Reuters reports:The largest American Lutheran denomination cleared the way on Friday to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve in ministry, ending a policy that had opened leadership posts to them only if they remained celibate.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also encouraged its congregations to find ways to support or recognize members in "accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."
But it did not give official sanction to gay marriage or approve any rites for such ceremonies.
Still, the stance taken by the 4.6-million-member church is one of the most liberal by any U.S. denomination on matters of sexual orientation, which are among the most divisive political and religious issues in America today.
The church adopted the resolution at its biennial meeting in Minneapolis.