ELCA calls for some leeway on gay clergy

Advocates on both sides unhappy
"They unlocked the closet door, but they haven’t opened it,” wryly commented a retired Lutheran bishop on his church’s much-awaited report on homosexuality.

A task force in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, noting the strongly held differences in the 5.1-million-member denomination, recommended that the ELCA’s biennial convention in August not allow congregations to hold same-gender union rites and not alter current church policy prohibiting sexually active gay pastors.

However, striving to “set a pastoral tone rather than a legal tone,” in the words of New England Bishop Margaret G. Payne, who chaired the task force, the 14-member panel acknowledged that some regional church authorities “may choose to refrain from disciplining those who in good conscience, and for the sake of outreach, ministry and the commitment to further dialogue, call or approve partnered gay or lesbian candidates” as deacons or pastors.


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