Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Is Irish Presbyterianism resolute against theological look at homosexuality?

Did I say two years, I clearly meant two weeks so Andrew Page was right when he tweeted to me that I'd probably be revisiting the issue of gay clergy in the Presbyterian Church sooner.

Idaho sticker with the PCI's Union College in background
Of course this week is the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), the denomination that I currently attend though am not a member of, because of my sexuality. However, tensions have arisen from the fact that the outgoing Moderator the Very Reverend Dr Norman Hamilton reported to the General Assembly of the PCI in Belfast about his visit to the mother church's General Assembly in Edinburgh. He said that there is a widespread view that the traditionalist position in Scotland on the ordination of those who are gay or lesbian was rejected for what was described as the "revisionist" position. Before going on to say:

"Those who are advocating this latter position included one minister who spoke warmly of the contribution that bisexuals and those who are transgendered can make to Christian ministry, whilst another spoke of how the Bible had been shown up to be wrong in the past and that we now know better.

 "The traditionalist view was articulated by many in The Kirk, and by every visiting delegate who spoke, myself included, and there is no doubt that many of those who hold this position in the Church of Scotland seemed seriously demoralised and deeply apprehensive about future developments."

As one of those whose contribution to Christian Ministry* is welcomed in the PCI, but even my confession of faith nor willingness to contribute to church funds in not enough to be a full communicant member. People have from a young age thought that I should go into the Ministry apply to Union College (pictured) and see where God would lead me. Of course from my teen years I had my own struggle with myself and my own view (or was that my churches imposed view) of my own sexuality. It was a struggle that I've blogged about before that took me over a decade.

So while of course there may not be a clamour within Irish Presbyterianism I doubt that I am the only LGBT Presbyterian who has been excluded from full membership as a result of the pastoral guidelines of the PCI published in 2007. Those guidelines did point out 7 keys recommendations, the final four are key:

4. continue to encourage our congregations to 'Create an environment of love, acceptance, patience, forgiveness and grace.'
5. ask that the BSW to investigate the possibility of creating 'a safe space' for people struggling with their sexuality and that funding be sought to create such a safe space.
6. ask the BSW and Board of Youth and Children’s Ministries to cooperate in updating the Loving in the Real World youth resource to include more instructive material on the area of same-sex attraction.
7. encourage the possibility of the establishment of parents' support group/s to help parents who are struggling with the issues surrounding children who have 'come out'.

Today a resolution that is highly critical of the Church of Scotland looking at the theology of same sex attraction is being by the Very Rev Dr John Lockington (Moderator in 1999), and Lurgan minister the Rev Nigel J McCullough. The Church of Scotland having decided to have theologians look into the issue such a resolution if passed is merely not even going to let the subject be spoken about.

Does such a stance show love, acceptance, patience, forgiveness and grace?

Read also Former Moderator Very Rev. Stafford Carson's blogpost on the Church of Scotland General Assembly.

* Currently playing bass for services, in the past as a Bible Class Leader, BB Officer, Holiday Bible Club leader and sent out to work on summer and year long missions.

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