A Lutheran church in West Virginia has decided to make a public protest against gay clergy following a vote by leaders in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to allow homosexuals in relationships to be ordained.
St. Timothy Church in Charleston has blocked out the word 'Lutheran' on the sign in front of its building.
Rev. Richard Mahan, the minister of the church, told his congregation the reason for the action last Sunday.
"I asked that be done because I'm ashamed," he said. "I'm ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I've loved for 40 years," he said.
"We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin. All are welcome, but the sin is not," Mahan explained during his sermon.
"We have always welcomed gays and lesbians to our church, but according to the word of God, we do not believe they are to be ordained," he said, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. "I am not speaking out against the gay and lesbian community, but I am speaking out against the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors and bishops and leaders of the church - and the blessing of same-sex marriages."
Mahan received a standing ovation during the service.
The minister urged the congregation to pray about what St. Timothy's should do next in response to the vote. He also told them the church's mission would continue.
"Let me assure you, nothing is going to change here at St Timothy. Jesus is still the same," he said. "The Bible is still the divinely inspired word of God."
Mahan said his church is considering leaving the liberal denomination and he expects a number of other congregations to follow.
Sources: Charleston Daily Mail, Christian Today