(RNS) — Quest Church, an influential Seattle megachurch, is leaving its denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, over its differences with the ECC over acceptance of LGBTQ Christians.Quest’s move to voluntarily disaffiliate from the denomination comes as the ECC was prepared to vote this summer on expelling Quest and another LGBTQ-affirming congregation, Awaken Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“We have discerned that, to be the body of Christ, we must embrace the fullness of God’s life in all of our members, including our LGBTQIA+ siblings,” said the Rev. Gail Song Bantum, lead pastor of Quest, in a written statement shared Monday (June 5) on Facebook.
“This belief emerges from our identity and values as an ECC church, not despite this identity and these values. We leave the denomination grieved that the ECC refuses to recognize God’s work in our midst, and yet hopeful for the ways the Spirit is moving in our community.”
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Song Bantum wrote on Facebook that Quest sent a formal letter to the ECC that morning informing officials of its withdrawal from the denomination.
The ECC did not immediately respond to a request for comment by RNS.
The Rev. Eugene Cho — who left the church in 2018 and now leads Bread for the World, a prominent Christian advocacy group dedicated to ending hunger — planted Quest Church in 2001, initially holding weekly services at Interbay …