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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

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John Miller 03/12/2011 10:15
Peter (aka "Tartan Paint"), brother in Christ, you reveal that you are a Pastor. I would urge you that it would be helpful and give more credibility to your posts, to cast off your cloak of anonymity, regardless of the fact that it is "within the rules".
Peter Carr 03/12/2011 11:16
John I have no desire to be a stumbling block to anyone. And now that I have cast off my nickname 'Tartan Paint' I do not intend to get emulsional
:-)
Editor 03/12/2011 18:53
Admin note: In defense of Peter (and others who use 'Screen names') there are a variety of legitimate reasons people may wish to use this practise. Women particularly can feel vulnerable if they use their real names. Occasionally there has also been ad hominem attacks on an individual rather than addressing the point being made.

I should also point out that the real identity of all site members is known by the Editor.

Perhaps it would help in terms of perception if all screen names were pseudonyms (i.e. proper names rather than nicknames)?

But at the end of the day, and while agreeing with John Miller re 'credibility' it is entirely up to site members how they wish to identify themselves.
Peter Carr 03/12/2011 19:09
Anyway, now that my cover is blown, back to the business at hand. Some questions;

1. Has the TPC situation blown the lid off of 121's conspiracy of silence, if so where to now for them and the church at large?

2. How, if at all, does a parish church survive such a devestatingly public exposure of its inner workings?

adnaim (Guest) 03/12/2011 23:21
Peter, in my humble opinion as a member of TPC the answers to your questions are as follows.

1. The lid has not been blown off “121’s conspiracy of silence” since the moratorium only applies to “Courts, Councils and Committees of the Church” and instructs such bodies “not to issue press statements or otherwise talk to the media in relation to contentious matters of human sexuality, in respect to Ordination and Induction to the Ministry of the Church of Scotland.” As far as I am aware no such press statements have been issued.

Whether or not the lid has been blown off, 121 is on a course of self-destruction for the CoS as we know it unless and until it resolves not to permit its ministers to be in gay relationships, irrespective of when they were ordained. It would appear that we must wait until the General Assembly of 2013 before such a decision could be taken and all the evidence so far indicates that such a decision is extremely unlikely.

Should the GA in 2013 approve the ordination of people in gay relationships I think there will be a split in the CoS. And that might not be a bad thing if it were to precipitate a realignment of Presbyterian churches in Scotland. If this were to happen as part of God’s plan, the CoS might well find itself as a minority church in many parts if not all of Scotland.

2. TPC will survive in one form or another. The question is what kind of church will it be? Either a place where people go on Sundays for a sociable chat and a sing song and to be told everything is fine and dandy and we’re all going to heaven, or a church were God is worshiped sincerely, the full gospel is preached, the people are fed on God’s Word, and have Christian fellowship etc.

These are just my own thoughts and I am very aware that I am far from infallible! In any event I pray that God will guide us, show us His way, and that His will be done.

Alisdair Smith 04/12/2011 01:46
Luke 10:10-16. Pray hard, brother, pray hard. And know that others around this country are praying with you.

The Father seeks that you will worship Him in truth and in spirit. When the time for testing comes, He will make it clear what you need to do. Grace and peace to you, rest in the full assurance of faith.
Penny Lee 04/12/2011 10:16
Adnaim,

There are others too praying for your situation. You are so right in your description of churches which tell people they are all going to heaven. If that were so, what would be the point of the church in the first place? Those who deceive others will be judged the most severely. We all know that telling others what God says we have to do to be reconciled to Him does not always lead to them accepting it but imagine having it on your account that you told them they were fine as they were, thereby encouraging them to continue on without a true relationship with God. I personally find that a terrifying prospect of having to answer for that on judgement day (another event which seems to be ignored).
A leaver (Guest) 04/12/2011 10:53
Sounds like we are all about to leave what a sham COS has become

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/many_will_quit_kirk_over_stance_on_gay_marriage_says_minister_1_1990598
Insider (Guest) 04/12/2011 16:33
The Church (of Scotland) - in bending over so far backwards to try and hold it all together - is in fact having its back broken in the process.

Having recently been shamed into issuing a statement (at last, but really against its wishes) on the same-sex marriage consultation (so called) it has now succeeded in creating upset on both sides of the debate.

But this was and is inevitable as the establishment is trying to square the circle in order to keep the denomination together when in fact it is totally divided.

And not just divided into two camps. Within the evangelical wing there are -

Some ministers (and congregations) who have left

Some ministers (and some congregations) who are planning to leave as soon as they can

Some ministers engaged in discussion with other denominations (Free Church included)

Some ministers are aligning with international presbyterian bodies

At least one minister is trying to build his own power base in the 'stay and fight' camp

Some ministers are trying to revitalise a group that has been in existence for several years but has been very weak

Some ministers who are unhappy but don't want to do anything unless they can take the congregation with them

Some ministers who want to leave with their congregations but want to keep hold of their buildings

Many members - elders included - who have left

Many who are now - and have been - withholding their monies from the Church of Scotland

Meanwhile the powers-that-be are starting to realise the true scale of the trouble that this is creating for the denomination. A 'There-there I'll hold your hand' letter has recently gone out from HQ to all ministers.

Also the next Moderator has been named who is the first card-carrying man-of-the-people-evangelical for a long time. But this move to appease upset evangelicals offers no guarantees.

What continues to disappoint (and perhaps the Lord would choose a stronger word) is the polical manoeuvering and backroom dealing that goes on within the establishment.

The outcome is anyone's guess, but the process in train is causing vast amounts of damage.
Peter Carr 04/12/2011 17:12
Insider, the writing was on the wall 2 years ago, the problem now it would appear, is that the C of S is now suffering a slow death by a thousand cuts, self inflicted.

Yes, it is painful for all concerened, both inside and outside of the denomination, and really only the majority within can now decide how quickly (or slowly) this whole sad saga ends!
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