The Lutheran Church created quite a stir last month when it dropped its 20-year-old ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy. But it seems its nod to gay unions got lost in the debate that followed.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in America with nearly 5 million members, approved a little-noticed gay unions resolution during its meeting in Minneapolis.

While the resolution calls for support of gay unions, it leaves the church's policy on gay marriage unclear.

The resolution was adopted on a 619 to 402 vote and says: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

When asked if the resolution meant pastors would be free to bless gay marriages, Phil Soucy of the liberal Lutheran group Lutherans Concerned/North America dodged our question, saying only that the church “has committed itself to finding a way” to recognize and support gay relationships.

How to translate the resolution – whether gay relationships include marriage and whether recognizing implies blessing – has either been left up to individual congregations or will be addressed by the church at a later date.

Lutheran churches in Sweden and Denmark have recognized – and blessed – gay unions for about a dozen years.