Suspend ECC Guidelines on Human Sexuality

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In light of recent events, we are petitioning the Board of Ordered Ministry of The Evangelical Covenant Church (the body which supervises all clergy in the denomination) to consider the following three requests.

We invite all who have connections (current or former) to the Evangelical Covenant Church or North Park University, to read this carefully and sign as you are called to do so. Please note your connection in the “I’m signing because...” box (or if you're on your phone, as a comment here after you sign).

 

TO: The Board of Ordered Ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church

Greetings,

We begin with a prayer for each of you in the challenges you face, and we are grateful for your care for the church and its clergy. We also recommit our pledge to support the work done to glorify God by the Evangelical Covenant Church and through its affiliates. Finally, we must express our grief that recent actions have created so much division in our beloved denomination.

This petition asks you to do three things:

  1. Suspend existing pastoral guidelines regarding human sexuality as they were not vetted as required by the annual meeting of the Ministerium (a community of all Covenant clergy and consecrated missionaries), and because the guidelines stand in opposition to the Ethical Principles for those serving in Vocational Ministry in the ECC.
  2. Provide opportunity for pastoral guidelines regarding human sexuality to be discussed fully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully by both lay people and clergy with all views represented. Once revised as appropriate, these guidelines would be incorporated through due process approval by the Ministerium.
  3. For the duration of this process, reverse/suspend any punitive actions against clergy initiated under the existing pastoral guidelines regarding human sexuality to permit them to continue to fully serve their congregations and/or constituents as well as other ministries in which they are involved.

As Covenanters, we are united in Christ as revealed through Holy Scripture. We are not united by a policy, resolution, or resource. Throughout our history, when we have had differences of opinion, our recourse is always to look to Scripture. And when we do so, it is to engage deeply with the Word in an open, respectful, and trusting dialogue with other believers, not to establish a policy created by a few.

Through that deep engagement in dialogue, we may become more convinced about long-held positions, but we may also be led to broaden our viewpoints and humbly understand others’ perspectives. But always, we have allowed great latitude in our various understandings of Scripture, believing together that the text is the vibrant, living Word of God. These guidelines have caused great divisions as they isolate, penalize, and dismiss those who, in faithful reading of Scripture, hold differing understandings.

As the Preamble to the Covenant Constitution and Bylaws states, “Our common experience of God’s grace and love in Jesus Christ continues to sustain the Evangelical Covenant Church as an interdependent body of believers that recognizes but transcends our theological differences.”

We call on this Board to remember that holding in tension those issues that may divide us in matters of doctrine and conduct must be balanced with a concern for unity of mission and love of Christ. The corporate seal of the Evangelical Covenant Church, first adopted at the organizational meeting in 1885, shows two hands shaking and the Latin motto “conjuncti in Christo,” or, joined together in Christ. Again, we remember that our unity is in Christ.

We urge you to create opportunities for our entire denomination to engage in vital, respectful, and thoughtful conversations around human sexuality that includes LGBTQ individuals and their allies without fear of reprisal so we may become the healthy church Christ longs for us to be.

We long for open and free conversation with each other. We long for the day when the Covenant can fully embrace all of its family. We believe there is a way for the ECC to remain united even as we have done with our differing understandings of the sacrament of baptism.

We, signed below, respectfully ask you to suspend these guidelines for review and due process, move toward restoration with those who have been harmed and suspended by these guidelines, and model for the world how Christian dialogue works to further the kingdom of God.

May God continue to bless your work,

Your family in Christ (signed here below)

 

Please note your connection to the Evangelical Covenant Church or North Park University in the “I’m signing because...” box (or if you're on your phone, as a comment here after you sign).

If you would like to respectfully and privately share your personal thoughts on this matter, please email the following individuals:

Steve Wong
Chair of the Board of Ordered Ministry
steve@graceconnections.com

Mark Pattie
Secretary of the Board of Ordered Ministry
mpattie@salem-covenant.church

Catherine Gilliard
President of the Covenant Ministerium
trailblazing@comcast.net

Richard Lucco
Interim Executive Minister of Develop Leaders
richard.lucco@covchurch.org

Gary Walter
President of the Evangelical Covenant Church
president@covchurch.org



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