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Congregation votes to break away from Episcopal Church

Decision comes amid a long-running row over same-sex marriage.

Anne Dyer: Bishop prayed for different outcome (file pic).
Anne Dyer: Bishop prayed for different outcome (file pic). Scottish Episcopal Church

The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney says she is "deeply saddened" after a north-east congregation voted to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Westhill Community Church wants to break away from the organisation, opting to follow a supposedly more traditional form of Christianity.

Last week, 87% of the congregation at the church in Aberdeenshire voted to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The move follows a long-running row about how the organisation is adapting to modern life including the acceptance of same-sex marriage, which the Episcopal Church voted to allow in 2017.

Later that year Anne Dyer was appointed its first female Bishop - taking charge of the Aberdeen and Orkney Diocese.

This led to the resignation of members including Westhill Community Church's Reverend Ian Ferguson who disagreed with the selection process.

Reverend Ferguson declined STV's request for an interview, but stated it was "heartbreaking" that his congregation has decided to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church, though he claimed the decision was not based on the church's same-sex marriage policy.

Bishop Anne Dyer said she had prayed for a different outcome but would not block the decision, admitting the differences in opinion were now too broad.

She added: "It's a challenge for Christians to read the Bible in the modern world and decide how to live.

"But if we believe in a God of love and want a church to be welcoming and inclusive to everybody, then for me that means being welcoming and including people of all genders and all sexualities."

There will be no immediate changes to the way Westhill Community Church is run.

But it will now enter a lengthy and complex legal process to split from the Episcopal Church in Scotland.

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