Evangelical Lutherans in the Eastern North Dakota Synod rejected a resolution that would allow non-celibate gay pastors.
Delegates at the synod's 22nd annual assembly in Grand Forks, N.D., voted 187-167 on Sunday to narrowly defeat the measure.
The Rev. Rebecca Miller expressed clear opposition to changing ELCA's ordination policy, which currently bans non-celibate gays and lesbians from ordination.
"Yes, we are all created by God, and of course we all are loved by God. At the same time, we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves," Miller said, according to Grand Forks Herald.
"Our inner urges do not reveal what is right," she also noted, as reported by the local publication. "God's word reveals what is right."
Delegates at the May 2-3 assembly also approved a proposal asking the assembly to adopt the recently released "Social Statement on Human Sexuality" which was drawn up by a task force in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to provide a biblically and theologically based view on sexuality.
Among other things, the statement recognizes that that there is neither a consensus nor an emerging one in the denomination on homosexuality. The statement acknowledges that there are some in the church who believe same-gender sexual behavior is sinful and contrary to biblical teaching and others who do not believe Scripture addresses sexual orientation and relationships as they experience today and support same-gender relationships when lived out with "lifelong and monogamous commitments."
The sexuality statement as well as recommendations on ministry policies the task force has put forward will be considered by the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly in August.
Conservatives are opposed to the panel's recommendations toward policy changes that include allowing individual congregations to choose whether to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to be ordained.
"We contend that the recommendations proposed in Report and Recommendations, which advocate same-gender unions and the ordination of non-celibate homosexual persons, have little biblical, historical, or traditional support," said the Revs. Dr. Scott Suskovic, Corinne Johnson, and Carol S. Hendrix who describe themselves as the "minority voice" on the 27-member task force.