Scotland's largest protestant church has voted to allow gay men and lesbians to become ministers.
The Church of Scotland imposed a temporary ban after the appointment of Scott Rennie, a gay minister, to a church in Aberdeen in 2009.
The general assembly, the church's law-making body, voted on Monday morning to lift that moratorium, officially allowing gay ministers to take on parishes for the first time since it was founded in 1560-1 by John Knox, a leading figure in the Scottish reformation.
The vote follows warnings that allowing gay and lesbian clergy could split the church. A special commission set up in 2009 to investigate the implications of Rennie's appointment predicted that up to a fifth of the church's ministers, deacons and elders, as well as 100,000 worshippers, could leave in protest.
The commission warned that the issue was extremely divisive, with another 1,800 church leaders and 40,000 parishioners saying they would leave if gay ministers were not admitted. The church has 445,000 communicants, or active members.
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