National Lutheran News

Discipline unit’s ruling appealed by both sides in roster status case

ELCA discipline committee gave both a gay clergyman and his bishop something to not to like

Both parties in a discipline case in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) filed appeals with the ELCA Committee on Appeals in early March, according to the ELCA Office of the Secretary.

The appeals were filed by the Rev. Bradley E. Schmeling, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Atlanta, who filed his appeal March 6, and the Rev. Ronald B. Warren, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, who appealed March 8.
Both were parties in a formal discipline hearing January 18-24 in Atlanta.

Warren filed formal charges in 2006 against Schmeling, who reported to Warren that he was in a committed relationship with another man (the Rev. Daren Easler, formerly of Minneapolis), a violation of the ELCA’s clergy standards.
Seven members of the 12-member discipline hearing committee voted to remove Schmeling from the ELCA clergy roster effective August 15. In addition, the committee’s written opinion made some specific suggestions for changes in ELCA clergy standards, and it suggested synod assemblies ask the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the church’s highest legislative authority, to consider proposals for change. The next assembly is August 6-11 at Navy Pier in Chicago.

The 12-member churchwide Committtee on Appeals will now consider the appeals. Written responses and rebuttals may be filed by the parties, and once the final statement is submitted, the committee has 60 days to render a decision in writing.