Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Lutheran Church, released a video Thursday pleading for unity as gay issues threaten to splinter the church.

Bishop Hanson released his video as conservative Lutherans prepare to meet in Indianapolis to consider leaving the ELCA over its increasing acceptance of gay clergy.

“My heart aches when I hear ELCA members express a feeling of abandonment because of the decisions on human sexuality taken by our churchwide assembly,” he says.

Last month, representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in America with nearly 5 million members, meeting in Minneapolis agreed to drop the church's 20-year-old ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy. Previously, gay clergy were welcome in the church so long as they remained celibate.

Representatives also approved an equivocal gay unions resolution that brings the church closer to blessing gay unions. The resolution only says that the church has committed itself to finding a way to recognize and support gay relationships.

The conservative group Lutheran CORE opposed the gay resolutions. In Indianapolis, the group is expected to ask about 1,200 attendees to consider joining a new church.

Attendees will vote on a resolution that calls for the formation of a “free-standing synod” separate from the ELCA and encourages congregations to withhold their donations from the ELCA.

“I am deeply concerned when ELCA members and congregations are being encouraged to signal that disagreement by withholding financial support,” Hanson says in the 3-minute video.

“Because the unintended consequence is to diminish our capacity for mission.”

ELCA's mission is “reaching out into the community with child care, food and Jesus, the bread of life,” “seminaries, campus and outdoor ministries, preparing leaders for the church of the future,” and “ELCA members together responding to hungry people and rebuilding communities devastated by natural disaster,” he says.

“I want to ask you today. Continue to pray for this church. But also to step forth and publicly express your commitment to financially supporting and personally being engaged in the life and ministry we have together as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

Conservatives say their concerns are not about acceptance of gay men and lesbians but whether the ELCA has turned its back on Church Scripture.

“This disagreement is not about sex,” Rev. Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE, said in the group's latest newsletter. “It is about the source of authority in the ELCA. The assembly's sexuality decisions have opened the eyes of people to the biblical and theological crisis in the ELCA.”