The Committee on Appeals of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) ruled July 2 in favor of an appeal by the Rev. Ronald B. Warren, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, who sought removal of Bradley E. Schmeling, Atlanta, from the official clergy roster of the ELCA. The appeals committee ruled that Schmeling was to be removed immediately from the roster, upholding the determination by a disciplinary hearing committee that Schmeling was in violation of the ELCA policy regarding the sexual conduct of its pastors.
Decisions of the Committee on Appeals are not made public by the ELCA churchwide organization. According to the ELCA Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions, summaries of decisions are to be reported to the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the church’s highest legislative authority, which will be here at Navy Pier Aug. 6-11. In this case, the decision of the Committee on Appeals was released July 5 by Warren and posted on the synod’s Web site, and it was released at a July 5 news conference at St. John Lutheran Church, Atlanta, the congregation Schmeling has served since 2000.
In the ELCA policy document “Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA,” it states: “Single ordained ministers are expected to live a chaste life. Married ordained ministers are expected to live in fidelity to their spouses, giving expression to sexual intimacy within a marriage relationship that is mutual, chaste, and faithful. Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.”