Presbyterians take part in gay pride in Dublin

A group of Presbyterians drawn from Dublin congregations have taken part in a gay pride event.

Presbyterians hold a banner at the Dublin pride event at the weekend
Presbyterians hold a banner at the Dublin pride event at the weekend

This comes after the outgoing moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said “we will not rewrite” the Bible on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and transgender issues.

Rev Dr David Bruce was speaking on the opening night of the 2022 general assembly of the denomination at Church House in Belfast last week, the first time the 1,000 or so elders from some 500 congregations across Ireland have met in person to make policy decisions since the pandemic.

But on Saturday, a group of Presbyterians opted to take part in the Gay Pride Parade in what one described as “open defiance of their church’s anti-gay policies, which since 2018 have banned gay couples from membership and denied baptism to their children”.

It is the second year that Presbyterians from across Dublin’s 10 congregations have taken part in the Dublin Pride event.

Paul Maier, a member of Christ Church Presbyterian Congregation in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar, explained: “Many Dublin Presbyterians are greatly upset by the way our church is choosing to dismiss the lives of gay people. Many ordinary Presbyterians, as our banner proclaims, seek ‘inclusion and equality’ for gay people, and not just in the church, but across the whole of society.”

At their general assembly in Belfast in 2018, the church adopted a new policy denying full membership to anyone in a same-sex relationship.

The same year, the Church in Ireland opted, following a vote, to loosen its ties with the Church of Scotland due to its more liberal policies.

And after two years criss-crossing congregations across the island as moderator, Rev Bruce told the assembly last week that the church would engage with critics graciously but would not be changing its stance on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage or transgenderism – based on its reading of the Bible and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

”We have found ourselves in recent times under harsh scrutiny as a people,” he said.

“Some have struggled to understand what we mean when we say we are a confessional church, with standards to which we physically subscribe as elders at the moment of our ordination.

“Our critics, alighting on a number of social policy issues such as the provision of abortion, end-of-life care, the redefinition of marriage, a changed understanding of human identity, among others consider our views to be incomprehensible, or even dangerous.”