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Lutherans will allow gay clergy in same-sex relationships

It's a controversial move that's divided members of the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.

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Another major Christian denomination has taken a controversial step regarding gay clergy.

Meeting in Minneapolis, the 4.7-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) , the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States, voted Friday "to allow Lutherans in same-gender relationships to serve as pastors of congregations and serve in other professional leadership roles." Until now, only celibate gay men and lesbians could serve such church roles.

Three other major Protestant denominations – the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, and the United Methodist Church – recently have wrestled with the issue as well.

The ELCA's move is especially jarring and significant because "it is viewed by all of us as one of the more Reformation-rooted, broadly orthodox denominations" and takes its theology seriously, Richard Mouw, president of the multi-denominational and evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., told the Associated Press.

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