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Executive Board Votes on Involuntary Removal of Two Congregations

Dear Covenant Churches,

This letter is to notify you of actions taken at the October Covenant Executive Board meeting that will come to delegates for a vote at Gather 2023.

After walking with two churches through a process of listening and discernment regarding their practices around same-sex marriage, the Covenant Executive Board has voted to:

Advance to the 2023 Annual Meeting the involuntary removal of Awaken Church of St. Paul, MN from the Covenant roster of churches.

Advance to the 2023 Annual Meeting the involuntary removal of Quest Church of Seattle, WA from the Covenant roster of churches.

This process is heavy, and we make these decisions prayerfully and with thoughtful consideration. The recommendation comes in accordance with the process outlined in our bylaws for churches who do not choose to disaffiliate voluntarily. Every year a modest number of churches voluntarily opt to leave the Covenant for a number of different reasons. This is the normative pathway for churches who feel they cannot align with the positions of the Covenant. These two churches have not chosen to voluntarily withdraw, but rather to defend their actions before the Covenant Annual Meeting, which is their prerogative. A detailed report will go to the 2023 Covenant Annual Meeting delegates, but this notification comes to you in advance for your prayers and as you consider selecting your delegates.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

In 1996, the Christian Action Commission proposed a resolution to the Covenant Annual Meeting that declared the following: “God created people male and female, and provided for the marriage relationship in which two may become one. A publicly declared, legally binding marriage between one woman and one man is the one appropriate place for sexual intercourse. Heterosexual marriage, faithfulness within marriage, abstinence outside of marriage—these constitute the Christian standard. When we fall short, we are invited to repent, receive the forgiveness of God, and amend our lives.” The Covenant Annual Meeting moved to adopt the resolution.

In 2004, the Board of the Ordered Ministry recommended to the Covenant Annual Meeting that the resolution on human sexuality adopted by the 1996 Annual Meeting serve the Covenant as: 1) the guiding statement on human sexuality and the marriage ethic; and 2) the basis for Covenant policy, practices, and guidelines on these matters. It was first voted on and passed in the Ministerium Annual Meeting, followed by a vote on the floor of the Covenant Annual Meeting, where the vote passed by 92 percent.

The Covenant Executive Board’s responsibility is to prayerfully discern appropriate steps in shepherding the decisions of the Covenant Annual Meeting in accordance with our constitution and bylaws. The ultimate decision on the recommendation will be made by delegates in attendance at the 2023 Covenant Annual Meeting.

Thank you for joining us in prayer as we continue to serve you and seek alignment with God’s best for his Church.

Grace and Peace,

Tim Rodgers
Chair, Covenant Executive Board

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