Minnesota Church Expelled from Denomination for Allowing Same-Sex Marriage

Minnesota Church Expelled from Denomination for Allowing Same-Sex Marriage

The Evangelical Covenant Church voted to defrock a pastor in Minneapolis and expel his church for allowing gay marriage.

Rev. Dan Collison was voted out of his position by a 77 percent vote at the Evangelical Covenant Church’s annual meeting in Nebraska last week.

The church Collison pastored, First Covenant Church, was expelled from the denomination.

“I feel grounded in the path we have chosen,” Collison told reporters. “I feel grateful for the pastors and churches who stood up for us. I feel compassion to those caught in the middle.”

Collison became the church’s pastor in 2009. The ECC says the church can keep operating in its building, but it will not be under the ECC umbrella. The church has said Collison will continue serving as lead pastor.

The decision to defrock Collison came after a First Covenant staff member officiated the wedding of two women from the church worship band in 2014. The ceremony took place off-site.

According to ABC News, the church had also displayed a “love all” statement at the church, saying that members of the LGBTQ community were welcome to participate and to serve at the church.

The church had also said that it offered wedding services “to all in our congregation without regard for ability, race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The ECC also voted Friday to remove a retired Michigan pastor who had officiated his son’s same-sex wedding in Minneapolis in 2017.

The ECC’s policy states that the church believes in “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage.”

"The ECC is mindful of the complexity, the sensitivity and the pain that matters of human sexuality can bring," said Michelle Sanchez, an ECC executive minister. "We talk about the desire for both freedom and responsibility as a denomination. Those two things were coming into tension in this case."

Said ECC president John Wenrich: “I hope this historic church changes its mind and then returns to our family.”

The ECC is made up of some 875 churches nationwide and about 280,000 members.

Photo courtesy: Mercedes Mehling/Unsplash