In the Matter of Disciplinary		)
Proceedings Against the Rev.		)	SOUTHEASTERN IOWA SYNOD
Steven Paul Sabin			)


Pursuant to Chapter 20 of the Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing
Resolutions (CBCR) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), 
the undersigned synodical bishop, the Rev. Philip L. Hougen (Bishop 
Hougen) does hereby charge that the Rev. Steven Paul Sabin (Pastor 
Sabin), while serving as pastor at Lord of Life Lutheran Church (Lord of 
Life) in Ames, Iowa, has engaged in and is continuing to engage in a 
pattern of conduct incompatible with the character of the ministerial 
office in that Pastor Sabin has persisted for more than five years in an 
active homosexual relationship with a male partner. These charges are 
based upon the following facts and circumstances:

	1.	Section 20.21.01., of the CBCR provides that ordained 
ministers shall be subject to discipline for, among other things, conduct 
incompatible with the character of the ministerial office. On November 
19, 1989, and again in a revised version on December 5, 1993, the Church 
Council of the ELCA, under the authority of CBCR 20.71.11., adopted 
Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline of Ordained Ministers 
(Definitions and Guidelines), a document which defines conduct 
incompatible with the character of the ministerial office.

	2.	Definitions and Guidelines is a juridical document that 
describes the grounds on which ordained ministers may be subject to the 
disciplinary process of this church. With regard to sexual matters, 
Definitions and Guidelines states as follows:
The biblical understanding which this church affirms is that the 
normative setting for sexual intercourse is marriage. In keeping with 
this understanding, chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage 
are the norm. Adultery, promiscuity, the sexual abuse of another, or the 
misuse of counseling relationships for sexual favors constitute conduct 
that is incompatible with the standards for the rostered ministries of 
this church.
Practicing homosexual persons are precluded from the rostered ministries 
of this church.

	3.	On October 22, 1990, the ELCA Church Council adopted 
another document entitled Vision and Expectations...Ordained Ministers in 
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Vision and Expectations). 
Vision and Expectations is a document that states both the vision for 
ordained ministry in the life of this church and the high expectations 
its members have of those who serve in this ministry. With regard to 
sexual conduct, Vision and Expectations states as follows:

The expectation of this church regarding the sexual conduct of its 
ordained ministers are grounded in the understanding that human sexuality 
is a gift from God and that ordained ministers are to live in such a way 
as to honor this gift. Ordained ministers are expected to reject sexual 
promiscuity, the manipulation of others for purposes of sexual 
gratification, and all attempts of sexual seduction and sexual 
harassment, including taking physical or emotional advantage of others. 
Single ordained ministers are expected to live a chaste life. Married 
ordained ministers are expected to life in fidelity to their spouses, 
giving expression to sexual intimacy within a marriage relationship that 
is mutual, chaste, and faithful. Ordained ministers who are homosexual in 
their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual 

	4.	Pastor Sabin was ordained on June 30, 1985, into the 
ministry of the Lutheran Church in America, one of the predecessor church 
bodies to the ELCA. Pastor Sabin is presently on the clergy roster of the 
Southeastern Iowa Synod (Synod) of the ELCA.

	5.	Pastor Sabin's first and only call was to be pastor of 
Lord of Life in Ames, Iowa. He accepted that call and began serving Lord 
of Life in June of 1985. He continues to serve under call to Lord of 
Life, which is a congregation on the roster of the Synod and the ELCA.

	6.	During his service at Lord of Life, Pastor Sabin began 
dating a man who lived in San Francisco. That homosexual relationship 
continued and in 1995, Pastor Sabin's gay lover began living with the 
pastor in Ames, Iowa. Pastor Sabin and his gay partner, Karl von Uhl, 
attempted to keep their sexual relationship and their living arrangement 
a secret from Lord of Life and from the Synod and the ELCA.

	7.	On January 14, 1997, Bishop Hougen met with Pastor Sabin 
to discuss ecumenical issues and so that Pastor Sabin could inform Bishop 
Hougen that Pastor Sabin was interested in receiving a new call to 
another congregation. In response to Pastor Sabin's indicating that he 
was open to receiving another call, Bishop Hougen asked whether the rumor 
was true that Pastor Sabin was living in a gay relationship with another 
man. Pastor Sabin reluctantly admitted that it was true, at which point 
Bishop Hougen asked Pastor Sabin if he would resign from the clergy 
roster of the ELCA. Pastor Sabin indicated he needed time to consider the 

	8.	On January 16, 1997, Pastor Sabin wrote a letter to 
Bishop Hougen admitting that Karl von Uhl is his gay partner and 
asserting that Uhl is also his "spouse". Pastor Sabin further indicated 
that his understanding that ELCA clergy who are homosexual are expected 
to abstain from participating in homosexual relationships. He refused to 
state that he was willing to live in compliance with that requirement, 
and he refused to resign from the clergy roster. A copy of Pastor Sabin's 
entire letter to Bishop Hougen is attached hereto as Exhibit A.

	9.	The very next Sunday, January 19, 1997, Pastor Sabin, for 
the first time, admitted to his congregation at Lord of Life that he is a 
homosexual and is living with his gay partner. During services at Lord of 
Life that morning he introduced Karl von Uhl to the congregation as his 

	10.	After announcing to his congregation that he is a 
practicing homosexual, Pastor Sabin again met with Bishop Hougen and 
reasserted his refusal to resign from the clergy roster of the ELCA. 
Bishop Hougen attended a meeting of the Lord of Life congregation on 
January 26, 1997, at which time Pastor Sabin again reasserted his refusal 
to resign despite being in violation of the policies and procedures of 
the ELCA. On August 25, 1997, Bishop Hougen attended a conference meeting 
of the area clergy, which includes Pastor Sabin's congregation. Pastor 
Sabin was also in attendance at that meeting and publicly discussed his 
homosexuality and his same-sex relationship with his gay partner.

	11.	Pastor Sabin has participated in a publicity campaign 
proclaiming his status as a practicing homosexual and his disagreement 
with the policies and practices of the ELCA concerning homosexual clergy. 
Photographs of Pastor Sabin with his gay lover, accompanied by lengthy 
articles, have appeared in gay and lesbian publications and in general 
circulation newspapers, such as the Ames, Iowa, Daily Tribune.

	WHEREFORE, the Rev. Philip L. Hougen, bishop of the Southeastern 
Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, requests that a 
discipline hearing committee, in accordance with CBCR 20.21.02.c., impose 
upon the Rev. Steven Paul Sabin, the disciplinary action of removal from 
the ordained ministry of this church.