News from Germany:
Protestant churches in northern Germany have voted to allow gay pastors to live in church residences with their same-sex partners for the first time.
The rule change from the two-year-old Northern Church – a union of Protestant churches – was voted in almost unanimously by a summit in Lübeck on Friday by 156 votes to two.
It states that as long as a prospective pastor and his or her same-sex partner are in a “recognized life partnership” (the equivalent of a UK civil partnership), the pair are to be treated the same as heterosexual couples when being considered for entering a parish residence.
The right to live in the clergy’s residence is a “symbol” according to Pastor Mathias Benckert, a spokesman for the Northern Church.
Benckert told The Local: “The principles of trust, care, reliability and commitment, all the things that would need to be part of a pastor’s marriage – these things also go for a registered life partnership,” he said.
The rules guaranteed that clergy, whether gay or straight, would only be chosen if the parish council and the regional supervisor, whose job it is to nominate them, agreed.
The model allows conservative and liberal elements of the church to form a consensus, Benckert said, as if the congregation is not happy with a prospective clergyman or woman, they will not be selected.
– full report at The Local