Proposal for ministers in civil partnerships goes forward

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted in favour of a proposal which could eventually lead to the ordination of ministers in civil partnerships. Following a lengthy debate which examined the legal and theological implications of the proposal, commissioners voted by 369 for, and 189 against.

The vote means the Assembly has agreed to send down to its Presbyteries for further discussion a piece of draft Church legislation, known as an Overture, which offers a way of accommodating  differing views on ministers and deacons in civil partnerships.

The decisions of all 46 Presbyteries will be reported back to the General Assembly in May 2015. If a majority are in favour, a final vote will be taken at next year's gathering.

At the end of the debate, the Moderator the Right Rev John Chalmers told commissioners

"This has been a difficult day and a difficult discussion for all of us. From me to you my grateful thanks it has been conducted as a respectful dialogue and a model of how these conversations should be held within the Church."

The Church of Scotland has been discussing the matter at the General Assembly since 2009. Today's discussion came after a vote in principle last year which sought to find a way of holding the Church in unity.

Since 2009, 13 parish ministers from the Kirk's 1389 congregations have left over this issue.