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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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Alisdair Smith (Guest) 24/11/2011 14:10
In a way you're right, Mere sinner, and yet I also note that in posting what you've posted you have also come to your own judgement on this.

Let me explain further. The issue that's at stake here is not, as some would portray, the issue of sexuality or same sex relationships in the minstry. That's actually just a symptom of the deeper underlying issue. What this dispute is really all about is whether God has spoken or not. That's why I wrote, it's not about what scripture says, it's about what scripture is. The real problem here is about whether the bible is "God-breathed" - i.e. the very word of God that applies to all times and all cultures, or whether it is just ancient writing that we have to re-interpret in light of our modern culture and understanding.

As I said before, the hypocrites are on all sides, not only amongst the revisionists within 121 who reject the bible as the word of God but also within the so called "evangalical" camp, who claim to profess the Word, yet refuse to stand on it, when push comes to shove.

I believe we as a country are entering a time of testing when many are being called to pick up their cross...and many will fall away from the truth and turn to myths.

Alisdair Smith (Guest) 24/11/2011 14:18
A timely reminder for Scottish Evangelicals
http://youtu.be/VmvxAM2aQQ8
Alan Keely (Guest) 24/11/2011 14:28
Well said Brother Alisdair, if your not FOR the Word of God you are AGAINST the Word of God, the Scriptures are quite clear.
Graham (Guest) 24/11/2011 14:37
Mere Sinner wonders what Christ would say to all of this, if only He were here. What more need he say, than he already has?

‘whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me’ (John 14:21)

'why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?' (Luke 6:46)

'For God did not call you to be impure, but to live a holy life - and he who rejects this, rejects not man but God.' 1 Thes 4:3-8

"You cannot be distinct as an organisation and lead people to the glory of Christ at the same time as explicitly encouraging and condoning their pursuit of a sinful lifestyle. It is simply impossible. It is double minded and deceitful to think like that. And so by calling holy that which is sinful, which is what we are doing as an institution and what we have done, we are not only failing to be Biblically distinct but as an institution we are therefore preventing people from coming to know and to taste the glory of Christ's forgiveness. And, my friends, that is something that as a Church - we simply cannot be complicit in."
Rev. Paul Gibson
Mere sinner (Guest) 24/11/2011 14:45
Alan the scriptures are clear on many points: anger, adultery, stealing, gossiping etc Paul tells the Corinthians to remember that "such were some of you". We should all keep this in mind when we think about the sins of others.
Alan Keely (Guest) 24/11/2011 14:46
Thank you Graham. The truth is hard to hear for some people. It can only be Satin at work.
Alan Keely (Guest) 24/11/2011 15:00
Mere sinner, you will be telling me the Church is just getting in touch with the real world next, that the scriptures are outdated. Let me say this, I have sinned and I have came to the Lord in repentance for these sins, I am trying very hard to live to the Word of God, I do fail, but I'm not losing site of what is required of me as a Christian, and that is to REPENT for my sins and ask God to show me mercy.
Philip C. of S. Elder (Guest) 24/11/2011 15:08
I'm sorry that Paul has felt the need to jump ship before it has sunk. I as a Bible believer wanted to leave then thought why should I! it is up to the minority of the C of S. who do not accept scripture who should leave if they no longer believe the Bible to be the true word of God. 121 staff should sit up and take notice that the road they are on leads to the closer of the C of S as a denomination. We bible believers while carry on as we follow the teachings and ways of God and not the whims of man.No churchis perfect but God will sustain HIS people through this mess which is a sign of the times we live in. same sex minority should believe what the Bible teaches because they are walking on a slppery road to....
Peter Carr 24/11/2011 16:14
Alisdair said, I'm genuinely interested in knowing what you were meaning about "weighing."

What I meant is what is prescribed in Scripture, that those who claim to speak for God should be willing to be open to scrutiny. 1 Cor 14: 29 "Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said."

Mere sinner (Guest) 24/11/2011 16:54
As a teacher of theology, Church history and biblical interpretation I wish people would look at the way the Church has handled these things in the past. The biggest learning point for all God's people could be said to revolve around our theology of the Church. The spectrum of theological opinion on this matter is wide and varied. On a personal level I prefer Calvin's understanding of the visible and invisible Church on earth. The application of all discipline is seen in the light of Calvin's correct understanding of Christas reaper and not the leadership of a Church. If we are left to be or act as reaper then usurp Christ and his role. It is through this lense that we find a humble spirit with in acting discipline within the Lord's church.....
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