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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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william (Guest) 25/11/2011 21:16
A question to ponder - what kind of doctrinal/confessional basis would this new church in Scotland have - assuming the Westminster Confession of Faith might not be suitable?
Alisdair Smith 25/11/2011 23:28
Tartan Paint "Each Christian will one day be held accountable for what we did with the revelation that we were given (the bible - God's word)."

How true.

You've no idea how personally convicting that is. Time to pick up my own cross and follow Him. I would urge any and all readers to do the same. You have been placed here you are for a reason. Will we rise to the challenge that is right in front of us?
Alisdair Smith 25/11/2011 23:30
William,

That's a sidetrack. As the Nike strapline says, just do it.
Alan Keely (Guest) 26/11/2011 00:22
William, I have pondered your question, and indeed, a valid point, you are concerned that the standards do not slip from a very well structured, life changing, confession of faith. I too would be eager to see the current confession of faith preserved, or, if possible, enhanced upon, (which possibly could happen, we need to pray that the Lord would guide us obviously, as you will agree), however the main concern at this stage, which should alarm us all, and many in this thread have commented upon, is that we need Christ's church (wherever that may be, your home or mine, or in the street), to be populated with Christians who show a real love for the Lord to be in our Lord's Church leadership, who will preach the Word of God in it's fullness, one gentlemen in the post earlier on said that basically the teaching in the Cos is of the great commission and it kind of stops there I'm afraid, but you and I both know that just loving each other as individuals is not what Christ Jesus said, He asks us to Love each other as He has loved us. Also, satin also featured in the Gospel of our Lord, tempting Him as he tempts us all, the Lord as we know overcame all evil and sin, and indeed death itself, we are not without sin as He was, however, my conclusion in retrospect of all I have said is that it is not really a problem at this stage to what our confession of faith could be changed to if at all, but I am praying that the Lord Jesus has good strong men of Faith in position to debate these issues under careful consideration and much prayer and He will deliver through the Holy Spirit when we have good solid Christians at the forefront, which sadly is not there in abundance at the moment.
Alisdair Smith 26/11/2011 01:17
Alan, I understand the point William is making and I'm sure a lot of people have been thinking along those lines. And yet it's not as if there are no clear and suitable doctinal statements and confessions that giants before us have written. The last thing Scotland needs is yet another church or yet another talking shop. The real danger is that any doctinal/ confessional discussions would prove to be a distraction from the real battle and that Christian witness would be hamstrung by in-house arguments over secondary issues. No, what's really needed is unity around the Gospel, the one true Gospel that saves. Gentlemen, we have a Gospel to proclaim to a fallen and depraved society that desperately needs to hear it. Time to do the work of an evangelist, not an admin clerk.
william (Guest) 26/11/2011 08:14
Alisdair, you arrive at my question to ponder again - would all who seek to be involved in this breakaway have unity around the gospel? Is there a common understanding of the biblical gospel? - so that no Confession of Faith needs to be brought forward [I don't mean such to be written from scratch!!].
Peter Carr 26/11/2011 09:21
William said, "A question to ponder - what kind of doctrinal/confessional basis would this new church in Scotland have - assuming the Westminster Confession of Faith might not be suitable?"

No-one, except maybe you, has mentioned a new church emerging, what I believe we are discussing here is the need for Christians to be Christians in line with God's revealed Word.

'Church' like the times are a changing. What we need is a new move of God's Spirit to guide us to how we are to 'be', which is unlikely to be the same as what is crumbling around our ears.

There are new expressions of 'church' emerging all the time, maybe it is time to be willing to embrace the new thing that God is doing in the UK!

Isa 42: 8 - 9 "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”

Alan Keely (Guest) 26/11/2011 09:49
William
I agree with Tartan Paint and also Alisdair.
The statement "the need for Christians to be Christians in line with God's revealed Word" is the answer in a nutshell. Let's not lose sight of the real problem and replace it with pettiness.
The Gospel needs to Be preached in it's fullness, not presented as a nice story that helps us to be good people, no, the Sunday clubs have to go.
Alisdair Smith 26/11/2011 10:06
William,

"would all who seek to be involved in this breakaway have unity around the gospel? Is there a common understanding of the biblical gospel?"

Isn't that the problem? Isn't that the very thing that's led us up to this mess we are in now?

And most importantly, who's interpretation of the Gospel matters most?

Dare I suggest that the only way to understand the mind of the being that inspired all those words to be written is to look to treat ALL those words He had written as one consistent and complete revelation? "God breathed" is there for a reason and consistency is the key that unlocks the one version of the Gospel that saves.
Peter Carr 26/11/2011 10:23
Alisdair said, "And most importantly, who's interpretation of the Gospel matters most?"

I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Kolkata (Culcutta) in India 2 years ago for 2 weeks, and it was a real blessing to visit Christians, young and old, both genders (largely Hindu converts), who are poor in material terms, yet rich spiritually.

Their's is a very simple approach biblically to evangelism, based largely on Acts 2: 42 - 47.

When you become a Christian there, you are discipled and sent out to do the same. The result is that they live simply, biblically and totally relying on God's Spirit.

They largely meet in simple shacks in ghettos, no fancy buildings, no fancy furniture, some had no hymn books, and not all own a bible - but they are on fire for The Lord.

We in the west have much to learn from fellow Christians in the world! Sadly, we have corrupted the Gospel to the extent that it is hardly recognisable in far too many churches today in the UK.


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