The Lutheran Church is set to consider several gay issues this week as representatives gather in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), America's largest Lutheran denomination with nearly 5 million members, will face two controversial gay issues this week during its biennial convention.

In all, 1,045 voting representatives will decide on two issues important to the GLBT community.

Members will first consider a social statement on human sexuality titled Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust. While the statement includes a section on gay and lesbian relationships, the 15-member task force tapped to develop the statement freely admits that members were not able to reconcile conflicting views on gay relationships.

The social statement affirms that “some are convinced that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law,” while others “believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are lived out with lifelong and monogamous commitments that are held to the same rigorous standards, sexual ethics, and status as heterosexual marriage.”

Implementing resolutions include a call to “assist members to understand what it means to be hospitable to all in the name of Christ regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity” and support for ELCA's adopted response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Because the social statement on human sexuality offers diverse viewpoints on gay relationships it is widely expected to win approval this week. But a more contentious proposal that would repeal the church's ban on non-celibate gay pastors from leading churches is once again on the table, and certain to draw a heated debate. In ways, the proposal only acknowledges changes already taking place in the church.

Since the early 1990s the church has taken in gay and lesbian pastors, so long as they promise to remain celibate. But several churches now say they are being led by pastors in gay relationships.

In 2007, Rev. Bradley Schmeling, an Atlanta pastor, was removed from the ELCA clergy roster after he announced he was in a gay relationship but his church kept him on as pastor. Technically, Schmeling is not recognized as leading St. John's Lutheran Church because he is in a gay relationship.

Opponents of the change say gay relationships run counter to the word of God as dictated by Scripture.

“It is our feeling and our belief that what the Bible is telling us is that same-sex marriage and relationships are harmful,” Diane Baardson, a member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church council, told the AP. “We welcome homosexuals into our church, and we love them. But we're not going to say hey, that's a good idea.”

But even opponents acknowledge that church liberals will eventually prevail. If not this year, then certainly in 2011.