Presbyterian Church debate to consider communion for same-sex couples as well as baptising their children
The Presbyterian Church will decide tomorrow whether or not to make communion available to partners in a same-sex relationship, or to baptise their children.
A wide-ranging debate on a report brought to the assembly by the doctrine committee yesterday ran out of time on a technicality and will be resumed tomorrow morning.
It seems unlikely that this will be accepted by the general assembly tomorrow, given the background information in the so-called Blue Book which provides detailed notes for the delegates.
It states: "The position that has been clearly and consistently adopted by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is that homosexual activity is not consistent with Christian discipleship since it does not accord with the will of God expressed in His moral law.
"In 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 Communion, nor are they qualified to receive baptism for their children."
During the debate, the Rev Cheryl Meban said that the Church should be aware of the damage it could do to people "by producing written reports which they may hear as hurtful, and making them feel like second-class church citizens".
Rev David Knox said: "It is time we said that in the name of Jesus Christ 'We love you'."
Rev Dr Stafford Carson said: "We are very concerned that our recommendations should be read in the context of a genuine pastoral concern and a desire to speak the truth, but to do so in the spirit of Christ with real love and compassion."
During another debate, a former Moderator - the Very Rev Dr Norman Hamilton - spoke about an "epidemic" of loneliness.
He said: "We need a major change of culture within our churches and congregations to effectively help with this epidemic."