America’s largest LGBT rights organisation has welcomed the decision by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) to lift its ban on noncelibate lesbian and gay pastors.

This vote passed 559-451 and was followed by an earlier precedent shaping the decision to “allow congregations that choose to do so to recognise, support and hold publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

In addition a 2/3 majority voted to approve a social statement on human sexuality to acknowledge without judgment the wide variety of views within the ELCA regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion.

“By allowing for same-sex couples in committed relationships to serve their call to ministry and by creating policies that respects LGBT people in their congregations, ELCA is modelling for other religious communities what it means to be a faith community that honors all of God’s children,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“This is a joyous day for the LGBT Lutherans who no longer have to choose between their spirituality and their sexuality.”

“The Holy Spirit has moved powerfully in the community called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, working through the courageous advocacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our allies,” said Harry Knox, Director for HRC’s Religion and Faith Programme.

“Thanks be to God for our colleagues at Lutherans Concerned and all of the Goodsoil coalition!

“The ELCA has studied, prayed and listened to the witness of its LGBT sisters and brothers, and has come to consensus in community. This decision reflects the best of Lutheran tradition.”