Current News 

Tron Church quits the Church of Scotland

One of the highest-profile congregations in Scotland has quit the national church over the latter's alleged departure from the authority of God's Word.


first published 17/06/12

UPDATE 08/10/12

Tron congregation writes to Glasgow Presbytery

UPDATE 08/12/12

Court Papers served on Church during prayer meeting

Meanwhile one of the Tron leadership writes:
"Our congregation numbers have been building steadily and I was told that this morning there was only two seats left on he ground floor and the gallery full."

TronLast Monday a very prominent city-centre church in Glasgow commonly known as ‘the Tron’, took a step into the unknown when on June 11th 2012, the congregation quit the Church of Scotland.

The Rev. Dr. William Philip, minister of the 500-strong congregation of St George’s Tron Church located in the bustling shopping precinct of Buchanan Street has affirmed that this was and is no rash move. Concerning this development he has written: “Our decision to separate from the Church of Scotland is the culmination of careful thought, sincere discussion and prayer for over 12 months.”

The congregation are leaving a denomination which the former believes is separating itself from the authority of God’s word. Writing on the Tron’s website the clergyman continues:

“Last year, despite having had the clear opportunity, the General Assembly failed to reverse the stance taken in 2009 approving the appointment of ordained ministers in same-sex relationships. Instead, it clearly and deliberately chose to set an opposite trajectory towards normalising such relationships. In doing so the highest court of the Kirk has marginalised the Bible, the written Word of God. We believe the Church of Scotland is choosing to walk away from the biblical gospel, and to walk apart from the faith of the worldwide Christian Church.”

If the leadership and congregation at the Tron needed any additional reason(s) to quit the Church of Scotland, then the decision by the denomination’s General Assembly last month to allow other faith groups to hold services in Kirk buildings has provided a further prompt. (The question was brought to the floor of the most recent Assembly largely because of the actions of Rev. Scott Rennie – the Aberdeen minister at the heart of the gay clergy issue – who has given permission to Hindu groups to use the Queen’s Cross church premises for worship.)

Although media headlines have stated that the Tron’s departure represents the first local church to leave the denomination, in a de facto sense the (bulk of the) congregation of High Hilton church in Aberdeen quit the Kirk last October. On that occasion however those involved moved out of the church building.

In the case of the Tron church, the congregation most recently raised millions of pounds to cover a major refurbishment. One church member who was at the heart of the very substantial upgrade to the building has commented:

“Regardless of the risks and the fact that many members provided substantial sacrificial offerings for the development of the building as a gospel station in the city centre, the membership have put biblical priorities in first place ahead of buildings.”

In the event, the overall total expenditure was close to £3M - most of which was paid for by the membership.

Any significant Church of Scotland news would normally result in a media statement from the Kirk’s HQ, however, in this case, the denomination would seem to be downplaying the situation. It has merely, and on request, provided a ‘comment’ which states:

We can confirm that we have been informed by the Minister and Session Clerk of Glasgow St George’s Tron that they and a number of members wish to leave the Church of Scotland because of the decisions taken by the 2011 General Assembly.’
Included is a response from a Church of Scotland spokesperson:

“The Presbytery of Glasgow and the Church of Scotland General Trustees are saddened at the decision of the Minister and members of Glasgow St George’s Tron to leave the Church of Scotland. Discussions will take place with representatives of the Tron over the coming weeks to clarify the situation and determine the best way of preserving a Church of Scotland ministry presence in Glasgow city centre. No decisions have been taken about the on-going use of the building, or the outstanding financial obligations to the Church of Scotland and the General Trustees.”

