By Associated Press

Task force says individual congregations should be allowed to decide for themselves on non-celibate gay, lesbian clergy

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Evangelical Church in America’s South Dakota Synod voted Saturday, May 30 to urge the church’s highest governing body to keep its policy that would allow only celibate gay clergy to serve.

The vote was 362-233.

Those at the gathering at Augustana College over the weekend represented the state’s 253 ELCA congregations.

The ELCA has considered whether to permit noncelibate gay clergy for about 10 years. A task force recommends that local congregations be given the power to decide whether to allow them.

The proposal will be voted on in August by the Churchwide Assembly.

"The will of the assembly is pretty apparent," said Bill Reynolds, communications director for the South Dakota Synod. "They kind of came down in favor of leaving things as they are now."

The debate was "cordial and courteous," he said Saturday.

"I heard some comments today that this gives us opportunity to acknowledge there is disagreement and find ways as a body to work with that disagreement."

Those who are sent to the state synod assembly are not told how to vote, Reynolds said.

"The expectation is they will come and listen and pray for discernment and vote accordingly. They take it very seriously," he said.

ELCA Secretary David Swartling did not specifically address the sexuality issue in his keynote address Saturday. But he did say the synod must produce lay and clerical leaders who are faithful to church teachings and who are wise and courageous enough to upset the orderly church in pursuit of religious truth.

"We need to be agitational from time to time so others can hear the prophetic voice," he said.

Information from: Argus Leader,
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