A CONGREGATION in Clydesdale is rallying around its minister after he and his family became the target of a spate of abusive messages.
The poisonous comments have been sent anonymously via text messages to the Reverend Bryan Kerr of Lanark’s Grayfriars Church over the past few weeks and the hate campaign was made public on Sunday with an annoucement to the congregation by a kirk elder during that morning’s service.
Since the announcement, which shocked many of Mr Kerr’s flock, expressions of support sent to the manse have been keeping up his spirits and those of his family.
He says that he is certain that the person responsible for sending the messages would stop doing so if they knew the impact their actions were having on him and on his family.
The minister, who is depute clerk to the Presbytery of Lanark, has courted controversy in the past.
During the fractuous debate within the Church of Scotland on both the ordination of gay clergy and same-sex marriages, Mr Kerr took an unashamedly liberal stance. He angered some on the ultra-traditionalist side of the church by arguing that allowing marriage between persons of the same sex who were in love with each other was the Christian thing to do.
His similar line on tolerance of openly gay clergy, broadcast on the national media when the controversy was at its very height, again made him a target for criticism from those at the other extreme of the debate within the kirk and outside it.
However, the Gazette understands that the popular minister, heavily involved in community life in Lanark and the Lanark Churches representative on the town’s Community Council, does not personally believe that it was his views on these issues which led to the recent series of abusive and hurtful messages being sent, given their content.
He told the Gazette the day after the public announcement of the electronic poison-pen letter campaign: “This has been a difficult period since this began but I am certain that the person who is doing this, if they knew the effect this is having on my family and myself, would stop. I am sure of this.” He went on to warmly thank his congregation for its expressions of sympathy since the hate campaign was made known to them.