Conservative Lutherans meeting in Indianapolis have decided not to decide whether to leave the church over gay issues, at least not for the next year.

About 1,200 members of the Lutheran Coalition for Renewal (Lutheran CORE) voted Saturday to remain in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in America with nearly 5 million members, but authorized the creation of a panel to look into leaving the church, with recommendations to be issued next year.

The group is unhappy that the ELCA voted to drop its 20-year-old ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy. Previously, gay clergy were welcome in the church but were required to remain celibate.

ELCA representatives also adopted a little-noticed gay unions resolution during its Minneapolis meeting last month. The gay unions resolution only says that the church has committed itself to finding a way to recognize and support gay relationships. But the resolution could be used to support the belief that individual synods (or dioceses) may bless gay unions at their discretion, pastors say.

“God is calling us to do something,” Rev. Paull Spring, chair of Lutheran CORE, said in a statement. “The ELCA has fallen into heresy. It is a time for confession and a time to resist. It is, please God, also a time for new life and transformation and for mission.”

“My advice to the ELCA members is this: The time for hesitation is now over,” Rev. Eddie Perez told attendees. “God is demanding a response from us.”

“We are not dividing the church. The church is already divided. We're just mopping up what the church did,” Rev. Paul Ulring said. “There is a future for us, a future that we only glimpse right now. Things will happen that will make it possible for us to do this, things that aren't clear right now, but Jesus is in clear view.”

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.”

Meanwhile, in a retreat house in Chicago, liberal Lutherans gathered to celebrate.

“As with any coming out, some members of the ELCA family are reacting with celebration, others with fear and anger, and some with silence,” Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned, said in a statement.

“The way forward for a fully inclusive ELCA is clear.”

“The mission of the church has not changed. What has changed is that now the work of all faithful Lutherans towards the goals of the church can be recognized and honored,” she added.