Mission Friends for Inclusion

Rev. Steve Armfield addresses potential involuntary dismissal

The ECC will also be reviewing the status of Rev. Steve Armfield’s credential before the upcoming Annual Meeting in Omaha. Rev. Armfield has written a letter to the Covenant Ministerium in hopes that all would read it before they meet in a couple weeks. He has given us permission to share it so that it can reach a wider audience.

13 Responses to “Rev. Steve Armfield addresses potential involuntary dismissal”

  1. Bonnie T. Summers

    Deep thanks to Rev. Steve Armfield for your long process of soul searching, for your ministry and for sharing this letter publicly. I pray the vote is to fully reinstate your ECC credentials and for the denomination to further open dialogue and practices in keeping with God’s love for all—as I believe in my heart of hearts the body of Covenanters wants to do. Thanks too to mf4i for sharing the letter and other key information here.

  2. Elsie V Martin

    Rev. Armfeld’s letter is an expression of his authentic feelings regarding the scripture and law. In these times we have the option to exclude those who are different from our earlier expectations. Or we can grow in our viewpoints and recognize them as God’s children, also needing and wanting God’s love, grace, and redemption. It is my position that God’s blessing reaches all who profess salvation and the desire to serve him. The Mission Covenant Church has ministered in this way in the past and is capable of continuing for the future. Elsie Martin

  3. Janis Fritsch

    Pastor Steve,
    I applaud you for your stand. I am also very aware of Judy Peterson’s stand. The two of you have (in my humble opinion) shown by your actions, the love of Jesus. He walked with those with leprosy, prostitutes, etc.
    I understand this is a huge struggle and I do hope that you will find the peace of God that you deserve.
    Unfortunately, I don’t see the Covenant changing their mind any time soon. Their wheels move very slowly. And yes, I can say this after being in the Covenant for close to 60 years. I moved on because of the narrow views by certain members of the church that I attended. No it was not over the LGBT issue. I was divorced! (how dare I . . . even though 6 ministers and even one of the deacons of that church told me that I didn’t “have to stay with him”. When I was a kid the rules were no movies and not dancing – even as a quiet child I was not about to abide by those rules! We have so many “MAN MADE” rules that really are not biblically sound.

    I wish you and your family all the very best. That God will surround you with the love of other Christians that know you are being a Christ-like example for all.
    Janis (Carlson) Fritsch

  4. Kathleen Casey

    I am so grateful to those within the Covenant who have taken the stand for inclusion. It’s hard to know your actions, coming from a place of love and done in congruence with your true interpretation of biblical authority can cost the fellowship you have faithfully held for so long. It is a courageous thing to stand in the face of those consequences.
    Pastor Steve mentioned his change in hermeneutics in teaching on the subject, and I wish his changed teachings were available for those of us who are facing issues around inclusion. Pastor Steve, do you have a blog? My son will be marrying this fall to his wonderful same sex partner, and I face questions from other Christians about this. I always welcome more ways to help the change.

  5. Robert T. Leach

    I fully support the actions of Revs. Armsfield and Rev. Peterson. I have been a Covernanter for fifty years and I love my God and my church family, BUT, I am disappointed in the ECC’s actions.
    God bless,
    Bob Leach

  6. Robert McNaughton

    When I was interviewed by an ordination committee in 1962, one of the members (all of whom were Swedes) showed his surprise at a person with a name like McNaughton seeking ordination, and asked “Do you intend to stay with us?” I was taken aback, for he was assuming that I was only using Covenant ordination to get into ministry. I told the group that the Covenant was my home, and yes, I would be “staying.”

    And staying I have. I have fought the fights over baptism, women in ministry, and other matters, and together we have worked things out.

    Unfortunately, a few years ago a line was drawn in the sand by a decision that is now being called our “communally discerned position,” which is not accurate, nor should even a properly discerned position ever be eternally binding. Revelation is not once and forever to us mortals, but as we learn and grow, we see God, the creation, including human beings, and all things else come into focus a bit differently, from the earth moving around the sun, to New World, to science learning of creatures that mate for life, creatures that have many partners, creatures that easily change sex, to species that even have examples of life-long homosexual relationships.

