Mission Friends for Inclusion

Where Is It Written?

Where is it written?

05

Jan 2018

13

The “Where Is It Written?” document below was written by retired Covenant pastor, Herbert Hedstrom and is shared with his permission. We hope it will be helpful as we Covenanters grapple with understanding the complex nuances of what it means to be Christian and Covenant.

“Where is it written?” or “What do the Scriptures say?” was first coined by P.P. Waldenstrom who helped form the Swedish Mission Covenant church, which greatly influenced the early Evangelical Covenant Church. He questioned the Lutheran state church’s definition of atonement – how we restore our broken relationship with God- that asserted humans owe God a debt for their sins. After a two-year Bible study, Waldenstrom argued that atonement actually blotted out our sin and was a way to reconcile our broken selves with God, rather than an appeasement of an angry God. We change; not God. God’s love does not need to be restored because he never stopped loving us. This scriptural vision of God became a rallying cry for early Covenanters who often quoted, “Where is it written?”


Where Is It Written?

Where is it written that any given Covenant policy will not or cannot be changed?
Where is it written that we will not or cannot discuss the ongoing appropriateness of the current ECC statements about sexuality and the policies based on those statements?
Where is it written that all conversation on the subject of sexuality must or should be carried out within the current statements and policy?
Where is it written that it is appropriate to tell congregations seeking membership in the ECC that the current statements and policies on sexuality will not be changed?
Where is it written that only one interpretation of Scripture regarding sexuality is admissible within the ECC?
Where is it written that Covenanters can disagree and differ in practice about the nature of the atonement, about the role, understanding, and timing of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and about eschatology, but not about human sexuality?
Where is it written that understandings of Scripture do not change and therefore need not be revisited? (Slavery, the subordination of women, the inadmissibility of divorce, and ineligibility of women for ordination were all once understood to be scriptural.)
Where is it written that the ECC owns North Park University?
Where is it written that anyone other than the Board of the Ordered Ministry has the authority to order ECC ministers to remove themselves from ministerial functions?
Where is it written that the advice of the Apostle Paul “it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion” has relevance only to heterosexual persons?
Where is it written that it is not important for ECC clergy and laity to gather in small groups to discuss fairly and at depth the various interpretations of the scripture passages often cited regarding human sexuality?
Where is it written that it is unnecessary to hear from LGBTQ persons themselves?
Where is it written that it is not appropriate to ponder the actual relationships within same-sex marriages?
Where is it written that policies and decisions cannot be suspended until time is given for a renewed and expanded conversation about human sexuality?

 

This is written: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Signed

Add your name

Herbert Hedstrom
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago, IL
I attended North Park Academy, (then) College, and Seminary. I’m a retired ECC pastor, and have served as Ministerium president, on the then Board of Ministry, as moderator of the Annual Meeting, and as the chair of the writing team for the most recent major revision of the ECC’s Constitution and Bylaws. And I love the Covenant’s Pietistic roots.
“I want there to be a free and open discussion on the topic mentioned in the document and on the whole subject of human sexuality. I believe our understandings in this area have grown explosively since the current ECC stance was adopted and it is time and past time for a new conversation. I’d in particular like to see face to face conversations and Bible studies that are inclusive of LBGTQ Covenanters as well as the rest of us.”

Philip Stenberg
Bethlehem Covenant Church, Minneapolis, MN
Retired Covenant pastor, Graduate of NP Seminary

Philip J. Anderson
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago, IL
Professor Emeritus of Church History
“I sign because these questions, in the spirit of P. P. Waldenstrom, beg for discussion and answers, and call us to account. The ECC is a church born of dissent; it has many resources from its origins and life to navigate this discussion well, and discern its lessons. All voices, expertise, and experience–lay and clergy–must be at the table, in the full light of day. “Examples speak more powerfully than precepts” (John Bunyan).”

Jolene Carlson
Pastor and my late husband was a Seminary professor
“It is the loving and right thing to do.”

George B Elia
Cape Cod Covenant Church, Brewster, MA
Ordained Minister (retired) & former Conference Supt.
“I believe this is an issue of compassion, mercy & justice.”

Kent D. Palmquist
Ordained: Word/Sac. Grad: NPU,NPTS

Craig E Anderson
Bay Indies Covenant Church, Venice, FL
Ordained minister and graduate (college/Seminary)
“I am in solidarity with Rev. Judy Peterson”

Janet Lundblad
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago, IL
Daughter of Covenant missionaries to the DR Congo; graduated from North Park Academy, North Park College, and North Park Theological Seminary; ordained to Word and Sacrament – June 25, 1981; served as pastor in three Covenant churches.
“I am signing because I believe it is time for conversion in the Covenant – conversion like that of Philip in Acts 8 and that of Peter in Acts 10 who were led by the Holy Spirit to understand that God leads us past rigid laws and policies of exclusion to welcome all those whom God claims as beloved children.”

Herbert Freedholm
Retired Covenant Clergy

Conor Johnson
Eastside Covenant Church, Tucson
Lifelong Covenanter: NPU C’ 04, CBC (Staff), Camp Mission Meadows (99-04 Staff)
“I’m signing because I believe the Covenant denomination is uniquely positioned to have these conversations. Far too many churches have simply split into liberal/conservative wings over this issue. While incredibly painful, I feel this is also “the easy way out.” I would love for the ECC to begin having these conversations; acknowledging in advance that we may not all reach the same conclusion. But they need to happen.”

Gwen Schneider
Hope Covenant Church
Member
“It is what Jesus would do…include with love for everyone!”

John Potter
Resurrection Covenant, Chicago
Member of the ECC and NPU alum/former staff member

Deborah Ann Thompson
Cape Cod Covenant Brewster, MA
Member and former Chair, Church Council
“The Lord our God has given us the responsibility to love each and every one of this children, no exceptions.”

Zoe Zehner Back
Hope Covenant Church, St Cloud MN
Lifelong attender/member of the ECC, graduate of NPU
“After many years of praying over this issue, wrestling with it, reading scripture, studying theology surrounding it, and ultimately, continually asking God to convict me if I’m wrong, I came to the realization years ago that this is no longer something to be condemning. We need to move forward. We need to be a safe and welcome place to our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether straight or gay, cisgender or transgender and everything in between. Unity in the essentials, freedom in the non-essentials. This is a non-essential, please stop treating it like an essential.”

