/2011 13:22
Just to point out (for those who may not be familiar with the Presbyterian form of church government) that a minister is (in the official sense) just one of the eldership group that leads a local congregation. If the minister however is finding significant opposition from both within the eldership and the congregation then his situation is (humanly-speaking) untenable.

In this particular situation it would appear that a significant part of the congregation is not prepared to sit under biblical teaching and discipline. And this is a huge problem - not least in the Church of Scotland which is - euphemistically-speaking - a 'broad church'; or to put it another way an extremely mixed bag (and I can say that with decades of experience).

There is a point where God 'gives people over' to what they want e.g. the appointment of Saul and also Romans Ch 1. And this congregation would seem to have made clear what it does and doen't want.

There is also a terrifying verse in the 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonika (2 Thess 2:10-11) where God is very active in this dynamic: "....and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false.." (2 Thess 2:10-11).

And that's without getting into Matt 7:6; Matt 10:14; 2 Cor. 6:14; Rev 3:15-16 et al)
John Miller 01/12/2011 15:31
The writer called "Zip" uses scripture to call Paul Gibson's act of resignation from his position in Tain into question. Let us examine these scriptures. Firstly i John 15 as "Zip" points out the Lord is dealing with the possibility of persecution. The issue in Tain, as far as I can judge is not persecution. Has Paul Gibson complained about being persecuted? In Hbrews 10 the writer is addressing himself to Hebrew disciples who might be wavering and uncertain in their faith. His exhortation is primarily intended therefore to strengthen their faith by fixing their attention on Christ as God's final and only speaking to man in general and the saints of God in particular. Can anyone who has listened to the ministry of Paul Gibson dare to suggest that this is a man whose faith is shaky or who is wavering in his loyalty to his Lord? These verses do not fit the purpose for which "Zip" employs them. Finally in 2 Timothy 22 it seems that we have a fairly accurate description of Paul Gibson's ministry. I can only speak of his recorded preaching.

The issue is not Paul Gibson's feelings or even how some have treated him and his ministry. The issue is that there is a refusal to cleanse the local church from what the word of God describes as unholiness. The Editor quoted 2 Cor.6:14. If anyone in a Christian fellowship, church or assembly determines that there is a determination to continue with evil and it is supported by either the agreement or abstention of the company, there only remains one choice and that is to withdraw. The alternative is confusion, hypocrisy and anarchy. Paul Gibson was shaking no rattle nor was he sitting in a pram.
John Miller 01/12/2011 15:35
Paul Gibson blew the trumpet and it made no uncertain sound. He stood firmly on the foundation of God's word. Snide remarks attempting to undermine the faithful stand of a servant of the Lord Jesus do no credit to anyone who professes to follow the same Lod.
Insider (Guest) 01/12/2011 16:03
What is not perhaps apparent is that for a minister to take the step of doing what Rev. Gibson has done (in leaving) is actually much much harder than staying (as many are choosing to do).

The Church of Scotland HQ will offer no support whatsoever to someone taking this step and stand. Indeed there are reports of 121 delegations visiting ministers in a heavy-handed fashion.

You have to be inside the system to fully understand the godless maneouvering that goes on. But the Lord of the church is not blind to these things. And God will not be mocked.
Peter Carr 01/12/2011 16:10
Ed said, "Just to point out (for those who may not be familiar with the Presbyterian form of church government)..."

Then maybe it is time to get back to God's Word to examine whether what the C of S has (as with us all) is biblical in the first place!!
Editor 01/12/2011 17:04
TP said: "Then maybe it is time to get back to God's Word to examine whether what the C of S has (as with us all) is biblical in the first place!!"

What this problem (and - for instance - the problem that the Free Church has had with what to sing etc.) is exposing is the flawed foundation on which we have build 'church as we know it'.

However there is an article on this topic and it would be better to continue that discussion on the thread belong to that article.
See - Splits in the Foundations (Right-click on following link and then select from dropdown menu)
http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/248205/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Current_News/Splits_in_the.aspx
Peter Carr 01/12/2011 18:20
Tain Parish Church minister resigns over gay clergy

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-15990679
Peter Carr 01/12/2011 21:53
1 Pet 5: 1 - 4 "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away."
adnaim (Guest) 01/12/2011 23:30
I totally agree with much if not all that has been said by Robert, John and the editor, as well as the other recent contributions by members of TPC. However, I would like to make the point that, contrary to what the editor states in a previous post, I think it is far from clear what the congregation of Tain Parish Church want or don’t want.
I refer to the point that Robert made, i.e. that the Kirk Session and Congregation of TPC less than a year ago voted unanimously to call a young evangelical minister who made no secret of the fact that he believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him. Granted it would now appear that the majority of these people had bitten off more than they could chew. But I would like to make it clear that there is still a substantial minority of members, including me, who were thriving under Paul’s ministry and were being built up in the faith. There were also a good number of people who had been added to the congregation as a result of Paul’s ministry. Please don’t discount us. I do not believe that God has abandoned us. What I believe we need to do is, stand up and be counted for Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit guide us by the truth of God’s Word. Since Paul preached his last sermon in TPC a few weeks we have been blessed by the preaching of the Gospel by a number of preachers who have continued to bring us God’s word in all its fullness. Recurring themes are, among others, that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory, and we must genuinely sincerely and truthfully, repent of our sins and accept the free gift of everlasting life God has offered us through His grace, paid for by the precious blood shed for us by His Son. We are also being regularly reminded that as Christians we cannot go on living lives where we deliberately continue to sin. Where have I heard this before? Oh yes it was that wonderful exponent of God’s Word, Paul Gibson. As long as the Gospel is being preached faithfully and in all its fullness in TPC I think there is hope for us.
To get back to my point, the congregation of TPC changed from unanimous support for Paul Gibson and his Biblical stance, less than a year ago, to a minority in support now. Who knows what the currently unsupportive majority will want in a few months? What is clear to me is that while some individual members know what they want, the majority of the Congregation of TPC and the Kirk Session don’t seem to know what they want.

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