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Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries

11/18/01 - By The Associated Press

Arlo David Peterson named pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

KEY WEST, Fla. -- A congregation has installed the first non-celibate gay Lutheran pastor in Florida, adding fuel to a national debate on the role sexually active homosexuals play in Protestant churches.

Arlo David Peterson was named pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Nov. 11, although unmarried people, including gay men and women, are allowed to be Lutheran pastors only if they vow to remain celibate.

"I've lived in the closet most of my life, but I came to Key West for the sake of my relationship," said Peterson, who was a Lutheran pastor for more than 20 years in New York and was named adjunct pastor at Holy Trinity in August 1999. "Being gay is not an issue here."

With his installation, Peterson joined more than a dozen gay or lesbian Lutheran pastors nationwide who are serving in defiance of church rules, said Greg Egertson, a board member of the Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministry, a national group that helps recruit, place, and independently certify gay and lesbian pastors.

Lutheran churches in California, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota have installed non-celibate gay pastors in recent years, despite warnings from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the nation's fifth-largest Protestant denomination.

News of Peterson's appointment elicited a sharp rebuke from the Tampa-based Florida-Bahamas Synod, the regional governing body of the denomination. His installation could result in a public censure by the synod. Penalties could range from a reprimand to Holy Trinity's removal from the church.

Full Story from the Miami Herald