Tag Archives: Albert Bogle

The Church of Scotland – Gay Clergy 2 (Kenneth Roy’s Take on the Big Debate

Kenneth Roy writing in the Scottish Review:

21 May 2013
Albert Bogle: the man of the moment

It was a historic debate – the national church at last forcing itself to decide whether to permit actively gay ministers. Eight hundred and fifty commissioners from the parishes of Scotland had come together in the Assembly Hall for this momentous occasion. Or had they?
Whenever a vote was taken, and it was a day of many votes, only 630 or so took part. It is hard to believe that 220 regularly abstained on so important an issue. Where, then, were the missing delegates?

Dora Noyce, Edinburgh’s best-known madam, outside whose New Town door a queue would form when the sailors docked in nearby Leith, claimed that Assembly week was the busiest of her trading year. That too must have been an expression of sexual orientation. But Dora died inconveniently many years ago, leaving a gap in the market that has never been satisfactorily filled.

It was a fine day. Perhaps the 220 truants who should have been participating in the historic debate had gone instead to the Falkirk Wheel, a more wholesome alternative to the old Danube Street brothel.

What did they miss? For a start, the presentation of the long-awaited report of the Theological Commission, which, having deliberated for two years, had triumphantly failed to come to any conclusion whatsoever. Its convener talked mysteriously about ‘trajectories’ and ‘polarities’ and was fond of the phrase ‘for the avoidance of doubt’. Yet doubt was what his speech was all about – doubt that the Theological Commission would ever agree about anything, except to differ profoundly, even if they continued meeting for the next 2,000 years.

For the avoidance of doubt – God, it’s catching – it soon became clear that, whatever the assembly decided, if it decided anything, the decision would be subject to the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Barrier Act, which will mean a further year of delay while the ordination of actively gay ministers is referred back to the parishes for further mature reflection. Don’t ask me about the Barrier Act.

It was cooked up as a mechanism for prevarication when St Matthew was still in schoolboy shorts, and has been a favourite ploy of the dithering Kirk ever since.

Now, what’s this ? Heaven forfend. A woman.
In the General Assembly of 1945, which began a few days after VE Day, when Dora Noyce was in her prime, some of the faithful talked of women as their successors now talk of homosexuals, and refused to admit them to the eldership. But 68 years later, they have installed one of these people – a woman, no less – as moderator of their assembly, and she is not the first of her gender to achieve this high office. Clearly they did not leave the ordination of women to the Theological Commission, which would still be contemplating its trajectories.

Her name is Lorna Hood and she is a former pupil of the excellent Kilmarnock Academy, which also produced the McIlvanney brothers. Lorna was the bravest person in Scotland yesterday.

The main competing proposals, as she painstakingly explained more than once, were entitled, for the avoidance of doubt, 2A and 2B. Someone – John Cairns, I think – interjected a 2C, then withdrew it. Another – the wondrously named Albert Bogle – threw in at short notice a 2D. Lorna joked that there might even be a 2E and a 2F. It was all painfully reminiscent of the second year at Denny High, where the streaming went as far down as 2H. No one ever came out of 2H in one piece.

Lorna was assisted occasionally by a pleasant, youngish woman in a fetching wig who was introduced as the procurator and by an impressive looking gent in a gown whom she addressed as the principal clerk. For some reason he reminded me of the late Roman Catholic archbishop of Glasgow, Tom Winning. The procurator and the deceased archbishop were helpful up to a point, but it was Lorna who held it all together, and she did it with patience and good humour.

It was Lorna, too, who set the mood of the day with her dismissal of an early interjection, offensive in tone, demanding to know how many gay applicants for the ministry there were likely to be. She paused for a few seconds before refusing to accept the question. The assembly had been warned that there were limits
It was a long time – it must have been three in the afternoon – before anyone mentioned the word love in relation to anyone but God. It was the prefect of 2C himself – John Cairns – who delivered a brief but majestic speech about the inclusivity of the human family. You could not help applauding it; and they did. James Simpson, another former moderator, reminded the gathering that Jesus Christ did not regard biblical texts as graven in stone, that these texts were constantly being reinterpreted, and that if it had not been so, the Church of Scotland would have been deprived of so fine a minister as Lorna Hood.

But it was Albert Bogle – Bogle of Bo’ness – who magicked up the classic muddy compromise. ‘I love the Scriptures,’ said the Bogle man, ‘I can do no other’. In other words, a traditionalist who buys the lot. But a traditionalist prepared to bend a little to save the church he loves. ‘I didn’t mean to be here today…I’ve just been parachuted in this morning…I am the weaker brother drawing closer…My intention is of a good heart…’. Oh, please, Albert dear, spare us all these self-references.

