The Church of Scotland is seeking to seize control of one of Scotland’s best known churches as the row over gay clergy escalates.
The 500-strong congregation at Glasgow’s St George’s Tron split from the Kirk in June over the ordination of openly homosexual ministers.
They had been in talks about whether they would be able to continue to worship at the Buchanan Street venue.
The church recently underwent a £3 million refurbishment which was largely paid for by members of the congregation.
But Glasgow Presbytery has now moved to seize control of the church, and will ask the Kirk’s General Trustees to recover “all property and assets, including the church and manse buildings, and all monies belonging to the Church of Scotland congregation of St George’s Tron”.
Reverend William Philip, the church’s minister, told The Herald: “The congregation is very disappointed by this action and we have been receiving many messages from people in our home city and beyond who are saddened by this action of Glasgow Presbytery.
“We have tried extremely hard to part company reasonably so we are therefore sad that Glasgow Presbytery has instead taken such a hostile approach.”
Very Reverend David Lunan, who led the committee that decided on the move, said: “It gave us little joy to bring this report to [Glasgow] Presbytery; there are no winners in this and all we can do is approximate to that which honours our Lord.
“While I am not filled with joy, I am content, I am at peace, that this is the only outcome that will bring closure, and by the grace of God bring healing.”
In 2011 the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly moved to allow homosexual men and lesbians to serve as church ministers. The decision applies to clergy who have declared their homosexuality and were ordained before May 2009.
The future ordination and training of gay and lesbian clergy will be decided in 2013 when a theological commission publishes a report on the matter.