BY JEFF DIAMANT
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is expected to vote this week on whether to change its 20-year-old rule against ordaining gay clergy who are not celibate.
The 1,000 people gathered in Chicago for the weeklong Churchwide Assembly, which began yesterday, also will vote on whether pastors can bless same-sex unions.
Unlike the Episcopal Church of the United States, which nearly split in 2003 after ordaining an openly gay bishop, the 4.9 million-member Evangelical Lutheran denomination does not appear threatened by a formal rupture. Still, interested Lutherans have formed groups supporting or opposing changes.
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