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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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Alan Keely 06/12/2011 08:48
Ah William
I just new some more accusing questions would come from you, yet you say I don't show love!!!
Answer my questions, and just for the record william, no follower of satin is a brother or neighbour of mine, you are either FOR the LORD or AGAINST Him, which camp (pardon the pun), are you from william.
william (Guest) 06/12/2011 09:27
Sorry Alan, I was not intending to raise "more accusing questions", rather I was following up what I thought you were asking me - "are you going to answer my questions from previous post" I was attempting to do precisely that!
In my final para I was also responding ironically to your further question " are you going to continue to answer all my questions with questions?"
Alan, I'm sure both of us long for the same outcome in all of this - the glory of our Saviour in the life of His precious Bride, the Church. If we can in any way advance that cause we will both be glad.
I assure you I write these words in love and with no malice; these are distressing days for all of us.
Help (Guest) 06/12/2011 11:33
Perhaps this is the root of the problem that needs dealt with !!!!!!


This is a quote from the writings of JC Ryle in 1729
“Thousands of ordained men in the present day know nothing whatever about Christ, except His name. They have not entered "the door" themselves, and they are unable to show it to others. Well would it be for Christendom if this were more widely known, and more seriously considered! Unconverted ministers are the dry-rot of the Church. "When the blind lead the blind" both must fall into the ditch. If we would know the value of a man's ministry, we must never fail to ask, Where is the Lamb? Where is the Door? Does he bring forward Christ, and give Him his rightful place?”

william (Guest) 06/12/2011 11:47
That's interesting - Bishop Ryle, who persevered with CoE in his day when many did not - was born in 1816 !!
But even in 1729 he had still been loved from before time began, and was well known to his Heavenly Father.
help (Guest) 06/12/2011 13:35
Sorry not a direct quote but taken from 'the writings of' J.C.Ryle
Alisdair Smith 06/12/2011 13:40
William, aside from getting the date wrong, those words are absolutely true.

You've mentioned a couple of times that there are a range of views within the Church of Scotland. Whilst that is obviously true, the more important question is this - is that acceptable? A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Perhaps it would be helpful for this discussion if you made clear, in your opinion, whose view accords with the will of God which, after all, is the only one that counts? And how would we know what His view is, if the bible does not speak it authoritively and speak it clearly?

I congratulate the brothers in the Church of Scotland who must have fought a hard battle to get the words of the Response document written in the way that they have. But if grudging nature of some of the other weasel words in that Response are not an obvious indicator to everyone of the severity of the fight for the soul of this denomination, then they need to wake up, and wake up quickly.



william (Guest) 06/12/2011 16:45
Indeed Alisdair - and Ryle's writings are to be chewed and digested.
His doctrine of the church has also much to teach us in an age of evangelical individualism - thinking unknown to Paul in particular, the NT in general and Jesus Christ Himself, the King and Head of His Church[as we find Him described in the WCF, the principal subordinate standard of CoS].
G (Guest) 06/12/2011 16:53
I write in relation to the situation in Tain and specifically to the Members of our congregation who are reading these pages. I am in full support with the recent postings of "adnaim", Robert Macdonald and David Boomer. I just wanted to share some quotes, mainly from scripture, that popped into my head upon reading their entries and might be helpful to some and very relevant to our circumstances. David wrote on 02/12/2011

"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."

From Proverbs 5 and 6:
"And you say, "How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,and because of his great folly he is led astray.
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies,and one who sows discord among brothers."

*****
From Hebrews 12, which the NLT helpfully heads as "Gods discipline proves his love".
"In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves ,and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

******
David also wrote but "oh the heart of man is deceitful", which reminded me of the wonderful writings of CS Lewis. These are the words of Aslan, the great Lion, who of course, is God is his novels. In the later book, the Magician's Nephew, Aslan complains:

“But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh, Adam's son, how cleverly you defend yourself against all that might do you good!”

******
And lastly from Jeremiah 6: 16-20. Doesn't this speak so well to us in Tain?
"Thus says the LORD:"Stand by the roads, and look,and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,and find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' I set watchmen over you, saying,
'Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not pay attention.'
Therefore hear, O nations,and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,the fruit of their devices,
because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.
What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,or sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,or your sacrifices pleasing to me."

******
Thoughts:

The only thing that is keeping me going in the faith in all our current trials - is that EVERYTHING is either foretold or spoken to in Scripture. As I search the scriptures, I find God speaking to us directly to the very situations we find ourself in. How wonderful to remember that the Kingdom of God is unshakable and the work of His hand is unstoppable.

