The disciplinary hearing committee has released its decision related to the Rev. Bradley Schmeling of St. John's Church ELCA in Atlanta, Georgia. Bradley Schmeling was charged with violating the ELCA's policy that bar practicing homosexuals from ordination. He was always open about his sexual orientation; it wasn't until he entered into a relationship with another man that his bishop charged him with violating the church's rule.
After meeting last week, the committee released its report and their findings. In essence, they determined that the Rev. Bradley Schmeling is a gifted pastor who possess all of the gifts and content of character necessary to be ordained and serving within the denomination. They called upon the denomination to change their policies, and they noted that the policy may be illegal given the denomination's constitution. However, seven of the twelve determined that if the oplicy is not changed then Bradley Schmeling will have to be removed from the ELCA's roster, in essence removing his ordination. They have delayed action against him until the denomination meets in early August in order to allow the necessary time for the policy to be changed.
As a gay identified pastor in another denomination, my prayers remain with Bradley Schmeling. As someone serving a church that supported a previous pastor under complaint for being gay, my prayers are with his congregation. But more than that, I pray for Christianity that has made itself so very small over this issue. God calls us into loving and caring relationships. If a pastor, or any person, finds a healthy, supportive, mutually respectful, loving relationship, as the body of Christ, we should support and bless that union. I am not going to debate the scriptural (un)reasoning used by those who continue to discriminate against GLBT folks. I just offer prayers for Christian unity, grace-filled encounters across diving, and for heaing of the wounds that too many GLBT people experience in the name of God.
Books I recommend:
"The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Mind and Heart" by Peter Gomes
"Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?: A Positive Response" by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollencott
"The Children are Free: Reexamining Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships" by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley
And, for a longer list of reading resources, including books mentioned above, the Episcopal Bookstore has a great selection.
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