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Following a 96% affirmative vote by members of the congregation, St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis moved one step closer to splitting from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The decision to leave came in response to the ELCA's general assembly vote in Minneapolis on August 21 to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy.
The new law lifts a restriction that had required gay and lesbian ministers to remain celibate.
According to St. Paul's senior pastor, the Reverend Roland J. Wells Jr., there are many pastors and members who are withholding funds from the national church and are working to establish a new denomination called Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, reports Minnesota Public Radio.
"We feel quite affirmed by the hundreds of congregations who are contemplating the same move," Wells said in a news release.
The congregation will now consult the local ELCA bishop and conduct another vote 90 days from Sunday to finalize the split.