CHICAGO (AP) -- After months of debate, Bishop Charles Maahs, head of the Lutheran synod in Missouri and Kansas, censured Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Mo., for ordaining Donna Simon, who is a lesbian, to serve as its pastor.
The action bars Abiding Peace members from participating in certain church committees.
Last October, the nearly 40 members of Abiding Peace, a predominantly gay church, chose to defy the rules of the Evangelical Lutheran Church by installing Simon.
Simon's sexual orientation was not the issue. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with about 5 million members nationwide, allows gays and lesbians to be ordained as ministers if they promise lifelong celibacy.
Simon, 35, refused to make such a promise. Because of that, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America never officially approved her for ordination.
Maahs said one reason he decided not to expel the church is that he believes it is time to foster more discussion on the question of gay and lesbian pastors.
The denomination, he said, ''encourages this dialogue. I know the chief purpose of their calling and ordaining this pastor is really to be in mission and ministering. The thing that is important in all of this is that they have shown themselves to be people of good faith.''
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.