Voted out on for being “out of harmony on human sexuality.”
The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) has a history which spans 134 years, and for the first time, it has voted to remove a congregation from its roster. This is in light of the congregation’s stance on LGBTQ inclusion.
The vote to expel the prominent and historic Minneapolis First Covenant Church took place in Omaha at the Evangelical Covenant Church’s annual meeting June 28. The vote to expel the congregation is for being “out of harmony on human sexuality.”
While the Minneapolis church has never performed a gay marriage, an off-site wedding of a lesbian couple was performed by its music director in 2014.
In addition to expelling the Minneapolis congregation, the Evangelical Covenant Church also voted to defrock Rev. Dan Collision for permitting same-sex marriage. A 77 percent vote removed the Reverend’s credentials at the annual meeting.
The decision to vote out Rev. Dan Collision wasn’t a surprise, but he said he was “saddened.” “I feel grounded in the path we have chosen. I feel grateful for the pastors and churches who stood up for us. I feel compassion to those caught in the middle.”
The ECC has said that the First Covenant can keep their building and operate as a church. The church will continue with Collison serving as lead pastor.
The ECC also voted to defrock Rev. Steve Armfield. The retired Michigan minister officiated his son’s same-sex wedding. In addition to this, Armfield was accused of going against the same-sex marriage ban that is in force in the denomination.
More than 1,000 delegates attended the meeting. Nearly three-quarters of them voted for removing the church from the denomination. The denomination includes 300,000 members along with 875 United States Churches.
This vote shows how divisive the issue of sexuality still is in many Protestant circles. Many denominations such as the Presbyterian Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church have opened their doors to LGBTQ marriage and clergy.
Collision has said the church has six to eight members who identify as LGBTQ and more who haven’t officially joined. Most of its members can be considered LGBTQ allies.