Min­is­ter gets kirk warn­ing

Anger as min­is­ter aids his cel­e­brant wife

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - News - By Al­is­tair Grant and Janet Boyle JBOYLE@SUNDAYPOST.COM

Amin­is­ter and his wed­ding cel­e­brant wife have found them­selves in hot wa­ter after car­ry­ing out a se­ries of mar­riage cer­e­monies frowned upon by the kirk.

Rev Steve Clip­ston – who pre­vi­ously hit the news when he quit his for­mer par­ish amid claims he was hav­ing an af­fair – has been dis­ci­plined by the church twice for sign­ing off on wed­dings over­seen by his wife.

The 62-year-old Church of Scot­land min­is­ter was hauled be­fore kirk bosses a year ago for rub­ber­stamp­ing cer­e­monies held by his wife Moira, an in­de­pen­dent “fam­ily cel­e­brant”. But de­spite re­ceiv­ing a rep­ri­mand, he has now been brought be­fore of­fi­cials once again.

Rev Clip­ston mar­ried Moira, a parish­ioner, in 2010, five years after re­sign­ing from his old church in Galashiels amid a storm of spec­u­la­tion the pair were hav­ing an af­fair.

He is un­der­stood to have ar­gued the lat­est wed­dings were all Chris­tian – how­ever, con­cerns were still raised over his wife’s fi­nan­cial gain as a cel­e­brant. Church of Scot­land min­is­ters are not al­lowed to be in­volved in com­mer­cial ar­range­ments for wed­ding cer­e­monies.

In a dis­claimer on her web­site, Moira, 48, in­sists: “I am not, and have never claimed to be, a cel­e­brant in the re­stric­tive le­gal sense.”

The web­site states she was trained and ac­cred­ited by the Fel­low­ship of Pro­fes­sional Cel­e­brants, whose mem­bers typ­i­cally charge be­tween £200 and £250 for a cer­e­mony.

Dad-of-six Rev Clip­ston, who pre­sides over con­gre­ga­tions at Ca­trine and Auchin­leck in Ayr­shire, mar­ried Moira after split­ting with his wife of 26 years, Elaine.

He had pre­vi­ously de­nied hav­ing an af­fair with the parish­ioner, who was then griev­ing the loss of her hus­band – but ad­mit­ted sleep­ing on her couch. When ap­proached by The Sun­day Post at his de­tached red sand­stone Vic­to­rian manse in Auchin­leck, Rev Clip­ston – who styles him­self “Rev­er­inBlueJean” on so­cial me­dia – said: “It’s not con­ve­nient to talk about this.”

But a Church of Scot­land spokes­woman said: “Fol­low­ing re­ceipt of a com­plaint, the church car­ried out a dis­ci­plinary investigation.

“It was made clear to the min­is­ter con­cerned he could only con­duct Chris­tian wed­ding ser­vices and he would also be re­quired to un­der­take ad­di­tional train­ing in re­la­tion to the role of min­is­ters in con­duct­ing mar­riages.”

A spokesman for Na­tional Records of Scot­land said it was aware of the is­sue and had con­tacted the kirk. But he in­sisted cou­ples mar­ried by Rev Clip­ston and his wife had been legally wed­ded.

Hu­man­ist groups have raised fears that unau­tho­rised cel­e­brants were “dam­ag­ing” the in­tegrity of Scot­land’s mar­riage laws.

Lynsey Kidd, head of cer­e­monies for the Hu­man­ist So­ci­ety Scot­land, said: “There is of­ten a lack of trans­parency about what these in­de­pen­dent cel­e­brants pro­vide and in some cases they are mis­lead­ing cou­ples in what they can of­fer within the law.”

The Rev David Robert­son, min­is­ter of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, said: “The whole thing is a mess and shows con­fu­sion and a lack of church dis­ci­pline.”

Terri Shanks, founder of the Fel­low­ship of Pro­fes­sional Cel­e­brants, said: “Moira has not done any­thing wrong as she is only con­duct­ing the cer­e­mony side of a mar­riage. If Steve is do­ing some­thing he should not be within the church, that’s a sep­a­rate church is­sue.”

Rev Steve Clip­ston with wed­ding cel­e­brant wife Moira

Moira is thought to re­ceive be­tween £200 and £250 per cer­e­mony

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