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Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith News May 2015

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A Reflection on the Open Table
by Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis & Bryce E. Rich

It’s been a year since the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith began its work. Once again we’d like to invite the wider MCC community to continue our conversation. To that end, we will be sharing some of our preliminary thoughts on various topics we’ve been discussing amongst ourselves, including, the Open Table, our thoughts about Jesus, MCC’s unique mission within the Church, and our role as stewards of God’s creation.

This month we are discussing MCC’s practice of an open invitation to the table in worship. This has been our practice since 6 October 1968, when Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry held MCC’s first worship service in his home. In response to his invitation in The Advocate, 12 people from a variety of religious backgrounds gathered that day. Though the celebration of Holy Communion was not an integral part of Troy’s Pentecostal background, by the movement of the Spirit, he offered the bread and cup to all who were present. MCC gatherings around the world have continued this practice of an open invitation ever since.

Traditional statements of belief often begin with lofty statements about God or our task as worshipers. But when we think about our very first experiences in MCC, what comes to mind is the Open Table.

We believe that God invites everyone to taste and see. And we have seen the healing that takes place as people take part in the Lord’s Supper.

 

Rev. Elder Ken Martin feiert das Abendmahl bei der Weltkonferenz im Juli 2013
Rev. Elder Ken Martin consecrates communion at General Conference XXV in July 2013. (photo by L. Brenner-Beckstead)

 

Because we come from so many religious backgrounds, including Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Free Church, and many, many others, we are aware that people have varying beliefs about the Eucharist. These include memorialism, transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and real presence. However, in the midst of our differences, the Open Table has been the center of MCC worship from our very beginning.

 

Many of us know the pain of being turned away from the communion in other denominations. With this in mind, our founders decided to offer communion at every worship service.  Countless individuals have reconnected with God’s love through the invitation we extend to all people. People come alone, with their partners, and even in groups of friends.

 

At King of Peace MCC, we use the following reading once a month as a part of our communion service. We invite you to take a moment to read and reflect:

 

Come to this table
to meet the living God,
love indescribable and beyond our imagining
yet closer than our own breathing.

Come to this table
to meet the risen Christ
flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
God-with-us, embodied in our living.

Come to this table
to meet the life-giving Spirit,
interpreting our search for truth and justice,
breathing into us renewing power.

Come to find, to meet, to hold
the living, loving God
made new for us in bread and wine.

— Jan Berry in Bread for Tomorrow: Praying with the World’s Poor, ed. Janet Morley (London: SPCK/Christian Aid, 1992), pp. 93-94.

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Some Questions to Consider

We’d like to hear about your experiences. Join the conversation on our Facebook page or send your private reply to us through the MCC website. See links below.

This month, we’re particularly interested in the following questions:

  • Is open table practice an important part of your worship experience?
  • Do you remember how you felt when you first were invited to communion at an MCC?
  • What words, phrases, or images come to mind as you think about your experiences of the Open Table?

You may also share your thoughts about the MCC Statement of Faith.
We want to hear from you!

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Thank you for being a part of the conversation. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Your Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith

 

Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis

Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis is the Chair of the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith and Senior Pastor at King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg, Florida (USA).

 

 

Bryce E. Rich

Bryce E. Rich is a member of the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith and the Chair of the MCC Theologies Team.

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Subscribe to the Commission’s newsletter by sending us a request: Statement of Faith Newsletter

 

Send a private message to the Commission.

 

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MCC Glaubensbekenntnis – Aktualisierung für Mai 2015

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Eine Betrachtung des Offenen Abendmahls

von Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis und Bryce E. Rich

 

Es ist nun ein Jahr her, dass die Arbeitsgruppe zum Glaubensbekenntnis der MCC ihre Arbeit aufgenommen hat. Wieder wollen wir die weitere MCC Gemeinschaft einladen, sich mit uns auszutauschen. Dafür wollen wir einige unserer vorläufigen Gedanken zu verschiedenen Themen darstellen. Diese Themen besprechen wir in unserer Gruppe: sie enthalten das Offene Abendmahl, unserer Gedanken über Jesus, die besondere Aufgabe der MCC innerhalb der Kirche und unsere Rolle als Bewahrerinnen und Bewahrer der Schöpfung Gottes.

