A church court has decided that a gay man may remain in his position as elder.

The decision Tuesday by the highest court of the 2.6 million-member Presbyterian Church ended a legal battle over Ray Whetstone's homosexuality.Fellow church member Ronald Wier filed a complaint against Whetstone after his ordination in January 1996. Wier cited a church law that banned gays from ordained ministry.

The Permanent Judicial Commission ruled that while the ordination was "irregular," the panel lacked the authority to annul the position.