Out of the Church Closet: Hope for the Evangelical Covenant Church and Sexual Minorities in the Local Congregation
The Evangelical Covenant Church, like so many Christian denominations, is embroiled in conflict over homosexuality and gay marriage. This small North American denomination cannot afford a split, not only due to its small size, but because doing so would fundamentally deny its very identity. Thankfully, it is the denomination’s shared identity that gives the church, and sexual minorities, hope for the future.
The ECC is a gathering of churches that covenant together for the sake of God’s mission in the world. It’s pietistic history and ethos values relational unity over doctrinal uniformity, making gracious space for theological diversity for the purpose of that mission. It’s affirmations and distinctives provide a strong DNA for the church to flourish in the midst of a rapidly changing culture.
Homosexuality and gay marriage are complex problems in the church. They challenge fundamental beliefs, values and identities, and they are inherently personal and emotional topics. In order to address this challenge, church leaders must learn new ways of leading.
This paper proposes that an adaptive leadership framework provides the tools necessary for the Evangelical Covenant Church to faithfully and fully take on the challenge without compromising its commitment to Christ and the authority of the Bible. It offers practical resources to assist local congregations in discussing the topic. And, it suggests ways that denominational leadership can support the work of the local congregation.
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