Mission Friends for Inclusion

ECC sends a message regarding same-sex weddings


Dec 2017


At 5:03pm Central Time on Friday, December 29, the ECC sent an email titled “A Pastoral Message on Covenant Clergy and Same-Sex Weddings.” The entire text follows:

Dear Friends,

This is about the subject of Covenant clergy officiating at same-sex weddings.

We write with humility, acknowledging these are complex days and feelings run strong. We do truly desire to be people who pastorally care for all, including the LGBTQ community, and are saddened when LGBTQ members are pained by the actions of Christians, including experiences within the Covenant. We desire to do better and be better.

Even so, we believe that a loving God lovingly instructs us, even through cautions and limitations. That belief informs the Covenant’s position on human sexuality and the marriage ethic. You are familiar with it, the core of which is this:

Faithfulness in heterosexual marriage, celibacy in singleness—these constitute the Christian standard.

You are also familiar that Covenant clergy are not permitted to officiate at same-sex weddings. A Covenant pastor’s credential is not one’s own. It is extended in trust by the Covenant, which both authorizes and limits aspects of its use.

That granted trust means that Covenant pastors are expected to apply self-accountability. If not, and a person violates the stated prohibition, the person becomes subject to the care and discipline processes of the Ordered Ministry. This can include suspension of one’s credential until the next meeting of the Board of the Ordered Ministry. Suspension is never entered into lightly or without engagement with the individual together exploring various ways forward. If suspension occurs, the Board determines what course will take place from there. This can include the continuation of the suspension, modifications to the suspension, the lifting of the suspension, and/or the recommendation to the Covenant Annual Meeting that one’s name be removed from the roster of Covenant pastors. Through it all, Ordered Ministry and the Board hope for pathways towards restoration when possible.

Please also be reminded of available resources. Guidelines for Covenant Clergy and Congregations Regarding Human Sexuality identifies guidance for Covenant pastors and congregations. Freedom and Responsibility provides a reflection guide when personal dissonance grows regarding a Covenant position or practice.

Finally, as we navigate these difficult times, we are determined not to lose sight of the humanity of the individuals involved. As followers of Christ, we acknowledge our own fallibility as we seek to love and pastorally care for everyone. We will never minimize or take for granted the great value and contribution of faithful sisters and brothers in Christ who have devoted their lives to the mission of the gospel. Though we all may currently “see through a glass dimly” as we best discern on these complicated matters, our foundational call is to receive and extend the love of Christ.

May our hearts be tender to those we serve, and to one another.

Richard Lucco,
Interim Executive Minister of Develop Leaders

Steve Wong,
Chair of the Board of Ordered Ministry

Gary Walter,
President of the Evangelical Covenant Church

While we appreciate comments and respectful dialogue on social media, it is important that you share your thoughts with the Board of Ordered Ministry in a respectful and Covenant manner. Send a message to all five emails listed below in the next two weeks before they meet. Request that your message be shared with the entire board. It can be a quick note explaining how this affects or matters to you.

In addition, volunteer to be a delegate to represent your Covenant church at the denomination’s Annual Meeting June 21-23 in Minneapolis (you must be a member/partner). Delegates will be voting on a new denomination president and North Park University president as well as resolutions and pastoral matters. Touch base with your pastor, church council or leadership team ASAP! Fundraising may be necessary.

You can help make a difference.

Board of Ordered Ministry officials:
Steve Wong
Chair of the Board of Ordered Ministry

Mark Pattie
Secretary of the Board of Ordered Ministry

Catherine Gilliard
President of the Covenant Ministerium

Richard Lucco
Interim Executive Minister of Develop Leaders

Gary Walter
President of the Evangelical Covenant Church

2 Responses to “ECC sends a message regarding same-sex weddings”

  1. Thomas Smith

    I am in full support of Rev. Judy Peterson’s action and commend her action as a “pioneer” in this area of the Christian’s faith journey in today’s world in which we as Christians are called by Christ to love one another.

  2. Karen Benson

    I am in full support of Judy Howard’s position. We are all one in Christ! I look to Jesus and how he accepted the marginal in His time. We can do no less.

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