Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ("ELCA") -- one of the largest Christian denominations in the country -- will decide this week whether to allow gay people in relationships to serve as clergy.
Pursuant to church policy, sexually active gay people are not currently permitted to serve in the clergy; however, celibate gay people are allowed to thus serve. Over 1,000 Church delegates -- clergy and laypeople -- meeting in Minneapolis this week might as early as today vote on a 34-page document on human sexuality that would permit congregations to let gay men and lesbians in committed, monogamous relationships serve as clergy.
The ELCA is the latest major denomination to address the issue of gay clergy. Just last month, the Episcopal Church voted to make gay people eligible for any ordained ministry. Earlier this year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted against accepting openly gay pastors.
In a news conference in Minneapolis on Monday, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson predicted "deep, profound disappointment" for the losing side. However, few -- if any -- observers expect large conservative factions to break away from the ELCA if the proposal passes.