An appeals group upheld a disciplinary ruling that an ELCA pastor in Atlanta was in violation of the church’s policy regarding partnered gay or lesbian pastors and ordered his defrocking (April, "Mixed ruling on openly gay pastor").
On July 2, the ELCA Committee on Appeals decided that Bradley E. Schmeling be removed immediately from the clergy roster of the ELCA. He had acknowledged living in a same-sex relationship.
The committee ruled in favor of Ronald B. Warren, bishop of the Southeastern Synod, who had sought Schmeling’s removal. It also declined an appeal from Schmeling.
The appeals committee is a 12-member panel of clergy and lay people, elected by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to six-year terms. Its decisions are final, and there is no further appeal.
“This is what happens when human law becomes an end to itself. The judicial process has proven to be an ecclesiastical dry hole,” said Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, a group that works for the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Lutherans in the church. “We now turn to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August. ... The struggle is not over, LGBT Lutherans and their allies both clergy and lay will not relent until justice and mercy prevail.”
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