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Church is split as gay clergy dispute intensifies

MORE than 100 people in an isles congregation that has voted to leave the Church of Scotland over the gay clergy row want to stay with the Kirk, according to a new ballot.

The size of the split caused by the row in one of the Kirk's largest congregations was revealed by the Church of Scotland, who disclosed the results of its own ballot.

It is the second time in days that the congregation of Stornoway High on the Isle of Lewis has voted over the controversy.

It was announced at the end of last month that more than 80% of the worshippers who voted in the High's own ballot wanted to leave the Church of Scotland.

But a separate vote held by the area presbytery has now shown more than 100 of the congregation intends to remain within the church -and 236 still want to leave.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: "The Presbytery of Lewis consultation has shown that there continues to be significant support for a continuing Stornoway High Church of Scotland.

"Over 100 members and adherents who returned consultation forms at Stornoway High Church want to remain as members of the Church of Scotland.

"Another quarter of the members and adherents did not make a return, so the Church of Scotland must assume that theytogether with parishioners who have no church connection, will remain in the pastoral care of the Church of Scotland.

"Out of a roll of 460 members eligible to vote, 103 have already replied saying that they wish to remain members of the Church of Scotland, 236 have stated their preference for leaving and 121 people have not replied to the poll."

The spokesman said that the Presbytery of Lewis will have to decide how the continuing Stornoway High Parish Church of Scotland will be ministered to in the future.

The ordaining of ministers in same-sex relationships has divided the kirk since traditionalist members attempted to block the appointment of Scott Rennie, who is gay, in 2009.

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