Soulforce Supports Pastor Bradley Schmeling and Urges ELCA to Lift the Ban on Same- Sex Clergy in Committed Relationships

For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771

(Austin, TX) – In response to the news that Pastor Bradley Schmeling of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) will face a disciplinary hearing, Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes expressed Soulforce’s support for Schmeling and his partner, Darin Easler. "Brad and Darin’s relationship is a wonderful gift from God. We call on the ELCA to change their policy and truly model God’s all-inclusive love."

While ELCA policy does not explicitly exclude LGBT-identified people from the ministry, the guidelines state that "practicing homosexual persons are precluded from the ordained ministry of this church." Says Lutes, "it is unconscionable that the ELCA rejects those devoted pastors in relationship who are modeling the values of love, devotion, and long-term commitment for their congregations, yet upholds those pastors who agree to remain alone or live in secrecy."

Schmeling learned on August 8 that the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA had filed formal charges against him for violating the ELCA Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline of Ordained Ministers. Schmeling had previously refused to resign from the ELCA roster or from his position as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran church in Atlanta, Georgia. In a public statement, he expressed the hope that the hearing "will provide a means to witness to the gifts of gay clergy and to demonstrate the destructive consequences of the church’s current policy."

In 2005, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly rejected a proposal to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy. At that meeting, and at every ELCA churchwide assembly since 2001, Soulforce has partnered with other Lutheran and LGBT organizations to stand for justice for all LGBT persons called to ministry in the ELCA.

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Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to

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