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Church of Scotland: leaders meeting planned

Since the decision to allow practicing homosexuals to serve as ministers in the Church of Scotland widespread upset, shock, anger and dissatisfaction have been felt throughout the denomination. Ministers and elders are planning to meet this week to consider how to proceeed.

UPDATE: A report of this meeting can be obtained by clicking here.

Church of ScotlandThe backlash against the Church of Scotland General Assembly in May is now growing and ministers and elders from the evangelical wing of the church are to meet this week to discuss the situation and formulate a response to the Kirk and its congregations.

There is a general acceptance that church members have been shocked and hurt by all that has happened and evangelical churches have already lost good people, while others are seriously considering leaving the national church in the near future. Many members have been disappointed and grieved that no clear leading has been given from evangelical pulpits.

However the desire is that there will be some strategic response to express the very strong dissatisfaction with the decision taken in relation to the Special Commission's report to the General Assembly which many feel showed a shocking and unrepentant disregard for the authority of the Word of God.

The planned meeting has the aim of looking to guage the strength and breadth of feeling, and to look at whether a cohesive response can be formulated. The desire of the organisers is that the gathering will produce some form of action and will not be taken up with 'more words'.

It is recognised that the responses by evangelicals will differ from minister to minister, congregation to congregation and member to member but it is hoped nevertheless to develop a united front. The  desire would be to develop an agreed, immediate, united and decisive action – one that will be practical, purposeful; offering a encouragement to all who have been offended and hurt by the Assembly's decision.

In advance of the meeting some 'food for thought' has been disseminated so that those planning to attend the meeting can develop some thinking which will allow C of S evangelicals to collectively and from across the length and breadth of Scotland express a unity and strength in their commitment to the historic Christian faith.

If congregations leave, and it likely that more will, then the question of ownership of building will inevitably come into question, but the commitment to God's Truth sets itself strongly against the Kirk's "chosen unbiblical trajectory, towards its own spiritual demise and destruction."

Clearly much prayer is needed for God's guidance and wisdom.

Footnote: The meeting is being convened for Church of Scotland ministers and elders and anyone with a legitimate locus can obtain further details of the meeting from Christians Together.

Christians Together, 13/06/2011

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Peter Carr 23/06/2011 15:57

As always interesting points that you raise. Where do you fit into the spectrum between liberal and evangelical, if you don't mind me asking?
Alec (Guest) 23/06/2011 16:28

Hah! keep them guessing.... my views would be quite liberal, I dont actually have a problem with female church leaders, or gay ones for that

I suppose I am playing devils advocate a bit here, but I wanted to flag up what is, as I see it a major issue in this whole debate.

Whether one is liberal or conservative , for me isnt really the issue. The issue is consistency and equal standards.

It is absolutely hopeless, IMO, to go on about being biblical re gays when that standard has clearly been flouted in the past. Big time.

I think it was Carl Trueman over on Reformation21 who referred to this as "the wrong hill to die on"

My advice to the evangelicals would be to

1) leave the CofS
2) Form a new denomination "Evangelical Church of Scotland" ?
3) And invite the Free Church to join them

And possibly, very possibly, but to my mind essential. base this new denomination round a completely new Confession - take the WCF as a starting point and refine it to address its deficiencies, its E & O's. This is the 21st century, not the 16th.

Basically, a new church , with a new confession, for what is after all, a new Scotland. Get rid of the baggage, get rid of the trite ceremonies and ludicrous institutions and create something streamlined, lean, mean and keen...

Cue: punch the air, with a rebel yell, and say "go for it!"

I might even start going to it myself.......
Peter Carr 23/06/2011 17:49
" views would be quite liberal..."

I had figured that. Although your suggestion re a new denomination is interesting!!!
Robert MacSporran (Guest) 23/06/2011 19:59
I to was at the meeting in Glasgow and was moved by the singing enough to know that we must be together to make a loud noise. Churches who leave abandon those who feel like they do but who have not had the chance to suggest a way forward that just might win our Church back from those who seek to destroy it.
Do not forget our congregations, who as far as I am aware,have not had the oppertunity to speak. Meetings of members should be held in every parish to give them their chance to be heard. If enough congregations raise their voices in dissent we would have a platform to move on the issues, and i mean march, to show the watching world that we stand for the Saviour.
J.Quinn (Guest) 23/06/2011 22:02
As unpleasant as it may seem, people need to be encouraged to think about what is involved in the homosexual act, and hopefully re-awaken their abhorrence of such behaviour (not an abhorrence of those who engage in homosexual activity) and this awareness must rightfully influence their thoughts and decisions as to who is best suited for the various ministries in the Church.
George Orr 24/06/2011 09:18

You have given a very clear overview. The issue is always the same; what do we believe, why do we believe and what are we going to do about it. The ordination of women was in my view the thin end of the wedge regarding our standing on the scriptures. Why are we surprised now when that wedge is being driven home.

Regarding what are we going to do; your summary of what is required for reform is spot on. We need to do a root and branch review of it all, along with major repentance like in the days of Josiah.

Whether or not there will be enough unity for this, time will tell. Each congregation/individual will have to decide.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” - Joshua 24:15

'I might even start going to it myself.......'

