Special Commission: Same-sex Relationships
The General Assembly of 2009 appointed a Special Commission with this remit:
"A Special Commission composed of nine persons, representative of the breadth and unity of the Church, to consult with all Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions and to prepare a study on Ordination and Induction to the Ministry of the Church of Scotland in the light of the issues
(a) addressed in a Report welcomed by the General Assembly of 2007: 'A challenge to unity: same-sex relationships as an issue in theology and human sexuality', and
(b) raised by the case of Aitken et al v the Presbytery of Aberdeen,
and to report to the General Assembly of 2011."
Proposed method of working
The Special Commission prepared a short consultation paper inviting Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions to express their views on the questions which the Commission considers arise from its remit and the divisions in the Church which have led to its appointment.
In order to inform the consultation document, and in particular to enable the Commission to express accurately the competing views within the Church and the views of other Churches, the Commission was engaged in a pre-consultation exercise of obtaining current statements of such views. The aim was to enable it to summarise those views accurately in the consultation paper.
The consultation paper was issued in March 2010 , with a consultation period until the end of May 2010. The consultation and other papers can are available to download at the side. During this time the Commission will expect every Presbytery and Kirk Session to hold a special meeting in order to prepare a response.
The Commission will spend the latter part of the year in analysing the responses and preparing its report for the General Assembly of 2011.
Membership of the Commission
- Rev John Chalmers, Pastoral Adviser and Associate Secretary (Ministries Support and Development) Ministries Council (resigned March 2010)
- Mrs Ruth Innes, Advocate, member of Palmerston Place Church
- Very Rev Dr Sheilagh Kesting, former Moderator of General Assembly, Secretary & Ecumenical Officer, Ecumenical Relations Committee
- Very Rev David Lunan, Former Clerk to Presbytery of Glasgow
- Rev Dr Donald MacEwan, Minister of Largoward linked with St Monans, secretary of the working group which produced "A Challenge to Unity"
- Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Minister of Stornoway St Columba, immediate past Convener of Mission & Discipleship Council, also a member of the working group
- Rev James Stewart, Minister of Perth: Letham St Mark’s, with experience of a previous commission
- Rev Professor Allan J Torrance, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of St Andrews
- Miss Kim Wood, Student at Dundee University; a Youth Representative to the General Assembly from Presbytery of Glasgow
- Convener - The Hon. Lord Hodge (Patrick Hodge), Court of Session Judge; former Procurator of the Church
- Clerk to the Special Commission - Rev W Peter Graham, former Clerk to the Presbytery of Edinburgh
Theology Commission members.
THE General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted to continue dialogue on same-sex relationships and the ministry following the report of the Special Commission. The General Assembly also voted to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex relationships ordained before 2009 to be inducted into pastoral charges by 393 to 252.
A theological commission has been established to be bring recommendations to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2013 as well as considering if ministers should have the freedom of conscience to bless civil partnerships and possible liturgy for such occasions.
The Theology Commission will be convened by Rev John McPake and has the following commissioners, Rev Prof Andrew McGowan, Rev Gordon Kennedy, Rev Dr Mary Henderson, Dr Jane McArthur, Rev Dr Alan Falconer and Rev Dr Marjory MacLean.