LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Southern California's ranking Lutheran bishop announced he would resign a month before his term ends for participating in the ordination of a non-celibate lesbian in St. Paul, Minn.
Admitting "ecclesiastical disobedience," Bishop Paul W. Egertson said he would step down July 31. His six-year term ends Aug. 31; he had not been expected to seek re-election.
Last month, Egertson, whose son is gay, became the first active bishop in the 5.1-million-member Evange-lical Lutheran Church in America -- the nation's largest Lutheran body -- to join in the ordination of a non-celibate gay or lesbian.
Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson, who had asked Egertson to resign, called his decision honorable.
"I respect Bishop Egertson's integrity and his beliefs," Anderson said. "I do, however, regret that he participated in the ordination of a candidate who was not approved for ordination in the church, and therefore, violated church policy."
The church ordains homosexuals only if they remain celibate.
Anita Hill, who is in a relationship with another woman, was ordained by Egertson and others in St. Paul.
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