But the assembly had suddenly found a way out: the Kirk would maintain its traditional stance on homosexuality – for the avoidance of doubt, it’s against it – but permit liberal congregations to call ministers who have entered civil partnerships.

It wasn’t brave. It wasn’t even principled. It was all rather 2D, a class well-known for its proficiency in technical drawing. But cometh the hour cometh the man, and that man was Albert Bogle.

Kenneth Roy is editor of the Scottish Review

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The Church of Scotland and Gay Clergy 1

from the “Herald”

Kirk facing backlash after vote to allow gay ministers

Brian Donnelly
Senior News Reporter
Tuesday 21 May 2013

THE Church of Scotland has voted to allow the appointment of ministers in same-sex relationships in a historic shift, despite a lingering threat of an evangelical split.

TENSE TIMES: The Kirk's Procurator Laura Dunlop with the Clerks at the General Assembly in Edinburgh during the debate on gay clergy yesterday. Picture: Gordon Terris

TENSE TIMES: The Kirk’s Procurator Laura Dunlop with the Clerks at the General Assembly in Edinburgh during the debate on gay clergy yesterday. Picture: Gordon Terris

Two former moderators to the Church’s General Assembly were key to the day-long debate, which was sparked by the appointment of the openly gay Reverend Scott Rennie to Queen’s Cross Parish Church in Aberdeen four years ago.

A surprise 11th-hour challenge to the Kirk’s own Theological Commission by last year’s moderator, the Very Reverend Albert Bogle, led to the groundbreaking decision. The final vote was 340 to 282.

The current Moderator, the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, said: “This is a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church.”

And Mr Rennie welcomed the move last night, saying decision would allow congregations to call the minister of their choice: be they lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight.

But traditionalists warned it could cost the Kirk “members, ministers, congregations and money”.

Mr Bogle’s motion at the Kirk’s annual gathering called for a traditionalist stance, but allowing congregations to opt out. It overturned the commission’s revisionist option that would have meant congregations against gay ministers in same-sex relationships would have to opt out.

How it will work is unclear and a new Theological Forum will examine the issue. The process of opting out may involve some form of congregational declaration, one minister suggested.

Such a decision was failure of leadership, according the Reverend David Randall, who said such sitting on the fence would anger many traditionalists who believe Scripture does not sanction homosexuality.

A moratorium on recruitment of gay clergy remains in place until at least next year.

Former moderator the Very Reverend Dr John Cairns introduced a strongly revisionist amendment to allow all gay clergy. He reminded commissioners of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s previous address to the assembly when he said “all belong to the Church”.

He withdrew his motion after his speech to the assembly at The Mound in Edinburgh.

Mr Bogle described Mr Cairns as a “clever fox” before laying out his motion. He said he felt compelled to lodge his challenge. He said: “I have put myself out on a limb just has John [Cairns] has, and if I am cut off I am cut off.”

Mr Bogle’s motion was accepted by some traditionalists. Seconding the move, the Reverend Alan Hamilton of Killermont Parish in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, said: “I do not want to depart from the traditional view of the Church, a view I believe is enshrined in the Bible and the will of God.

“But I believe this is the time for the Church, particularly traditionalists like me, to concede to allow others who disagree space to express that disagreement.”

He described it as an option that “does not require the Church to abandon its traditional position and all that flows from it, not least our position among world churches”.

However, Mr Randall said the issue of gay clergy “has been forced upon us by the revisionists who want us to turn our backs on what common sense tells us”.

“If we go revisionist or try to sit on the fence then we will lose members, ministers, congregations and money. Are we to stand by Scripture or are we to go with the flow of social trends?”

The Reverend John Chalmers, Principal Clerk of the Kirk, said: “This has been a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church. At the end of a long day we came down to a choice of two motions, both of which were for what we have called from the beginning: the mixed economy.”

Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campaign group, Equality Network, said: “We welcome this decision by the Church of Scotland, which is particularly important for the many LGBT people within the Church and their friends and family.

“This is a positive step forward for a more equal society, and speaks to the progressive values of 21st-century Scotland.”

The decision will go back to General Assembly next year for the law to be drafted and fully introduced in 2015.

The appointment of Mr Rennie, who was backed by most of his congregation and by the General Assembly, in 2009 caused two congregations and six ministers to break away.

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