Row erupts as Presbyterian woman minister is barred from joint service

A row has broken out among Presbyterian churches in Northern Ireland after a Presbyterian minister in Portadown barred a minister from another church from taking part in a joint Christmas Day service on the grounds that she was a woman.

It has been a tradition since the 1940s to hold joint services in Portadown. However, this year the tradition was broken and the churches held separate services as a result of the incident, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Women elders were first appointed in the Presbyterian Church in the 1920s and in 1973 the General Assembly voted for the ordination of women. Despite this, opposition to female clergy remains within the Church.

The divide within the Church over women ministers is likely to be raised at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church next year.

Rev Stafford Carson from First Portadown, who barred the woman, has received support for his stance on women clergy from other churches, which say that his stance is a matter of conscience.

Rev Christina Bradley from Armagh Road, who was excluded from the service, said that she was hurt by the decision to exclude her on the grounds of gender.