The senior pastor of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota announced his resignation on Sunday over pressure to marry gay and lesbian couples.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America leaves it up to individual congregations to decide whether to marry gay couples.

In August, Pastor Steve Berntson expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage in an August newsletter.

“While many in the congregation expressed their appreciation for my taking a stand on this issue, many others voiced strong opposition,” Berntson told his congregation on Sunday. “A number of families left Messiah. Others have stated that they may do so if my position becomes church policy.”

Berntson told WDAY: “As a pastor, bound to uphold the Word of God, I couldn't go in a different direction.”

Berntson has held the position at Messiah since 2009.