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Gay pastor in Atlanta faces charges

Southeastern Synod Bishop Ronald B. Warren filed charges Aug. 8 against an Atlanta pastor in a same-sex relationship.

In an Aug. 8 letter to those serving on the synod roster, Warren said he filed the charges after Bradley E. Schmeling, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Atlanta, “admitted to me that he is in violation of ELCA ‘Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline ...’ for ordained ministers. Specifically, Pastor Schmeling disclosed to me that he is in a sexual relationship with an adult male.”

In his letter, posted on the synod’s Web site, Warren wrote that Schmeling declined to resign from the congregation and the ELCA clergy roster.

ELCA guidelines ban sexually active gay and lesbian people from serving as ordained ministers. Schmeling’s partner, Darin Easler, was removed from the ELCA clergy roster Aug. 2.

The charges are the first step in a disciplinary process that includes a hearing by the ELCA discipline committee. “The committee has the authority to remove a pastor from the ELCA roster for ordained ministers,” Warren wrote.

Warren asked the synod to pray for “Schmeling, his loved ones, St. John’s Lutheran Church, and those of us who will be involved in the discipline hearing process.”

Schmeling, in an Aug. 8 letter posted on St. John’s Web site, wrote: “I think the policy of the church is wrong, and it needs to be changed. ... The formal hearing is another opportunity to make the case that my sexual orientation and my partnered status shouldn’t preclude me from serving the church.”

In an undated letter posted on the congregation’s Web site, council president Laura Crawley said the congregation will “continue to pray that [Schmeling] wins his case.”


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