Lutherans to consider lifting ban on partnered gay clergy

ELCAThe nation’s largest Lutheran denomination will consider lifting its ban on gay and lesbian clergy who are in committed, long-term relationships as it gathers next week for a churchwide assembly

More than 1,000 delegates will gather in Minneapolis August 17-23 for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) biennial General Assembly. On the agenda:  whether gay and lesbian clergy who are in committed relationships can hold their positions.

The church already ordains gay men and lesbians who are celibate, and some individual churches allow those in relationships to continue without punishment (though in the past such clergy have been removed).

Like most denominations, the church has been dealing with the issue of homosexuality for years, and in 2001 formed a task force to study the matter.  That same task force has made policy recommendations that will be voted on by the General Assembly.

Among the proposals are a 30-page social statement that defines the church’s position on sexuality and a four-step plan to lift the ban on partnered gay ministers.

If adopted by the assembly, the four-step plan would remove the blanket ban on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy and empower local congregations and governing bodies to make their own decisions on whether to allow them.

The social statement can pass with a two-thirds majority vote, while the four-step plan requires a simple majority.

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