A Minneapolis pastor and his congregation have been expelled from the Evangelical Covenant Church for their support of the LGBT community and their position on same-sex marriage.
The denomination’s national leaders voted Friday to remove the First Covenant Church of Minneapolis from its roster and evicted Rev. Dan Collinson, the church’s pastor.
They were found to be “out of harmony” with its policies due to their stance on human sexuality, the ECC said in a statement. The vote was taken at the ECC’s annual meeting, which is held yearly to decide on the denomination’s business matters.
The denomination, founded by Swedish immigrants in 1885, considers heterosexual marriage, faithfulness in heterosexual marriage and abstinence for single individuals the standard, according to their website.
It defines itself as “evangelical, but not exclusive; biblical, but not doctrinaire; traditional, but not rigid, and congregational, but not independent.”
“I grieve the loss of First Covenant Church of Minneapolis from the roster of Covenant churches,” said John Wenrich, the ECC’s president. “At the same time, I respect the discernment of the Annual Meeting. I hope this historic church someday changes its mind and then returns to our family.”
About 875 churches in the United States are currently part of the Evangelical Covenant Church. About 1,000 delegates from those churches attend its annual meeting.
“We are deeply grieved as we find ourselves cast out by a denomination that has historically been able to hold differences and find a middle way,” a post on the church’s page said. “We will continue to serve and fully embrace anyone who walks through our doors.”
The congregation is expected to remain in their historic Minneapolis downtown building and will operate under the same name. The church also said Collison will continue to serve as lead pastor.
“We are grateful to have him, and we hold him and his family with love and grace,” the church said.
*story by CNN