I do sincerely hope so and I think you do too. :)
Alec (Guest) 24/06/2011 10:34
I think there may be 2 major problems for those groups, caucuses and congregations within the CofS who want to do something about their current situation

1) There is a huge attachment to buildings, history and the "traditions" within the CofS. The sort of picture of the "kirk" that is hard to dispel is the sort of classic "Peoples Friend" Christmas image of a snow-bedecked building with families flocking to it full of seasonal joy - this type of building at the heart of the community which has seen countless local weddings, funerals and baptisms is a very powerful image that many will not wish to lose.

And in the event of any major realignment of churches, congregations and ministers may well have to turn their backs on a cherished building and start meeting in a cold village hall.... Or a snowy hillside if they were true to the spirit of 1843.

There is a huge emotional attachment to buildings and it should not be under estimated

2) Politics, personalities and power. Within a large structure whether political or religious, individuals can become very influential. Although perhaps this has traditionally been more of a thing among liberals within the Kirk

Having to walk away form that and enter into a new organisation that nobody has heard of yet - it would take years to build up a similar position of influence

This shouldnt be an issue but I suspect it is.

The church is supposed to be the body of believers but instead has become fossilised into a man made institution.

Just some thoughts
Louise (Guest) 24/06/2011 14:51
I'm one of the ones running out of patience with this attachment to buildings. Have none of you ever moved house? Was it a problem if it was new built, 60s council or 19th century workers housing? Likewise a fair bit of the tradition stuff. Do you all still eat only porridge for breakfast and only cold kail on Sundays?

Likewise the attachment to power politics. Were you all rich and powerful when Christ saved you? (To paraphrase scripture.)

I don't see the need for yet another denomination however. Are there not enough to choose from? And what makes you think the Free Church would be keen to suddenly join some new denomination with women elders etc? Is it too radical to quietly leave and go to an existing denomination/independent congregation more in line with your beliefs? By this method you can even sidestep the problem of maintaining all those expensive, listed buildings that need new roofs!

And it's true that congregations haven't generally been asked. Fortunately people have been given brains and free will to use. Maybe we need to start asking questions in our local churches about what action will be taken and when.

An optimist (Guest) 24/06/2011 17:05
The wolves are in the sheep pen but they are not absolutely
confident of success. What they hope will happen by their
intimidation and howling is to frighten some of the sheep into seeking refuge outside the pen. In this way they can more easily overcome those that remain. Eventually the wolves will pursue those who flee, and will much more easily pick them off even with their joining another flock.
I refuse to believe that a majority of the members of the Church of Scotland are in favour of what has been approved by the General Assembly. Get together, stay together, and fight.

Martin Lisemore 24/06/2011 21:10
I find myself agreeing with Alec, Louise and George.

What has it to do with me, after all, I live a thousand miles from some of you? Well, we have the same problems here in the Church of England, both historically and currently. Indeed, pals from other countries write of similar situations in their churches, so now we're thinking international ...

My first statement will get me blown away: the institutional church, based on the Roman model, does not work, never has worked and cannot work or function as Jesus intended His Church (Body) to. It is a bastard creature, unknown in the Bible, without guarantee from our God, without a right spiritual power. It relies on a ruling hierarchy, it is political, power hungry and career based; it relies on on money generated from dubious means, and vast areas of property. Evidence? Just look at the post War popes, or even our archbishops of Canterbury. I'm think Carey here. Look at the Church of England's property portfolio - they the second largest land owners in the UK. Bigger, I believe, than even the Crown! And this is an institution which purports to follow some of the values of a penniless crucified carpenter who had nowhere to lay His head. Yet it seldom uses the Bible, unless to support it's own claims to apostolic authority.

Incredible isn't it? If this was Unilever or ICI or some other multinational they would be hauled in front of courts for misrepresenting themselves. But the church trades on 'mysteries,' and no one dare touch them!

They have fostered just the things Alec writes of: I see it in our tiny hamlet here in Suffolk, Christmas in the snow, Easter bunnies, weddings and funerals. Charles Dickens description of Christmas must have seemed heaven sent! They've built an emotional attachment to these things surrounding the church building, without ever speaking of salvation.

In twenty years adult membership of the Church of England, I did not once hear a word preached on being born again. Just as well Jesus saved me before I joined the Church of England.

Friends from Scotland write me it's much the same with them.

Peter, you might care to look away here: the model given in the New Testament is clear, the offices, the gifts, elders, deacons, and not a woman or gay priest in sight. Indeed, not a sacrificing priest anywhere, because we are all a royal priesthood, a holy nation ...

Splitting from the denominations is not the best answer, unless led by the Holy Spirit as my wife and I were. To split without that leading you take an awful responsibility for which answer must be given. Without such leading a wilderness is before you. No, the answer is to reform the churches, from the bottom up. Why can't we petition Jesus to endow us with the offices and gifts He promised His Church? Perhaps first we must be intent of being His Church!

Let's be clear. These are the end times. None of us has time to pussy foot around with power politics, property and Godless career people. This is about Christ, and Christ alone, not about Bishops archbishops or whatever they're called elsewhere. Again, this is about the risen Christ. None other.

Reform from the inside out, bottom to top; let go property and reach out for Jesus. If we don't the church becomes as Alec so rightly describes. I would say, a quaint water colour on a Christmas card and no mention of Jesus inside. And I'm by no means a liberal!

The Body lived, preached, healed, taught and otherwise ministered on the streets of Jerusalem first. It had no property, no politically minded bishops, little credibility among people. But, and here's the rub, they were in love with Jesus and followed Him.

Not a bad place to start reforming, is it?

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