Evangelical denomination expels entire congregation over LGBT policy

Religion News Service | 6/28/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — For the first time in its 134-year history, the Evangelical Covenant Church has voted to remove a congregation from its roster over its position on LGBTQ inclusion.

The vote to expel the First Covenant Church, a prominent and historic Minneapolis congregation, for being “out of harmony on human sexuality,” took place at the denomination’s annual meeting in Omaha on Friday (June 27).

Minneapolis - Church - Gay - Marriage - Couple

The Minneapolis church has never performed a gay marriage, though a **** couple had an off-site wedding performed by its music director in 2014, which produced a series of conversations about its future over the past few years.

Then last year, the denomination suspended its pastor, the Rev. Dan Collison, after First Covenant said it would treat LGBTQ members as equals, allow married gay clergy and would be open to hosting same-sex marriages.

Collison - Congregation - Pastor - Suspension

Collison’s congregation agreed to keep him on as pastor despite the suspension.

For the denomination, this was a step too far.

Three-quarters - Delegates - Meeting - Church - Denomination

Three-quarters of the more than 1,000 delegates to the meeting voted to remove the church from the denomination, which includes 875 U.S. churches with about 300,000 members. A vote on whether to expel its pastor and another retired pastor was pending.

“I’m deeply saddened this ecclesial body doesn’t make room for openly LGBT individuals, other than to say you’re welcome but we won’t treat you equally,” said Collison. “Ultimately, it becomes a question of what is love about and what is inclusion about. It breaks my heart.”

United - Methodist - Church - Year - Ban

Though far smaller than the United Methodist Church, which this year doubled down on its ban on LGBTQ ordination and marriage, the ECC vote signals just how divisive the issue of sexuality remains in some Protestant circles. While many denominations, including the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church USA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have opened their ranks to LGBTQ clergy and...
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