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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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John Miller 05/10/2012 17:04
Paul Gibson has been accepted into the Free Church of Scotland as an ordained minister. He awaits a call to minister from a congregation. Please pray for guidance and direction for this godly young man.
Editor 06/10/2012 12:12
Thanks John. I will incorporate this news into a general 'update' piece which I have been preparing this week; and which I will publish in the next 24hrs (d.v.)
Seumas, Tobermory (Guest) 06/10/2012 16:10
There is something just does not add up about this whole affair. This minister left his church after 8 months. The whole affair of "liberalisation" and gay clergy goes back a lot further than the timescale involved. Paul Gibson knew full well that he was entering into a "liberal" denomination which was in the process of tearing itself apart over LGBT issues.

Which begs the question, if he is so "godly" and "biblical" why did he enter into such a corrupt organisation in the first place?

There is more to this whole business than meets the eye - it sounds like there is some sort of "local" issue involved here that is the reason for him jumping, rather than liberalising / spiritual declension that has been going on for centuries, which he would have been very well aware of.
Truth Teller (Guest) 06/10/2012 20:26
"Which begs the question, if he is so "godly" and "biblical" why did he enter into such a corrupt organisation in the first place?"

You will find the answer in Matt Ch 5 "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world."

Editor 06/10/2012 22:48
Paul Gibson didn't so much "enter into" the Church of Scotland as he did grow up within it from childhood.

Meanwhile,a reading of Paul's statement in the article itself makes clear that the reasons behind his resignations (from parish and Kirk) are not entirely due to national (denominational) circumstances.
Seumas 07/10/2012 16:59
Since he grew up with the CofS then he would have been even more aware of the "trajectory" it has been on - so no excuses there!

The thing that bugs me about this is that it is being reported that he left the CofS because of theological issues. The Free Church web site makes absolutely no mention of an "local difficulties" which may have affected his decision - it is simply being stated as

"Mr Gibson left the Church of Scotland last year because decisions made by the 2011 General Assembly left him unable to exercise a faithful Biblical ministry in good conscience."

from the FC web site (Ctrl C Ctrl V)

The FC is being less than totally open and honest here.
Editor 07/10/2012 18:33
"Since he grew up with the CofS then he would have been even more aware of the "trajectory" it has been on - so no excuses there!"

A trajectory has both a starting point and a path of travel. It is a matter for each person's conscience at the individual level to decide - under God - the point at which he or she cannot live within a situation. That point will differ from person to person and from one situation to another.

Regarding the underlying factors, Paul Gibson almost certainly left the denomination for the reasons given. He had earlier left the Tain congregation over local issues.
Seumas (Guest) 07/10/2012 18:47
Quote from Editor:

Paul Gibson almost certainly left the denomination for the reasons given. He had earlier left the Tain congregation over local issues.

I am sorry, thats simply not what is being stated.

In his own words (to TPC); "However, in recent months it has become evident that, in light of BOTH (my emph) 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."

He claims he left TPC for BOTH reasons

And the subtitle of this article states exactly the same!

When people make a "church move" decision for multiple reasons, I always get suspicious. Which one is REALLY the deal breaker?
Editor 07/10/2012 20:28
Seumas, The 'both' refers to context. I suggest that I probably know more about the situation than your good self; and I certainly know more than I am prepared to say publicly; or even privately.

Paul left Tain essentially for local reasons but self-evidently in the context of the national situation. Had the denomination not been in the situation it finds itself he would most likely still be in the Church of Scotland albeit not in Tain parish church.

I hope this clarifies the situation for you.
Seumas (Guest) 07/10/2012 22:55
Thats fine - I'll say no more. But its just another of these situations where there is a major problem of some sort, but all we ever get is vague references and partial information.

Its like an incomplete jigsaw. Clearly, openness, accountability and transparency are not presbyterian values...
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