Tuesday 1 June 2021

Whitehead Minister to step down over Presbyterian's stance on LGBT members

 As I start to write this I realise it has been an age since I posted anything here. I apologise, but even me before last year happened I lost a bit of my blogging mojo. Since I last posted there are 6 drafts that never saw the light of day.

In 1904 two of my Great Grandparents were married in the Presbyterian Church in Whitehead. Why is this significant?

Today the news is out that the current Minister of Whitehead, Rev Ian Carton is to step away from the ministry later this year because he cannot abide the church's stance on certain issues. He said in a message to his congregation on Sunday "To our (his and his wife's) mind, it seems to be excluding people we'd like to welcome."

Regular readers, back in the day will know my struggles as a gay man appeasing my faith especially within the Presbyterian Church that has largely been the church of forefathers for generations, with many elders, minsters and other leaders within the family. Over lockdown I have "been" to more services than I have been at my home congregation in recent years. However, with churches reopening I will not be going back to attending in person as I am one of those that Rev Carton says he liked to welcome into a Presbyterian Church but feels unable to.

In this year's census when it asked for religion I used the accurate description of how I feel excluded Presbyterian. It is with sadness that any are forced away from the church they call home because of the stance that church has taken. I am not alone in the number of LGBT+ people who have felt that way and walked away from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Now Rev Carton is taking the same journey that many of us have taken. He like us has studied the bible to come to terms with what would God want, what is right and where is his place within faith.

I am therefore glad that after he has gone about his studies he has come to the conclusion that this decision to step away from PCI ministry is a call.

"It's a call to leave the church of my birth, the church that I've grown up in," he said. 

"What I hear is God calling me, calling me to those who certainly feel cast out, who feel rejected, who feel unloved. 

 "The decisions taken by our denomination mean that they can never belong."

It takes people of courage to stand up for what is right. It has always taken allies to help advance the cause of LGBT+ people in whatever environment. Rev Carton has shown courage, compassion and Christlike love in coming to his decision.