The Church of Scotland's governing body voted Saturday to allow people in same-sex partnerships to serve as ministers. Above, police stand guard as preparations get under way for a wedding at the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 28, 2011. Reuters

The Church of Scotland’s governing body decided Saturday to allow people in same-sex civil partnerships to be ordained as deacons and ministers. Its landmark vote came after much deliberation.

The General Assembly on the Mound in Edinburgh passed the motion -- years in the making -- by a comfortable 309-182 vote, the Guardian reported. Among the church’s presbyteries, or local districts, 31 supported the motion and 14 opposed it. It had been the subject of numerous debates and votes before the decision was made.

The Church of Scotland’s official stance continues to maintain its traditional position that a marriage is made between a man and a woman. However, the move allows for individual congregations to “opt out” should they desire to appoint deacons or ministers who are in same-sex partnerships, the Guardian said. The decision didn’t come without some controversy.

Supporters of the move said it was time for the church to become inclusive and embrace modern Scotland, while opponents of it warned the motion was contrary to God’s law, BBC News reported.

According to the Guardian, the Right Rev. John Chalmers, the moderator of the assembly, was expected to say in a speech this weekend:

“We cannot go on suffering the pain of internal attacks which are designed to undermine the work or the place of others. It’s time to play for the team. And let me be very clear here -- I am not speaking to one side or another of the theological spectrum. I am speaking to both ends and middle. It is time to stop calling each other names, time to shun the idea that we should define ourselves by our differences and instead define ourselves by what we hold in common -- our baptism into Christ, our dependence on God’s grace, our will to serve the poor and so on.”

The debate surrounding the vote Saturday predates legislation that allowed same-sex marriages in Scotland last year. Meanwhile, the voted-upon change mentions only civil partnerships, as opposed to marriages, but the assembly is expected to address same-sex marriages in the coming week.