Rathgar Presbyterians stand with Sandymount Minister amid same-sex row with the church

Rev Dr Katherine Meyer is refusing to back down after the Presbyterian Church ordered her to remove a gay man from her church’s council.

A hand holding a small cross as Rathgar Presbyterians express support for Sandymount minister.
Image: Pexels

Presbyterians in Christ Church Rathgar have come out in support of Rev Dr Katherine Meyer who is refusing to dismiss a gay man from her congregation’s council. Rev Meyer of Sandymount Christ Church was ordered by the Presbyterian Church to remove the councilmember from his position, and recant his election.

Steven Smyrl was appointed to the church council by Rev Meyer, despite having been sacked as an elder in 2019 due to his sexuality. Smyrl has been in a long-term same-sex relationship with another member of the Sandymount congregation, and the pair married in 2018.

A commission was set up by the Dublin and Munster Presbytery to investigate Smyrl’s appointment, concluding that those responsible had approved “that which in scripture God condemns.” The commission then ordered the Sandymount Christ Church council to remove Smyrl, and renunciate his appointment by December 20. 

No action was taken by Rev Meyer or the Sandymount council who stood in support of Mr Smyrl, and according to the Presbyterian Church’s original orders, they should expect to face disciplinary proceedings on January 18.

The ongoing situation led Presbyterians at Christ Church Rathgar to hold an emergency general meeting on Tuesday, January 4. Members at the meeting expressed their “distress and dismay over the situation within the Dublin and Munster Presbytery regarding our sister congregation in Sandymount”.

They stated: “We stand with their minister, the Rev Dr Katherine Meyer, the Sandymount church council and the Sandymount congregation in the belief that they have been treated unfairly in this process.” According to The Irish Times, they continued by “respectfully” requesting that the presbytery “review its position and […] reconsider the implications of their actions”.

The Rathgar church is the latest to object to the commission’s requests, following the likes of professor of theology at Trinity College, Dr Maureen Junker-Kenny, who accused the Presbytery of “hounding blameless, committed followers of Christ”. 

Similarly, Professor Sam McConkey, an elder at the Presbyterian church in Clontarf, stated: “There is a large minority in the church who think differently [to the church’s decision] and who welcome diversity and inclusion. We don’t agree with this decision.”

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