ELCA’s Church Council moves reinstatement process forward for clergy in same-gender relationships

Certain clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — “people in lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships” previously barred from serving — are a step closer to reinstatement following a vote of the ELCA Church Council on Sunday, the ELCA site reports.

The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted a revision to the reinstatement process for former clergy and other professional leaders who were removed from the church’s official rosters for disciplinary reasons or resigned in lieu of discipline — solely because they were in a lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship.

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The action was a response to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, which adopted proposals to change ELCA ministry policies. One change created the possibility for Lutherans in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA associates in ministry, deaconesses, diaconal ministers and ordained ministers. The assembly also adopted a social statement on human sexuality by a two-thirds vote.

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Until the 2009 Churchwide Assembly adopted a social statement on human sexuality and changes to ministry policies, any same-gender relationship was considered sexual misconduct and cause for discipline. Under the new policies, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly acknowledged there are different views within the church of these relationships and that these views are held by faithful people who understand Scripture in different ways.

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