Diesen Monat besprechen wir die Tradition der offenen Einladung an den Tisch Gottes im Gottesdienst. Das tun wir seit dem 6. Oktober 1968 als Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry den ersten MCC Gottesdienst in seiner Wohnung abgehalten hat. Als Reaktion auf seine Einladung in “The Advocate” (eine überregionale Zeitschrift für Schwule in den USA, Anm. d. Übersetzers) kamen 12 Menschen von einer Reihe von religiösen Hintergründen an diesem Tag zusammen. Und obwohl die Feier des Heiligen Abendmahls nicht ein grundlegender Teil von Troys pfingst-kirchlichem Hintergrund war, bot er doch, bewegt vom heiligen Geist, allen Anwesenden Brot und den Kelch an. MCC Zusammenkünfte überall auf der Welt führen diese Tradition der offenen Einladung seither fort.

Traditionelle Glaubensbekenntnisse beginnen oft mit hochfliegenden Aussagen über Gott oder unsere Aufgabe als Anbetende. Aber wir gehen davon aus, dass das Erste, an das wir im Zusammenhang mit MCC denken, die Erfahrung der offenen Einladung ist.

Wir glauben, dass Gott alle einlädt, zu schmecken und zu sehen. Und wir haben die Heilung gesehen, die geschieht, wenn Menschen am Abendmahl teilnehmen.

 

Rev. Elder Ken Martin feiert das Abendmahl bei der Weltkonferenz im Juli 2013
Rev. Elder Ken Martin feiert das Abendmahl bei der Weltkonferenz im Juli 2013 ( Bild von L. Brenner-Beckstead)

 

Da wir von so vielen religiösen Hintergründen kommen, einschließlich katholisch, baptistsch, pfingstlich, freikirchlich und viele, viele mehr, ist uns bewusst, dass Menschen Verschiedenes über die Eucharistie glauben. Das schließt ein: das Erinnerungsmahl, Transsubstantiation, Konsubstantiation und Realpräsenz. Aber, in all unseren Unterschieden, ist doch die offene Einladung das Zentrum von MCC Gottesdienst seit unserem Anfang.

Viele von uns kennen den Schmerz, von der Abendmahlsgemeinschaft in anderen Konfessionen ausgeschlossen geworden zu sein. Mit dieser Erfahrung im Hintergrund beschlossen unsere Gründerinnen und Gründer dass wir in jedem Gottesdienst das Abendmahl anbieten. Unzählige Menschen haben wieder einen Zugang zu Gottes Liebe durch die Einladung bekommen, die wir an alle Menschen aussprechen. Menschen kommen alleine, mit ihren Partnern und Partnerinnen, oder sogar als Gruppe von Freundinnen und Freunden.

In King of Peace MCC benutzen wir einmal im Monat diese Lesung als Teil unserer Abendmahlsfeier. Wir laden ein, einen Moment lang diesen Text zu lesen und darüber nachzudenken.

Kommt an diesen Tisch
     Um den lebendigen Gott zu treffen
     Unbeschreibliche Liebe, jenseits unseres Träumens
     Und dennoch näher als der eigene Atem.

 

Kommt an diesen Tisch
     Um den auferstandenen Christus zu treffen
     Fleisch von unserem Fleisch, Knochen von unseren Knochen
     Gott-mit-uns, verkörpert in unserem Leben.

 

Kommt an diesen Tisch
     Um dem lebensgebenden Geist zu begegnen
     Die unsere Suche nach Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit erklärt
     Die erneuernde Kraft in uns hineinatmet.

 

Kommt und findet, zu begegnen, zu halten
     Den lebenden, liebenden Gott
     Neu gemacht für uns in Brot und Wein.

 

-Jan Berry in Bread for Tomorrow: Praying with the World’s Poor, ed. Janet Morley (London: SPCK/Christian Aid, 1992), pp. 93-94.

 

-Übersetzung von Pfarrer Dr. Axel Schwaigert. (Ich habe mich entschlossen, die Einladung im Plural für eine Gruppe zu übersetzen. Man kann sie aber auch als Einladung an eine/einen Einzelne/n übersetzen und verstehen. Anm. d. Übersetzers)

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Einige Gedanken zum Nachdenken. 

 

Wir würden gerne von Euren Erfahrungen hören.   Schließt Euch der Diskussion auf unserer Facebook Seite an oder schickt uns eure privaten Antworten durch die MCC Webseite. …. Diesen Monat interessieren wir uns besonders für die folgenden Fragen.