Paul Anderson Day
First Congregational Church, North Berwick, ME
I am a lifelong Covenanter (4th gen.), NPTS graduate, ordained ECC minister. I wrote the 100th anniversary history of the East Coast Conference, updated for the 125th anniversary.
“I cherish our Covenant heritage of freedom under the Word, and the irenic spirit of Pietism. I believe that the current ECC statement on sexuality & its implementation does not live up to its heritage and spirit.”

Susan Johnson
Community Covenant, Peabody, MA
Member for 18 years, church chair for 6 and mother of current NPU student
“As people of the book, it is imperative that we answer these questions transparently and honestly. We are accountable to our Heavenly Father first and foremost and then to each other.”

Jan Bjorokman
Graduate of NPU
“It’s time for change! Let God’s love and acceptance of all be our guide.”

Susan Burgoyne
ECC Riverside, Riverside, RI
Active member
“I am an active member of EEC Riverside, Riverside, RI and a Family Nurse Practitioner. During my 33 years in the medical community, much has changed, including our understanding of human behavior, sexuality, genetics, etc. For instance, until 1986, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). This changed as research and better understanding of human beings evolved. Today, there are entire branches of medicine dedicated to caring for the LGBTQ community. Medical providers are taught cultural competence and strive to treat ALL people with respect and dignity, in order to meet the unique needs of every individual and family. I feel that the church is lagging behind on these matters. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to an even higher standard of love, acceptance, care, compassion and to treat ALL people with dignity. “Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7”

John P. Nelson
Northwest covenant
Lifelong ECC member. 1968 NPC grad.

Douglas B Nystrom
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago
Member of an ECC congregation; NPU graduate
“Where is it written that truth should be suppressed by the ECC’s denominational dogma?”

Lisa Ziems
North Park Covenant Church
Neighbor, church member
“All people need to have the same rights in our church, and we need to make the necessary changes to make that happen ASAP.”

Carole Johnson
NPU graduate. ECC member
“I am signing because we are overdue for an open and honest discussion of the various interpretations of scripture regarding human sexuality. The ECC’s current position does not reflect this.”

Timothy J. Johnson
Excelsior Covenant Church, Excelsior, MN
Former Archivist for the ECC, NPTS graduate (with highest honors) MATS, graduate NPU (History)
“For the last 20 years, since leaving my position as Covenant Archivist, I’ve been on a pilgrimage that includes developing and helping curate one of the largest LGBTQ collections in the US. Through that process, and with graceful LGBTQ friends and colleagues, I’m also learning how to be an ally with the LGBTQ community. My faith, informed by God’s love, neighbor’s good, and my experience, tells me that we are overdue for an open, inclusive, and loving discussion of these questions.”

John E. Phelan, Jr.
Resurreciton Covenant Church, Chicago
Retired faculty North Park Theological Seminary
“I am concerned to preserve the unique and profoundly free and open stance I discovered when I found the ECC over 40 years ago.”

Elizabeth Ahlem Clark
Resurrection Covenant, Chicago
NPU alumni 2010, raised in the ECC denomination (First Cov Grand Rapids MI)
“THESE statements and THIS posture of community, humility and trust in God are why I am a Christian and believe that the gospel is good news.”

Eva Sullivan-Knoff
Resurrection Covenant, Chicago
Covenant Minister, Executive Director of Journey Center of Chicago
“I deeply love the Covenant. I am signing because we are hurting the LGBTQ community through our current policy. I am hoping we can be open as a Covenant denomination to real, in depth conversation that includes the LGBTQ community as part of the conversation. I am signing because I believe God’s love includes all.”

Barbara Nordlund
North Park Covenant in Chicago
Baptized, confirmed, married at Winnetka Covenant, graduate of NPU, former staff member at Covenant Point, former employee at Ravenswood Covenant

George A. Scranton
Seattle First Covenant
Ordained OWSe
“I believe that it is well past time we have sincere, loving, and open discussions with our LGBTQ friends (daughters and sons), and their full acceptance into an open and affirming Covenant.”

David L Sundell
“I fully support Rev. Judy Howard Peterson. I was ordained upon graduation from NPTS because I was called to a church in a state that required ordination to perform weddings. J. Fred Burgh was ordained so he would qualify for discounted railroad tickets as he traveled on behalf of North Park. In my work as a psychotherapist, I serve transgender individuals who love Jesus, and love their partner but grapple with rejection by their church. Rules are helpful, yet all constitutions leave room for amendments. As I read the Gospels, Jesus seems to be accused of being a rule-breaker by the Pharisees. Yet even though he could walk on water and raise the dead, his ministry only lasted three years! Is there room for discussion about who benefits by the rules and who does not and why?”

Christine Wahlskog Wallace
Dedicated and confirmed in the ECC, mom was Director of Children’s Ministry at Naperville Covenants Church, and North Park Class of 2010
“I grew up with one image of what a family should look like. Now I am teaching my own children that families can come in all shapes and sizes. I want a church to bring them to that affirms the same message. Love (all) people. Love Jesus.”

Glen Kimmel
Ipswich
Member of Community Covenant Church, West Peabody, MA

Sally Johnson
North Park Covenant, Chicago
I’m a lifelong Covenanter, a North Park alum (C ’69), mother of an alum (C ’01), daughter of a woman who served the college and seminary for years
“It’s time now. It’s time to trust that our bonds in Christ are strong enough that we can talk together about difficult things; that the Creator who made us wills that every person be nurtured, affirmed, and enabled to flourish in their true identity; and that the Wind of God may yet blow through us once again, disturbing and dislodging us and igniting yet another shared new birth. It can be. It’s time now.”

Rev. Brian Estrella
ECC of Riverside
Ordained Covenant Pastor
“I want the Covenant to be true to its roots in embracing theological diversity.”

Paul Corner
First Covenant Church, Seattle, WA
Ordained and a graduate of both NPU and NPTS
“I’m signing first because exclusionary policies like the ECC’s place a burden on LGBTQ Christians in our churches that leads to isolation, rejection of faith, mental health issues, addiction, and even death. This is not the way of Jesus. This is not human flourishing. This is anti-Christ. I’m signing secondly because the ECC’s policy and execution of it is a form of fundamentalism that places idealogy above relationship – the exact opposite of the historic ethos of the ECC.”

Brad Thompson
North Park Covenant
Member North Park Covenant Church. Ordained Covenant pastor.
“This document encourages and allows our current leaders an escape route out of the corner they have painted themselves into. This document can be embraced by all, providing an impetus to move forward on these issues.”

Peter Hawkinson
Winnetka ccovenant church wilmette iL
Church member, pastor
“I love the Covenant Church and hope it can find its center again.”

