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Associated Press, Published September 24 2009

ELCA bishop warns on withholding donations

CHICAGO – The presiding bishop of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination warns that withholding financial support to protest a recent gay clergy vote would be “devastating” to the church.

Bishop Mark Hanson lays out his concerns in a letter Wednesday to leaders of the 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA voted last month to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, dropping a requirement that gay clergy remain celibate.

Hanson’s letter comes on the eve of a meeting in suburban Indianapolis of conservative ELCA group Lutheran CORE, which has urged supporters to “direct funding away from the national church” because of the vote.

Hanson says withholding funding would hurt the church’s mission.

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