WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — The Southern Province Synod of the Moravian Church has approved a resolution which allows gay and lesbian ministers to marry.

The Rev. David Guthrie of Winston-Salem told the Winston-Salem Journal that before the recent decision, gay and lesbian ministers would have been expected to be single and celibate. The resolution now allows the ministers, along with all members of the church, to be married.

"We have not had restrictions about gay and lesbian members being ordained," Guthrie said. "Prior to this decision, they would have been expected to be single and celibate. This Synod's decision would allow them, along with all members, to be married."

A second resolution allows the leaders of individual churches to decide who will serve as pastors, who can be married in the church and who will be admitted as members.

The Rev. John D. Rights, the pastor of another Winston-Salem church, said the resolutions reflect Moravians' various beliefs.

"These two resolutions respect this diversity, while calling each of us to be open to accepting within the province the wedding of couples and the ordaining of individuals without consideration of sexual orientation," Rights said. "No doubt, the disagreement openly and passionately expressed on the floor of synod reflects the same disagreement that exists in the larger province between church boards, pastors, neighboring Moravian congregations and people worshipping together in the pew."

Brent Childers, the director of faith outreach for Equality NC, an advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, said the church's resolution on open discussion of LGBTQ issues is appropriate.

"Such dialogue inevitably leads to full affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals," Childers said.

Both resolutions were approved during a meeting of the synod in Black Mountain last month. The Southern Province consists of 55 Moravian churches in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

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Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com