David Trosper
Retired Pastor

Micah Witham
Awaken Community, Saint Paul, MN
Lead Pastor at Awaken Community
“I believe that freedom in Christ and the space for dissent on non-essential matters is vital to the ECC’s future. Any measures taken to engage our leadership and ministerium in conversation around this topic is worth my investment and support.”

Marilyn Smith
Foothill Covenant, Los Altos, California
ECC member since 1976; deacon for 6 years.
“Our understanding of human sexuality continues to grow. It is important to keep discussions about LBGTQ issues active and in the open at congregational, conference, and denominational levels.”

Peter Morris
Arbor Covenant Church, Madison, WI
Ordained to Word and Sacrament, Grad: NPU and NPTS
“We must stop caving to fear and anxiety, gather around our common hope in Christ and begin to have more courageous conversations.”

Cheryl Hunstock
Bethlehem Covenant Church, Minneapolis, MN
My husband, Bill, and I taught and coached at NPU in the early 1980s and have been members of Bethlehem Covenant Church for over 32 years.
“I support Judy Peterson and believe there needs to be truthful and loving discussions regarding why the actions taken to release her of her ministry tasks were taken. Also, what do these actions say about the ECC and our inclusiveness as a denomination? There is no better time to reflect on WWJD.”

Ruthanne Lovain Werner
North Park Covenant, Chicago
Graduate of both NPC and NPTS. Second-generation Covenant Pastor, ordained to Word and Sacrament. Former member of the Board of the Ordered Ministry
“It is time, past time, to address these questions.”

Douglas Fondell
American Church in Paris
NPTS grad/ordained 1991
“ECC congregations and pastors who serve them should have the autonomy to decide where they land on gay unions. We can agree to disagree while maintaining a unity of spirit that has served the ECC well for many years.”

Ralph Sturdy
Evangelical Coovenant, Aurora, NE
Retired Minister … Graduate of NPC and NPS (1960 & 1965)
“I am an “Open and Affirming” retired minister in the E.C.C. Historically Covenant Churches are free to decide on questions regarding baptism, divorce, re-marriage & interpretation of scripture. In terms of sexuality the same should be afforded individual congregations.”

Ralph W. Sturdy
“In half of the churches I served I knew of one or more people who were from the LGBTQ family. It remains a serious question to me why the question of human sexuality is such a BIG DEAL. The Seven Deadly Sins do not mention being a LGBT/Q person as one of them. Yet GLUTTONY is. have been a “compulsive over-eater” most of my life as have many Covenant ministers I know. To the point: I have never been brought before the Ministerium or been addressed by any local church for my sin. Historically, the Covenant has allowed diverse opinion on many issues. We are free to discuss. Why is human sexuality on the list of things that cannot be discussed and/or challenged?”

John and Lois Satterberg
St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN
Lois – NPU grad 1971, John NPTS grad 1975, ordained by Covenant 1976.
“We are signing because the current policy and stifling of discussion have driven our family away from the denomination we have been a part of for five generations. The preservation of the institution has taken precedence over the care of people.”

Kyle Vlach
CPE Supervisor, United Hospital, St. Paul
Ordained to WS, Chaplain/CPE Supervisor
“Calling for the full embrace of Christ extended to all people. Calling for a return to the historical Christian witness, polity, and practice of the ECC: Unity in mission, tolerance in difference & dissent, reliance on the Spirit & Scripture, ethic of non-authoritarian mutuality, and empowerment of the true ECC–the people in the churches.”

Monica Kwarta
ECC Attleboro, MA
ECC Member

LoAnn Peterson
Winnetka Covenant Church
I am a long time member of Covenant Church (greater than 25 years). My daughter got 2 degrees from North Park and I have been on the Board.
“I love the Covenant Church and want it to be on the side of love. I believe that is what Jesus taught.”

Brian Madvig
Winnetka Covenant Church, Wilmette, IL
Member of Winnetka Covenant Church;1989 graduate of North Park Theological Seminary
“My hope is a Covenant denomination that embraces all, even when they disagree”

Karen K. Benson
Winthrop MN Ev. Covenant Church
BSN from NPC, Member of a Covenant Church and Retired Missionary to Congo
“I believe inclusivity is what Christ wants.”

Arlene Francoeur
Forest Hills Covenant Church Boston, MA
Member for 45 years
“We need to talk about this subject openly, fairly, lovingly”

Bonnie Hawkinson
Winnetka Covenant Church, Wilmette, iL
Member of WCC, lifelong Covenanter, 1 NPU graduate and 1 daughter current NPU student

Alden Johnson
Cape Cod Covenant Church, Brewster, MA
NPC, ’56 – 58; NPSem, Grad, ’64, Ordained ECC pastor since ’65, now retired.
“I share the concerns that are outlined in each of the “Where is it written” observations. No longer can we sweep these issues under the rug.”

Rev. Scott Austin
Artisan Church, Rochester NY
Ordained Covenant pastor
“I joined this denomination 13 years ago because of the Affirmation of Freedom in Christ. It grieves me to see that Affirmation and its historical basis being forgotten.”

Carol Leblanc
Forest Hills Covenant Church
Long time member
“The Ten Commandments–love one another”

Elizabeth Bales
Highland Covenant Church, Bellevue, WA
Member
“The strength of the Covenant is that “For Covenant people, our essential beliefs are summed up in what we call Covenant Affirmations”. Excluding LGBT+ people from full inclusion in the church is not one of those affirmations, and I would also argue it is not Biblical. The ECC’s current position on LGBT people seems much more culturally based than Biblically based and we need to be having an honest prayerful discussion together as a denomination. Let’s not be the people in John 9 who fail to see Jesus because he operated outside of their cultural expectation.”

Karen Hinz
attend Libertyville Covenant Church, Illinois
NPC, NPTS grad, ordained and working Covenant pastor
“It’s time. Time to have fearless conversation with great humility. Time to be about love and pastoral care more than about words and policies. Time to pray and wrestle together. Time to seek God’s faithful leading for today.”

Bonnie Train Summers
Downers Grove, IL
Fourth Generation Covenanter, North Park College Graduate 1973

Caitlyn Tengwall
Forest Hills Covenant Church, Boston MA
I am a member of the ECC currently and as a child
“As a Christian, a lesbian, and a covenanter I believe we need to discuss our current position as a church on the response to the LGBTQ+ community that together we can be healthier and stronger and more creative, but that by dismissing disagreement and dissent we fail to live up to call to be a church, and to care for one another.”

