The recent decision of the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church to exclude homosexuals and their children from full membership of the church is to be deeply regretted.
To deny children the sacrament of baptism is especially cruel.
Are there sins that can be forgiven and those that cannot? If only those who admit and repent openly can be full members of the church then the pews would be empty.
Has the church of the dissenters drifted from its core values in the last sixty years? Individual choice and the co-terminate responsibility, the love of freedom for all and a thirst for understanding are all things that seem to have slipped into the background.
Once the church was sceptical about politics but now meekly accepts unionism as the only way.
The Orange Order is increasingly gaining a foothold in many congregations; an organisation backed and used by the land owners from the ‘Big House’ to keep the Presbyterians in their place.
There are also superficial changes that, while not crucial, sadden many.
The King James version with its in-surpassable beauty of language has been set aside.
The hymn book has been replaced by the ghastly ‘drop down’ screen.
More serious is the drift towards the material. Church halls, while having no architectural merit, are now bigger and grander than the Meeting House.
Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism. The truths, immutable and eternal, on which the church is founded will outlive the present aberrations. Long after the present human follies have been forgotten the basics will flourish.
We can be confident that many ministers will continue to offer baptism to the “little children” and while the general assembly can huff and puff it actually has little real clout.
John C. K. Magowan, Tullyherron, Armagh