Regret over Presbyterian Church of Ireland’s decision to break ties with the Church of Scotland

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has expressed her sadness at the decision from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) to sever formal ties with its sister church in Scotland.

Speaking on the decision of the PCI’s General Assembly Susan Brown said agreeing on everything was not what was required of us as Christians
Speaking on the decision of the PCI’s General Assembly Susan Brown said agreeing on everything was not what was required of us as Christians

The decision came after their General Assembly in Belfast voted 255 by 171 to accept the recommendation of the Doctrine Committee’s ‘Relationships with other denominations’ Task Group to ‘…no longer accept invitations to the Moderator of the General Assembly, or any other formal delegation, to attend the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church and no longer issue invitations to those two denominations to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.’

The Right Rev Susan Brown said she recognised that there were significant differences between the two denominations over matters relating to human sexuality but expressed concern that:

‘To a world which doesn’t understand the nuances of particular theological stances, today’s decision will be yet another reason to stay away from religion and from Christianity in particular.’

Susan Brown was a guest at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s General Assembly in Belfast this week.

At the start of the Assembly week, the Moderator had conveyed the greetings of the Scottish Assembly to its sister church in Ireland and shared a message of peace from the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to the Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

She recognised that the differences which might exist between the two churches on the matter of same sex relationships posed a challenge for how we communicate the Gospel in a way that the people around us in 2018 and beyond, who really are in need of hearing its call, can feel God’s touch upon their lives.

The Presbyterian Church of Ireland voted in favour of option A by 255 votes to 171 votes.
The Presbyterian Church of Ireland voted in favour of option A by 255 votes to 171 votes.

Speaking on the decision of the PCI’s General Assembly Susan Brown said agreeing on everything was not what was required of us as Christians:

“Jesus called his followers to follow.

“He didn’t call us to agree about absolutely everything – but to be his sisters and brothers on the journey of faith, loving one another and letting that love be the outward sign of our belonging to him.

“Just as members of a family, hold differing views and will from time to time, debate and argue, so the Christian family does the same – sadly today, the PCI has allowed those differences of opinion to drive a wedge between us.”

Acknowledging the decision of the Irish Church she said:

“None of us can claim the moral high ground, because none of us is perfect.Therefore all I can do is ask for God’s blessing on his Presbyterian Church in Ireland as they and we in the Church of Scotland, continue to seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ who came for a much loved world and to show by example, how to live and love eternally.”