The Church of Scotland is facing a fresh crisis over the controversial issue of allowing gay clergy after two churches threatened to break away from the Kirk.
Congregations at the two churches, both in the Western Isles, are to vote on whether to quit the Kirk over the issue.
The congregation at Kinloch and elders of Stornoway High, on the Isle of Lewis, are the first to react to the Kirk’s decision to allow gay clergy, which was passed last week by the General Assembly. Sources suggested at least ten more congregations could be considering similar votes this summer and warned the Church of Scotland “could be facing extinction in the Western Isles”.
The ordaining of ministers in same-sex relationships has divided the Kirk since traditionalist members attempted to block the appointment of Scott Rennie, who is gay, in 2009.
So far, two congregations have left the Kirk over the issue – St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow and Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen – both before the Church of Scotland took the historic step last week of voting in favour of allowing openly gay men and women to become ministers.
The two churches now considering breaking away are from the evangelical wing of the Kirk, which believes in the “gospel truth” and follow the written word of the Bible.
The evangelical wing is strong in many parts of the Highlands and Islands, and is at odds with Church’s more liberal sections and their position on the ordination of gay ministers.