Lutheran churches drops affiliation, citing acceptance of gay pastors

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Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - Ryan Brooker

MARION, Ill. - The debate over whether to allow gay pastors in Lutheran churches isn't a topic of normal discussion during many Sunday morning church services, that is until recently.

"One way to respond to that is to leave the organization and these churches are choosing that very drastic way," said Pastor Marlin Otte.

He put the future of his church, Our Redeemer Luthern Church of Marion, in the hands of his 200 members who voted this summer not to sever ties with the national church.

"In effect, the national church said we will agree to disagree. There's some who think this is acceptable and some who think it is not, but now there will be an opportunity for both to exist."

But other Illinois churches began the separation process years ago. Pastor James Lehmann of an east Illinois church said his congregation first got the ball rolling in 2001.

"I would say I would probably stay with the congregation if they decided to stay but they made the right decision to leave," Lehmann told Local 6.

His church is now part of the new American Lutheran Church formed earlier this year.

Pastor Otte compares this to the issue of abortion that nearly separated churches in the early 2000s but he is reminding all Christians about the core values of their various beliefs.

"The central issue of caring and sharing the gospel can overcome all those differences."

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