Updated Tuesday morning
The official news release from the Church of Scotland is headed Church finds common ground in sexuality debate.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in a groundbreaking decision called for the Church to maintain its historic doctrine in relation to human sexuality but, in line with the Kirk’s historic position of allowing congregations to call their own minister, to permit an individual Kirk Session to call a minister in a civil partnership if it chooses to do so.
The Legal Questions Committee and the Theological Forum will bring reports to next year’s General Assembly about how this will be achieved. In the meantime courts and committees of the General Assembly will maintain the status quo…
The Associated Press reports: Church of Scotland takes step to allow gay clergy
Senior members of the Church of Scotland voted Monday to let some congregations choose ministers who are in same-sex relationships — an important compromise that must still pass further hurdles before it can become church law.
The church’s General Assembly backed a motion affirming a traditional conservative view on homosexuality, but permitted liberal congregations to ordain openly gay men or women if they wish.
The assembly’s vote would require the approval of next year’s General Assembly as well as votes by the church’s regional presbyteries to become law. The process is complicated, and is expected to take at least two years.
There is a discussion of what occurred today by Kelvin Holdsworth at Church of Scotland Debate.
…Three proposals emerged. The first two were in the report itself and labelled rather unsatisfactorily as the Revisionist (option A) and the Traditionalist (option B) position. Option A allows what tends to be called a mixed economy by which that church could eventually allow ministers in civil partnerships to be appointed to churches and gay couples in civil partnerships to be allowed to have their partnerships blessed. Option B would not though anyone who happened to be in a Civil Partnership already would probably not be hounded out of their ministry but no new minister in a civil partnership could be inducted or ordained. The third position emerged during the day and was moved in the name of Albert Bogle. (Confusingly it was option D – another motion C had been proposed and then was withdrawn during the process). This option D was a proposal to reaffirm the traditionalist view on these matters whilst allowing individual Kirk Sessions to opt to do as they like and chose such a minister anyway.
In each case, these were not final votes. The procedures of the Church of Scotland mean that where there are significant changes accepted by a General Assembly they then have to be put to the presbyteries of the church. The final position only emerges if a majority of presbyteries concur during the subsequent year and also the next General Assembly confirms the vote. (If a majority of the presbyteries do not concur then the process fails)…
Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has more explanation: Church of Scotland votes to induct or ordain civil partners – but not yet and includes a link to the full wording of what was agreed.
The result of the Deliverance as amended by the countermotion is that instead of the change of position with an opt-out for “Traditionalists”, the Assembly have voted to maintain the status quo but with an opt-in for “Revisionists” – a very subtle shift of emphasis in the hope, no doubt, that it will keep the Church together.
As to further proceedings, if I understand the position correctly the next move is for the Committee on Legal Questions to draft an Overture to be considered by the General Assembly of 2014 which, if approved, will be sent down to the presbyteries under the Barrier Act 1697 because the terms of the Overture will engage an issue of “doctrine or worship or discipline”. If my assumption is correct (and if I’m wrong and there’s a Scots church lawyer who can correct me, please, please don’t hesitate to do so) the change will only be implemented if a majority of presbyteries approve the proposal and the General Assembly confirms it in 2015.