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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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George Orr 02/12/2011 09:13
Adnaim

My point is that in such a situation; it is primarily the responsibility of the elders (minister included) to stand firm on the truth for they especially will be judged.
Opposition is just a step away from persecution and the fact that we are under pressure and that it is from within the 'church' does not preclude us from our duty to the Lord and His people. Forget the politics and let's just get on with being as true and faithful as we can be. The only reward worth chasing is the eternal reward. If what we do is easy then we should check the road we are on.
Well done to the faithful who are still in TPC, keep standing and you will reap a harvest. My prayers are with you.

Insider
'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.'

I have had experience of this and totally agree and that is why I say the response is to stand,stand,stand. (unless God specifically tells you otherwise)
Insider (Guest) 02/12/2011 09:48
The point I was making was that to 'stand' (on the truth) can mean one has to leave; and that can be much harder than staying.
adnaim (Guest) 02/12/2011 09:52
Zip, I think your comments re the distinction between opposition and persecution were maybe meant to address John Miller's post rather than mine. For the record I quite understand why Paul had to demit his charge. Not to have done so would have meant him having to compromise on church discipline and the absolute authority of the Word of God. Thank you for your prayers.
help (Guest) 02/12/2011 10:09
Too many in the COS want to keep their heads down and hope this all goes away. I fear it will not
Paulito Brigante (Guest) 02/12/2011 10:17
I think the lady doth protest too much.
John Miller 02/12/2011 13:42
Opposition and persecution are not the issue. In setting out church order in his first letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul made certain demands. That was his right as an Apostle. He took into account that there was opposition to the truth. When he wrote his second letter, what was now prevailing was a questioning of his sincerity and worse, his authority as an Apostle. These letters, as indeed all his writings that are included in the canon of scripture must be regarded as the very Word of God. It is probably the case that there are the seeds of opposition to the truth in every church, but when there is a defiant refusal to name sin as it is in God's sight and according to His Word, and deal with it, and that refusal is accepted by the body of professing Christians who comprise a local church, then there is no alternative for a true believer but to separate from such evil. If I remain in a fellowship where sin is wilfully allowed and even encouraged, I revert to the domain of darkness and step away from the enjoyment of the kingdom of God's own dear Son(Col.1:13). It does not matter if I am a new convert, one established in the faith, a deacon, an elder or a minister of the Gospel, I should consider that I have no other option.

It is true that God will never abandon those who belong to Him through the atoning death of His Son, for the awful truth is that He abandoned that very One, His only begotten Son, so that the price of our sins could be paid in full. We are called not only to examine ourselves but also to stand apart from those who by their refusal to judge evil become enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil.3:17-19). Many feel deeply for the true believers who at present remain in the Tain Church Of Scotland fellowship and pray that the Holy Spirit of God will give them His direction and guidance.
John Miller 02/12/2011 15:36
I tell you this my brethren in Christ. I know to some extent what Paul Gibson ans his wife have gone through. I have had experience of the pressure to sit quiet and say nothing in order to preserve a place in a fellowship where evil was unjudged. The fear of losing a lifetime's devotion to a certain denomination. The fear of losing the fellowship of other Christians with whom one has been in fellowship for many years. The fear that relationships will suffer and even be severed. The temptation that to go on "with a judgement" of what is not right thinking that that makes it O.K. Etc., etc., etc. What happens? Gradually the conscience becomes aneasthetised, gradually one becomes less uncomfortable under the sound of error and gradually we become infected by that error. That is actually a picture of the public profession of Christianity to a large extent. The church publicly has been influenced by the ways of the world. The same happens to Christians in a fellowship where worldly standards are embraced. I have witnessed true believers, godly men and women, preachers, teachers and leaders staying in a fellowship where the dictates of powerful personalities took precedence over the word of God. I have seen a moment of decision come and go. I have seen people that I loved in the Lord Jesus trapped in an evil system when they let that moment pass. Believe me, I have witnessed this and I know the anguish of those who have taken the step of faith in obedience to God's word, even to be denied access to close family members. But remember this; God is no man's debtor.
Peter Carr 02/12/2011 16:54
Yes John, one very valuable Scripture (amongst many other gems) that I have had to learn, both before, and since entering into the pastorate is;


Prov 29: 25 "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe."

That is a key difference between religion and relationship, between Churchianity and true Christianity. When we dig into the bible and church history, we soon discover that we are not alone in such matters!
David Boomer - Elder (Guest) 02/12/2011 19:38
Although the national situation in the CoS is a disgrace within the body of Christ, it is at the local level where the outworking of the CoS GA decisions have their devastating effects. One particular issue that saddens me is the so called love and compassion spoken of by some of the elders as well as some in the congregation in TPC. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) If these people who have patently rejected the Word of God had any understanding of love they would put their brothers before their own sinful desires and lifestyles. These people do not understand that when a minister applies church discipline it is in love and for the good of the individuals involved as well as the congregation as a whole. Ministers, including Paul Gibson, take no pleasure in the struggles people have with sin but they know that the most loving thing the can do is try to restore those in sin to a right relationship with God through repentance.
I pray those who opposed Paul’s call for the application of biblical discipline will come to an understanding that the God who is love demands such an approach because He loves us and wants us to be right with Him. The road to healing within TPC is by them humbly repenting and asking forgiveness of God. But oh, the heart of a man is deceitful above all else.

Peter Carr 03/12/2011 09:34
David said, "If these people who have patently rejected the Word of God had any understanding of love they would put their brothers before their own sinful desires and lifestyles..."

For all true Christians, irrespective of their calling or position, the words of Jesus in Jn 12 have to be held in constant tension to the pressures that we all feel to conform to the world and its ways;

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."

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