Atlanta The openly gay pastor of Atlanta's oldest Lutheran church has been removed from his denomination's clergy roster.
But the Rev. Bradley Schmeling said Thursday he will not leave the pulpit of St. John's Lutheran Church, a decision that could open the 350-member congregation to disciplinary action from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In a decision issued Monday, a 12-member appeals committee ruled 10-2 to immediately remove Schmeling from the clergy roster. An earlier panel's ruling had allowed the pastor to stay on the roster until Aug. 15.
By ELCA rules, Schmeling is now a lay person within the denomination who shouldn't wear a stole or perform sacraments, said Emily Eastwood of the Minnesota-based gay rights group Lutherans Concerned.