The vote came at the end of a long and passionate debate at the General Assembly in Edinburgh.
Members also moved to allow ministers and deacons who were in same-sex relationships before 2009 to remain in the church and move parishes if they so wished.
The vote followed six-and-a-half hours of discussion on the Same-Sex Relationships and Ministry report that was delivered by a special commission set up in 2009, in the wake of a debate over whether the openly gay minister Scott Rennie should be allowed to be appointed to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen.
In the end, the Assembly voted by 351 to 294 to "consider further the lifting of the moratorium on acceptance for training and ordination of persons in a same-sex relationship".
A theological commission was also instructed to prepare a report on the theological and practical applications of taking such a move and report back to the Assembly in 2013.
This is good news for the Free Kirk, whose numbers will surely be swelled by the defection of some Highland and traditional parishes. Nevertheless the die is cast and the Church has now essentially conceded that sexuality is hardly incompatible with a vocational calling to preach the gospel. This being so, it’s hard to see how the so-called "traditionalist" wing can recover the ground it has lost in Edinburgh this week.
This vote is a compromise but will not be the end of the matter, though the final verdict seems to have been punted to 2013. Liberals have grounds for unhappiness too but since it had been thought probable that they would lose the battle this week, their gains are quite surprising. But then the Kirk is not what it once was and if some things have been lost on that account plenty have been gained too.Tags: Church of Scotland, Gay Rights, Scotland