The Rev. Dan Collison, Senior Pastor at First Covenant Church, Minneapolis, wrote this open letter to his colleagues. We’re sharing it here with his permission.
Dear ECC Colleagues:
Along with Pastor Judy Peterson, I am appearing before the Board of Ordered Ministry in January. Although, not under discipline and not for performing a gay wedding. I was invited by Executive Minister Dick Lucco to have a clarifying conversation with the board and, as I said to Dick, “I am very pleased to have the opportunity.”
You see, First Covenant Church, Minneapolis is one of a handful of historic ECC congregations that pre-date the denomination. In the many seasons and re-births throughout its 143 year history First Covenant Minneapolis has not always embodied the best of our historic Covenant ethos. It has called pastors who denied our community the sacrament of infant baptism. In the 1990s FCC called a senior pastor who spoke vehemently against women in ministry. And, FCC has had seasons where segments of the congregation greatly disparaged people of color and despised LGBTQ individuals.
I am pleased to say that the season and moment of re-birth that I was called to participate in (I was called to be Senior Pastor in 2009) represents a return to a more historic Covenant, pietistic, and inclusive ethos. And, against some big odds is now a healthy, thriving, joyful, and (forgive the run on phrase) “filled-with-the-power-and-fruit-of-the-Holy-Spirit-Luke 4-kind-of-church” including LGBTQ church members, leaders, and staff who give powerful witness to Christ in our downtown Minneapolis context.
I ask for your prayers for the January 18 conversation with the board. And, I trust that all ordained ECC pastors will enter into this time of discernment, disagreement, and deliberation with extreme care and concern for the historic polity commitments that have helped us remain better together for decades all while permitting varied atonement and eschatological theories, baptismal practices, and even posturing of all kinds in regards to very important but secondary theological matters of baptism, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
For those who have an hour to listen or read a sermon manuscript that seeks to find a different starting point in this conversation–here is a link to my March 5, 2017 sermon titled “LGBTQ”.