Let’s start where we ended a month ago–in lament, in the desolate place–the place of scattered bones and blowing ashes. Our denomination broke its covenant with one of our founding churches, First Covenant Church of Minneapolis (FCCM), a church which historically defined what it meant to be Covenant. We banished 101 Covenant souls and removed their church from our denomination’s roster. This unprecedented act will reverberate throughout our history.
We also grieve the loss of two pastors who are our friends, Rev. Steve Armfield and Rev. Daniel Collison. It was a sacred honor to walk part of this last path with them. We pray for healing for them and for their families. For all of these folks, we pray that God will bless them and their ministries.
It may be helpful to consider the state of our denomination as a burning building. While the fire began some time ago, the winds of Gather 2019 fanned the flames to dangerous levels. Although these events were centered around human sexuality, the actual essence of our denominational identity has been compromised. Pietism is not a distraction but rather a foundation that makes, or rather made, the ECC unique among other denominations.
When a building is on fire, the first priority is to alert people to the danger and to usher them to safety. One of MF4i’s goals is to create safe spaces for LGBTQ Covenanters. It is clear that the denomination is not a safe space for many queer Covenanters. The votes to excommunicate have inflicted spiritual trauma even on those who were not part of FCCM. Some will yet need to leave, while others who stay will require support.
In addition to our safe space goal, we will continue the advocacy work that focuses on fighting the fire that prohibits the welcome of, care for, and embrace of any marginalized group of people. We strongly believe that the Church should represent the rich diversity of the Body of Christ, and we are thankful that the Anti-racism resolution passed the Ministerium Annual Meeting. We will be hosting conference calls this fall for allies who want to start conversations about broader inclusion in their individual Covenant churches.
Last year we began conversations around the country for MF4i-allied Covenanters to meet together to support each other in creating safe spaces and/or doing advocacy work. To join or start one of these groups in your area, please fill out this form.
Our call to you is to pray and to discern how you might become more involved–either through fighting fires or protecting people from them. As we consider the mandate to love mercy and do justice, we encourage you to contemplate what that means for you and your church through a variety of lenses. We thank God for giving us companions on this journey, and we look forward to following the Holy Spirit as we move forward together.