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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Mixed ruling on openly gay pastor

The ELCA may be asked to change its ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy after a disciplinary committee voted Feb. 7 to remove an openly gay pastor but suggested the church find a way to reinstate him.

The ruling called for Bradley Schmeling, a gay pastor in a committed relationship, to be removed from the pulpit of St. John Lutheran Church, Atlanta, by Aug. 15. The committee said it reached the decision reluctantly and suggested the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August should “reconsider and revise” guidelines prohibiting gay clergy who aren’t celibate.

The committee, made up of 12 clergy and lay members from across the country, also recommended the assembly consider reinstating clergy who have been ousted from their positions for being in committed homosexual relationships.

Emily Eastwood, executive director of the Lutheran gay rights group Lutherans Concerned/North America, called the ruling “astounding and unprecedented.”


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