SCOTLAND'S first openly gay minister has welcomed the prospect of same sex marriages being held in Scottish churches within months as "a great boost" for those trying to convince the Church of Scotland to do the same.

The Herald revealed yesterday that the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) is expected to become the one of the first major denominations to conduct such ceremonies by the autumn.

Last year the SEC's General Synod passed a first reading of the motion to remove from Canon 31, the doctrinal statement that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman” .

A second reading is to be debated at this year's General Synod, in Edinburgh next week.

Some senior sources within the church told how they expected this to be passed while others said the vote was on a "knife edge".

The development has been watched with great interest by Scottish Rennie, Scotland's first openly gay minister who was controversially appointed the minister of Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen by the congregation's nominating committee in 2009.

Last week the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland moved a step closer to allowing ministers to perform gay marriages, backing calls for a study into how same-sex ceremonies in church could be allowed.

Speaking last night, Mr Rennie, said: "If as expected the Scottish Episcopal Church decides at its Synod to allow some of its ministers to officiate at same sex marriages, it will be a great boost to those of us in the national Church of Scotland who wish to be able to do the same.

"It will mean that another mainstream denomination in Scotland, and a much valued ecumenical partner, has made space for its clergy who wish to participate in equal marriage to do so; as well as respecting the position of those who feel unable.

"This is clearly the way forward for all of our churches.

"When the SEC moves ahead I for one shall celebrate with them, and my hope is that they will provide help and assistance to the Legal Questions Committee of the General Assembly to progress with the task of bringing firm proposals in the Kirk that will steer the same respectful middle road - allowing parish ministers who feel able to conduct all marriages, while respecting the consciences of those who feel unable at this time to time to participate."

Meanwhile Catherine Somerville Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager of the LGBT rights charity Stonewall Scotland. said:

“Last year, the Scottish Episcopal Church took the first steps towards allowing same-sex marriages to take place in their churches, and next week, the General Synod will make its final decision. This is an important moment for LGBT Christians in Scotland, many of whom would like to be able to be married in their place of worship, surrounded by their congregation, and we wish the Episcopal Church well in making this decision next week.”