The nations largest Lutheran denomination will now be able to appoint clergy members who are in committed homosexual relationships.
The topic was front and center at this week's Evangelical Lutheran Church in America convention in Minneapolis, Minn.
With the vote, the debate ends, but not the controversy in America's largest Lutheran denomination surrounding an issue that threatens to divide churches across the country.
"I think several congregations could end up leaving the LCA as a result of this," said Pastor David Witkop of Thanksgiving! Lutheran Church. "That's a real possibility. Just becoming their own kind of unit or finding another kind of fellowship together with similar beliefs and mission vision."
Early Friday in Minneapolis, the debate raged on with impassioned speeches on both sides of this issue.
"I am not saved because I'm heterosexual. I'm saved because of what God has done," said Pastor Lee Miller II, who supports gay clergy. "To those who are listening, they are not condemned because of their sexuality, but they are saved because of how God loves them."
"What had been the teaching of my church has now been reduced to personal opinion or conscience as it has been framed," opponent Pastor Catherine Ammlung fired back. "Many of us who are people of good will are left as ethical and theological freelancers."
The church already allowed for openly gay ministers if they were celibate.
The new measure passed Friday will now allow those ministers to be in committed same-sex relationships.
*Originally published August 21, 2009