Mission Friends for Inclusion

Regarding Prayer and Blessings, a Letter to the Board of Ordered Ministry

20

Mar 2019

1

Dear Board Members,

I am a retired Covenant pastor and wish to make a formal request that The Board of Ordered Ministry withdraw the rules that forbid clergy to pray or offer words of blessing at a same-gender wedding. I am convinced that these rules are compromising our ministries and I know that a good number of Covenant clergy agree.

I’ve been making this argument for some time but found myself a bit surprised to recently learn that Bill Henson is also advocating for pastors to attend same-gender weddings as well as to count it a privilege to be asked to pray or offer a word of blessing.

In other words, Bill Henson, the person who has been leading workshops across the country for Covenant clergy is encouraging pastors to do the very thing that we are forbidden to do. And if truth be told, his well reasoned and gracious words stand in sharp contrast to the rules of The Board of Ordered Ministry. One such example that goes to the heart of the matter is a quote Henson includes in his book of ‘the prayer an evangelical pastor prayed at his son’s wedding’. It reads as follows;

Lord, we gather today in our deep love for David and Caleb. We welcome Caleb and his family into our family. We thank you for Caleb’s family and their love for us. We thank you for giving both of our families two incredible sons who are intelligent, talented, and sacrificial in their service to others. We thank you for all of our faithful friends who join us today. We thank you most of all for giving your son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. May each one of us know Him more and more as the days of our lives pass. May each one of us discover the incredible plans and purposes You have appointed for our lives. Bless David and Caleb. Shower them with love. Grow their faith. Fill their hearts. Develop your purposes in their lives. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

as cited by Bill Hensen, Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones: For Every Pastor and Parent and All Who Care (2nd ed.), 2019, p. 67

As I read this prayer I found my own heart aching at the thought that a Covenant pastor will likely lose his or her credentials if they offer such gracious and loving words at their own child’s or grandchild’s wedding… or anyone else’s wedding for that matter. The injustice of it all is painstakingly obvious.

It is my hope and prayer therefore, that The Board of Ordered Ministry will find a way to withdraw these rules and instead use its voice to encourage pastors to be a people of prayer and blessing.

Blessings,

Richard (Dick) Nystrom

Sent March 9, 2019