Presbyterian General Assembly: supporting devolution and approving pastoral guidance on same-sex attraction and gender identity

The Presbyterian Church has expressed its “grave concern” at the Secretary of State’s undermining of Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:36 pm
Convener of the Council for Public Affairs, Rev Daniel Kane, spoke in support of devolution at the Presbyterian General Assembly

In his address to the General Assembly on the third and final day of business today, the convener of the Council for Public Affairs, Rev Daniel Kane, said threats made against politicians were “deplorable”.

The Ballymena minister said: “Navigating the fragile political landscape following Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol has been tricky to say the least. The General Assembly has always been supportive of the devolved institutions as being the best form of government for the people of Northern Ireland.

“Indeed our Moderator a couple of weeks described them as being ‘precious.’

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“I’m sure we would all like to commend those who serve in its chamber. We also deplore all threats, and indeed death threats, made against any elected representative, minister, or public figure.”

The General Assembly shared the concerns of the council regarding matters of legacy and dealing with the past, as the UK government has indicated its intention to move away from arrangements for dealing with the past in the Stormont House Agreement.

The council’s report expressed its “deep disquiet” at current proposals stating: “Whilst the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) was not perfect, it did set out a broader, four-strand framework to address legacy issues. We are on public record stating our support for all four key principles outlined in the SHA, especially the right of victims and survivors to seek due process and justice in the courts. What has been proposed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland denies victims and survivors that possibility.

“Many victims and survivors come from our own Presbyterian family. For so many innocent people it is impossible to quantify the pain, suffering and generational hurt that they and their families have suffered as a consequence of unwarranted violence visited upon them.”

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s General Assembly, the church approved resources for local congregations on sensitive areas.

They included guidance for the pastoral care of same-sex attracted people and their families, and a resource called ‘A Biblical Framework and Guidance for Pastoral Care of People who Struggle with Gender Identity’.

It was the first time gender identity had been discussed on the floor of the General Assembly.

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