Evangelical Lutherans Take Up Gay Clergy Issue

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Should gay clergy be ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church? That question will be decided this week as church members gather for their national convention in Minneapolis, Minn.

Gay clergy is a controversial issue that has caused doctrinal divisions for many Christian denominations. It's been vigorously debated by Episcopalians, Presbyterians and now by delegates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

On Wednesday, the ELCA will consider a doctrinal statement allowing for different views on homosexuality.

CBN News spoke with Pennsylvania pastor Mark Chavez of the Lutheran Coalition for Reform -- he opposes allowing gay ministers.

"If this church-wide assembly were to approve both the social statement on sexuality and the ministry recommendations -- for the first time in the ELCA's history, you'd have a crystal clear declaration by the church-wide assembly that it firmly rejects the authority of God's word," Chavez said.

"The Bible is very clear, consistent throughout," he said. "The only appropriate place for a sexual relationship is in the lifelong marriage of one man and one woman."

Bishop Mark Hanson is the head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He says gay clergy should not be the defining issue of the church.

"We are so clear that our unity is in Christ, that that frees us to acknowledge that we hold differences," Hanson said.

Ty Inglis of South Dakota says he'll vote in favor of change.

"I believe we need to accept the changes the church council is recommending because we have debated this more and more and maybe we have to learn we've got to live with a messy situation," he said.

The vote is expected by Friday.

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S., representing 4.6 million members.

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