In the gospel of Luke, the angels announce to the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” We believe that the coming of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection is actually true, and good news for ANYONE AND EVERYONE.

At Awaken, we believe that all people are born with the essential dignity and intrinsic value that comes from being made in God’s image and are equally capable of experiencing God, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Therefore, we welcome and invite LGBTQ+ persons to participate at all levels of church life: partaking of the sacraments, serving in ministry, joining in partnership (membership), and holding leadership roles.

Because of our current lease, we are unable to host same sex weddings in our building. However, we will work with couples to find a space where they/we can celebrate their vows and commitments to one another. Awaken will support its Pastors as they follow their conscience and faith-filled convictions regarding their participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies (e.g., officiating, praying, or attending).

The following resources will help to give context and nuance to Awaken’s posture, hopes and dreams.

Lost in Translation: Human Sexuality Part 1

Lost in Translation: Human Sexuality Part 2

Wells & Fences: Freedom in Christ

The question of LGBTQ participation in the life of the church is a common question for us from those who hold conservative and progressive views. We believe it to be pastoral and kind to everyone seeking a church to have Awaken’s posture clearly stated. The following document is the result of our community’s discernment process and represents not only the collective voice of Awaken, but also the history and theology of the denomination we are a part of.

It was approved by the partners of Awaken at the 8th Annual Meeting on May 19th, 2019.


Statement Regarding the Affirmation of Freedom in Christ:

As it Relates to Human Sexuality

Awaken is a community gathered around the well that is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We believe the church has been invited to partner with God in the renewal of all things in and through Jesus. We want to be waking up to what God is doing in the world, in our neighborhood, and in our own lives as we seek to be a safe place for people to journey with Jesus at the center.

Our Covenant Identity  

“The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is a communion of congregations gathered by God, united in Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey the great commandment and the great commission”(1). As a member congregation of the ECC, our founding identity is to be a friend of all who fear God (Psalm 119:63). We affirm broad historical orthodoxy as outlined in the creeds of Christianity. We embrace the Evangelical Covenant Church’s foundational ethos as expressed in Covenant Affirmations(2), notably the affirmations of the centrality of the Word of God, freedom in Christ, and a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit. We claim and celebrate the ECC’s history of refusing to allow theological differences to divide a community, while at the same time advocating for the marginalized and finding a “third way” in controversies about non-essential matters such as infant baptism(3), just war theory(4), and many others(5).

Our unity stems from our shared life in Christ, not from uniformity in doctrinal interpretations. Our confession and authority is the living Word of Scripture, “which we confess as the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct”(6), and believe is “the altar where one meets the living God”(7). We recognize that faithful people who follow Jesus can and will come to different interpretations of Scripture; we are committed to creating spaces to hold those interpretations with love and respect for the other. Further, because we are in Christ, we choose to: extend freedom to one another, return to Scriptures together, trust the Spirit at work in one another, and, together, partner with God in the renewal of all things. We believe our differences and diversity will enrich, not diminish or inhibit, our lives together.

At Awaken

We believe that all people are born with the essential dignity and intrinsic value that comes from being made in God’s image and are equally capable of experiencing God, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Therefore, we welcome and invite LGBTQ+ persons to participate at all levels of church life: partaking of the sacraments, serving in ministry, joining in partnership (membership), and holding leadership roles. Because of our current lease, we are unable to host same sex weddings in our building but will work with couples to find a space where they/we can celebrate their vows and commitments to one another.

Awaken will support its Pastors as they follow their conscience and faith-filled convictions regarding their participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies (e.g., officiating, praying, or attending) trusting they: prayerfully study Scripture, follow the Spirit’s leading, consider words of counsel from peers and Awaken leadership, and engage respectfully and honestly with the denomination who holds their credentials.

We believe this statement to be within the boundaries and limits of our historical and theological framework as Covenanters as it relates to freedom in Christ, the authority of Scripture, and faithful dissent on matters that the Covenant has deemed not essential (i.e., matters that are not explicitly stated as Covenant Affirmations)(8). We hold fast to the centrality of the Word of God revealed to us in Jesus and the words of Scripture, and Awaken’s core belief of gathering around a well instead of building fences. Awaken is striving to be a place that honors biblical discernment and the freedom to disagree on matters that are not essential.

Endnotes

1.  “Constitution of Awaken Covenant Community.” Awaken Covenant Community. Available at bit.ly/AwakenConstitution.

2.  “Covenant Affirmations.” The Evangelical Covenant Church. Available at bit.ly/CovAffirmations.

3.  The Evangelical Covenant Church. What Does It Mean to Receive a Child Into the Church? Chicago: The Evangelical Covenant Church, 2007. Available at bit.ly/CovChurchInfantBaptism

4.  Christian Discipleship in the Midst of War.” The Evangelical Covenant Church. Available at bit.ly/CovChurchWarTheory.

5.  Clifton-Soderstrom, Michelle A. “Covenant Freedom: Freedom for All or Free-for-all?” Covenant Quarterly 75:3–4 (9/10/18). Available at bit.ly/CovFreedomMCS.

6.  “Evangelical Covenant Church Constitution and Bylaws.” The Evangelical Covenant Church. See “Confession,” Article II, Section 2.1. 3. Available at bit.ly/ECCConstitution.

7.  “Biblical Authority and Christian Freedom (1963): Full Report with Supporting Historical Documents.” Covenant Quarterly 75:3–4 (2017): 20. Available at bit.ly/BACF1963

8.  An excerpt from “Biblical Authority and Christian Freedom (1963): Full Report with Supporting Historical Documents” is helpful to speak of Christian essentials: “On the central issues of our faith, doctrine, and conduct, the biblical message is sufficiently clear: the creation of all things by God, humanity made in the divine image but fallen in sin, their consequent moral inability to achieve redemption, the incarnate and sinless life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, his atoning death and resurrection, redemption through faith in him, the regenerative and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of Christ’s coming again to consummate his kingdom and judge the world. These affirmations constitute the essential core of the biblical message and are sufficiently clear for our salvation.”