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Lutherans to vote on celibacy issue for gay, lesbian clergy

  • Story Highlights
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America meeting in Minneapolis this week
  • Policy allows gays, lesbians to serve as clergy, lay leaders if they are celibate
  • If approved, new policy would allow them to serve if in monogamous relationships
  • Spokesman says simply majority vote of 1,045 members to decide issue
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(CNN) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will decide this week whether to allow gays and lesbians who are not celibate to serve as clergy members and lay leaders, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Current Evangelical Lutheran Church policy allows gay and lesbian clergy, lay people to serve only if celibate.

Current Evangelical Lutheran Church policy allows gay and lesbian clergy, lay people to serve only if celibate.

Spokesman John Brooks said the church's 1,045 voting members, who are at a weeklong Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will vote Friday on whether to change its policy regarding gay clergy members.

The policy allows gays and lesbians to serve as clergy members and lay leaders if they are celibate, Brooks said. Heterosexual clergy are allowed to have sex within marriage.

The new policy would allow gays and lesbians in "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships," to serve as clergy and lay leaders, according to the proposal.

Lay leaders are people other than clergy members who are on the professional rosters of the church.

A simple majority will decide the vote, Brooks said. He said there is a "wide range of opinions" on changing the policy.

The body is also scheduled to vote Wednesday on a social statement on sexuality that has been eight years in the making, he said.

"It's important for us because it informs the basis for policy," he said.

According to its Web site, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has 4.6 million members.

The church is not the only denomination that has dealt with the issue of gay clergy.

Last month, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops voted by a wide margin to allow gays and lesbians to become bishops, Episcopal Life reported.

In April, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted against allowing openly gay pastors to serve, according to the Presbyterian News Service.

All About Lutheran ChurchGay and Lesbian RelationshipsReligion

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