Category Archives: Clergy

Leah Klug: “Let Us Work Together”

Leah Klug

Last Tuesday, I stood in front of a class full of seminarians and made a presentation about how we would be imaging God in our class.  While I read scripture, I showed slides of classic Bible scenes as depicted by cultures all over the world.  Jesus was Korean, African, Chinese, Indian, White, European American, Sioux, Cherokee, Italian, Saudi Arabian, and Palestinian.  In my language, I spoke of what it means to open our imaging of God so that those in the pews can see themselves as created in God’s image. In my language, I asked them also to imagine that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered members of their congregations were also created in God’s image. I teach in a liberal, inclusive Jesuit seminary that has found a way to make room for Protestants from many denominations to study alongside Catholic students, and train together for work in ministry.

A year ago, I was a churchplanter in the Evangelical Covenant Church.  Shortly after my ordination in June 2009, I left the ECC church I had worked at for eight years to start a new congregation in Seattle’s diverse University District.  As my husband and I made it known that we would be planting a new congregation, the question came up again and again: would I be welcome at your church? Would my parents be welcome at your church? When people start asking if they would be welcome, if they would be safe in church, something is wrong. I knew I needed to step into God’s call on my life as a minister, and preach openly that all of us, gay and straight, are welcomed and celebrated in the God’s kingdom. Soon thereafter, we officially announced that the churchplant would be open and affirming. Continue reading Leah Klug: “Let Us Work Together”

Darlene: “My Journey as a Minister”


I’ve contemplated the idea of sharing my thoughts about this topic for some time now – not sure whether I should or even could piece words together well enough to produce anything worth reading. This is mostly because I am still learning. I am discovering that it is possible to walk away from a careful study of Scripture and come away with a host of differing interpretations, and that I am not exempt from error. Not only that, but people who think differently from me can also be right.

I also must admit that I have some concerns (that border on fear) in sharing my thoughts. First, I worry that I will be misunderstood and even rejected by people I consider friends. Second, that I will become the victim of assumptions regarding my sexual status. I am a single heterosexual woman who desires to remain single indefinitely (I know that’s rare). I believe that God’s call for me is celibacy and I embrace that and celebrate being a happy and fulfilled single woman. As a woman for whom this is true, I risk being attacked by unwarranted assumptions and conclusions that many may draw regarding my sexual orientation. This is not because I frown upon those who are gay/lesbian, rather because of my utter dislike for assumption and misrepresentation. A third concern is that I will hurt those who read or that my thoughts may be misconstrued – my apologies in advance. And finally, I can’t help but consider that I will be misunderstood or have some distance placed between me and my fellow African American sisters/brothers because of what I say or refrain from saying in this brief space.

Nevertheless, I refuse to succumb to playing it safe, being held hostage in the prison of the personal opinions or objections of others. Jesus modeled risk-taking exceptionally well! Continue reading Darlene: “My Journey as a Minister”

Ralph Sturdy: “My Journey Through the Maze of Human Sexuality”

Rev. Ralph Sturdy

Earlier this year I wrote a letter to the Covenant Companion exhorting my beloved denomination to have open hearts and open arms to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. I wept when I read the “first person” letters of response in the September, 2010 issue of the Companion. The pain reflected in them haunts me.  I keep thinking of words written about Jesus that applies to those families:  “He came to his own and his own did not receive him.”

I am not new to the question of welcoming lesbian and gays into the fellowship of the Church.  I am a retired Covenant Pastor. My father was a Covenant Pastor. His father was a Covenant layperson; his father came from Sweden and was a founding member of a Covenant Church. Because I am a “work in progress” I thought it might be helpful to the Covenant family if I shared my own journey through the maze of human sexuality.  I’m sure it is not the same for everyone. Each of our journeys is different, yet I suspect there are threads in the journey that bind us together. Continue reading Ralph Sturdy: “My Journey Through the Maze of Human Sexuality”

Scott Erickson: “What Are You Going to Do About It?”

Scott Erickson

Text for reflection: [Three men] said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And [Abraham] said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:9–15)

I often have wondered about Sarah’s laugh in this text from Genesis. Was it a laugh of disbelief? “You have got to be kidding, God. The idea of having a child at my advanced age is worthy of great laughter.” Or was it a laugh of pleasure? “After all these years, I can finally have my own child and not share my husband’s son Ishmael with my husband’s mistress.” Or was it a laugh of sarcasm and cynicism? “This time you have gone too far, God: You know that the only role for women in this culture is to bear and raise children. After all these years, it still brings me great pain that I have been unable to have children.” Or was it a laugh that provided a cover-up for a great deal of shame – shame that was a result of years of pain?