DOUGLAS W JOHNSON
Retired, Ordained ECC Clergy; NPU/NPTS Grad
“I am signing this document after a career of pastoral ministry in Covenant churches (Princeton, North Park) and as chaplain within CRC (Samarkand, Santa Barbara) for several reasons. First and foremost, as one standing in solidarity with all persons whose sexual identities, disclosed or undisclosed, have caused them untold personal suffering because of the church’s condemnations, both spoken and unspoken, fueled by simplistic renderings of obscure texts. Second, to stand in solidarity with those children, youth, young adults, parents, grandparents, god-parents, other family members and friends who withhold not one ounce of love for those in their family and friendship circles who lives are blessed and fulfilled by committed same-sex partners/spouses or who live with same-sex attractions. And third, to stand in solidarity with those who truly believe that the ECC, founded upon and sustained by freedom in Christ, cannot dictate nor command all biblical interpretive wisdom nor ever corner the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Nancy Almquist
NPU graduate; short term missionary with the ECC to DRC

Ann-Britt Keillor
Arbor Covenant, Madison WI
Member of ECC and graduate of NP College
“We need to have this conversation and hopefully change our stance and be inclusive. I stand with Judy”

Hannah Hawkinson
Winnetka Covenant Church (Wilmette, IL)
Member of Winnetka Covenant Church, NPU alum

Phillip Ladd
Member Princeton
Ordained word & sacrament
“Theological diversity needs to be respected with these concerns. This is a matter of Christian love, compassion, and justice!”

Rev. David E. Hawkinson PhD
Retired ECC Clergy; Fellow-American Association of Pastoral Counselors
Graduate: Academy; College; Seminary
“I sign to stand with my brothers and sisters who lift up the living heartbeat of our tradition and with joy bear witness to the astonishing diversity of God’s creative work. I sign to welcome and celebrate this diversity FULLY into our ECC fellowship.”

Margaret (Margie) Warner Olson
St. Francis UMC, Tucson, AZ
NPU student, 1970-1972
“My late husband, Paul Olson, was a North Park College graduate and son of Covenant missionaries in the (now) Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1971, he and two fellow graduates and children of Covenant missionaries, Gordon Andersson and Alden Almquist, petitioned the ECC at their annual meeting to sponsor them as conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War. In accordance with “Where is it written?”, the ECC agreed to sponsor them, setting a precedent that was followed by a number of other Covenant COs until the draft ended. This was a contentious issue at the time, particularly in local churches outside of the North Park community. The ECC took a bold stand then, and should do so now. It is also written, “Judge not, that you be not judged”, and “God is Love”.”

Andrea M. Johnson
Winnetka Covenant Church
Ordained ECC minister, NPU alumna
“I believe the Covenant’s historical practice and value of making room for dissention and discussion is being discarded, and I am grieved by that.”

Lance R Peterson
Winnetka Covenant Church, Wilmette, IL
Member and parent of a NPU graduate
“I think the President of the ECC has lost his way and hope that inclusion of and for all people and actions can become the norm for our Denomination – without that there is no reason for the Denomination to persist or exist.”

Craig Jenkins-Sutton
NPU graduate
“Hoping that the Covenant will be able to fully embrace a full understanding of compassion, justice and mercy.”

Terri Van Der Veer
North Park Covenant, Chicago, Il
Born into the Ecc; father was former Director Emeritus of the Department if the Ordered Ministry and ordained pastor in the EVC
“How can I do less than stand alongside those who are loved by Christ? We are all equal at the foot of the cross!”

Chuck Wiberg
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago
Profesor of History Emeritus at NPU, lifetime member of ECC congregations
“The Covenant’s opposition to same sex unions is inconsistent with both informed judgment re. sexuality & the primary message of love & care for others conveyed by Christ himself”

Colette Quackenbush
Winnetka Covenant Church
I am a lifelong member of the covenant church and have lineage of npu grads, a child undergrad/graduate/ and historically many family members significantly involved by
“This is BEAUTIFUL. This brings the historic spirit of our founders lovingly, seekingly, inclusively, to the table on which we now grapple. I thank those who expressed, so clearly, how I interpret my church, my children’s church and the church of my 3 generations of forbearers. In this manner may we proceed, evolve, while love prevails.”

James Lindgren
On Ramps Covenant Church, Fresno, CA
Ordained Pastor having served over 30 years in the Covenant Church. Graduate of North Park College and Seminary.
“I agree with all of the above. We can differ on the sacraments, but not on marriage. Further, marriage is not a sacrament for us. I support my daughter and all of those who have grown up in the Covenant Church, only to find the Covenant has turned their back on them.”

Krista Brumberg Stevens
Community Covenant Church, West Peabody
NPU ’81, multi-generational Covenanter, attend a Covenant church
“I am signing for a call to conversation, dialogue, and discussion that has been a hallmark of this denomination since its inception when those gathered debated what the Scripture said about unity and how to to form this God-called group.”

Richard Nystrom
Portsmouth United, Portland, OR
Retired Covenant pastor
“The time is long overdue to right the wrongs that we have done to so many gay kids and others.”

Kristen Annes
Pasadena Covenant Church
North Park graduate, class of 1994. Member, Pasadena Covenant Church
“Now is the time to make a move towards inclusion of ALL.”

Erik Hedstrom
Community Covenant Scotts Valley, CA
Supporter
“Where is it written?”

Jodi Fondell
Inactive in the US at present
Life long Covenanter, graduate of NPU and NPTS, former chaplain NPU, ordained to word and sacrament

Cheri Sperr
Community Covenant Church, Peabody, MA
Church member
“Inclusion reflects Christ’s love.”

Terry Cathcart
Mission Covenant Ishpeming, MI
Ordained: word/sacrament
“Within the Evangelical denomination we have diverse ways of interpreting scripture on the issues around sexuality. I believe that we need to acknowledge and respect and celebrate that diversity.”

Jill norton
Bethany covenant church
NPU grad

Susan and Dave Dawson
North Park Covenant
Member of ECC, alum of NPU, parents of NPU student and alum

Bob Johnson
“As a Spirit led Volunteer Chaplain for the last 16 years I have talked and prayed with both gay and transgender individuals. Most of them loved God and their neighbors. One transgender person told me her family and church had disowned her but the God that created her had not. On one occasion I told a gay man that was in the process of becoming a woman that God loved him unconditionally. A nurse who was also in the room spoke up and said that was great because she was bisexual but also loved God and her neighbor. As I prayed holding hands with both these individuals I a straight man never felt closer to God!”

