July 6, 2007

Pastor Schmeling Forced Out

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 1:38 am

Some bad news, I’m afraid. From the Reuters report:

An appeals panel in the largest U.S. Lutheran body has ordered a gay pastor removed from his ministry because he is in a sexual relationship with another man, officials said on Thursday.

The decision from the Committee on Appeals of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is final in the case of Pastor Bradley Schmeling of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta.

[…]

That policy will likely be challenged and could be revised at the church’s annual meeting in Chicago next month, but even if it is changed Schmeling would not automatically be reinstated since that usually requires a separate process that can take up to five years, a church spokesman said.

[…]

A disciplinary committee which presided over Schmeling’s trial earlier this year ruled that he should be allowed to remain on the clergy roster until after the August meeting to see if the church changes its policy.

That same panel said the policy of allowing gays as pastors but forbidding them to have sexual relations is “at least bad policy, and may very well violate the constitution and bylaws of this church.”

But the Committee on Appeals in a decision made public on Thursday ruled that the disciplinary panel did not have the power to keep Schmeling on the roster pending the convention, and ordered him removed immediately.

Pretty cold to over-rule the disciplinary committee and remove him immediately. So now the Churchwide Assembly next month has a choice — change the bylaws of the church to allow gay clergy, or tell a congregation that they may not call the pastor of their choice and remain in the ELCA. Hopefully this will bring the assembly to see the error of its vote in 2005.

More at Lutherans Concerned.

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