Covenant Freedom, Clergy, and the role of LGBT persons in the ECC
January 2, 2015
Reverend Gary Walter
Reverend Mark Novak
8303 W. Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631
Dear Rev. Gary Walter and Rev. Mark Novak,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are aware that Covenant leadership has established two task forces that are seeking to interpret what it means for clergy to "faithfully dissent" and for local congregations to be "out of harmony" with Covenant policy. Understanding these task forces are still in process, we remain concerned that, among many things, there are discussions about prescribing local church policy around membership and leadership – a major shift from our congregational polity. Further, while we agree that clergy should abide by existing ethical guidelines, we reject any culture of fear and intimidation that suggests articulating a different position is grounds for discipline. Covenant clergy should be able to articulate and teach the Covenant’s position on homosexuality and, at the same time, not live in fear if they also hold and articulate an alternate position arrived at faithfully.
We are deeply committed to this denomination and truly believe that we are in it together and better together. We long for the Covenant to be that courageous place where a fevered gospel passion is combined with a zeal for companionship with all of God’s people.
To that end, we ask you to consider a clearly-outlined, denomination-wide, consultation in the ministerium on the role of LGBT persons in the church, where speakers and advocates from all sides are heard and engaged. No further formal policies should be put in place until we have engaged in careful study and sustained, engaged conversation together.
In the end, we wish to continue to struggle together, and have the courage to not let go of each other.
(See attached pages)
Rev. Richard Lucco, Executive Director of Ministry Development
Rev. Curtis Ivanoff, Regional Field Director, Alaska
Rev. Jerome Nelson, Central Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Greg Yee, Pacific Northwest Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Howard Burgoyne, East Coast Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Garth McGrath, Great Lakes Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Garth Bolinder, Midsouth Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Tammy Swanson-Draheim, Midwest Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Paul Wilson, Pacific Southwest, Superintendent
Rev. Mark Stromberg, Northwest Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Robert Owens, Southeast Conference, Superintendent
Rev. Jeffrey Anderson, Canada, Superintendent
Rev. Robert Peterson, Board of Ordered Ministry, Chair