Rev. Darren McDonald has been a minister with MCC since 2011. He was born partially sighted due to his optic nerves not developing fully in the womb in Arcadia, CA (the suburban town where Focus on the Family was founded). He learned to navigate life, and play, on the margins as a gay child with a physical impairment in a harshly conservative social and religious environment that saw him as an object in need of healing rather than a full human being. He received his education in a similarly dehumanizing environment, as he graduated while closeted from an evangelical Christian college (Westmont) and seminary (Fuller). Thankfully, the love and support of friends and family eventually gave him the courage to live as his full self and leave behind the conservative Presbyterian denomination in which he was raised on the eve of his ordination as a Presbyterian minister in 2006.
Along with his work with the Accessibility Advisory Committee, Rev. Darren currently serves as volunteer clergy at MCC Portland. He is also working on his Master’s in Counseling at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, where he is writing his thesis on the intersection of LGBT and Disabled identities.
Rev. Houston Burnside, Jr. was born near Los Angeles in 1952 and is a native of Southern California, living in San Diego since 1966. Houston is a graduate of San Diego State University in Political Science and Philosophy, with graduate studies at San Diego State University and Claremont School of Theology. On staff at MCC San Diego since 1989, Houston has served in various denominational and local church ministries. An articulate speaker, debater, and community activist (with a history of service on the Boards of several community organizations), Houston is currently serving all ministry areas as Staff Pastor . Additionally, Houston oversees the multimedia programming for our Sunday worship and is a member of our Celebration Choir.
Brett Doig, a Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship participant, hails from an Anglican and Pentecostal background. He has been a member of MCC Brisbane for 4 years. He has served on the Board for three years and is also responsible for the sound desk and systems that are used by Brisbane throughout services. He knows he has been called to MCC and it is his fervent wish to serve God in whatever capacity he can. He embraces the unique roll laity play within the fabric of MCC. Brett has worked for the past 25 years with Woolworths, where he serves as a seafood and duty manager. His secular work has enabled him to develop skills in administration, management and team work. Brett is the 7 term president of Apex Club of Brisbane City of which he has been a member since 1983. Apex is a volunteer community service organization that offers active Australians aged 18 to 45 an opportunity to learn more about themselves, gain new skills and help those in need. Apex has worked with Open Doors an organization for young gay and lesbian homeless people and continues to do so.
Dr. Connie Kay is a member of Open Circle MCC in The Villages, Florida where she serves as the Director of Congregational Care. She is also a doctor of Clinical Psychology. Dr. Connie was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 1995. On Oct 31, 2008 she experienced alaminectomy of C-2,C-3,C-4 which left her a quadriplegic. She lives independently via the use of a power wheelchair and an adapted van. Connie’s life partner, Beverly, died on June 14, 2009, 7 months after being diagnosis with brain cancer. They share 2 daughters (Katie,40 and Kristin,37) and 4 grandchildren (Abby,13; Alex,10; Jonah,11; and Lucas,7). Abby and Jonah are cancer survivors.
Rev. Mel Martinez is an ordained minister in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. A graduate of Perkins School of Theology (Dallas, TX), Pastor Mel comes to us to preach the Gospel and make joy-filled music to God. Ministry is Mel’s calling and vocation, and she is blessed to be able to do both in witness to God’s glorious work at Wichita Falls MCC since January of 2012. Pastor Mel grew up attending Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Weatherford, Texas. Her background in the church began at a very early age and Mel has experienced church in the Pentecostal, Baptist, Church of Christ, and Methodist traditions. Mel’s tenure in MCC began in 1991, when she visited an MCC for the first time (MCC San Antonio). From that moment on, Mel remained dedicated to the mission and vision of the MCC movement. Pastor Mel ministered as a lay person in the denominational offices of MCC from 2003-2011, filling the roles of Executive Assistant to an Elder, Director of MCC’s Online Ministry and Co-Lead of MCC Transgender Ministries. Pastor Mel completed her seminary work and her ordination process in MCC while maintaining employment with the denomination. Pastor Mel is a talented pastor, musician, administrator, writer, and educator. Pastor Mel writes, edits, and publishes various resources and was instrumental in the October 2010 release of the “MCC TRANSFormative Church Ministry Program,” which features her programmatic and ritual writing. She shares her life with her partner, Tammy, and daughter, Brylee.
Rev. Edwin Yates, Padre, as he is called, has a Masters degree from the University of North Florida in Deaf Education and Counseling. He originally hails from Florida but recently has lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio prior to his move to Flint, MI. He has 20 years of experience in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation and Interpreting for the Deaf. While pastoring a church is his primary vocation, he continues to work in the field of Interpreting for the Deaf and as a Spiritual Director/Companion & Life Coach for individuals seeking to build their relationship with the Divine. Padre grew up in the Armed Forces (USN) and has traveled extensively. He has learned and lived in many cultural and spiritual communities. This experience has allowed Padre to develop a Progressive Christian and Creation Centered theology which is both diverse and inclusive of all people. He is a Member of the Clergy of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a member of Spiritual Directors International, a partner for the Charter For Compassion, and a member of The Center for Progressive Christianity. He is currently the pastor of MCC of Flint and is developing a ministry focused on reaching the Deaf LGBTIQQA Culture.