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Forum staff reports, Published May 04 2010

ELCA to reinstate two gay pastors

A gay Lutheran in Atlanta who was removed from the clergy roster for being in a relationship with a male pastor is in the process of being reinstated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Rev. Bradley Schmeling, who was ousted from the ELCA's clergy roster in 2007 for his homosexual relationship with Rev. Darin Easler, has been approved for reinstatement by the ELCA. The candidacy committee of the ELCA's Southeastern Synod, which is based in Atlanta, met April 24 and 25 and approved Schmeling's request for reinstatement.

The reinstatement becomes effective "once the paperwork has been filed," Schmeling said via an ELCA press release.

Easler is also being reinstated. The candidacy committee of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, which is based in Rochester, Minn., approved Easler's request for reinstatement April 30. Easler left his parish call at United Redeemer Lutheran Church, Zumbrota, Minn., in 2003. Since he was without a call for three years, Easler was removed from the ELCA clergy roster in 2006. He transferred to the United Church of Christ (UCC), working in hospice care as a bereavement coordinator. The ELCA and UCC are full communion partners.

Schmeling's case gained significant attention across the church and in the media when a disciplinary committee ruled that Schmeling was in violation of an ELCA policy regarding the sexual conduct of pastors.

Last year the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to allow individuals in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA clergy and professional lay leaders. The ELCA Church Council adopted the revisions to ministry policy documents April 10.