The Church of Scotland has said it will be business as usual as the first congregation in the Scottish capital to leave its home of worship over the issue of gay ordination holds its inaugural service in a rented hall.
New Restalrig Church congregation, led by Rev David Court, will worship in a mission hall in Craigentinny, a few minutes away from their old building on Sunday.
Around 90 Kirk members at New Restalrig have left the Church over the gay ordination row after it moved closer towards accepting more homosexual and lesbian clergy at its last General Assembly, despite further examination of the issue still due over the next year.
This Sunday the moderator of the Edinburgh Presbytery will give the service in the Willowbrae church building and around 50 worshippers are expected.
Mr Court said yesterday the move would mean the end of a difficult period for his flock.
He said: “It will give stability to those who are leaving. It has been a difficult four years and there is a lot more clarity (among the congregation) now.”
A Kirk spokesman said yesterday: “It will be business as usual at New Restalrig Church this Sunday, October 6 and indeed on every Sunday to come.
“The Rev George Whyte will lead this Sunday’s service and we have appointed a locum minister who will lead the congregation in the coming weeks and months.
“A new Kirk Session is already in place which will help secure the future of this church.
“We are encouraged that at least 50 members of the congregation have said they will stay with us and we look forward to welcoming them and to making plans to grow and develop numbers who worship at New Restalrig.
“We are saddened by the departure of the former Minister and a number of members and wish them well in their new place of worship.”
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