Covenanters cherish six affirmations that reflect our denominational identity. The sixth affirmation proclaims the reality of freedom in Christ. The book Living Faith: Reflections on Covenant Affirmations, published by the faculty of North Park Theological Seminary in 2010, reminds us, “With a modesty born of confidence in God, Covenanters have offered to one another theological and personal freedom where the biblical and historical record seems to allow for a variety of interpretations of the will and purposes of God”.
We fiercely embrace freedom in Christ to protect relationships that might otherwise be severed by differences of opinions. The denomination’s long-time commitment to holding in tension how and when we disagree makes us unique.
MF4i believes that each congregation must thoughtfully journey together to seek deep, biblical understanding as well as the discernment of the Holy Spirit on this topic. We have great respect for each church’s journey and timing.
Many churches have already started conversations with lay people leading adult studies aided by books such as David Gushee’s Changing Our Mind or Ken Wilson’s A Letter to My Congregation. In some Covenant churches, gay members are sharing their stories. In other Covenant churches, conversations are beginning to happen between members and also within Leadership Teams or Councils.
Covenanters need time to read, understand, think, pray, and discuss. Demanding that churches that do not support inclusion leave the Covenant is as un-Christian as it is un-Covenant. Multiple scriptures remind us that we are called to “live in relation to others, whether they agree with us or not” (Living Faith).
We are called to do God’s work in this denomination and in our churches. Laypeople are crucial in starting and maintaining discussions about human sexuality. The real question is, what are you doing to help your church start or continue this journey?
Photo Credit: Kelsey Stevens Photography
This essay is part of a series elaborating on the goals of Mission Friends 4 Inclusion. Please share with anyone who may be interested. If you’d like to contribute to our ongoing efforts to help the Evangelical Covenant Church be a more hospitable place for LGBTQ people, please consider donating.