Gordon J. Schultz
St. Paul’s Episcopal, Hopkinton, MA
I graduated NPU and studied at NP Seminary. I served Covenant Churches in Chicago (North Park, Edgewater, and Douglas Park) and New Jersey (Laurence Harbor).
“The Covenant Church is a small body. In the world of Christianity it might be considered insignificant because of its size. However, it has certain qualities that give it significance beyond its size: a commitment to witnessing to the truth, and more importantly, a commitment to embodying the truth in life and practice as a form of freedom. This is what used to be the “evangelical” character of the Covenant– a fearless but always open and public contention for truth and freedom, with a distrust of those who set themselves up as authorities over the Gospel. It’s what set us aside from most other “evangelical” churches boxed-in by crabbed orthodoxies.Think of the Conventicles of lay leaders who caused the State Church to tremble in its theological rigidity, of Paul Petter Waldenstrom who risked the danger of unorthodoxy for what he believed was true about the biblical message and the character of God’s love and freedom, of the courageous NPTS faculty in the 50s under assault for teaching contemporary biblical studies, but who would not back down under threats and theological brow-beating. The hardest thing I’ve done in my life was to leave the Covenant for the Lutheran Church. I did so with many tears of great sadness, but I did so because I felt that the particular character of “evangelicalism” of the Covenant was being swallowed up by new orthodoxies that rivaled the old State Church. Dissent — the beating heart of the old Covenant Church– is stifled, contrary voices stilled, the love of the Gospel, and the passion for ministry is no longer enough to be a pastor in this church. Now, as a Lutheran serving an Episcopal congregation I am blessed daily by the same-sex couples in our church. I am blessed daily by the majority of “straight” couples who join our church because they want their children to grow up in a church that puts love and compassion ahead of dogma. I am blessed by the same-sex couples in our church who give thanks with tears of joy for a church that has the open arms of Jesus Christ to welcome them. May my Covenant friends someday be able to join in our rejoicing in the feast of Christ that has no human boundaries.”

Barbara Johnson
“I am signing this letter because I believe, as many others have noted, that we need more discussion on this issue and that any disciplinary measures concerning this issue should at least be suspended for a broader conversation.”

Ralph Athey
North Park Covenant, Chicago
Member of NPCC

Arvid w adell
Ordained in ECC. 1961
“I wrote my ph d dissertation on the theology and metaphysics of process thought. Alfred North Whitehead, generally acknowledged as the mentor of process Theology defined God as having two natures: a primordial one consisting of Gods eternal conceptual unchanging nature; God is always loving, forgiving, seeking the betterment and happiness of humans etc. These attributes are “abstract”. But God also has a “consequent “ nature which eventuates from his application of these ideals to the physical creation of which God is constantly aware. Moral rules which are valid at a certain time and place because they incarnate God’s eternal nature may lose their claim to legitimacy if they cease to maximize an ideal. God is both morally absolute and ethically relative. If this understanding of the Deity has any merit then scriptural texts should welcome discussion and expect God’s leading therein.”

Thomas Smith
Bethany Covenant Church
Long time member, spouse of deceased wife, Jeanette, who was a graduate of North Park, and father of 2 adult children who graduated from North Park and presently attend Coveanant churches
“Support for Judy Peterson and her officiating at a Gay marriage and this should be an option for all ordained ministers in the Covenant Church based on their conscience.”

Gretchen Anderson
Resurrection Cov. Chicago
Member of Covenant church and alumni of NPU

Max Antonio Lopez-Cepero
First Covenant Church, Anchorage, Alaska
Pastor
“I believe our ECC leadership (good people all) have assumed an assertive role of protecting the institution of our church in a way neither spiritual or wise. To step back and let the Holy Spirit lead us in these difficult times would be better than making decisions on behalf of us all.”

Gavin Dluehosh
Hospital Chaplain/Supervisory Education Resident, Portland OR
Ordained to Word and Sacrament by the ECC, NPTS ’06 graduate
“I’m signing in part because of a point of common agreement between those who hold to existing statement on human sexuality, and those who don’t: we all agree that old ways of pastorally caring for LGBTQ people are, at best, flawed and poorly imagined. We need to come together for honest, charitable, and lengthy dialogue, story telling, prayer, and discernment. It’s what historically makes the Covenant the Covenant: what unites us is our familial relationship in God’s church, and the six affirmations that describe this relationship.”

Mindy Legard Larson
McMinnville Covenant
Member of McMinnville Covenant Church, former church elder

Andy
Sojourner Covenant Church, Evanston IL
Pastor, NPU grad

Danielle Becker
Awaken Community, St. Paul, MN
Awaken Community member

Linda M. Forbes
St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, De Pere WI
Until recently I was a life-long Covenanter. I am an NPC graduate, and NPTS graduate and was ordained to word and sacrament. I also worked at North Park Seminary for 13 years.
“I know Judy Howard Peterson well and have seen her grow from a North Park college student to an amazing Evangelist for God. She cares deeply, discerns wisely and loves totally. To punish her or others for their dissent on this issue is deeply disturbing. Why is this issue, which is not an essential of the faith, singled out as one that can not be questioned? I too wonder “where is it written.” The Covenant Church as it exists today is not the Covenant in which I was nurtured. The decisions and trends of the ECC have broken my heart and in all good conscious have forced me to leave my birth church. It is my hope that the ECC will return to its roots and hold our loving mission to all above any human-made policy that is damaging and destructive to what we say we believe. The days are short and the time is NOW to openly deal with this use.”

David and Carolyn Carlson
Covenant Community Church, Essex, Vermont
Life long members of the ECC and graduates of NPU

Jeannine Lawson McFadyen
Faith Covenant Church, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Life long member of ECC Graduete of Swedish Covenant Hospital School of Nursing ‘69
“It is our job as Christians to love one another. That means ALL others.”

Diana Trautwein
Montecito Covenant Church, Santa Barbara CA
Longtime member and lay leader, ordained to word and sacrament, served two churches over 17 years, former chair of PSWC Executive Board and Ministerium, primary author of two retreats used nationally, contributor to Resource Paper on scripture, former columnist for the Companion, now retired from parish ministry but serving as a spiritual director.
“It is past time to have a truly open conversation, making space at the table for our LGTBQ brothers and sisters. We need to listen to one another and to the Holy Spirit and we need to be ruled by love, as Jesus taught, modeled and lived it.”

