The nation's largest Presbyterian organization has reversed a 14-year-old policy that bans openly gay members from the ministry.
The Presbyterian Church USA needed a majority of its regional governing bodies to approve the change.
It reached that majority Tuesday night when the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area approved an amendment to the church's constitution.
Ministers and elders meeting in St. Louis Park voted 205 to 56 to OK the change.
Cindy Bolbach, moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA, said the amendment allows decisions about gay clergy to be made locally.
"This amendment does not require any session or presbytery to ordain a gay and lesbian person," she said. "It leaves it up to the discretion of the local body, which knows the person best."
People both for and against allowing openly gay clergy citied scripture for their decisions.
The Rev. Andy Lindahl of Austin, Minn., voted no.
"I believe we are fundamentally created in God's image, not in the image of our sexual preference. And we must all hold to the same standard of moral purity," said Lindahl.
The new policy takes effect July 10.
The Presbyterian Church USA has 11 thousand congregations nationwide with about 2.8 million members, according to its website.