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From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Leaders of the country’s largest Lutheran denomination prayed for unity Monday as they waded into a weeklong debate over homosexuality and the clergy, while a rule change that would allow people in same-sex relationships to serve cleared its first hurdle.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is meeting this week in Minneapolis, is debating a proposal to allow individual congregations to hire gays and lesbians in committed relationships as clergy. A final vote is not expected until Friday.

But delegates on Monday rejected a move by critics of the proposal to require approval from a two-thirds supermajority instead of a simple majority when the measure comes to the final vote.

Supporters of the supermajority said a higher hurdle was needed to signal wide support for what they called a major change in the church’s approach to homosexuality. But the move received support from just 43 percent of the 1,045 voting delegates.

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