CHICAGO (AP) The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will soon release a draft of its social statement on human sexuality, including proposed teaching on gay relationships.
The document "Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality" is scheduled to be made public on March 13 by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality.
Like many other Protestant groups, the ELCA has been struggling for decades to reconcile different views of what the Bible says about same-gender relationships.
Current church standards require clergy to "abstain from homosexual sexual relationships." But last year the Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution that "urges and encourages" bishops to refrain from disciplining clergy in "faithful, committed" same-sex relationships.
The task force has been working on the issue for years. The final version of the document is expected to be on the agenda for the next Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 7-13, 2009, in Minneapolis.
With about 4.8 million members, the ELCA is the largest Lutheran group in the United States.
The 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, based in St. Louis, believes the Bible is literally true and does not ordain gays.