THE Church of Scotland last night backed the appointment of its first openly gay minister.

Commissioners voted 326 to 267 in favour of appointing the Rev Scott Rennie, 37, currently at Brechin Cathedral, who had the support of the majority of the congregation at Queen's Cross in Aberdeen and the presbytery.

But the move sparked strong protest from traditionalist members and there had been concern that the vote could cause a split in the Church.

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Rennie said last night in a statement: "I am humbled that the General Assembly has recognised God's call upon my life as well as the rights of the congregation of Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen.

"I am grateful that the nature of the discussion tonight was measured and respectful of different views shared amongst us.

"I'm looking forward to moving to Queen's Cross, getting on with the task of serving my new parish. "My prayer is that now the members of the Church of Scotland can journey together and focus on providing pastoral care, meaningful worship and a prophetic voice of hope in our nation."