A Christian university in Chicago, Illinois suspended its campus pastor on Tuesday after it found out that she had officiated a same-sex wedding earlier last year.
North Park University (NPU) has decided to put campus Pastor Judy Peterson on a paid leave after her ordination credentials were revoked by the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) for officiating a same-sex wedding.
According to New Now Next, Peterson had been asked by a gay North Park alumnus to officiate his wedding in the fall of 2016. She had officiated the wedding in April 2017, despite being warned by a high-ranking ECC official that her credentials could be jeopardized, as the church does not condone same-sex marriage.
The ECC, which founded the university, holds that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. In a Dec. 29 email, ECC leaders reiterated the church's stance "that a loving God lovingly instructs us, even through cautions and limitations. That belief informs the Covenant's position on human sexuality and the marriage ethic."
Peterson, who was named campus pastor in 2007, was asked to give up her credentials in September after a new executive minister discovered an online photo of her officiating the wedding. When she refused, the ECC revoked her credentials in November and she was asked to resign from North Park at the end of the 2017–2018 academic year.
A hearing with the ECC's Board of Ordered Ministry will take place later this month to decide Peterson's future with the university.
"North Park University welcomes conversations around the topics over which there are differences of viewpoint. The role of the academy is to foster thoughtful, respectful discussion which allows for difference and accepts people regardless of viewpoints," the university said in a statement, as reported by The Christian Post.
Peterson stated in an email that she was fully aware that she was breaking one of the ethical guidelines for clergy when she went ahead with the ceremony, but said that she stands by her decision.
"This was not a flippant decision done with disregard for religious rules, but rather a discerned decision to stand with my brothers in the same way Jesus has stood with me; in everything and at all times, no matter what," Peterson wrote in an email shared by Mission Friends 4 Inclusion, a group that supports LGBT people in the evangelical church.
Peterson further noted that she frequently works with LGBT students at North Park, and the school has recognized the student group Queers and Allies.
The university said in a statement that it "sincerely regrets and is sorry for the hurt and confusion" in the wake of Peterson's suspension, which the school places squarely on the ECC.
"We encourage ongoing prayer for Pastor Judy in this time of discernment and all parties seek to remain in dialogue," the university stated.