Belfast Telegraph

Minister would be 'delighted' if Presbyterian Church stopped ordaining women

A Presbyterian minister has said he would be "delighted" if the church stopped ordaining women.

Rev Mark Neilly of First Ahoghill Presbyterian Church made the comments in a discussion about a vote last week at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's General Assembly to prevent anyone in a same-sex relationship from becoming a full member of the church.

The ruling also prevents the children of same-sex couples being baptised.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Talkback programme, Rev Neilly was asked by host William Crawley if the vote was part of a shift in the church to a more conservative position, and if repealing the right of women to become ministers - something which has been in place since the 1970s - was something which was being considered.

"Well, from my perspective I would be delighted in many respects if we went down that route," said Rev Neilly.

"But to be honest with you I don’t see that to be on the cards. I feel there are other issues which are probably more important for us to be dealing with and to be standing firm on."

Asked his reason for his position on female ordination, Rev Neilly said repealing the ordination of women would be "bringing us back to the word of God and his teaching".

Rev Neilly said his position was based on maintaining proximity to the biblical teachings.

"I am aware that there are those who find it difficult. However at the same time I feel we have a responsibility to do two things. Certainly to show the love of the lord Jesus Christ to all, and at the same time to stand for biblical truth," he said.

The first female Presbyterian minister was Dr Ruth Patterson who was ordained in January 1976.

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