The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America should officially maintain its traditional position against same-sex blessing ceremonies and ministers involved in homosexual relationships, said a recommendation submitted by a 14-member panel, reported the Associated Press.
The panel, consisting of clergy, seminary professors and lay people, also recommended that the five-million member ELCA tolerate homosexuals within their congregations.
The Jan. 12 report acknowledged that the church faces a "pervasive" disagreement over homosexuality. However, it asked members to find "ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements."
Rev. James Childs Jr., who directed the panel, told the AP that the panel's approach favors "pastoral discretion" over legislation.
The panel's chair, Bishop Margaret Payne, told the AP that if the panel's recommendations are adopted, bishops of the 65 synods might follow differing policies toward homosexual ministers that have partners.
She added that "there's no way of knowing" how many congregations provide same-sex blessing ceremonies, but the report emphasizes that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
In recent months, the Lutheran bishops took action against a congregation in San Bernardino, Calif., and another Minneapolis that had homosexual associate pastors.