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ELCA Reinstates Openly Gay, Coupled Ministers

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on May 5, 2010 7:30PM

2010_05_05_elcaclergy.jpg The Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has officially walked the walk on its gay-inclusive policy allowing for clergy in committed, life-long same-sex relationships to continue serving the church. The policy, implemented last month, has allowed for the reinstatement of Pastor Bradley Schmeling and Pastor Darin Easler, a couple, were previously removed from the church roster under the old policy barring non-celibate gays from serving as ministers. The couple met a church conference in 2004.

"One of the stones of injustice has been rolled away from the door, and Christ now lives more fully in the life of the church," said Pastor Schmeling of the ELCA's progressive stance on gay relationships. "It's been striking how deliberately and how clearly the church has moved forward to make the assembly's witness a reality."

"These are exciting days to be part of the church, and I'm looking forward to years ahead in ministry both with the church I love and with the partner that God has given me," he continued in a press release from pro-gay group Lutherans Concerned/North America. The Washington Times reports more reinstatements of gay and lesbian clergy in the church may be the way, as local churches continue to adopt the revised policy.

"Our continued prayer is that they will be the first of many people who are able to come out and serve the church with honesty and integrity," said Ross Murray, Lutherans Concerned/North America interim executive director. "Such a day calls for celebration, not only in Atlanta, but by all who value full participation and the continued spread of Christ''s message."

The ELCA's policy on gay clergy has caused some 308 churches nationwide, as of April 7, to leave the congregation.