Saturday 18 August 2018

Church says same-sex couples can no longer be 'full members', nor baptise their children

Presbyterian Church of Ireland announces that 'same-sex couples are not eligible for communicant membership' following General Assembly

The new policies were announced yesterday following the presentation of a report by the church’s doctrine committee. Photo: PA Wire
The new policies were announced yesterday following the presentation of a report by the church’s doctrine committee. Photo: PA Wire

Kyle Ewald

Same-sex couples are "not eligible" to be full members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland or have their children baptised, the church’s General Assembly has concluded.

The new policies were announced yesterday following the presentation of a report by the church's doctrine committee which stated; "in the 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.

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

The Church’s position on marriage and human relationships was further outlined in the report which continued; "homosexual activity is not consistent with Christian discipleship since it does not accord with the will of God expressed in his moral law".

Despite the policy, representative of the church Mark Smith has stated that the church is "not denying anyone communion, or attending worship or access to pastoral care, but rather defining what it means to be of a credible profession of faith".

Mr Smith told Independent.ie while the policy can be "confusing" to some, the church "has a history of being counter cultural in a changing world and will continue to obey and spread the word of God, but also spread love and welcome everyone."

He added; "The Church has had a consistent and clear position on homosexuality for years and it is our understanding that it is not the will of God, but we do not want to deny anyone from worshiping God or partaking in Church services."

In a statement released by the Church, it was outlined that "members were not discussing whether to prevent anyone from attending worship, coming into church, receiving communion, or having access to pastoral care, as our Church is open to all."

"What was before the General Assembly was the acceptance of a paper that posed a theological question of what represents a ‘credible profession of faith’ in our Church and the outworking of that in a person’s life—something that applies to all who want to be a member of our Church, regardless of background, orientation or anything else."

Earlier this week, members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland decided to take a step back from their relationship with the Church of Scotland due to its more liberal policies towards same sex relationships.

The general assembly have decided that the head of the Church of Scotland will no longer be invited to the general assembly’s annual meeting.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is Northern Ireland’s largest denomination.

Other policies agreed upon at their General Assembly this week included opposing legislation that would allow assisted suicide and/or euthanasia.

It also aims to continue to call on the Irish government to not permit abortion in the state--excluding exceptional cases—and protect foetuses with potential disabilities from being aborted.

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