The international protest over the appointment of a gay minister to a Church of Scotland parish in Aberdeen has spread to Shetland with some parishioners boycotting their local kirk.
The revolt is believed to centre around Cunningsburgh but the first known protest was back in May at the Uyeasound kirk in Unst when author and retired teacher Frank Renwick, Baron of Ravenstone, stood up to announce that he and his wife Eyvor would no longer be attending.
Cunningsburgh and the South Mainland is where the Reverend Charles Greig preaches. He is clerk to the Presbytery of Shetland and was one of the delegates from Shetland who attended the church’s General Assembly in Edinburgh in May where a vote took place to confirm the appointment of the openly gay Rev Scott Rennie as minister of Queen’s Cross in Aberdeen. Rev Greig was accompanied by two other local ministers, Magnie Williamson and Tom McIntyre,
and three church elders from Shetland.
The Shetland Times was unable to speak to Rev Greig this week to confirm the size and spread of the boycott although it is apparently not being experienced in parishes such as Lerwick.
Mr Renwick, when asked for a comment on the issue, did not feel qualified because he is actually a supporter of the Free Church of Scotland.
He said he only attended the Uyeasound kirk each week because it is his local, adding: “I did obviously feel very strongly … but I have had my problems with the Church of Scotland long before that.” He said the kirk had been departing from its traditional standards of the faith for a long time. “This was just the latest step in the downward path.”
The appointment of an openly homosexual minister has caused a split in the Kirk between those accepting of gay rights and those demanding no departure from centuries of Protestant tradition.
An online petition opposing Rev Rennie’s appointment was signed by over 12,000 people, including over 1,000 ministers from various churches.
When he was selected in January it provoked an objection from some ministers and elders in Aberdeen because the church had yet to decide a policy to alter its historic position that “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, when they take up the subject of same-sex activity, present it as a wrong choice”. The matter was referred to the General Assembly for a decision.
Rev Rennie’s first service on Sunday went without protest at Queen’s Cross except for a placard nailed to the door the previous night. He was previously minister of Brechin Cathedral and at one time was married to a woman.