The Kirk’s communiqué adds:

• The Congregation of the St George’s Tron Church have outstanding arrears on their contributions to Ministries and Mission in the Church of Scotland.
• There is also an outstanding loan made by the General Trustees to the congregation in 2007 to support a remodelling of the building.
• Glasgow Presbytery has a special commission looking at the plan for ministry in Glasgow city centre. It is due to report later this year.
• The St George’s Tron building is owned by the Church of Scotland General Trustees.
• No other congregations have indicated any intention to leave the Church of Scotland, although we are aware of a number of individuals who are unhappy with the direction they perceive the Church to be taking. Each set of circumstances is different.
• The Church of Scotland has set up a Theological Commission to examine whether persons in a civil partnership are eligible for admission for training, ordination and induction as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons, among other issues, and a further report will be presented to the 2013 General Assembly. It is disappointing that any Minister or members feel the need to leave the Church before the Commission reports. We stress that no final decisions have been taken, and the Church is currently holding more dialogue on this issue.

The finances of each parish church are tied to the Kirk's central funds but the present occupiers of the 17th-century site are likely to claim their investment of time and money earns a moral entitlement to ownership. Given the congregation’s desire to remain in the building it is difficult to see how the issue will be resolved without recourse to legal channels.

1. The Tron is one the best-known evangelical Church of Scotland congregations – with an impressive list of Bible-preaching luminaries serving as former ministers including Rev. Thomas Chalmers from 1815 -1819. Additionally the location at the heart of the main shopping centre in Scotland’s largest city gives the building a very prominent profile.

2. Since the General Assemblies of May 2009 and 2010 considerable upset has been experienced across the denomination over the Church of Scotland’s persistent failure to unequivocably state its position on what the Bible allows (and disallows) regarding human sexual relationships. In the wake of last year’s Assembly a meeting was held in the Tron which saw hundreds of ministers and elders from across Scotland gather to express their grave concerns. A Christians Together report was prepared following that meeting.

Subsequently a further assessment of the situation within Scotland’s national church was written up under the title ‘Harvest is past; the summer has ended’. Since that time some ministers and many members have quit the denomination. Many who remain are withholding their giving to central church funds and this action is exacerbating the serious financial situation in which the denomination finds itself.

The departure of the Tron’s minister, elders and congregation with the high-level of attendant risk regarding their recent investments in the premises, is indicative of the extent to which they place little faith in the denomination reversing its acceptance of gay clergy.
Another high-profile congregation which has also recently made a high level of investment in its building is amongst other local churches considering their future within the denomination. Reverend Dominic Smart said elders at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen disagreed with the General Assembly's stance, feeling it had "marginalised" the Bible.

3. Concerning the Tron congregation's future the statement on its website affirms:

“We cannot depart from the historic foundations of our Church, and will not separate from communion with orthodox Christian believers globally. Consequently, we intend to realign with a church grouping which remains clearly and publicly committed to orthodox Christianity.

“Our ongoing work remains our priority. We are a diverse, growing Christian family made up of people from all walks of life, of all ages, from many nations. We are passionate about the life of our church in Glasgow City Centre, serving the city seven days a week. Our earnest desire is that we can continue our wide-ranging service to the people of Glasgow uninterrupted. To this end, although we are no longer part of the Church of Scotland, the leaders of our congregation remain in positive and constructive engagement with the denomination. Our goal is to ensure that all issues around this separation are dealt with reasonably and peaceably, and for the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

4. For a short history of the Church of Scotland and derivative presbyterian denominations from 1560 to the present day, see article 'Presbyterianism - Scottish style'.

Christians Together, 17/06/2012

(page   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24)
Editor 16/01/2013 11:46
Quote: "If it's a fudge or a downright embracing of the current 'trajectory' then of course they will be obliged, Biblically, to have no further fellowship and withdraw themselves. If they do NOT do so, then, as Mr Miller says, they will share in the same condemnation as the proponents of perversion."

The propagation of the 'current trajectory' has been going on for decades alongside with 'the fudge': the latter designed to hold the institution together.

It is highly unlikely (in human terms at least) that the forthcoming General Assembly will be devoid of this set pattern.

(Liberals would rather live in a BIG church with troublesome evangelicals, than in a much reduced outfit without them. And of course evangelical congregations are the more liberal in their giving.)

Bible-believing clergy who are still in the Church of Scotland are pulled in (at least) four directions viz. loyalty to -

* the Lord and His word (i.e. their personal convictions)
* the denomination (and even a dependence upon it)
* the welfare of themselves and their immediate families
* the faithful saints in the pews

In it all there is a winnowing going on and it will be very interesting and informative to see what will remain and what will be blown away.

Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34 carry some profound messages.
John Miller 16/01/2013 18:58
Editor, these four directions that you mention are very true to my personal experience many years ago. However when we accede to number one and reject numbers two, three and four it may cause sorrow for a time but lifts a great burden and gives a sense of real victory in Christ.

The General Assembly will not and cannot change its trajectory away from the teaching and truth of God's word.

Firstly the stubborness and self-will of the hierarchy will not acknowledge the need for repentance. Secondly the financial and legal implications of changing the decision to permit active homosexuality in the pulpits and memberhip of the denomination would be insuperable. Thirdly, having permitted the ordination of women into the ministry historically, they signalled a determination to turn away from the ministry of the Apostle Paul who received it from the ascended Christ.

The decision of the C of E to enthrone homosexual bishops will greatly strengthen the cause of apostasy in the Church of Scotland.
One WAY (Guest) 17/01/2013 18:32
Rather than have this embarassment in the City center of an empty neglected building, with the name CofS.attached to it, thinking of the investment put into it by The Tron members -- honourable ppls of the Glasgow Presp.would say "Tron return to St Georges after all it was gifted years ago"
John Miller 17/01/2013 19:09
I have it on very good authority that the underfloor heating cannot be switched off for technical reasons. I understand that the heating bill is in the region of 30K per annum.

The impoverished denomination have saddled themselves with this substantial drain on their precariously depleated finances. Really good stewardship!
Penny Lee 17/01/2013 19:26
John, I don't dispute what you say because I have no knowledge of the building, but why can its heating not be turned off? I don't understand why anyone would have a heating system which can't be turned off. Even if the congregation used a conventional heating system every day of the week, I still can't imagine the bill amounting to £30k annually.
John Miller 18/01/2013 18:00
Penny I understand that this is the way that it is designed. It obviously is thermostatically controlled so that it doesn't heat up in the summer, but it is not designed to be switched off.

I have no technical knowledge of this but apparently it is the most energy efficient metod of operation. The guy that told me knew all about it and had a big input into its installation. Please don't ask me more because I don't know!

As far as the cost is concerned, I don't see that sum as being excessive given the massive cubic space to be heated and the Scottish weather.

The point is that this cost was being absorbed and dealt with by the now departed congregation. Now the bill will require to be met by 121 George Street, at the same time as they are having to close churches because of falling attendances and the resulting lack of cash.
Penny Lee 18/01/2013 18:42
" Now the bill will require to be met by 121 George Street,"

And it serves them right! However, it makes the rest of us who are still contributing to CofS funds ponder whether or not this is what we want our offerings used for. I already made up my mind some time ago not to increase my contribution but instead divert the increase to other areas of Christian service.It's appalling to use people's offerings to fund heating an empty building which needn't have been empty in the first place.
Guest (Guest) 20/01/2013 16:23
A new minister appointed to St George's Tron.

The Church of Scotland has, yet again, without fuss, been true to their word and to the integrity of God's Word.

We wish the new ministry, beginning in March, God's richest blessing.
John Miller 22/01/2013 11:05
MATTHEW 7:26-27, LUKE 6:49

God's righteousness set out in His word is the standard, not man's pragmatic solution to bypassing it. Time will be the test and God will be the Judge.

Isaiah 5:20-21
Ex Tron member. (Guest) 22/01/2013 13:06
Let us pray that there are no further "pragmatic solutions" with regard to financial irregularities.
Avoidance of paying to Caeser what belongs to Caeser in respect of interest on church loans.
And to God what belongs to Him in terms of the upkeep of poorer Church families and support to non self supporting congregations .

God the Lord has already been the Judge.
(page   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24)

NOTICE: - The 'Response' facility on some articles may be restricted to CT site members. In these circumstances comments/questions from non-site members should be sent to the Editor by e-mail: editor<atsign>

Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Current News > Tron Church quits the Church of Scotland