Statement on formation of civil partnership ordination protest group

The Church of Scotland has issued a statement in response to the formation of Covenant Fellowship, a group launched today in Glasgow opposed to the ordination of ministers in active homosexual relationships.

The Church of Scotland has issued a statement in response to the formation of a group launched today in Glasgow opposed to the ordination of ministers in active homosexual relationships.

Rev Prof Andrew McGowan, minister of Inverness East Church, is one of those involved in Covenant Fellowship.

He said: "Today, members and adherents of the Church of Scotland are being asked to express support for a Covenant Fellowship. We invite everyone in the Church who feels the same way to stand with us.

"The hope is that the Covenant Fellowship, which begins today as a protest against recent events, will grow to become an effective campaign group within the Church on behalf of those who believe in Christian orthodoxy."

Acting Principal Clerk for the Church of Scotland, Rev Dr George Whyte, said: "The Church of Scotland welcomes Professor McGowan's continued commitment to remain a member and a minister but there are in his statement accusations which we believe are not accurate.

"The proposed legislation which is the focus of the group's criticism has been painstakingly considered by the Church across the nation. We know that for many people the discussion has been difficult and it has always been clear that we could never come to a common mind on the matter.

"This pain and disillusionment has been felt by those, like Professor McGowan, who think the Church is going in the wrong direction and those who desperately want a Church which would go further on their chosen route. Yet the issue has to be discussed and we are a Church which recognises "liberty of opinion." Our General Assembly has agreed that this proposal – to allow a congregation call a minister in a civil partnership - falls into that category. It is not, therefore, an attack on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith.

"We share Professor McGowan's abhorrence of further disruption and we hope and pray that across Scotland Christians will find ways to continue to work together despite their varied opinions."