As a result of their conflicting opinions on LGBTQ rights, the Quest Church decided to leave the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) denomination voluntarily. The megachurch in Seattle reportedly welcomes members of the LGBTQ Christian community who can even be a pastor, while the members of the Evangelical Covenant Church do not accept this.
Different Stances on LGBTQ Rights
The Evangelical Covenant Church stated that the decision to move the vote on the compulsory removal of Quest from the roster of churches to the 137th Annual Meeting was made by the Covenant Executive Board in October. The agenda for the assembly, which will take place between June 29 and July 1, was made public under the rules and regulations of the denomination 30 days before the event was scheduled to take place. Action will be taken on Quest as part of item 10b of the agenda titled "Action on Involuntary Removal from Membership." Even though the agenda cannot be changed any further before the meeting, the moderator of the Annual Meeting intends to amend the motion that the Quest Church be voluntarily expelled from the meeting since the church recently announced its disaffiliation from its denomination.
Church Leaders reported that Rev. Gail Song Bantum, the head pastor of Quest, posted on Facebook that the church had informed the ECC leaders of its separation from the organization that morning via a formal letter that Quest had given to the denominational affiliation. As mentioned, a vote against excluding Quest and another LGBTQ-affirming congregation, Awaken Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, was scheduled for this summer within the ECC when Quest voluntarily disaffiliated itself from the organization. "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," she asserted.
Moreover, Rev. Song Bantum observed that this view is not held despite their uniqueness or values as an ECC church; instead, it is because of these identities and ideals. The congregation would reportedly leave the denomination both heartbroken and encouraged by how the Holy Spirit is working in their community, despite the ECC's refusal to accept God's activity among them.
Quest Church Support on LGBTQ Community
According to a report from MSN, in 2001, the Reverend Eugene Cho, who left the church in 2018 and now serves as the leader of Bread for the World, a prominent Christian advocacy organization committed to alleviating hunger, launched Quest Church. At that time, the church was holding its weekly services at Interbay Covenant Church. Song Bantum said that Interbay donated their church building to Quest, everything the church possessed, and who they were in 2007, characterizing the church's legacy of giving and revolutionary inclusivity in response to the Spirit. She also mentioned that this practice continued in 2021 when Quest completely affirmed their LGBTQIA+ siblings in theology and practice.
Accordingly, the LGBTQ community celebrates Pride Month every June, and Quest's social media accounts incorporate rainbow-colored logos with messages of encouragement for a good Pride Month. The organization's website characterizes it as "fully affirming." Their website shows everyone who "calls Quest home" is eligible for membership and leadership roles within the organization, including the pastor job. This includes but is not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and queer people. However, this led to conflict between the ECC and those who led its congregation. The ECC has requested its ministers not to participate in same-sex marriages since 2015, despite including LGBTQ people as not one of its core teachings.