Welcome to Affirmation Scotland
Affirmation Scotland is a group that has formed within the Church of Scotland. It is dedicated to the Gospel and a Church characterised by grace, compassion and inclusion.
During the next few months Presbyteries of The Church of Scotland will be discussing and voting on the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Overture under Barrier Act Procedures.
This draft legislation (that is, a piece of law for the Church) creates a mechanism whereby a Minister or Deacon in a Civil Partnership can be called or appointed by a congregation, and ordained and inducted. This will be done by congregations intentionally deciding to depart from the traditional position of the Church vis-à-vis same-sex relationships. This proposal will be discussed around the country before the end of the year, with the results of those discussions going to the Kirk’s General Assembly next May for ratification, or not.
In the opinion of Affirmation Scotland the draft legislation is not perfect as it still enshrines inequality and discriminatory treatment for lesbian and gay people in the church. Nevertheless we feel it is important that it is supported as it will allow the Church to take a significant step forward.
It is easy to forget the change that has taken place in the Kirk and in Scottish Society in a relatively short time. It was only in 1980 that homosexual sex was decriminalised in Scotland – much later than England. The Kirk has been debating the matter of ministers in same-sex relationships for the last six or seven years and it is possible that it’s formal position will have turned through 180 degrees in that time; it’s taken the Presbyterian Church in the USA around 40 years to achieve that. In a Scotland wide consultation between 2009 and 2010, a significant number of ministers and elders in the Kirk (45%) said that they would have no problem with a minister in a civil partnership (47% said they would.) Now, a few years on, with most people knowing someone in their family circle or workplace who is in a civil partnership, the figures will likely be very different.
Since 2006 Affirmation Scotland has endeavoured to give voice to the faith and experience of gay and lesbian people in the Church and our vision is of a Church where there is full equality and where those in same-sex relationships are affirmed and supported, in the same way as opposite sex couples are.
Whilst the Draft Legislation addresses the situation of a congregation which is looking for a minister, it is of course possible for a congregation at any time to declare that it welcomes and affirms lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, affirms those in same-sex relationships, and permits lgbt people to participate in the life of the congregation without discrimination. Around 14 congregations have taken such a step and are listed as ‘Affirming Congregations’ on this website.
It would be wonderful if the discussion on the Overture was a catalyst around the country for more congregations to come out as welcoming and affirming. If you would like to know more about how to do this please contact us.
There are very few ministers and deacons of the Church of Scotland who are in Civil Partnerships, or same-sex relationships. Many gay and lesbian ministers and deacons, whether in a relationship or not, feel vulnerable and often ostracised in the Church; others feel they must keep their sexual orientation or their partners a secret. This is not healthy for the individuals concerned; further, silence, fear and stigma are not signs of a healthy Church.
Affirmation Scotland prays for a time – and it could be close – when not just The Church of Scotland but all faith communities, affirm people in same-sex relationships, celebrate love between two people as a gift of God, and enact the justice and grace of the God we worship.
Affirmation Scotland now has a presence on Facebook which replaces the Discussion Forum which was part of this site.