Mission Friends for Inclusion

Rev. Dan Collison Suspended

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May 2018

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Dear friends,

With permission of the Leadership Team at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN, we share two documents that detail their pastor’s immediate suspension from ministry due to “accumulated leadership and teaching infringements” regarding human sexuality and their response.

The May 17 letter to Rev. Dan Collison from the Evangelical Covenant Church Develop Leaders department (which oversees the ministerium) notes that Rev. Collison has “tacitly endorsed/participated in the approval of policies and practices in direct contradiction to the guidelines.” Of note, Rev. Collison has not officiated a same-sex marriage. To learn more about the Guidelines, see our January 2018 petition, signed by more than 5,000 individuals, which called for suspension of those guidelines.

The second document is a May 21 response from the FCC Leadership Team that respectfully disagrees with letter of suspension. It is a thoughtful, Christian response and we urge you to read it.

Rev. Collison will meet with the Board of Ordered Ministry just before the Annual Meeting in June.

At this time, we urge you to keep him, his family, his Leadership Team, and all of FCC in your prayers, along with Rev. Judy Howard Peterson and Rev. Steve Armfield.

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2 Responses to “Rev. Dan Collison Suspended”

  1. Mike Christenson

    Dan is a Christian witness. Jesus Christ ministered to the poor, washed their feet, and lifted them up. Nobody in the ministry does more to live out the modern teachings of Jesus. He has organized employers around the Minneapolis tradition of launching immigrants in careers, he has brought so much hope for those who live in the margins, and he has fiercely advocated for once-homeless youth who now settle into St. Barnabas—39 units right across from the church.
    I would like to testify to his acts of kindness and hospitality before this decision is finalized. May I be heard?

  2. Alan Bjorkman

    While we adhere to the Word of God as a primary and fundamental foundation of faith, I note that over the life of the Christian church, fine Christian brothers and sisters in good standing in their respective churches, reading the same bible, with same serious, sober Holy Spirit conclusions and, yet come up with completely opposite or differing views on issues that, at the time, were deemed fundamental to the faith. In many cases the issues were resolved to the satisfaction of the majority and we moved on. Those who ended up on the “losing” side either quieted down or left to find Christian affinity groups in keeping with their faith conclusions.

    Pick any historical or current biblical debate: slavery, temperance, evolution/creation, ordination of women and human sexuality, what can possibly account for such differences? If I conclude that the other views are from flawed faith or reading of God’s Word, I place myself in a position of being the judge of another persons faith journey. There must be another driver if you will, a deeper driver that most influences such differing conclusions.

    I posit that the true drivers are the cultural and societal shifts, through which we grow up in, are steeped in, and are continually influenced by.

    North Park University had a wonderful April symposium put on by two fine Christian theologians who were invited due to their fundamentally differing views on same sex marriage. One had gone thru a multiyear experience supporting their child who had just come out years prior and, the other speaker was a theologian who is gay. It was crystal clear each came to different views reading the very same bible, interpreting the same verses differently, but, I posit, it was their cultural and societal background that truly drove their differences.

    The ECC is now in the middle of vast and deep cultural shifts in the secular society and clearly in the Christian church regarding same sex marriage. These forces are powerfully driving and forcing the church to spend valuable time responding to these changes. Only two things can happen. One, the church will have to shift in some way to allow for considering or making room for alternative practices on human sexuality. A result will be church disruption as more than a few churches bail out of the ECC and leave a nightmare of diminished budgets and administrative issues. Or two, in deep fear of the trauma of change, maintain a purity on human sexuality, resulting in a slow hemorrhage and shift of individuals and some churches away from the ECC to find affinity in other denominations.

    Having grown up in the ECC, and now fully participating in the welcoming, mentoring, advising, teaching, all inclusive, open arms stance of North Park University to LGBT (and all) students, I find it utterly embarrassing and deeply unethical to do all of the above but in the end say, “sorry, my church cannot accept you fully as a human being when you desire a Christian lifelong same sex attraction and relationship.”

    For me, the idea that “Jesus’ Infinite, all encompassing Love Triumphs over all” is the only guide we need. Such a simple powerful concept. A very hard thing to even discuss when the entire ministerial leadership of the ECC has a pre-determined view by ordination vow to support and to never question the status quo without fear of ministerial sanction or “spiritual counseling”.

    May Jesus’ love somehow surround and lift us so we can move along on this to a more inclusive future.

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