Accusations of intolerance and double standards within today’s Presbyterian Church are unfounded.

I note with some concern the letter of Ben Weir headlined ”Presbyterian Church becoming intolerant”. (Write Back 4 July)

He makes many accusations about the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) but fails to substantiate these with any evidence.

He suggests that PCI has ‘double standards’, but were is the evidence for this? Neither does he appear to understand the nature dissent within the PCI. 

“Dissent relieves of all responsibility for the taking of the decision incurred, but does not exempt members from obedience to any law or injunction of the Church, nor from the obligation to implement the decisions of Church courts,” (Code 161 (2))

The use of the term ‘fundamentalists’ is deceptive in todays world, because of the concept of associated violence. PCI believes in the fundamentals of the Christian faith as understood in the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is not a recent concept, but has been the position of PCI since the 1840’s. Every Minister and Elder is required to accept the Confession ‘as a confession of my faith’.

In all my 43 years as an ordained Minister of the PCI I have never witnessed ‘Gay-bashing’, but have always affirmed (and always heard others affirm) that everyone is welcome to hear and share in the Good News of Jesus.

Women have been accepted as Ministers and Elders in PCI for many years, and the accusations from Mr Weir must remain ‘not proven’ on the grounds of lack of evidence.

The recent meeting of the General Assembly, in its various reports, re-affirmed the long standing position of the church that: “Presbyterian Church in Ireland is a Confessional Church” . . .  “there is a difference between members having freedom to hold/promote a range of views and elders/ministers having the same freedom” and that, “marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman”. 

Brian Kennaway (Rev)

This Letter appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on Monday 8th July 2019