National Lutheran News

Panel votes to remove Atlanta pastor, recommends changes in ELCA policy

The Rev. Bradley Schmeling lives with his parter, the Rev. Darin Easler

A discipline hearing committee of the ELCA ruled 7-5 on February 7 that the Rev. Bradley Schmeling, who serves St. John Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Georgia, be removed from the ELCA clergy roster effective August 15.

Schmeling earlier disclosed to his synod bishop, the Rev. Ronald Warren, that he is living in a committed same-gender relationship with the Rev. Darin Easler, formerly of Minneapolis.

The committee followed current rules governing clergy status in the ELCA in making their determination. But they declared, almost unanimously, that they believe two ELCA governing documents, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline” and “Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA” are bad policy and “may very well violate the constitution and bylaws of this church.”

The committee indicated it hoped the denomination would consider removing the language, “Practicing homosexual persons are precluded from the ordained ministry of this church.”
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly meets August 6-11 at Navy Pier in Chicago.