Church of Scotland has backed the case for Remain

The Church of Scotland's General Assembly has "overwhelmingly" backed the case for remaining in the European Union.

The vote at the Kirk's annual gathering in Edinburgh came a month before the UK referendum on EU membership takes place.

The Kirk said the motion to remain was carried with a clear majority stamping their feet at the Assembly Hall on the Mound.

Tuesday's vote represented the fifth time in the last 20 years that the Assembly has formally supported ongoing membership of the EU.

During a short debate, commissioners heard a range of voices recognising the European Union's successes.

Rev Aniko Schuetz Bradwell, a minister in East Lothian, said she had grown up in East Germany close by the wall until it was torn down when she was seven.

"We have a choice now and I hope we will choose to build bridges, not to erect another wall," she said.

But Rev Dr Karen Fenwick, a minister in Angus, registered her objection to the Church appearing to tell people how to vote.

"We are not a political party or a trade union. I think the Scottish public are quite capable of knowing we support the EU without us telling them what to do."

Church and Society Convener Rev Sally Foster Fulton welcomed the Assembly's continued backing for EU membership.

She said: "We are saying as a Church that much has been gained by being a part of the European Union, and we believe there is a great deal we can do in the future as an integral part of Europe.

"We recognise it is not perfect, but the EU is a work in progress and not the finished product. The only way we can continue to be part of the transformation is to remain within it." 

A spokesman for Scotland Stronger In Europe said: "This is a very welcome vote. The European Union has been and remains a force for good in our continent and the wider world, and we hope people will endorse that position in the referendum.

"A vote to Remain - whether it be for economic, social protection or environmental reasons, or for strengthening our alliances with our closest neighbours - is a vote for hope for future generations."

The motion carried by an overwhelming majority of 730 Commissioners gave thanks for the work of the European Union in promoting peace, security and reconciliation amongst European nations, noted that the UK has been part of the European Union since 1973 and believed that the UK should remain in the EU.