Gays in the pulpit

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America does not appear to be moving toward endorsing the role of homosexuals in relationships as pastors. Under the current rules, homosexuals can be ministers in the church if they promise to be celibate.

In August, ELCA’s national convention in Minneapolis will consider whether to leave that up to each of the 65 synods nationwide.

On Sunday, the Northwest Minnesota Synod approved a resolution rejecting a proposal that non-celibate gays be allowed to serve as clergy members. The resolution rejecting the proposal passed by just two votes (See resolution).

“I’m not surprised that it was close,” Bishop Larry Wohlrabe told the Worthington Daily News (registration required). “I’m a little amazed that it was that close.”

Before passing the resolution, however, delegates struck a provision that declared “a majority of ELCA members and most Christian churches — including most in the Lutheran World Federation — believe that marriage is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman.”

At the same time, the synod voted against a resolution that would have rejected ELCA’s social statement, “Human Sexuality Gift and Trust. ” (See report), which says after “many years of study and conversation, this church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships.” But the draft says the church “supports legislation and policies to protect civil rights and to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public services. It has called upon congregations and members to welcome, care for, and support same-gender couples and their families, and to advocate for their legal protection.”

The ELCA social statement rejected by the synod was drafted by a task force headed by Rev. Peter Strommen, of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake.

By way of background, City Pages profiled four people last summer who have a particular interest in the question.