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Christmas Presents

General Assembly 2017

Thomas Baldwin ofers a summary of some of the reports to this year's General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

THEOLOGICAL FORUM

The Theological Forum presents its report ‘An Approach to the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage’, which is commended as a resource and ‘basis for study and discussion’. The report looks at how different approaches to scripture have resulted in different views, before considering arguments based on human rights, on ‘building outwards from traditional understandings of marriage’, and on theological arguments in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.

It concludes that the Forum ‘does not believe there are sufficient theological grounds to deny nominated individual ministers and deacons the authority to preside at same-sex marriages… however, the Forum does not believe that such permission should be granted until there is assurance that the conscientious refusal of other ministers and deacons to preside at such marriages is protected’.

The deliverance invites the church to ‘apologise individually and corporately’ for ‘its history of discrimination’ against gay people ‘and seek to do better’, and to instruct the Legal Questions Committee ‘to undertake a study of the matters which would require to be addressed in any new legislation permitting Ministers and Deacons to officiate at same-sex marriage

PANEL ON REVIEW AND REFORM

The Panel on Review and Reform’s update on the Path of Renewal scheme reports that the Panel continues to support 43 congregations and one area grouping going through the process, although one congregation dropped out early this year. It says that the main focus in 2016 was initial work on: “helping ministers and Kirk Sessions to reflect on the changing culture, the challenges it presents and the change of leadership styles and approaches needed for this. Alongside this, ministers have been encouraged to invest heavily in a few people seeking to disciple them.” Early research indicates that this work has been effective in helping the people involved develop a ‘missional mind-set’.

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