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Gay Clergy OK For The ELCA - UMC Unites With Same

ELCA votes to allow gay pastors JEFF STRICKLER, Star Tribune

In a historic change, noncelibate gays and lesbians can now lead parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

On a 559-451 vote taken Friday in Minneapolis at their biennial conference, delegates repealed the ELCA ban on gay clergy unless they agree to remain celibate. It makes ELCA, with 4.8 million members nationwide and 830,000 in Minnesota, the largest denomination in the country to welcome gays into the pulpits without restriction.

The vote did not surprise Ryan Schwarz from Washington, a member of Lutheran CORE, a group that opposed the motion. Nor did it dampen his interest in running for vice president, the highest lay position within the ELCA. That vote will be taken today.

(The rest of the article is available on the Star Tribute web site.)

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) votes to recognize same-gender couples - Allows those gay and lesbian people in relationships to serve as church leaders!

Today the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) passed a resolution stating that it will commit itself to find a way to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. Additionally, the voting members passed another resolution stating that the ELCA is committed to find a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of the church.

"We are thrilled with these historic decisions," said Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director, "God is smiling and the ELCA will benefit greatly from the spiritual gifts of those who can now love, worship, and serve with integrity. I hope every Lutheran congregation will see the rightness of today's decisions and open their hearts accordingly."

Soulforce has a long history of working for change within the ELCA. In 2001, fifty Soulforce volunteers were arrested outside the Indianapolis Convention Center during civil disobedience after the ELCA voted to continue requiring gay and lesbian clergy to vow celibacy to be eligible for ordained ministry. In 2003, Soulforce maintained a visible presence at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee by leafleting and vigiling to educate ELCA voting members. In 2005, Soulforce partnered with Goodsoil in Orlando where approximately 100 people walked silently to the front of the hall and stood between Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and the 1,018 members after they rejected a proposal to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to be ordained as members of the clergy. The action created tension within the hall and forced ELCA voting members to face the injustice of their vote.

After nearly a decade of waiting, Soulforce rejoices over today's decisions and commends Lutherans Concerned, Goodsoil, and so many others who have also worked tirelessly for many years to bring about this change. Now more than ever, Soulforce is committed to the practice of relentless, nonviolent, resistance until all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are free from both political and religious oppression.

Soulforce, Inc., P.O. Box 3195, Lynchburg, VA 24503


Ecumenical leaders applaud full communion vote
NEW YORK (UMNS)—Top leaders of the National Council of Churches praised the new relationship between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The United Methodist Church. The Rev. Michael Kinnamon, the council's top executive, and its president, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, sent a congratulatory message Aug. 24 to leaders of both denominations. "Allow us to express the delight of the wider ecumenical community at news of the overwhelming decision by the Evangelical Lutheran Churchwide Assembly to enter into full communion with The United Methodist Church. This completes the joy we felt last year when the United Methodist General Conference made the same decision," the message said.

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