The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which has become the latest denomination to lift a ban on gay clergy, announced this week that it is reinstating two gay pastors — a same-sex couple — to its clergy roster.

The Associated Press reports that the Rev. Bradley Schmeling was removed from the group’s roster in 2007 for being in a same-sex relationship — a violation of ELCA policy until the Church Council adopted revisions last month to allow “eligible Lutherans in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships” to serve as clergy.

His partner, the Rev. Darin Easler, whom he met at a church conference in 2004, had been removed from the clergy roster in 2006, and has worked in hospice care under the United Church of Christ.

According to the ELCA press release issued Tuesday, Schmeling plans to continue serving as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Atlanta congregation that had chosen to violate the ELCA ban for the past three years; Easler willl continue his hospice work, under the auspices of the ELCA.

No word on whether other reinstatements are in the pipeline, but Julia Duin of The Washington Times says more are expected as local churches adopt the revised policy. Check back for updates, and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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