Metropolitan Community Churches: The Human Rights Church
July 10, 2013 by Sharon Groves, Director, Religion and Faith Program
Bishop Senyonjo (center) with HRC Religion & Faith Director Sharon Groves (left) and Associate Director of Field Outreach Donna Payne (center right) at his last visit to DC.
Last week Chicago hosted the historic 25th General Conference of the Metropolitan Community Churches. MCC is the largest and oldest LGBT organization in the world with 45 years of service and advocacy. Today, MCC is at work in 40 countries and is known in many places as "The Human Rights Church."
I was honored to attend the national gathering and to provide a workshop this year. I was particularly impressed with their global religious leadership evidenced throughout the conference.
It was powerful to hear a hero of mine, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo speak about his advocacy for LGBT people in Uganda. For his work against the “Kill the Gays” bill and his support of the full dignity and spiritual lives of all people in Uganda, he received MCC’s 2013 Human Rights award. Bishop Senyonjo shared the stage with Dr. Daniel Baer, President Obama’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Baer addressed the entire assembly on the embassies work across the globe to promote the fair treatment of all LGBT people. Baer is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
MCC was founded a year before Stonewall in 1968 and the Founder, the Rev. Troy Perry, began marrying same-sex couples right away. An online summary of MCC’s marriage equality efforts includes a front page 1969 article in the Los Angeles Times, a 1971 LIFE magazine photo of an MCC marriage, and, in 1975, the first registered marriage in the Colorado Bureau of Records. Recently MCC has been moving marriage equality forward in Malaysia, Brazil and the dozens of countries where MCC works.
Their work nationally and internationally is groundbreaking and it is a pleasure to be in their company on this journey.