FT. MYERS, Fla. — Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America say "persons of homosexual orientation" seeking ordination or who already are ordained "are expected to refrain from homosexual practice."
The statement came after three senior seminarians at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary at Berkeley, Calif., announced that they are homosexual and have been assigned as pastoral candidates in West Coast synods.
Bishop Herbert W. Chilstrom, head of the denomination, said the church's ministry embraces all people, including homosexuals, but the church must set standards for those called as pastors.
He said the church draws a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual practice, and many denominations have clergy who may be homosexually oriented, but he added:
"The church will not ordain persons who engage in homosexual behavior nor will it permit such persons to be on the clergy roster if such practice is discovered."