Joanne R. Ekberg
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago
1974 NPC grad, 12 years NPC employee, 12 years ECC employee, third- generation Covenanter
“What astonishes me is the level of fear that is driving the actions of ECC. It is palpable. Fear of dialogue. Fear of the loss of donations. Fear of the loss of churches. My personal concern is what will happen to NPU if that fear is not replaced by a large amount of love, respect, and open dialogue. Let’s all take a deep breath, settle down, and do the hard and redemptive work of learning and listening. I don’t believe Christ would want us to do differently.”

Tori Morgan
New Community Covenant Church, Chicago
Life-long Covenanter
“We must openly engage in compassionate conversation about human sexuality and invite people and God into the dialogue. Let’s come into the light and trust our Light, Jesus. “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:20-21”

Paul Koptak
Member, Winnetka Covenant Church
Class of 1986 and Professor Emeritus, North Park Theological Seminary

Ronn Huth
Community Covenant Church West Peabody MA
Assisting Pastor
“Sense of injustice toward Judy Howard Peterson and our LGBQT serving clergy and staff. We need time to listen and hear each other more on these issues.”

John Norland
Granite Falls
retired pastor
“Two questions defined the community which became the Evangelical Covenant Church. We authorized not leader to speak for all, no statement to define every doctrine, no list of every prohibition or commandment which all must sign and follow. At times the question Where is is Written, happened in strong disagreement – at other times it built strong consensus. At times history and culture helped shape our answers (it was assumed that we were looking into the Bible for where it is written), at times our age, our gender, our race, our wealth, our geography impacted our understanding of what we were reading . The answer we believed grew and sometimes changed as we read together, debated, and matured. The answers we found didn’t automatically include nor exclude from the community, our relationship as Covenant – “mission friends” in the early years, was based on the second defining question. “Are you Living in Jesus?” Give witness to an honest attempt and desire to follow Jesus and you were welcomed into the community. It is time for both these questions to build community within diversity – that we place no stumbling block in people living in Jesus. Fellowship within diversity rather than sterile doctrinal conformity is the strength of our community.”

Steve Armfield
Thornapple Covenant Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Covenant pastor of 47 years
“Believing that ‘In Christ all things hold together,’ and hoping the Covenant will embrace its roots in recognizing that Jesus-followers can hold different views and still love and respect and listen to each other as we join together in common mission.”

Chad Eric Bergman
North Park Covenant Chicago
Confirmed at Buffalo Covenant. Attended CHIC in 1979. Professor at North Park University.
“I sign because inclusion is the coversation.”

Heidi Jensen
First Covenant in Anchorage
lifelong Covenant Church attender, now member, NPU graduate, former CPBC staff

Ken Lund
Arbor Covenant Church, Madison, WI
I am a third-generation Covenanter, child of a Covenant pastor, graduate of NPU (BA 1974) and the Weborg Center for Spiritual Direction (2009), an adjunct instructor at NPTS, an active spiritual director for students, clergy and others, and a member of Arbor Covenant Church in Madison, WI.
“It is past time to return to the true Covenant distinctive: In all non-essentials, freedom of individuals and congregations to interpret scripture as led by the Spirit. And it is time to honor the primary biblical message of love for all.”

Jim Ecklund
Galesburg, IL Covenant
Life long Covenanter and pastor from 1971. Graduate of North Park College and Seminary. Member of several conference and denominational Boards.
“I have loved the Covenant lifelong with its openness to ALL with the love of God as Christ has called us to be. Stifling of discussion is not what the Covenant is about, and the more we go down that road, the more our claim of Christ as Savior AND Lord and our having a Department of “Compassion, Justice and Mercy” loses its credibility with those we are called to reach out to.”

Cory Gill
Highrock Church
ECC member for 5 years, pastor for 3 years

Dr Ruth Tatlow
Immanuel International, (Immanuelskyrkan) Stockholm
Active member of the Swedish Covenant church (now Equmeniakyrkan) since 1990.

Tim McNaughton
Hope Covenant Church – Crystal Lake, IL
Grew up in the ECC and NPU Graduate
“It is time!”

Rev. Dan Collison
First Covenant Church, Minneapolis
Ordained Clergy
“Christian Conscience and Mission, and for Historic Covenant Ethos”

Kass Anderson
First Covenant Church, Omaha
Member of First Covenant Church, Omaha/NPU graduate 1980

Catherine Allicks
ECC Princeton
Member and 1991 graduate
“It is time to discuss and pray about change.”

Carina Aleckson
First Covenant Minneapolis
Leadership Team
“Our church is working to hold space for people in our congregation who have positions all along the continuum because we believe that is the “Covenant” thing to do. Our congregation and leadership implore the ECC to hold the LGBTQ question (and all matters other than the six Covenant affirmations) with humility and generosity. We suppport bringing the current question before the entire Covenant body when they gather this summer in Minneapolis.”

Myron Erickson
Advocate Healthcare/Sauganash Community Church/Chicago
Ordained to Word and Sacrament 1987, 4th generation Covenanter
“Many years of ministering to disenfranchised LGBTQI persons in Chicago’s Lakeview/Uptown remind me that we all have roots in some form of estrangement and exclusion. Our task is to joyfully overcome those barriers just as they were for us.”

Todd Bratulich
First Covenant Church Minneapolis
Grew up at Faith Covenant Church, Burnsville, MN. Came to faith and later served on staff at Covenant Pines Bible Camp in McGregor, MN. Ordained Word and Sacrament in the ECC in 2014. Have served as Pastor for Community & Mission at First Covenant Minneapolis since 2009.
“I am signing because I am concerned that the generosity and welcome I received in the Covenant in my youth has not been offered to all of God’s children. The spirit of our denomination has never been to draw hard lines, or to threaten and isolate those who in good conscience hold a different view or interpretation of scripture. Furthermore, the Gospel demand to love our neighbor and protect the vulnerable compels me as a Minister of the Gospel, and our congregation as a local representation of Christ’s church to cultivate deep and mutual community with our LGBTQ friends, neighbors and family members. We are doing that, and have faced undue adversity from our denominational family as a result. Let us stop drawing lines in the sand, and instead seek to have good, honest, and loving dialogue about our differences, dialogue where all God’s children can find freedom to share their stories and perspectives without the fear of retaliation.”

Helen Cepero
First Covenant Church, Anchorage, AK
Ordained in 1990. Currently an instructor at North Park Theological Seminary, C. John Weborg Center for Spiritual Direction
“Because the love of Christ demands a loving response to all”

Jana Fullerton
Midway Community Covenant Church
member and daughter-in-law of a former Canadian ECC superintendent; husband is an NPU alumni
“We have several families with LGBTQ children in our church. It is time for a discussion within the ECC that allows us to consider fully embracing our children rather than alienating them.”

