Affirmation! Scotland
"care - hope - affirmation - justice - joy"
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On Sunday 18th May at 7.30pm, in St Andrew’s and St George’s West Parish Church, Edinburgh, Affirmation Scotland will be praying for an inclusive church.

It was in 2009 that Affirmation Scotland held the first 'Praying for an Inclusive Church' service during the General Assembly.  This year - our sixth – will be held at the opening of General Assembly week when, on the Wednesday the Kirk will (yet again!) debate matters of human sexuality and relationships.

I believe there is progress.  This year a report will be presented from The Theological Forum which demonstrates that throughout the history of Christianity the church has lived with diversity of belief and doctrine: there has never been a time when all Christians believed the same thing at the same time!  And so in our time we must learn to live respectfully in one church with those who hold different views on human sexuality and relationships, recognising that such are not central to the gospel.  This report is honest, gracious and insightful: it is a gift to the church.

 

There will also be an 'Overture' - a piece of church law - which it is hoped will be sent down to all Presbyteries for discussion and voting.  This Overture makes it possible for congregations to call a minister (or deacon) who is in a civil partnership.  Kirk Sessions would be required to vote to “depart from the traditional position of the church.”  It is not an ideal way forward, it is not true equality, and there is a risk of presbyteries voting against it.   But it is, and could be, a significant step forward.

 

In recent years there have been huge steps in society towards achieving full equality under the law for lgbt people.  Limping along behind these advances, the Christian Church (and other faith communities) struggle to keep up. This year same-sex couples will be able to get married in Scotland – but not with a Church of Scotland minister as the celebrant.  In time, I believe this will change.

 

I do not believe it is unreasonable for lgbt people to expect the same respect, dignity and equality within the church that now pertains in most of society and, certainly, in the eyes of the law.

 

In the church the “traditional” position on sexuality is pitted against the “revisionist” position.  Let’s recognize that until quite recently the traditional law of the land was that homosexual sexual activity was illegal; the tradition of our country vis-à-vis same-sex relationships was that they had to be covert and secretive.  The traditions of our country have changed; it is not unreasonable to argue that the church, too, can review its traditions and find a new way of affirming and celebrating the gifts and faith of all of God’s people.

 

Until this happens there is a need to speak out and to pray.  Praying is very traditional in the church and no-one can object to lgbt Christians looking to God for hope and sustenance in this struggle towards justice and equality.  If you want to lend your faith and voice to our prayers please come to our special service on Sunday May 18th.