LONDON – An openly gay minister Sunday praised the decision of the Church of Scotland to dismiss a challenge to his appointment by religious conservatives.
The church’s ruling body voted 326 to 267 Saturday to support the appointment of Rev. Scott Rennie, 37, who was previously married to a woman and is now in a relationship with a man.
Rennie was first appointed as a minister 10 years ago, but has faced opposition since he moved to a church in Aberdeen, Scotland, last year. He has been unable to take up his post while the Church of Scotland considered appeals from his critics.
“I’m relieved, humbled, I’m obviously pleased and I’m really looking forward to going to be with my new congregation,” Rennie told reporters Sunday. “I’ve had a long time to wait, they’ve had a long time to wait and I’m just glad we can get on with life.” Protesters had lobbied the Kirk – the Church of Scotland’s ruling executive – over Rennie’s case, saying his appointment was not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.
“We are absolutely opposed to that on the basis of what God has to say about homosexuality in the Bible,” said one opponent, Pastor Jack Bell of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow, Scotland.
The case has divided Scottish religious leaders. About 900 elders and ministers took part in a debate on Rennie’s case, but many chose to abstain from casting a vote.
Following the vote to back Rennie, Scotland’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said the Church of Scotland had proven itself to be “a modern church for a modern Scotland.”