A new short documentary, "What Happens When an Evangelical Church Welcomes LGBTQ Members," features Rev. Adam Phillips, a pastor in Portland, Ore., whose church was kicked out of the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination in 2015 when Phillips revealed his full acceptance and support of the LGBTQ community.
"I hadn't really grown up in a faith community, and the Covenant Church was my faith family," he says. "I poured myself into it, and for a long season they poured themselves into me. I was one of the young emerging leaders...to be the future leaders of the church."
The video, by filmmakers Zach Putnam and David MacKay, was recently featured by The Atlantic's video channel.
In Feb. 2015, Sojourners sat down for a phone interview with Phillips, during which he described the "heartbreak" of being dismissed from the ECC, and his anger over LGBTQ Christians being treated unfairly.
“It’s heartbreaking to lose my family of two decades over what I think is an issue of Christian unity and welcome,” he said.
“I’ve just met dozens and dozens of gay Covenanters in recent weeks that have said, 'Hey, thanks for speaking up,' and they’ve told me their stories of exclusion or being ostracized in some cases. These are good Christian people — people that grew up in the Covenant, working at Bible camps, going to Covenant schools. And some of these folks have experienced depression; some have experienced suicidal thoughts.
And that’s the kind of thing that I hope that my friends in the Covenant, no matter where they stand on this matter, can work together to at least find some way for hospitality and inclusion to take place."
After news broke of Phillips’ dismissal from the ECC, Phillips’ church—Christ Church: Portland—received donations that replaced much of the funding withdrawn from them by the denomination. Christ Church: Portland continues to meet and fully accept LGBTQ people.
"I think it’s imperative that we lean into what the Holy Spirit is doing," Phillips said.
I think the Holy Spirit is guiding us on this conversation — and there’s so much grace. Even though there’s so much pain and fear. I think in the end, grace wins out.
I’ve found that in the midst of all this, amazing friends emerge, and new friendships are forged. And you know, God’s doing something really cool right now. And it seems chaotic, and it seems scary, because so many of the old models are outdated. But God’s truth is not changed whatsoever, and God’s news is still good. So I just encourage people to keep leaning into God’s promises and friends along the way that can walk with us as we figure it out as we go.
Read the full Sojourners interview with Phillips here.