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Breakaway Lutherans to form new church

November 19, 2009|Associated Press

NEW BRIGHTON, MINN. — The split over gay clerics within the country's largest Lutheran denomination has prompted a conservative faction to begin forming a new Lutheran church body separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Leaders of Lutheran CORE, or Coalition for Renewal, said Wednesday that a working group would immediately begin drafting a constitution and taking other steps to form the denomination, with hopes to have it off the ground by August.

"There are many people within the ELCA who are very unhappy with what has happened," said the Rev. Paull Spring, chairman of Lutheran CORE and a retired ELCA bishop from State College, Pa.

At its annual convention in Minneapolis in August, ELCA delegates voted to lift a ban that had prohibited sexually active gay and lesbian pastors from serving as clerics. The new policy, expected to take effect in April, will allow such individuals to lead ELCA churches as long as they can show that they are in committed, lifelong relationships.

Opponents, led by Lutheran CORE, said that decision is in direct contradiction to Scripture.

At a September convention, Lutheran CORE members voted to spend a year considering whether to form a new Lutheran denomination. However, its leaders said Wednesday that a large number of requests for an alternative from disenfranchised congregations and churchgoers prompted them to hasten the process.

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