NRLR applauds Lutheran church committee challenge to policy barring pastors same-sex relationships

February 12, 2007

Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator


WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — The National Religious Leadership Roundtable applauded the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) Hearing Committee’s challenge to the church document that bars clergy who are in same-sex relationships. The committee encouraged church leaders to abandon the “bad policy.” The response was prompted by the committee’s announcement on Thursday that it was removing the Rev. Bradley Schmeling, effective Aug. 15, because Schmeling has a same-sex partner. The delay in the Lutheran pastor’s removal gives the ELCA a chance to nullify the decision by changing the policy document at an August meeting. For the full text of the committee’s decision go to

Responses from National Religious Leadership Roundtable Members

“This decision is courageous and unprecedented in the history of the ELCA. For an official judicial body of the church to call for removal of the discriminatory policy marks a tremendous shift in the ongoing struggle for equality. Pastor Schmeling and St. John’s Lutheran Church presented a compelling case. Peter met Cornelius and the Holy Spirit became the wind of change. The hearing committee of elected and faithful Lutherans heard the witness and acted accordingly within its purview. While seven of the committee members felt that they did not have the authority to set new policy, the group was nearly unanimous in calling for swift and complete removal of the old. The decision has taken the case of one fine pastor in the Deep South to the national stage. Unintended advocates, Pastor Schmeling and St. John’s now stand squarely at the center of the ongoing conversation. LC/NA continues to accompany and support them in this process.”

— Emily Eastwood
Executive Director
Lutherans Concerned/North America

“If good pastors are put on trial, bad policy is always the culprit. Faithful Lutherans can now put the offensive policy on trial and celebrate the good gifts of a faithful gay pastor.”

Rev. Troy Plummer
Executive Director
Reconciling Ministries Network, United Methodists

“The disciplinary committee responded to what I saw for myself in Atlanta — St. John’s Church is a growing, spirit-filled congregation led by a uniquely creative and courageous pastor whose ministry must be affirmed. Any policy that would curtail the Spirit’s work at St. John’s should be overturned.”

Harry Knox
Director, Religion and Faith Program
Human Rights Campaign

“At a time when there is little ‘good news’ from many Christian churches on same-sex love, the Hearing Committee of the ELCA acted in the best of faith in the case of Pastor Bradley Schmeling. Rather than blame the victim, they named as ‘bad policy’ rules that discriminate. Would that their example be followed in many other religious bodies.”

Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.
Co-Director, WATER
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.