A proposal that would allow openly gay
clergy in the Lutheran Church showed strong support on Monday as it
jumped through its first hurdle, the AP reported.
Representatives of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), America's largest Lutheran
denomination with nearly 5 million members, opened its biennial
convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota this week. By Friday, they are
expected to vote on a proposal that would repeal the church's ban on
non-celibate gay pastors from leading churches.
The proposal is expected to draw a
heated (but respectful, as is the Lutheran way) debate.
On Monday, church liberals won their
first step towards passage of the proposal when they managed to stave
off a move by conservatives that would have required a two-thirds
majority to win approval, rather than a simple majority. The move
was widely expected, but the resulting loss was not. Only 43 percent
of representatives supported the measure.
Since the early 1990s the church has
taken in gay and lesbian pastors, so long as they promise to remain
celibate. But the reality on the ground is that several churches now
say they are being led by pastors in gay relationships. The church
officially removes these gay pastors from the ELCA clergy roster, but
they often remain in their positions.
While the majority versus supermajority
vote is not necessarily indicative of the proposal's final outcome,
it is a decided victory for church liberals.