Page last updated at 23:22 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 00:22 UK

Free Church traditionalists call

Churches in Inverness
David Robertson said there was no need for new denominations

Traditionalists within the Church of Scotland could set up a new group with the Free Church, according to an author and pastor.

David Robertson said those with the same "theology and faith" could come together.

His comments follow the Church of Scotland's appointment of its first openly gay minister.

Last week, a minister resigned in protest over Scott Rennie's induction at Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen.

The Reverend Thomas Mackinnon told his Kilmuir and Logie Easter congregation, near Invergordon, of his decision to demit, or resign, his post.

Controversial scientist

Mr Robertson said rather than Church of Scotland members splitting to form another denomination, they could join with the Free Church.

But he said changes would have to be made.

He said some Free Church congregations may choose to lift a ban on the playing of music and singing of hymns during worship, but added that this would not mean sacrificing traditional psalms.

He said: "We don't ask people to be Free Church, we ask both the Free Church and evangelists within the Church of Scotland to become more Biblical and Christian and to work together."

Mr Robertson wrote a book, The Dawkins Letters, in response to controversial scientist Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion.

The biggest split in the Church of Scotland and the forming of the Free Church of Scotland occurred in 1843.

More than 450 ministers walked out of the General Assembly in a row over the process of appointing ministers.

The dispute had its roots in the Patronage Act of 1712, which required ministers to be put into churches by "the patron", usually the local laird.

Until 1832 this had gone unchallenged.

In that year, the General Assembly decided that if a majority of male heads of local families objected to the patron's choice, they had the right of veto.

Ten years of legal argument followed before the House of Lords ruled that the Assembly's decision allowing the right to veto was illegal.

Those who accepted the Lords' decision stayed in the Church of Scotland and those who did not left to create the Free Church.

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