Post: Readers Respond
This letter is in response to the Evnagelical Covenant Church Annual Meeting, “Gather,” that took place in Omaha, Nebraska, June 27-29, 2019.
I gathered with the community at at First Covenant Church of Minneapolis this morning for worship. This was my mother’s home church. And her parents. And their parents — back to the late 19th century. Dan Collison, now the defrocked pastor, a friend of mine, declared that in the midst of all the hurt, (and there was plenty of abuse and hurt from many Covenant leaders — shocking reality), he declared that they were still a Covenant Church! We shouted “AMEN!” and applauded this truth. I have rarely seen the spirit of our mothers and fathers, so embodied in this little fellowship in this once grand tabernacle. I am weeping because, for me, the institution has chosen death instead of life. I am joyful, to have witnessed new life emerge from the struggle — as it must be — because life is stronger than death. It was a great morning. We felt the love and encouragement from the entire Covenant remnant.
David Hawkinson, St. PAUL, Minn.
– Sunday, June 30, 2019
I was a delegate to Gather 2019, my first [Covenant] Annual Meeting. A Covenanter for just over a decade, it was an almost-3-year old that had me seeking God back then. The fellowship shown to me by Covenanters, old and young, made me want to know more. The Covenant Affirmations, the chance to learn how to walk in the love God offers and loving kindness kept me there.
Sadly, Gather left me feeling broken and hollow. I have never experienced this in my Covenant journey.
Now 14, my son asks questions I can’t answer. We discuss faith and how to apply the love of God in difficult situations. Having just finished middle school we’ve had plenty of opportunities.
He wanted to invite friends who rejected religion to his church to show them: God is love. He had seen and felt it practiced. He believed he could enlighten the atheist. He doesn’t anymore. “Mom, we’re just like all the other capital ‘C’ Churches that preach love and then show hate. Just like everybody says they do. We’re no different.”
I struggle to answer. How to justify this? How to keep him in the life of his church? Friday I felt silenced and empty. How do I tell him to feel differently?
I remind him: God is love. We are called to love one another even if we don’t agree. Scripture teaches us this. Unity is not sameness.
I admitted that no, I don’t feel that God’s love was visible in the voting that Friday. No, I don’t know exactly where this leaves us.
I remind him that names are powerful and to keep First Covenant, Minneapolis and Steve Armfield in our prayers. To allow silence to rule is to consent and I continue to faithfully dissent on these resolutions.
On Saturday, of the 1200+ who voted to oust a church, just over 600 voted on new ones. Barely 500 for a $28M budget. Chairs had been removed and rows spread further apart to give the appearance of a larger crowd. Did half the delegates show up to cast the stones and then felt their work was done? I felt like I had witnessed a public execution.
Something precious has been ripped away and I don’t know what to do with what remains. Pray for all of us.
Kat Leffler, Omaha, Neb.