Denomination pulls support after evangelical pastor accepts LGBT members

(Photo: Reuters)

A pastor in Oregon has lost the support and funding of the Evangelical Covenant Church because of his acceptance of LGBT persons as church members and leaders. 

Rev. Adam Phillips founded Christ Church in Portland in 2013, and believed his acceptance of the LGBT community was allowed by the denomination. He found out earlier this month that it was not, The Huffington Post reports.

"There was a clear red line … in terms of performing gay marriages, and I was more than ready to uphold that," he said in an interview. 

But he also believed in "the invitation and welcome of gays and lesbians into full inclusion of the church, and that includes the invitation to marriage, or the invitation to celibacy."

Phillips claimed that before and after he became ordained in 2007, he made the Church aware of his beliefs on the matter, and insisted that he was told "that the Covenant was a safe place for me to hold these personal convictions." 

"The Covenant assured me everything was OK, until it wasn't," he said in a video posted to the church's website. 

The 35-year-old received notice on February 4 that his church would no longer be supported by the Evangelical Covenant Church because of his "personal convictions and advocacy for the full inclusion and participation of LGBT Christians in the church at all levels of membership and leadership."

Phillips said he was "heartbroken" that he and his church were no longer "Covenant-compatible."

"I've been on a journey," he explained. "I once believed that fully welcoming and including the LGBT community into our churches could not be reconciled with Christian teaching. 

"These beliefs began to change, however, once I encountered good faithful Jesus followers who happened to be gay."

The Evangelical Covenant Church is an evangelical Christian denomination with over 800 congregations across the US and Canada.  

The Covenant Church maintains that a pastor's personal beliefs "must never overshadow" the denomination's policies. 

An official Church resolution on human sexuality states: "A publicly declared, legally binding marriage between one woman and one man is the one appropriate place for sexual intercourse. Heterosexual marriage, faithfulness within marriage, abstinence outside of marriage—these constitute the Christian standard."

The Church has not commented on Phillips' case.