ATLANTA — A gay Atlanta pastor and his partner who have been at the center of a battle over the treatment of gay clergy by the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination are being reinstated to the group’s clergy roster, church officials announced yesterday.
The Rev. Bradley Schmeling and his partner, the Rev. Darin Easler, have been approved for reinstatement, the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said in a news release. The approval came roughly eight months after the denomination voted to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, and just weeks after the ELCA’s church council officially revised the policy on gay ministers.
Schmeling, who serves as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, was removed from the clergy roster in 2007 for being in a same-sex relationship with Easler. A disciplinary committee ruled that Schmeling was violating an ELCA policy regarding the sexual conduct of pastors.