When I a teenager, I walked around with a great deal of shame, which I quickly covered up with lots of laughter – just like Sarah. I was ashamed of being gay, and I wondered why God would have created me gay and not straight like everyone else. Even saying the word “gay” did not happen unless it passed my lips as I sang a Christmas tune in the local Covenant Church Sunday School pageant: “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday; that’s why we’re happy, and that’s why we’re gay, for Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.”

Of course, we were “gay” if you mean happy, but we certainly were not all gay in my Sunday School. But I was – and I hoped for a long time, through middle school and upper school, that somehow God would work a miracle and make me to be just like everyone else. Continue reading Scott Erickson: “What Are You Going to Do About It?”

Rev. Arthur Nelson: Prayer

Rev. Arthur A. R. Nelson

Over many years my heart and soul have been churning with the desire to enable release and freedom for those in our Covenant family who have carried the pain and sorrow of the misunderstanding of their sexual identity and orientation, and in particular their disappointment with their church continuing to send clear signals of judgement and separation. I am deeply grateful that the current dialogue is finally become broadly public, which can only lead to a healthier and more loving Covenant family.

Here is a prayer that I wrote for my recent publication – Prayers Public and Personal – in its original form.

Holy and Compassionate God,
bless with your abiding presence and sensitive, loving, and faithful friends
those whose loneliness is deep and dark by virtue of their being
misunderstood and rejected.

Knowing that the issue of sexual identity too easily leads to the hasty
prejudice of others and sorrowful self-judgement, in the name and power
of  your son Jesus, who had unusual and unconditional love for those
often ostracized and moved to the margins of the culture of his time,
bring your refreshing and healing Spirit to those persons whose soul and heart
have embraced your saving grace but find your church and society
unkind and demeaning. And help us to keep reminding them that they are
dearly loved by us and by you.


Denny Moon: “Saved”

Rev. Denny P. Moon

All I could hear was the deep breathing and occasional snore of the students asleep in the back of the van.  As a youth pastor I was taking high school students from New England to visit North Park College.  The young man in the passenger seat next to me, the only other person awake in the vehicle, asked me in level tones just audible over the radio, “Does Jesus really love homosexuals?” I was just glad to have him talking, helping me stay awake until we reached the hard comfort of a floor in the Covenant church in Youngstown, Ohio. I paused to think before responding. “Yes.”  I spoke slowly. “I think he has to, because he loves everybody just as they are, without changing anything.  I mean that’s basic Christian stuff.”

Frankly, I didn’t want to say any more than that, because I was afraid he might take my words home to his parents and I could get in trouble. I ignored the obvious questions: “Then why does our church call homosexuality a sin?” “Why does no one ever talk about homosexuals at church?”  “Why do Christians condemn homosexuals?” I just let it ride. For several moments we heard only the periodic thump of the wheels over the uneven asphalt sections of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  “Oh,” he said, “I just wondered.”

Had I been a better youth pastor, I would have asked him some open ended question that would have helped him understand his wondering, but I didn’t.  He sensed my fear and stopped talking.

Ten years after the van conversation I had moved to a new church and the questioning young man drove two and a half hours to have lunch with me.   I was glad to see him and relive memories of our times together.  But there was an urgency about him and over our greasy pepperoni pie he told me he that he was gay and had come out to his family.  Our eyes were full and his anxiety palpable.  He said, “I came here to thank you for saving my life.”  I said, “I didn’t save your life, you did.”  “No,” he said, “There was more than one time when I really wanted to take my own life, but I remembered what you said ‘Jesus loves homosexuals… just the way they are.’ These words saved me.  So… thanks.” Continue reading Denny Moon: “Saved”

No One Should Stand Alone

It was a Sunday morning and I had just preached my heart out in front of the congregation. They were good people, just on the reserved side. If they had been moved in anyway at all I just wish that they would have informed their faces. But they were good people and just because their faces were impassive I knew that at least some of them on the inside were responsive.  At any rate I had laid it all on the line that morning and even gave an invitation.

