An influential group of ministers in Scotland's largest Protestant church has said that its clergy and congregations have been "sinfully" intolerant of gays and lesbians in its ranks.
In a report on homosexuality, a working party has concluded that the Church of Scotland has been institutionally homophobic for much of its history.
The working group of the Mission and Discipleship Council is set to present the General Assembly with its in-depth report on ‘same-sex partnerships as an issue in theology and human sexuality’ in May.
The report, which is entitled 'A challenge to unity', takes as its starting point an acknowledgement of the strength of feeling that has already been expressed on the issue of same-sex relationships. It seeks to give a flavour of the wide range of views held within the church, and to identify areas of common ground around which the church might unite.
As a part of its remit, the working group that produced the report listened to gay and lesbian Christians, including two Church of Scotland ministers who have entered into civil partnership with their same-sex partners…
… But the report says: "Theological approaches to homosexuality which present gay or lesbian people as unlovable or less loved by God than any other person are unacceptable."
"In the church’s life, there may be a full participation of homosexual people in leadership and service. Identified sexuality which is gay is not a bar in itself to baptism or to communion. Being gay or lesbian by orientation is no bar to serving God as church member, elder, reader, deacon, minister or moderator. And in pastoral care there should be no discrimination; for example, a homosexual partner should be accorded all dignity as a chief mourner on the occasion of a partner’s death.
"It is a regrettable witness that people in churches have sought to use their power in such ways as to exacerbate societal disapproval of homosexual people as people. We have been complicit in prejudice and worse. May we say to one another: I will love you as my neighbour, and if your sexuality or my sexuality prevents my loving you, then I am failing in the Christian way. All Christians are to be moved to repent of unloving attitudes, pronouncements and behaviour towards others."http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5137
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