For churches, gay marriage divide sharpens


From the Des Moines Register. Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waukee (Iowa, USA) is five miles down the road from Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale.

But they have moved further apart, philosophically, since the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on April 3, 2009, to legalize same-sex marriage.

The dilemma for churches didn't start with the court's decision. Congregations have been praying and struggling for years. But in this last year, the debate sharpened, not only between denominations and congregations but often within individual churches.

In January, the Waukee congregation overwhelmingly voted to drop out of its denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) and join another Lutheran denomination. The congregation didn't agree with the ELCA decision to allow ordination of non-celibate gay pastors.

Immanuel became one of 17 ELCA congregations in Iowa and 276 nationwide to vote on leaving the denomination. Most voted to leave; some have not completed the voting process.

The parishioners at Walnut Hills United Methodist Church also took a church-wide vote, but with a very different result.

Their vote was overwhelming, too: Parishioners voted to become a "reconciling congregation," one of 10 United Methodist congregations in Iowa that have taken that step. It means their church not only welcomes gays and lesbians but accepts their sexual orientation as part of their human condition...

Read the full article in context at the Des Moines Register.

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