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North Dakota Lutherans reject noncelibate gays for the clergy

North Dakota Lutherans reject noncelibate gays for the clergy

Lutherans in eastern North Dakota have rejected a proposal that would create space for gay clergy. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's eastern North Dakota delegates, meeting in Jamestown on Saturday, approved a resolution upholding the church's policy of barring practicing gays and lesbians from the clergy and disciplining those who become sexually active after ordination. The resolution passed, with 244 voting yes, 164 no, and 14 abstaining. "I'm very pleased with it," said the Reverend Rob Buechler, pastor of Trinity-Bergen Church in Starkweathe and Faith Lutheran Church in Hampden. The ELCA expects its pastors to refrain from sexual relations outside marriage, meaning gays and lesbians considered for ordination must remain celibate. Bishop Rick Foss, of the 100,000-member eastern North Dakota synod, said delegates tried to be respectful and caring. "The spirit and the tone and tenor have been really good," he said. "They care about one another as well as the issues." Bishop Duane Danielson, of the 69,000-member western North Dakota synod, said western delegates will vote on the proposal in June in Williston. "I would anticipate a very similar kind of response," he said. A national church council will review the synod's suggestions and those from across the country before the issue is considered before the church's national convention in August in Orlando, Fla. (AP)

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