Scotland’s first openly gay minister has spoken candidly of his experiences when his appointment brought protests to the streets of Aberdeen a decade ago this week. In the final part of our series, Queen’s Cross Church’s Scott Rennie tells the Evening Express about how things have changed for the better in the last 10 years
Despite the protests and even threats that greeted Queen’s Cross Church minister Scott Rennie’s appointment, the repercussions in the 10 years since have been much more positive.
As Aberdeen’s first openly gay minister, he faced a barrage of criticism from a section of his congregation and from religious groups around the country.
But he insists the controversy was a “gift” to his church – which is reaping the benefits to this day.
Mr Rennie, 47, also spoke candidly about how his father David reacted to him being gay.
The minister, who grew up in Bucksburn, came out years before he moved back to Aberdeen while he was minister at Brechin Cathedral.
Mr Rennie got “fantastic support” from friends but regretted never telling his mother Roberta before she died in 2005.
He said: “Telling people was absolutely terrifying.
“My dad was a working-class man of his generation and I really did have to think about whether or not he might speak to me again.
“I always feel a sadness that I could not tell my mum and I thought ‘I’m not going to have my dad die and him not know’.”
He broke the news in a letter. Mr Rennie said: “After about three days my dad left a message on my answering machine and said ‘I’m thinking about you, get in touch’.
“My dad was really great and all my family have been too so I’ve been lucky.”
A decade after becoming minister at Queen’s Cross, Mr Rennie said things are going well.
He added: “The place is thriving. I’m sure those who opposed my appointment would have loved my time here to have fallen flat and for there to be doom and gloom, but that didn’t happen.
“They had predicted two-thirds of the congregation would leave but that simply did not happen.
“The irony is the controversy surrounding my appointment has been the greatest gift to my ministry as people dealing with problems know my story and it has made me a much more approachable person.
“They know they can come to me and won’t be judged.”
Despite the positive response to his appointment, the minister says there is still room for change in the church.
He said: “I was at the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in May – 10 years on – and the whole atmosphere has changed.
“We still have a way to go. We still can’t marry gay people – that has got to change.
“I would love to be able to marry in church.
“I would like to see an end to any form of discrimination in church.
“I think it will happen.
“The church here is very much focused on bringing the community in.
“The teenage me would have never believed that ministers would be joining Pride celebrations one day.”