Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: Metropolitan Community Churches
Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) is a Christian denomination established to provide a welcoming and affirming place of worship for LGBT and heterosexual parishioners. Now consisting of 233 churches and spiritual communities in 42 countries, MCC has broadened its mission to welcome all people and to advocate for social justice on a wide range of issues. As stated on the denomination’s web site, “MCC churches offer a picture of Christianity and religion which celebrates God’s diverse creativity . . . As MCC’s message of love and inclusion in God’s creation brought our churches into a variety of countries and cultures, our particular devotion to human rights and justice extended our gospel message to issues of human sexuality, gender identity, race, poverty, and more.”
Each MCC church is autonomous, creating it own systems of governance and administration. A “process of affiliation” ensures that local churches uphold the values of the denomination as a whole. The MCC offices, based in Sarasota, Florida, provide support to member churches and develop global ministries and missions with guidance from an elected Governing Board and an appointed Council of Elders. Reflecting its mission of inclusion and social justice, MCC has established advisory councils to address specific areas of need, including Transgender/Non-Conforming People, Heterosexual Inclusion, People of African Descent, Woman, People with HIV/AIDS, Accessibility, and both older and younger generations.
Founded as a church for LGBT Christians, MCC has also been a leader in the struggle for LGBT rights. The church’s Human Rights Protocol details the community’s Christian duty to “stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized and oppressed,” and to “lift up new generations of remarkable, far-reaching spiritual activists.” Included among the MCC web resources is an Inclusivity Film Series that provides links to documentaries covering a range of issues from immigration to race to the marginalizing of the elderly.
MCC established its Transgender Ministries program to support church communities as they become more welcoming and affirming of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, and to ensure that MCC churches are places “in which to embody the priesthood of all believers.”
On Marriage Equality
Founder Reverend Troy Perry performed the church’s first same-sex marriage in 1968, just two months after the establishment of the church. Believed to be the first public same-sex ceremony celebrated in the United States, it set a standard from which the church has never wavered. As stated on their web site, “MCC believes that marriage should be freely available to all people, everywhere. Where legal marriage is allowed for homosexual couples, MCC offers marriage ceremonies. In locations in which gay marriage is not legal, MCC offers Holy Unions – religious ceremonies that recognize the union of a homosexual couple in the house of God.” In addition to its work in the United States, the church advocates for marriage equality through its affiliations around the world.
Founded by a gay man, MCC has never wavered from the belief that the, “acceptance and blessing of gay people, including marriage and ordination, is central to the theology of this religion.” Women have never been excluded from ordination and the current Moderator – the denomination’s global leader – is Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson.
MCC supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Its efforts in advocating for President Obama’s executive order against discrimination in the work place were recognized when MCC Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson was invited to attend the signing at the White House. In a related statement, Rev. Wilson said,
“We will not rest until Congress passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with no religious exemptions so all Americans will be hired and fired based on their work and integrity rather than their gender identity or whom they love.”
As a denomination founded for the purpose of providing a home for LGBT Christians, MCC holds a unique place in the American landscape. Its growth over the last four decades has been significant and its ability to evolve with the changing times has been exemplary. Many LGBT Christians seeking a spiritual community will find MCC the perfect solution, others can look to the church’s work for guidance on transforming their own communities.
Resources for LGBT MCC Christians
Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to building bridges and offering support for those caught in the crossfire of one of today’s most divisive culture wars.
Metropolitan Community Churches
Post Office Box 50488
Sarasota, FL 34232