  •  Ist das offene Abendmahl ein wichtiger Teil Eurer Gottesdiensterfahrung?
  • Erinnert Ihr Euch wie es sich angefühlt hat, zum ersten Mal zur Abendmahlsgemeinschaft in einer MCC eingeladen geworden zu sein?
  • Welche Worte, Formulierungen oder Bilder entstehen in Euren Gedanken, wenn ihr über Eure Erfahrung mit der offenen Einladung nachdenkt?
Ihr könnt uns auch gerne Eure Gedanken über das Glaubensbekenntnis der MCC mitteilen.

Wir wollen von Euch hören!

 

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Danke, dass Ihr Teil dieses Gedankenaustausches seid. Wir freuen uns darauf, diesen Dialog fortzuführen.

Eure Arbeitsgruppe zum Glaubensbekenntnis der MCC

 

Rev. Dr. Candace R. ShultisRev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis ist die Vorsitzende Arbeitsgruppe zum Glaubensbekenntnis der MCC und Senior Pastor an King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg, Florida (USA).

 

Bryce E. Rich

Bryce E. Rich ist ein Mitglied der Arbeitsgruppe zum Glaubensbekenntnis der MCC und der Vorsitzende des Theologie Team der MCC.

 

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Bestellt den Newsletter der Arbeitsgruppe

 

Schicke eine private Nachricht an die Arbeitsgruppe.

 

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MCC Announces Global Prayer Services and Actions Against Discrimination

Metropolitan Community Church launches Gilead Sabbaths after International Day Against Homophobia,Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) to help projects around the globe!

 

Leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) announced the launch of a communion-wide effort to hold prayer services in local churches between today and the end of June to support global outreach to LGBTQ people living in hostile countries.

 

With this launch, MCC marked IDAHOTB, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and began observing the Religious Institute‘s call for congregations nationwide to observe a Gilead Sabbath.

 

The Gilead Sabbath initiative works to end the violence and persecution faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people around the world by identifying worthy projects and asking congregations to take up an offering for one of these projects. This includes MCC’s Global Justice Institute.

 

MCC Hartford

MCC Hartford (Connecticut, USA) observed the first MCC Gilead Sabbath with Marie Alford-Harkey, deputy director of the Religious Institute (5th from left), and their pastor Rev. Aaron Miller (rainbow stole).

“MCC Hartford joined faith congregations across the country in hosting a Gilead Sabbath,” said Rev. Aaron Miller. “LGBTQI folk are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ and deeply and unconditionally loved by God. At MCC Hartford, we bow in prayer and then stand together for justice. Not just this day of observance, but every day.”

 

“Easter offerings at many MCC churches went to support the Global Justice Institute. We are so honored that Gilead Sabbath is featuring the Global Justice Institute among so many international groups. This service will give more MCC churches, and churches from all denominations, a chance to support MCC’s work with LGBTQ people around the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global moderator of MCC. “These are challenging times, and the Global Justice Institute is committed to work for the dignity of all our brothers and sisters.”

 

“In many places around the world, MCC is known as ‘The Human Rights Church,'” said the Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, executive director of the Global Justice Institute. “IDAHOTB and local church participation in the Gilead Sabbath will move our support of global outreach to a new level.  Right now, we have partners in Eastern Europe where LGBTQ people are being assaulted at Pride marches and in Uganda and Kenya where Christians too often spew hatred in the name of Jesus. These are just a few of the many countries where MCC is working with partners on the ground to bring a word of hope.”

 

Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, executive director of the Global Justice Institute, celebrating at MCC New York where she is the senior pastor.

Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, executive director of the Global Justice Institute, celebrating at MCC New York where she is the senior pastor.

Marie Alford-Harkey, deputy director of the Religious Institute, said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with MCC. As a leading denomination in the LGBTQ faith world, MCC can mobilize people of faith across the globe. As MCC pastors plan a Gilead Sabbath for global LGBTQ justice, the Religious Institute will be available by phone or email to offer worship resources or information.”

 

The Gilead Sabbath Initiative works with congregations as they host worship services to pray for LGBTQ people facing hostility. Offerings are taken and sent to specific programs, such as MCC’s Global Justice Institute.

 

The Religious Institute can be reached at (203) 222-0055 or by email at alford-harkey@religiousinstitute.org.

Report of MCC Journey in Cuba

  1. INTRODUCTION

 

We believe that it is necessary to thank everyone who, in one way or another, made possible this historic day for MCC/ICM and for those who had the good fortune to experience this incredible moment in time: those who supported financially, those who were constantly praying for us and those who worked overtime to make this a successful visit to Matanzas and Havana, Cuba.

