CHICAGO, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Saturday voted to refrain from disciplining clergy in committed same-sex relationships.
The vote at a national assembly in Chicago came the day after the gathering's delegates voted against removing the requirement that gay clergy remain celibate, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. In practice, gay clergy will apparently face no consequences within the 20-year-old grouping -- the largest Lutheran denomination branch in the United States.
“It’s a huge victory,” said Jeremy Posadas, a delegate from Decatur, Ga. “The gospel of inclusion has won and we’re going to keep winning.”
Other delegates were less enthusiastic.
“This decision does not reflect the will of the people, but of bishops and clergy who disregard God’s word,” said the Rev. Mark Chavez, a leader of Lutheran CORE -- a coalition that seeks to preserve traditional authority within the church.
The issue of gay clergy is a wrenching one in a number of denominations. The consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop has come close to splitting both the U.S. church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.