St. Matthew Lutheran votes to stay in denomination

St. Matthew Lutheran Church members voted 99-54 today to remain in their denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is the only church in the ELCA in Columbus.

In order to begin the process of severing ties with the ELCA, there would've had to have been a two-thirds majority.

The vote came about five months after the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis passed measures to allow for partnered and committed gay clergy to serve in the denomination. However, the resolutions are not binding on congregations.

St. Matthew is in the Southeastern Synod, which takes in four states: Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. It's led by Bishop Julian Gordy, elected in 2007.

Nine other churches throughout the synod have taken such a vote. Four of them, all in Georgia, met the required two-thirds. Five voted it down, like St. Matthew.

Three are on or near the Georgia coast and one is in Haralson, Ga. The four churches voting to leave are now in a required 90-day period of consultation with the Synod. Then they will each take a second vote, which also requires two-thirds' majority.

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