NewsOK, Oklahoma, looks at where the largest Protestant churches stand on gay and lesbian 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.
—AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES IN THE USA: 1.3 million U.S. members. Holds that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The Baptist tradition emphasizes local autonomy, and some churches have appointed openly gay ministers, creating tensions.
—UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: 1.1 million U.S. members. Boasts a long track record of welcoming gay clergy. Allowed ordination of an openly gay man and openly lesbian woman in the 1970s. Ordination of practicing homosexuals was officially accepted in 1980.