As "Adnaim" correctly points out - there should have been nothing controversial about Paul Gibson's ministry in Tain. Indeed, under the last regime for 30 years the Church would have thought itself to be an evangelical congregation. It was natural, then, to call an evangelical minister. And God sent us a young, mighty man who have was just what the town needed. After years of slumber and decreasing numbers and lack of outreach, the town desperately needed a voice to tell the youth, and the lost generations about Christ. He was unanimously called after preaching a powerful, unashamedly evangelical message on John 3:16. Paul set out his stall that day - a man after God's own heart. The depth and the richness of Paul's love of our Saviour, was plain for all to see that day.

But then it all changed when a wilful disobedience to God was noticed and uncovered in the lives of those at the very heart of our Church. One Sunday, Paul explained using an orange injected with black dye, that God sees beyond the shiny, perfect exterior of our lives but is interested instead only with what happens on the inside, what is unseen to man but known to Him. Our apparently conservative congregation could not bear to search the scriptures to find the answers for the situation we found ourselves in. They exchanged the truth of a gospel in preference for personalities and a love for these personalities more than a love for Christ. Do they think they love sinners more than the God who sent his Son? I don't find their approach loving at all. As JI Packer says - "it is not loving to leave a Christian brother in a ruinous misunderstanding of the gospel that may ruin him eternally. In fact, it is deeply un-loving. We are commanded to love our neighbour." It is in this spirit that so many of us love and pray for these gentlemen and want to see them fall humbly before Christ and become obedient to His will. None of us imagine for a second this will be easy, or without pain - but we know that is is right for the salvation of their souls. It is my hope that anyone reading this will pray for them also.

So now we find ourselves divided. The sheep and the goats. There are men, who have their backs to God, and have chosen me, myself and I. They seek to cover-up, to repaint and to re-cast our recent past in the mistaken belief that we can go back to how it was. They seem to genuinely believe, in the sight of a Holy God, we can do that. To all such people, those of us who standing firm, say: "we will not let you, we will not cover up our sin, our love for the Saviour is too great. Jesus Christ is the only Head of this Church".

I'm 27 and have known the people of Tain Parish Church my whole life. It's been a great challenge and very, very sad to come to terms with the hypocrisy and disobedience of some our leaders who I have looked up to and considered the outcome of their way of live. (Hebrews 13). It was within those four walls that I learned the language of "inerrant, infallible and God-breathed". It was here I learned of the sufficiency of scripture. I worry for the work of mission in the town, there is so much to do, brokenness all around and now we have closed the doors and sought to fight amongst ourselves. I can't believe those who have I sat under and listened to are now turning away and forgetting the anguish He endured - such is the costliness of our salvation. We have heard the fullness of God's Word preached in recent months, but their ears are closed.

I really pray that this forum, whilst read in the quietness of our homes may act as way of unifying and bringing together those who believe within the Church. We don't have a great history of standing up and speaking out, but now I feel we must. When God's word is opposed, God is rejected and the Spirit of God is rejected. So, my fellow friends in Tain - be bold and be strong, for the Lord your God is with you. Please don't sit in the pews silently I beg - come together, spur one another on - lest the truth of the gospel be lost in our town. And to those on the outside, please pray for us. Pray that God would bend us and break the hearts of those are opposed to Him - break them with the things that break His own heart. And that once, we have been brought as a congregation to our knees that He might revive and restore us. But until that happens, we must fight, we must speak out and stand together, for victory will always be the Lord's. One day we will see Him face to face. We will see Him. Until then, let us run until we finish the race.

In closing, I quote Townend -

O Church Arise and put your armour on
Hear the call of Christ our Captain
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies
An army bold whose battle-cry is Love
Reaching out to those in darkness

Our call to war to love the captive soul
But to rage against the captor
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valour
When faced with trials on every side
We know the outcome is secure
And Christ will have the prize for which He died
An inheritance of nations.

Tain Parish Church: this is our call to summon every resource, to worship the one true God who deserves glory and praise, above all else.
Alisdair Smith 06/12/2011 17:22
Marvellous words G, and timely. You and the other believers who are standing fast through this time of testing remain in our prayers and to see you make a stand for the Gospel like this delights our hearts.

As events unfold, all according to our Lords plan, everyone will soon see if they have ears to hear.



Alan Keely 06/12/2011 18:51
G,
I have been praying for you all since I learned of Paul Gibson leaving Tain Parish Church.
You are a true man of God G, I will continue to pray for all of you. I will pray for protection on the faithful and a revival of Tain Church, a new chapter God willing, God bless. .alan.
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