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Northern Ireland

Professor sacked for BBC contribution says he’s considering leaving the Presbyterian Church

todayApril 15, 2019 39

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Rev Prof Laurence Kirkpatrick was found guilty of “gross misconduct” by a church disciplinary panel after his June 2018 BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme appearance.

He discussed the Presbyterian Church’s decision to loosen its ties to the Church of Scotland, which was mainly due to the Kirk’s less traditional view of same-sex relationships.


In the church’s letter sent to Rev Kirkpatrick – who worked at Union Theological College (UTC), he was told that he had taken part in the programme “at a time when there was considerable media comment, mostly of an adverse nature, about your employer, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland”.

It added that he had failed to gain the Church’s approval for taking part and that his comments during the broadcast were “unacceptable”.

Rev Kirkpatrick told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence that if he left the church it would be with a “heavy heart”.

“Leaving the Presbyterian Church is certainly an option for me, and it is one that I will consider and I will think about that,” he said.

“Why would I stay in an organisation that has sacked me?”

A spokesperson for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said in a statement sent to Premier: “We are aware that Dr Kirkpatrick chose to go onto BBC’s Sunday Sequence programme today and are also aware of the remarks he made.

“However, it would be improper for us to comment in detail at this time. While we would obviously differ with many of the points he sought to make, to respond to them in any specific way while a personnel matter is still ongoing, and subject to due process, would be very inappropriate. 

“Moving forward, the College will continue to ensure that students from home and overseas will benefit from theological study in a warm and positive Christian environment, being taught by academic theologians of the highest standing, some of whom are indeed world leaders in their field.”

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A professor, who was dismissed from a Presbyterian-run college he had taught in for 22 years after comments made on a BBC show, has said he’s considering leaving the Church.

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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