Charissa Pederson
First Covenant Church of St. Paul
ECC member, NPU alumni
“I am calling for a new, loving and open-hearted dialogue on sexuality guidelines in the ECC. These two lines in the letter resonated with me the most: “Where is it written that Covenanters can disagree and differ in practice about the nature of the atonement, about the role, understanding, and timing of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and about eschatology, but not about human sexuality? Where is it written that understandings of Scripture do not change and therefore need not be revisited? (Slavery, the subordination of women, the inadmissibility of divorce, and ineligibility of women for ordination were all once understood to be scriptural.)””

Edward Vos
Zion Covenant Church, Jamestown, NY
Member of ZCC
“The second we think our sins are less than those of the LGBTQ community, we are saying we don’t need Jesus anymore!”

Ellen Fondell
Awaken Community, St Paul MN
NPU graduate 2007

Doug Thorpe
Community Covenant, Springfield, VA
Lifelong Covenanter, third-generation Covenant pastor, 1981 graduate of North Park
“As a pastoral counselor I see too clearly the damage done to individuals and families by exclusive, oppressive church policies that pressure people to be false to who they are in their truest self. I hope the Covenant can be a place of healing.”

Julie Canales
First Covenant Church Anchorage Alaska
Third generation “Covenanter” and NPU Grad ‘09
“I have always been a proud ECC member, except for when it comes to its stance on homosexuality. My hope is that this event will spur the ECC on to update its policy on the matter, so I can once again be a fully proud member of the ECC.”

Nat Fondell
Awaken Community Covenant Church – St. Paul and Dawson Covenant Church
5th generation Covenant and 4th generation North Park ‘07

Brian Mack
Thornapple Covenant Church, Grand Rapids, MI
Lifelong Covenanter, NPU Alumnus (C ‘90), Former Staff of Pilgrim Pines/Camp Squanto, Former Staff of Covenant Retirement Communities
“God is Love. How can we in good conscience willfully exclude those brothers and sisters who are seeking fellowship and communion in His church? This position is not in keeping with the ECC’s foundational tradition of Congregational Polity and Agreeing to Disagree in love over non-essential issues of the faith. Beyond that, it is out of character with the church that welcomed me in and has nurtured me throughout my life.”

Joel Brand
Winnetka Covenant Church
NPTS Graduate, Youth Pastor
“The 6th Covenant Affirmation affirms the reality of freedom in Christ in non-essential matters. I desire for all of our policies to reflect our great roots and heritage.”

susan j anderson-nelson
Elmhurst
NPU alum class of 1980
“I support Pastor Judy and her good work. I think often of the greatest commandment of all…”

Matthew Werner
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago
3rd-generation ECC

Dawn Helwig
North Park Covenant, Chicago
I am a lifelong Covenanter and a graduate of NPU. I served on the NPU Board from 2012-2017 and was liaison to the ECC Board for the last 4 years of that tenure.

Eric Krumland
Outside Cov currently
Born and Raised ECC & CBC/NPU Grad

Nate Manlove
Monadnock Covenant Church Swanzey, NH
Lifelong attender/member ECC churches, NPU grad (’94), summer staff at Pilgrim Pines

Mary Beth Edstrom Kovacic
Winnetka Covenant Church – Wilmette IL
4th generation Covenanter/ 22+ years working at NPU

Richard Moore
ECC, Sloan, IA
OWS
“After serving ECC congregations since 1983 as lay leader, youth leader, interim pastor and T&C solo pastor, I stand to ask my colleagues , what is next? We debated baptism, divorcees in ministry, women in ministry and we are stronger , not weaker for it. Will we speak out now or wait until it is too late? “Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.” (When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.) – Martin Niemoller”

Dan Bombard
Batavia Covenant Church
Member of the ECC
“Love is love is love – the message of Jesus. Inclusion, not exclusion.”

Carl Anders Fogel
Winnetka Covenant/Granby Pilgrim Covenant
The church is my family. Graduate of NPU 15′
“It is time we made it clear that we Christians embrace everyone who is a special creation by God.”

Amanda Olson
Grace ECC, Chicago
Ordained ECC pastor, NPTS grad, annual meeting moderator
“I’m signing for our children, our polity and our ethos. I’m signing as an act of hope for the future mission of Christ’s church.”

Mark Nilson
Salem Covenant Church, Worcester, MA
ECC Pastor, graduate of NPC & NPTS
“So very, very long overdue. We just never quite seem to get to the heart of things. This issue is of crucial importance to those of us who are parents of children in the LGBTQ community. We cannot wait. They are not waiting.”

Peter A. Nelson
WINNETKA
I have attended a Covenant church for all of my 54.5 years, I am one generation of 4 that have attended NPU.
“We should continue to honor the genius of the founding matriarchs and patriarchs of the Covenant Church who lived the witness that “We affirm the reality of freedom in Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1, TNIV) This freedom is a gift of God in Christ, and it manifests itself in a right relationship with God and others. United in Christ, we offer freedom to one another to differ on issues of belief or practice where the biblical and historical record seems to allow for a variety of interpretations of the will and purposes of God. We in the Covenant Church seek to focus on what unites us as followers of Christ, rather than on what divides us.” For the 4 pastors that will sit to be judged before the ECC board of ordered ministry on January 19, 2018…I stand with the Accused!”

Jinny Larson
Salem Covenant, New Brighton MN
Always been in the ECC and a North Parker
“It is time for the love and compassion of Christ be shown through inclusion of all.”

Sarah N. Bertsch
Ordained, Universal Life Church; supporting First Covenant Church, Minneapolis
I grew up attending Grace Covenant Church, Little Falls, MN

Deb Steinkamp
St. Paul’s Episcopal, Bellingham, WA
I am a former member of Bellingham Covenant Church. I recently left the Covenant.
“It is time for the ECC to offer a whole hearted welcome to all who claim Christ as Savior and to all who are searching for Christ.”

Kristine Larson Brown
Arbor Covenant Church Madison WI
Fourth generation member of ECC
“It is time for change.”

John Schrager
First Covenant Church of Minneapolis
Community Supporter of FCC
“Jesus loved and cared about all people. Who are we to exclude?”

Stephen Hawkinson
Highlands Community Church, Denver CO
Former member, NPU Alum, Son, Nephew, Grandson, and Great Grandson of Covenant pastors
“I love this church dearly. I still proudly wear my tshirt with PP Waldenstroms face and “Vår står det skrivet?” to church and enjoy answering the questions it always raises to people who do not know the Covenant. Let us come back to our roots, so we can all come home out of the wilderness.”

