UPDATE: One church has left voluntarily and another voted out over human sexuality.
UPDATE (July 5): The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) has removed Awaken Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, over “policies and practices that are inconsistent with the denomination’s human sexuality guidelines.”
Delegates to the ECC annual gathering voted the church out on June 30. Awaken—which allows for same-sex marriage and the full participation of LGBT members in church life—is the second church in the ECC’s history to be removed involuntarily.
Weeks before the meeting, Quest Church, in Seattle, decided to voluntarily remove itself from the ECC over LGBT inclusion rather than face a vote at the meeting. In its letter announcing its withdrawal, Quest’s pastor Gail Song Bantum said ECC “has become a space that prioritizes doctrinal uniformity on a singular issue over relational unity in areas that are non-essentials of faith.”
“We are always grieved when fellowship is broken,” said Tim Rodgers, chair of the Covenant Executive Board, after the vote on Awaken Church’s removal. “We pray for God’s blessing on Awaken and the Covenant Church as we each continue to join God in mission.”
“Having a position, as we know in all other aspects of life, does not does not prevent us from loving people well and growing in love for others,” said ECC President Tammy Swanson-Dranheim to the annual gathering.
The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) does not ask its pastors to subscribe to extensive statements of faith. The denomination wants church leaders to unify around six essential doctrines concerning salvation, the Bible, the significance and mission of the church, the role of the Holy Spirit, and freedom in Christ.
And since 2015, …