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World News

Church of Scotland moves step closer to officiating same-sex marriages

by Kelly Valencia

The Church of Scotland could become the latest Christian denomination in the UK to officiate same-sex marriages.

A new paper submitted to the 2022 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, expected to take place in May, has shown a majority of presbyteries are in favour of allowing same-sex marriage. 

A legal framework considering how it could work was drawn up last year following years of debate. Members of the General Assembly then voted presbyteries should express their view on the draft legislation before bringing a final vote this year. 

At least 29 presbyteries have now said they are in favour of bringing forward the legislation while 12 have said they are opposed. 

Rev Shuna Dicks, from the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, voted in favour. She told Premier she is delighted about the support. 

"Personally this is something I feel it's been a long time coming and we've maybe waited far too long, to be honest. But I'm just delighted that I will be able to apply to become an official celebrant for same-sex marriages."

"There will be people from the LGBT community who will rejoice because finally, the church that they belong to will able to celebrate their love that they have found in each other in a Christian ceremony and that, I think, is good news," Rev Dicks said.

Ministers and deacons will have to apply the Principal Clerk's office to become a celebrant and an application would then be made to the Registrar General for Scotland on their behalf.

The Principal Clerk would then maintain an up to date record of celebrants and they would be personally responsible for renewing their status every three years.

According to the proposed legislation, no person would be required to participate in the solemnisation of, or be involved in the arrangements for, a same-sex marriage celebration unless they explicitly wished to do so.

But for Rev Mike Goss, from the presbytery of Angus, who voted against, even with this "permissive" approach, division within the church will continue and thinks it will impact other areas of church life. 

"There's still a continued struggle within the Church of Scotland. The group of folk are called traditionalists, folk who stand by the Bible, we're not going away. We're still there."

"I guess the struggles will be with the continued relationships between congregations and between ministers. We're in the middle of a vast process of change that's been called the Presbytery Mission Planning Process and that's going to require a lot of ministers working together and this is just another spanner in that process, making it harder to know how we work together," Rev Goss continued.

A final vote will take place in the Church of Scotland's General Assembly next month.

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