Largest US Protestant churches on gay clergy

Associated Press Modified: February 27, 2010 at 6:41 pm •  Published: February 27, 2010

A look at where the largest Protestant churches in the United States stand on gay clergy:

—UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: 7.9 million U.S. members. The most conservative of the largest mainline denominations on gay clergy. An effort to repeal a ban on noncelibate gay clergy failed at the church's last General Conference, in 2008.

—EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA: 4.7 million U.S. members. The church voted in August to strike down a policy that required celibacy of gay clergy, becoming the largest U.S. denomination to take that position. The change allows those in committed same-gender relationships to be on official ELCA church rosters and serve as pastors at congregations that want them.

—PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (USA): 2.9 million U.S. members. Ministers must live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." The church's General Assembly voted in 2008 to drop that requirement, but the move did not receive required approval from presbyteries.

—EPISCOPAL CHURCH: 2.1 million U.S. members. The splintering global Anglican fellowship has moved to the brink of a full schism since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. Last July, the Episcopal General Convention approved a resolution saying "God has called and may call" gays in committed relationships to any ordained ministry in the church.

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