ECC Statement on the Resignation of Judy Peterson
CHICAGO, February 11, 2019 – Last week, Judy Peterson voluntarily resigned her credentials as a minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church to the organization’s Board of Ordered Ministry.
The Evangelical Covenant Church, or ECC, respects Peterson’s decision and appreciates the deep impact she has made on the lives of students, alumni, faculty, congregants and peers.
“I want to thank Pastor Judy Peterson for her years of service in the Evangelical Covenant Church,” said ECC President John Wenrich. “She is a gifted evangelist and communicator, and I’m especially grateful for her ministry to our youth and young adults.”
In November 2017, Peterson’s credentials in the ECC were suspended after she officiated a same-sex wedding earlier that year. In June 2018, the ECC’s Board of Ordered Ministry, which consists of 14 elected ministers and lay persons and 7 ex-officio members, placed her on provisional probation. In January 2019, the ECC’s Board of Ordered Ministry fully reinstated Peterson’s credentials with the expectation she would abide by the ECC’s guidelines for clergy. She chose on Feb. 7, 2019, to resign those credentials.
The ECC denomination, and not local churches, holds and distributes all credentials to those ordained in the Covenant. According to the ECC guidelines for Covenant pastors, clergy credentialed by the ECC may attend the wedding or blessing of a same-sex couple but may not participate in the service.
The ECC recognizes the divergence between its communally discerned position—faithfulness in heterosexual marriage and celibacy in singleness—and Peterson’s views on human sexuality and the role of clergy with regard to same-sex relationships, as made clear through an open letter written by Peterson, former campus pastor at North Park University, and posted online upon her resignation. Those leading the ECC realize the emotional hardship for all those involved.
“While there are different interpretations regarding what has taken place, these last few years have been a difficult process,” said Lance Davis, the executive minister of Develop Leaders and the Board of Ordered Ministry. “Our prayers and respect are with Judy as she seeks God’s guidance into her next season of ministry.”
Davis emphasizes pastors’ credentials are not their own and are bestowed on them by the community of the Covenant. Clergy are bound by vows at the time of ordination that include honoring the Covenant’s discerned definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
At its core, the ECC is committed to embracing all people with the love of Jesus Christ regardless of race, gender, creed, ethnic origin, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. The ECC’s Embrace Initiative (covchurch.org/embrace) is an expanding suite of human sexuality discipleship resources, webinars and experiences such as workshops and leadership forums. Embrace is in harmony with the historic and global Christian understanding of marriage and the communally adopted position of the ECC. A special emphasis of Embrace is to equip every Covenant church to flourish in love for LGBTQ+ individuals and communities.
Who We Are: The Evangelical Covenant Church is a movement of more than 875 churches in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1885 in Chicago by Swedish immigrants, the ECC is now a multiethnic mosaic of churches with partnerships in nearly 60 countries. God has called the ECC to start and strengthen churches, make and deepen disciples of Jesus, develop leaders, serve globally and to love mercy while doing justice. The ECC seeks to join God in his mission to see more disciples among more diverse populations in a more caring and just world.