The first church in the United Kingdom to vote to accept practicing homosexuals into ministry is considering rescinding its policy.

The United Reformed Church (URC) voted last month to reconsider a previous decision from 1997 to ordain active homosexual ministers.

The URC Mission Council, the church's executive body, stated there "is not a sufficiently clear mind in the church at this time to affirm the acceptability of homosexual practice."

The URC Assembly debated the Mission Council's recommendation for three sessions before voting to reconsider the policy by a margin of two to one. This leaves the decision up to local churches until March, when the policy to allow homosexual ministers will be struck down if more than one-third of URC churches object to it.

"This decision passes judgment on all gay people, not just church members," says Ian Buist, secretary of the URC Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. "The statements that we have offered in our life and worship have been ignored, despised, and rejected."

Buist also says there is no way churches can absorb and catch up with all the work that must be done to prepare sufficiently for the March deadline.

Basis, a urc group that has been campaigning for the restoration of traditional sexual teaching, says that the motion to reconsider homosexual ministers is not about exclusion but "about biblical authority in the church."

"Two years ago church members were voting on a theoretical motion, but now they have seen the wreckage and hurt on both sides," says David Hilborn, a member of Basis.

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