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Lutherans stage
mass coming-out

Lutherans stage
mass coming-out

As U.S. Lutheran clergy gather in Chicago this week to consider issues including relaxing their rules on gay and lesbian clergy, 83 pastors staged a mass coming-out Tuesday to help colleagues change their minds.

Among them was the Reverend A. Dale Truscott, formerly of Saline, Mich., who hid his sexuality--and his partner--for as long as he served his church.

"I retired a couple of years sooner than I needed to because of this," Truscott told The Ann Arbor News on Monday from his new home in Orlando, Fla. "I have been quiet and tried to keep the peace, and it's very painful. You finally get to the point in your life where you're tired of the pain."

Truscott, an ordained Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor for 37 years, was among 83 clergy who came out by having their names published in support of a proposal to allow partnered gay and lesbian clergy to serve. The denomination now ordains gay men and lesbians, but requires that they be celibate.

In a high-profile case, the Reverend Bradley Schmeling of Atlanta was removed last month from the ministerial rolls after he advised his superiors that he had found a partner.

The more than 1,000 clergy who gathered this week received a gay-friendly devotional booklet titled "A Place Within My Walls" with contributions from Schmeling and other pastors.

"My life changed wonderfully in 2004 when I met my life partner, Bradley, at a church event in Minneapolis," pastor Darin Easler wrote.

"In 2005, I moved to Atlanta to join Bradley, calling my family and friends with the joyful news. It was like announcing my engagement or marriage; I wanted to tell everyone! But the honeymoon felt pretty short, knowing that when the church heard this news we could immediately face discipline, rather than support and celebration."

Easler said he eventually left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in favor of the United Churches of Christ, which practices equality.

The 83 pastors listed include gay ministers now serving, awaiting a call from a congregation, or removed since the churchwide assembly in Orlando in 2005. A move at the 2005 convention to suspend the celibacy requirement failed to get a majority vote, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Also on Tuesday, the Lutherans reelected presiding bishop Mark Hanson for a second six-year term. Hanson has been outspoken against the Iraq war but silent on the issue of gay clergy. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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