ELCA's decision stirring up controversy

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The gay community is saying it's a step in the right direction. However, some members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America disapprove of their denomination's decision last week to allow sexually active same-sex clergy serve as ministers.

The relationship between gays and the church seems to always be controversial, and this case is no different.

"I was against the vote," said East Texas pastor, Reverend Dr. Mark Braaton, who was in Minnesota for the church's decision. "I think we made a dangerous decision."

Until last week, gays and lesbians had to remain celibate to serve as clergy. That is no longer the case.

"It just bothers me to think that the ELCA would have gone in that direction," said Pastor Art Miller, with Our Savior's Lutheran Church.

"I think, until we come clean and get back to affirming the authority of the word, we're going to be making some strange decisions," said Braaton.

"We can show concern and love to lesbians and the gays, but, nevertheless, it does not mean that their allowed to be a pastor," said Miller.

"I think it's a move in the right direction," said Troy Carlyle, chairman of Project Tyler Area Gays.

But, there is a catch. The vote simply opens the ministry up to partnered and lesbian Lutherans. Meaning, each individual congregation has the choice of whether or not to allow gays serve as pastors. Carlyle says he sees the decision in terms of baby steps.

"The percentage of gay people who are religious is much higher than the people in the general population who call themselves religious," said Carlyle. "So, for gay people in general, this decision is incredibly important."

Others are less thrilled.

"The congregations that choose to stay with the authority of the word of God are going to be distancing themselves more from the ECLA," said Braaten.

In September, congregations that are protesting the decision to allow non-celibate gays serve as clergy are planning a meeting to discuss their affiliation with the ELCA.

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