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Lutheran Leader Asks Donors to Stay

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Bishop Mark Hanson (pictured), who presides over the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is urging church leaders not to withhold donations to protest last month's historic vote to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as ministers.

Hanson sent a letter to leaders of the 4.7 million-member church on Wednesday in which he said that withholding financial support would be "devastating" to the ELCA, according to the Associated Press.

"Although these actions are promoted as a way to signal opposition to churchwide assembly actions or even to punish the voting members who made them, the result will be wounds that we inflict on ourselves, our shared life, and our mission in Christ," Hanson wrote, according to the AP.

A conservative group called Lutheran CORE -- which stands for "Coalition of Reform" -- opposes the vote on gay and lesbian clergy, and plans a convention in Indianapolis beginning on Friday to discuss the possibility of forming an alternative church. Organizers say that more than 1,200 people have registered for the convention.

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