As we sang the invitational hymn I stepped out from behind the pulpit to the center of the chancel, exposed, as absolutely no one came forward. Midway through the hymn I saw a teen age boy in the balcony bolt for the door. No sooner had he left the balcony than the door onto the sanctuary floor burst open and he charged up on the chancel, but instead of coming to stand in front of me, to confess his sin, this young man, stood beside me. He put one arm around me, held up his hymnal and began to sing. Surprised, I asked him – “Devon, why did you to come forward?”  He turned and looked at me and said, “Pastor Brockett, I didn’t come forward, I just looked at you standing down here by yourself and you looked so lonely, I didn’t want you to have to stand alone.” Tears came to my eyes – this boy had sensed my loneliness and had come to stand with me. Continue reading No One Should Stand Alone

Our Story: Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Eva Sullivan-Knoff and Family

With my family’s permission, I would like to share our story. It is one that changed my and our family’s life. A couple of years ago our younger son came to my husband, John and I, and told us he was gay.  We have always intentionally sought to love and support our sons, and we told him we did still, but we still didn’t want what he told us to be true. We wondered if he really knew yet. Maybe he will change his mind in a few years, and realize he really wasn’t gay, that it was just part of his developmental confusion. I spoke with a therapist who told me, she’d known a few teens that discovered later they really weren’t gay. So I told my son, you know, why don’t you pray and live with it for awhile, and see if you still feel that it rings true.  I genuinely meant that, but we were also afraid. We didn’t want this to be his reality. We didn’t want it to be ours either. We had had different dreams. It had felt like the rug had been pulled out from under us. I think as human beings we don’t deal with things unless we have to. Unless an issue affects us, we’d just as soon ignore it, especially if it is controversial. Though a few friends had told me before they were gay, I didn’t really deal with it on a deeper level, until my son told us.

I didn’t want to deal with this. What I heard growing up in the church was that it was a sin. Since those few friends told me they were gay, and they are people I love and respect, and whose faith journey and faith in God I trust, I have been confused. What do I do with this? And though I listened and supported my friends on one level, I am sure I failed them on another because I didn’t understand on the level they needed me to. I wasn’t sure how to understand it, beyond friendship.

I knew with our son telling us I had to deal with this now on a deeper level, though I didn’t want to. What do I do with this? What do I do with what I had previously understood? I talked with people I loved and respected and I prayed much.  I began to read, but I was also afraid. I am a Covenant minister. I knew the stand the denomination, in which I grew up, took on this issue, and which I have supported. What will they say to me, if they hear I have a son who is gay? This is the church I love. This is the denomination that has been a part of my life in deeply significant ways. This is the church I serve. I am not pleased to say that I was filled with fear. However, this was also my son who I love dearly.  This was personal, and not just another theological issue to discuss and debate. Continue reading Our Story: Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Finding Place in this Church [UPDATED]

Andrew Freeman

Several months ago, I received the latest issue of The Covenant Companion, which contained the cover story, “Our Place in the Covenant.” In anticipation of the denomination’s 125th Annual Meeting, the Companion featured several short stories and testimonies from Covenanters of varying backgrounds on how they have come to find a place in this church. In that same issue was a letter to the editor by my friend and fellow blogger, Ralph Sturdy. Ralph pointed out what he referred to as a “sad commentary”: that support for parents and friends of gay and lesbian children in Covenant churches has been relegated to a back-page classified ad for a confidential email. “Are they being asked to hide behind a veil of secrecy and shame?” Ralph asked. “Are we saying to our gay and lesbian children, many baptized in Covenant churches, that there is no place in the Covenant for them?” (emphasis mine)

Here, in the same issue about finding place in this church, an issue that celebrates belonging and Covenant identity, was a letter about quiet marginalization. Here was a letter raising a voice for those whose place in the church has, ever so subtly, been moved to the borders, to the fringes. The sad irony wasn’t lost on me, because it was and remains a dichotomy I have been forced to wrestle with every day of my life. And so, I felt compelled to write and submit to the Companion the following response: Continue reading Finding Place in this Church [UPDATED]

How did I Get Here?

Rev. Philip K. Brockett

Ever wake up in the morning and for that first instant of wakefulness wonder where you are? That is a little how I feel writing this blog. I feel like I just woke up and I am wondering how I got here. One moment I was “party line” Covenant pastor who had the appropriate evangelical view of homosexuality and then it was like I woke up to a different way of seeing.

In reality I think the process of “changing my mind” was happening slowly under the surface and I didn’t know it was happening until one day it popped out and surprised me. What changed my mind? A number of things. First of all I think it was years of pastoring people. It started with a young man 35 years ago who asked if he could come and speak to me but when he arrived in my office he could not speak a word of what was on his mind. We sat in silence for an hour – when our time was up I asked him if he wanted to come back again and he shook his head yes. Two more times we sat in silence for an hour before he was finally able to say to me that the had come to realize that he was gay. But saying it out loud was all he could do. He never came back to see me again, but his struggle left an indelible mark on me and gave seed to the conviction that homosexuality was certainly not something that he was choosing, instead it was something that he could not avoid. His self loathing and fear was palpable and my heart went out to him. Continue reading How did I Get Here?