OMAHA, NEB. (June 28, 2019) – The Annual Meeting, the highest legislative body of the Evangelical Covenant Church, voted here today to involuntarily remove First Covenant Church of Minneapolis from the roster of Covenant churches.
The Annual Meeting’s vote on the Executive Board of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s recommendation to dismiss First Covenant Church of Minneapolis, or FCCM, surpassed the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.
“I grieve the loss of First Covenant Church of Minneapolis from the roster of Covenant churches,” says John Wenrich, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, or Evangelical Covenant Church. “At the same time, I respect the discernment of the Annual Meeting. I hope this historic church someday changes its mind and then returns to our family.”
Moving forward, FCCM is free to continue operating as a church with its multiple community and neighborhood ministries. It will keep its church building.
The 2019 Annual Meeting is composed of more than 1,000 delegates sent by Covenant churches in North America, of which there are more than 875, to decide on the denomination’s business matters.
The recommendation of the voting members of the Executive Board of the Evangelical Covenant Church, or Evangelical Covenant Church, to involuntarily dismiss FCCM was referred to the Annual Meeting because the voting members of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Executive Board found FCCM to be out of harmony by contravening the following:
- The Evangelical Covenant Church’s standard of marriage by permitting same-sex marriage;
- The Evangelical Covenant Church’s prohibition of clergy officiating and participating at same-sex weddings;
- The Evangelical Covenant Church’s requirement that clergy adhere to a personal behavioral standard of celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage;
- The Evangelical Covenant Church’s guideline and expectation that congregations refrain from hosting same-sex weddings and related events;
- The authority of the Board of the Ordered Ministry by locally credentialing a pastor.
Per the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Constitution and Bylaws, the out-of-harmony charges brought against FCCM originated from pastors in the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Northwest Conference, of which FCCM was a part, and were brought to the Northwest Conference Executive Board. The Conference Executive Board then voted to bring the matter to the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Executive Board, which brought its recommendation to the 2019 Annual Meeting. This process took place after more than five years of discussion between the church, conference and denominational leaders.
The Evangelical Covenant Church Executive Board and the Evangelical Covenant Church are mindful of the gravity, complexity, sensitivity and pain that matters of human sexuality can bring and of the weighty considerations to our community. The Evangelical Covenant Church affirms that all people are made in the image of God and are therefore valuable and loved by God. As a church, we welcome everyone, and our commitment is to lead with love and to continually seek deeper ways to care for people with greater understanding, compassion and sensitivity.
“As difficult as this decision has been, I’m so thankful for the delegates and their commitment to prayerfully discern,” says Jenell Pluim, chair of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Executive Board. “They took an extremely painful but courageous step to uphold the Evangelical Covenant Church’s communally discerned position on human sexuality and pastoral credentialing. We are better when we work together.”
Media Contact: Stan Friedman, News Editor, The Evangelical Covenant Church, firstname.lastname@example.org