Pastor On Trial

Resource Center

Another gay pastor has been removed from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA.) On August 8, 2006, Pastor Bradley Schmeling was charged for falling in love and living with his life partner Darin.  On July 2, 2007 he was removed from the ELCA clergy roster.

As an ELCA Pastor who was myself removed from candidacy during my seminary training, (excerpt from Straight Into Gay America)  I will provide this resource center as one way of working for the end of LGBT discrimination.

Latest News:

(Read the Update)

(July 2) Removal
(Read the Update)

(June 1) Appeal
(Read the Update)

(February 7) Jury Decision
Read the full text

(December 20) Trial Date Set
January 19.  See St. John's website for details.

(November 21) Pre-Trial Update by Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned, North America.  Click to View

(October 6):
Blog Dialog
begins with UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY by Lutheran Pastor Dr. David Glesne.  Read The Posts.

(Sep 28): 
Pastor Joyce Arnold: 
Ordained: 1987:  Expelled:  1995
     In recognition of her excellent skills as a pastor, Joyce Arnold, received a request in 1994 from newly elected Bishop Ron Warren. "Will you serve as my assistant?" 
     For years Pastor Arnold had been serving as a "selectively out", celibate, lesbian pastor.  Having newly fallen in love with her partner, Pastor Arnold knew she would tell Bishop Warren of her partnership.  The reaction was swift; no conversation, just an ultimatum, "either resign or be removed from the roster." 
     As Pastor Arnold writes, "Now I knew what it felt like to be cast out."

Read the PDF Essay

News Release from Lutherans Concerned North America (LCNA):  (LCNA is an equal rights advocacy organization which leads the Reconciling in Christ Program of accepting and welcoming churches in the ELCA)

(August 9) Bishop Ronald Warren of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) filed formal charges against Pastor Bradley Schmeling of St. John's Lutheran Church, Atlanta, Georgia, for being in violation of ELCA "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline..." for ordained ministers. Bradley is charged with behavior incompatible with the character of the ministerial office for being in a committed relationship with Darin Easler, formerly an ELCA pastor, already removed from the roster because of their relationship.

The charges were filed with the Secretary of the ELCA, Lowell Almen, on August 8, 2006. Bradley has refused to resign from the ELCA clergy roster or from being pastor of St. John's, so the matter will go to a disciplinary hearing in accordance with Chapter 20 of the ELCA constitution. Disciplinary hearing is the term used in the constitution for an ecclesiastical court, and does not involve the civil courts.

The next step in the process is the selection of a jury of 12, the Disciplinary Hearing Committee, six from a national pool of the ELCA and six from the Southeastern Synod. Bradley has the right to pick two of the national pool jurors. The ELCA selects the other 10. Bradley has the right to reject one of the ELCA selected jurors.

Once the jury selection is completed, the ELCA will hold the hearing within 60 days and render a finding within 15 days of the completion of the hearing.

The church council and congregation of St. John's stand behind Bradley and Darin, have welcomed Darin into the congregation, and held a party when Bradley and Darin announced their commitment to their relationship.

Reflecting on the charges and upcoming process, Bradley said, "I am absolutely committed to being part of this process in a way that points to the love of Christ, and absolutely clear about my decision not to resign. I feel great clarity in the goodness of God. This disciplinary process will provide a means to move the church forward in its understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It will provide a means to witness to the gifts of gay clergy and to demonstrate the destructive consequences of the church's current policy. I'm determined to win the case, praying that the jury will understand that this is a time for understanding and restraint. This is not a time in the church's history when a contested policy that is inconsistent with the Lutheran confessions should be enforced. I ask for your prayers for Darin and I, for the congregation of St. John's, for the Bishop and those who will be involved in this process, and for the ELCA, our church."

Phil Soucy
Director Communications LC/NA

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Pastor On Trial Announcement


Also, check
Straight Into Gay America Blog for regular entries.


St. John's Lutheran Church, Atlanta, GA


The Jury's Decision:  The jury asks for a change in church policy to allow gay and lesbian partnered pastors to be able to serve.

The Charge of Bishop Ron Warren
Read more about the
Southeastern Synod of the ELCA, including Bishop Warrens Pastoral Letters on Human Sexuality

The LCNA Announcement
Read more about LCNA
, and the Reconciling in Christ programing of welcoming and affirming congregations in the ELCA.

Important dates and events beginning with the filing of charges on August 8.

In The News: Media Reports

Contacts for Advocacy: 
Write letters and emails of support for justice. 

Organization List:
Website listing of organizations involved in the trial, and organizations working for equality in the ELCA and other denominations.

History: ELCA and Homosexuality
A brief compilation of events since the ELCA's founding in 1988


Straight Into Gay America:
My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights.
by Lars Clausen
(Soulscapers, 2006)