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Presbyterian Church in Ireland votes against allowing gay couples to be full members

The policy also prevents the children of same-sex couples from being baptised in the church.

File photo of a church in Belfast.
File photo of a church in Belfast.

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH in Ireland has adopted a policy that prevents anyone in a same-sex relationship from being a full member of the church.

The policy also prevents the children of same-sex couples from being baptised in the church.

Church members adopted the new policy today during the final day of its 2018 General Assembly after a lengthy debate. This comes after it cut ceremonial ties with the Church of Scotland due to its more liberal attitude to same-sex relationships.

The policy is contained in a report by the Church’s doctrine committee, and states that the lifestyles of people in same-sex relationships are “at variance with a life of obedience to Christ”.

“In light of our understanding of Scripture and the Church’s understanding of a credible profession of faith it is clear that same sex couples are not eligible for communicant membership nor are they qualified to receive baptism for their children,” the policy states.

We believe that their outward conduct and lifestyle is at variance with a life of obedience to Christ.

A number of General Assembly members were opposed to this hardline stance, but a motion to shelve the policy was beaten in a show of hands vote.

The Church follows this policy by saying that in that context it was still important to emphasise that it “welcomes all who wish to sit under the means of grace at public services and to have access to the pastoral care and counsel available within her fellowship”.

Debate

According to The BBC, the debate this morning in Belfast lasted over an hour with more than 20 people having spoke.

The Reverend Cheryl Meban, a chaplain at Ulster University, urged that the motion not be adopted, while another reverend who was a former moderator said it was a “highly sensitive” issue and cautioned against any formal rules being introduced on the matter.

However, another former moderator stated that the Church needed to make its position clear that it was not in favour in same-sex relationships.

The Church has over 220,000 members in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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