Stephen Bjorlin
Irvington Covenant Church, Portland
Lead Pastor and graduate of North Park Theological Seminary
“In my church I teach that you can disagree and still belong. I hope our denomination will do the same.”

Lynda Nelson Klymko
Graduated NPU 1979, Attended NPTS 1979 -1980
“Raised in ECC, 2nd Gen NPU Alum, P.K. met my husband at NPU, married in NPCC I believe Christ was inclusive in his ministry and we should be to.”

James and Denise Hopp
Grace Evangelical Covenant Church Chicago
Long-time members of the ECC

Rachel Johnson
Immanuel Covanent Church, Chicago
4th Generation ECC; 3rd Generation NPU Alum
“Where is it written?”

Marjorie Gardinier
Forest Hills Covenant Church, Boston
Have been a member of FHCC 20+yrs
“I fervently agree with the raising of all these questions and would welcome ALL to membership and leadership.”

Elliot Vos
Artisan Church, Rochester, NY
Leadership Team Member

Ingrid Olson
Council Tree Covenant Church, Fort Collins, CO
North Park University ‘01

Lisa Peterson
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago, IL
Graduate of NPU ’91, ’96, NPCC member, former employee of NPC/U, CRC, CWM, 4th-generation Covenanter.
“It is time to bring this conversation out into the light, time to stop making decisions behind closed doors or in small meetings, and time to include Christ-following LGBTQ people in the conversation.”

Kurt H. Peterson
North Park Covenant Church, Chicago
NPU/NPTS grad; 4th Generation ECC ; former short-term missionary with CWM, former NPU employee
“All people are created in the image of God and all who put their faith in Jesus are part of the church. The ECC should stop excluding members of its family and instead embrace all as Jesus would.”

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13 Responses to “Where Is It Written?”

  1. Susan Burgoyne

    I am an active member of EEC Riverside, Riverside, RI and a Family Nurse Practitioner. During my 33 years in the medical community, much has changed, including our understanding of human behavior, sexuality, genetics, etc. For instance, until 1986, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). This changed as research and better understanding of human beings evolved. Today, there are entire branches of medicine dedicated to caring for the LGBTQ community. Medical providers are taught cultural competence and strive to treat ALL people with respect and dignity, in order to meet the unique needs of every individual and family. I feel that the church is lagging behind on these matters. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to an even higher standard of love, acceptance, care, compassion and to treat ALL people with dignity.

    “Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

  2. David L Sundell

    I fully support Rev. Judy Howard Peterson. I was ordained upon graduation from NPTS because I was called to a church in a state that required ordination to perform weddings. J. Fred Burgh was ordained so he would qualify for discounted railroad tickets as he traveled on behalf of North Park. In my work as a psychotherapist, I serve transgender individuals who love Jesus, and love their partner but grapple with rejection by their church. Rules are helpful, yet all constitutions leave room for amendments. As I read the Gospels, Jesus seems to be accused of being a rule-breaker by the Pharisees. Yet even though he could walk on water and raise the dead, his ministry only lasted three years! Is there room for discussion about who benefits by the rules and who does not and why?

  3. Ralph W. Sturdy

    In half of the churches I served I knew of one or more people who were from the LGBTQ family. It remains a serious question to me why the question of human sexuality is such a BIG DEAL. The Seven Deadly Sins do not mention being a LGBT/Q person as one of them. Yet GLUTTONY is. have been a “compulsive over-eater” most of my life as have many Covenant ministers I know. To the point: I have never been brought before the Ministerium or been addressed by any local church for my sin. Historically, the Covenant has allowed diverse opinion on many issues. We are free to discuss. Why is human sexuality on the list of things that cannot be discussed and/or challenged?

  4. Bob Johnson

    As a Spirit led Volunteer Chaplain for the last 16 years I have talked and prayed with both gay and transgender individuals. Most of them loved God and their neighbors. One transgender person told me her family and church had disowned her but the God that created her had not. On one occasion I told a gay man that was in the process of becoming a woman that God loved him unconditionally. A nurse who was also in the room spoke up and said that was great because she was bisexual but also loved God and her neighbor. As I prayed holding hands with both these individuals I a straight man never felt closer to God!

  5. Barbara Johnson

    I am signing this letter because I believe, as many others have noted, that we need more discussion on this issue and that any disciplinary measures concerning this issue should at least be suspended for a broader conversation.

  6. Arvid w Adell

    I wrote my ph d dissertation on the theology and metaphysics of process thought. Alfred North Whitehead, generally acknowledged as the mentor of process Theology defined God as having two natures: a primordial one consisting of Gods eternal conceptual unchanging nature; God is always loving, forgiving, seeking the betterment and happiness of humans etc. These attributes are “abstract”. But God also has a “consequent “ nature which eventuates from his application of these ideals to the physical creation of which God is constantly aware. Moral rules which are valid at a certain time and place because they incarnate God’s eternal nature may lose their claim to legitimacy if they cease to maximize an ideal. God is both morally absolute and ethically relative. If this understanding of the Deity has any merit then scriptural texts should welcome discussion and expect God’s leading therein.

  7. Erik Hedstrom

    Yes, where is it written?

  8. Doug Nystrom

    Our friend Rev Gordon Schultz read the comments and wrote the following to me:

    “A deeply moving collection of pain and hope without resignation. I hope these get archived for future scholars to study and enable our grandchildren to understand this moment in time. Especially when they ask ‘Where did you stand?’”

  9. Edward Vos

    The second we think we sin less than the LGBTQ community, we are saying we don’t need Jesus anymore!

  10. Edwin and Patricia Hallsten

    My husband and I are fourth generation Covenanters. Ed is a retired Cov pastor and taught at the Seminary. We have both been for Inclusion for many years. I am blessed to have lived long enough for this to be an open conversation in the church that we love..

  11. fredrick Holmgren

    I never thought that I would live long enough to see our denomination finally engage in an open discussion of the LGBT Community. I am 92 years of age. Lets move on quickly! Hopefully this discussion will involve extending a welcome into the Christian Church for those who fully embrace Jesus Christ.

  12. Dennis Moon

    Thanks, Herb, for that provocative statement.

  13. Ruth Porter

    Come let us reason together. We are overdue on having open dialogue, prayerful searching of scripture and being open to how the Holy Spirit guides us as local churches, nationally and internationally as members of the body of Christ.

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