    If we want to claim that we should take our cue from nature, then look at all of nature, with the patterns of relationship that we may want to see, as well as those patterns that surprise us.
    God is not bound to the Covenant’s line in the sand, and we will watch the tide roll in and wash away that horrible dividing line.

    God be with you, our dear colleague.

  7. Craig & Dotty Anderson

    Dear Steve,

    This is such a sad time for many of us life-long Covenanters. To think our beloved Covenant has become so judgmental and exclusionary that an esteemed pastor, godly servant of Christ, and loyal Covenanter serving us well over the years as you have done, Steve, should be put out of our ministerial fellowship for acting on your conscience and another interpretation of the biblical material, one that many of us also hold to. What has happened to the largess of spirit that marked our fellowship in earlier years? Please know of our love, esteem and regard, Steve. In the end we are all in God’s hands who knows, understands and blesses, even when the church we love and care deeply about apparently forsake their own.

  8. Leslie Scott

    I would like to lift my prayers and support for Pastor Steve Armfield and his congregation. My wife and I have been with the Covenant for years and both of our children grew up in it. We were encouraged by the discourse that was allowed between the congregations and in the denomination. Sadly with the events surrounding Pastor Judy Peterson we felt that the Covenant was no longer our true home. While there were those in the denomination that were willing to at least discuss where the church and individuals stand it quickly became apparent that true discussion was not really an option. Given the ECC stand at the last congregational meeting to stop all discussion about being an inclusive denomination it felt like a final seal on our leaving.

    Regardless of the outcome during the meeting know that you and your congregation are in our prayers. We believe truly that God wants us to love everyone unconditionally as he loves us. I believe that you are showing a true reflection of God’s love as you minister to everyone. Keep the faith and follow the leading of God in your heart.

  9. Craig Anderson

    God’s peace to you, Rev. Armfield. Thanks to you and to God for your faithfulness even if this is not recognized by some structures in the Church (I wanted to write “principalities and powers” but realize that would be unloving name calling to some of my siblings in Christ. I also note that often the P&P can be more quick to change and extend love and acceptance then many church people and structures. 🙂 🙁 ) FYI I am a cis-gendered monogamous faithful married heterosexual male who was born, raised and baptized (seconds before confirmation) in the ECC though for the last 35 years have worshiped in Mennonite churches and identified as a Mennonite, albeit one with a rare Swedish surname.

  10. Kurt Helgerson

    How does one find an address for the Board of Ordered Ministry or anyone else to whom they would like to send a letter?

    • Mission Friends 4 Inclusion

      Hi Kurt,

      If you have access to CovConnect, you can log in and get contact information from the Covenant Yearbook. The information is a year out of date, but the current officers are listed on the Covenant website.

      After the Board of Ordered Ministry decides, all Covenant clergy who attend the meeting in Omaha will get a vote.

  11. Kurt Helgerson

    And I am completely in support of your position and that of Judy Peterson. We just need to get letters out soon to people. Executive board? Who?

  12. David Smith

    Dear Steve,

    I remember when we met in Santa Barbara before you traveled to North Park Seminary in the 1970’s. Since that time I’ve watched your ministry unfold. You have faithfully, humbly and sacrificially served God as pastor all your adult life. Now in these recent years you have taken a stand for justice, intervening to honor and protect those the Covenant Church has dishonored and excluded. In other words, you have done exactly what Christ has called us to do. Now the Covenant Church, as has been done to prophets for millennia, has martyred you.

    I am in the midst of teaching an intensive study of John’s Apocalypse in the Episcopal Church where my wife is the priest. As you know, the first century church in the Roman Empire was tiny. Rome was all powerful. Christ’s message through John was that the church was to stand against the abusive power of Rome just as Christ, the slaughtered Lamb had done. The risk in making that witness was ostracism and martyrdom. As we see in Christ’s prophetic messages to the seven churches, those who were faithful in this witness were the heroes of the church and celebrated for all eternity.

    I can’t even imagine what this experience of being expelled from your calling by the church you have faithfully served is like for you and your family. It is such a betrayal. But in my eyes, you are a hero. You are the good and faithful servant of Christ. My prayers and full support are with you.

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