We arrived full of excitement and expectations on 28 April 2015 at the Jose Marti International Airport, in the city of Havana. After arriving we went to immigration where we had to wait a long time to receive our religious visas, which were made possible thanks to the work of the theologian Elaine Saralegui and the Rev. Santiago, who is the Executive Secretary of the Fraternity of Baptists Churches of Cuba (FIBAC). Of course, that was only made possible, after the Office of Religious Affairs made their inquiries about MCC and verified who would be traveling to Cuba.

Bus “Guagua” with the delegates of la Havana

Bus “Guagua” with the delegates of la Havana

One of the major concerns of the Cuban Government, during this time of monumental change, is the number of requests for religious visas that they are receiving, especially on the part of the fundamentalist churches of the United States. They of course want to avoid, to the extent it is possible, these “fundamentalist missionary journeys” which could hurt the processes that lead the churches and the Government in Cuba.

Before I report on our activities, it is necessary to construct the context that currently exists in Cuba. Cuba is a practically a divided country, as it is in many countries. There is a region that is conservative and fundamentalist, which is the East side of the island. A more liberal and open region, is on the West side of the island, which includes Havana and Matanzas among many other cities.

For us as a delegation, it was a great educational opportunity to live and experience the grandeur of the Cuban people, in the midst of the limitations by the American blockade. Our Cuban host and the people we met just opened up their hearts, their churches, their traditions, and received us as if we were members of their  community.

From left to right: Rev. Hector, Mary E Hunt, Rev. Mona West, Yileivys Cruz, Elaine Saralegui, Adiel Maimó, Phillip and Rev. Troy

From left to right: Rev. Hector, Mary E Hunt, Rev. Mona West, Yileivys Cruz, Elaine Saralegui, Adiel Maimó, Phillip and Rev. Troy

The people of Cuba are anxious to engage us in dialogue. They want to learn and work in union with MCC on some religious social justice projects. We have a potential outreach opening with many opportunities that we must embrace in a planned and intelligent manner, so that it is a blessing for both MCC and for the people in Cuba. Our Global Justice Institute, also has the potential for many opportunities to partner with the ministries in Cuba, in order to support and establish some fruitful relations in Cuba. I look forward to that conversation with the Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner

We are well aware that this visit was a historic event in many ways. We have felt already, blessed and thankful for this wonderful experience as it has touched and will influence our being and our Ministry. We could not have been received by better people than by the group called, “Opening Gaps of Colors.” Their excellent teamwork, which we dare to say that they live in their daily practice the meaning to BE MCC, even without being members of MCC. We experienced firsthand our motto “Transforming ourselves as we transform the world,” during this visit.

(From left to right: Rev. Hector, Mary E Hunt, Rev. Mona West, Yileivys Cruz, Elaine Saralegui, Adiel Maimó, Phillip and Rev. Troy)

 

  1. MATANZAS, CUBA (APRIL 29 – 30)

EVENT IN THE MATANZAS THEOLOGICAL EVANGELICAL SEMINARIO (SET): GENDER AND NON-HETERONORMATIVE SEXUALITIES: CHURCH ADDRESING CHALLENGES.

THE MATANZAS THEOLOGICAL EVANGELICAL SEMINARIO We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the event and the incredible participation of panelists and specialists in various branches of Sciences and different religious backgrounds. Some of the subjects treated with an incredible, open and respectful depth were the following:

1) Sexual citizenship, participation and emancipation in Cuba: history and future (Dr. Alberto Roque)

(2) Polyphony of sex: intersex bodies and the discomforts of culture (Adriana Agramonte Machado)

(3) Heterosexual citizenship vs. Equal opportunities (Rita M. Pereira Ramírez)

(4) Resilience in Havana for some gay couples, potentials and challenges (Manuel Nevales)

(5) The Church and historic challenges (Rev. Raquel Suárez Rodes)

(6) Family Code a perspective from activism. Family code a view from the right (Ms. C. Manuel Vázquez Seijido)

(7) Homo-parental families (Patricia Ares)

8) Queer studies and Queer politics: proposals for the Cuban context (Rev. Mona West, Mary E. Hunt, Elaine Saralegui and Clara Luz Ajo Lazaro)

We want to highlight several points:

  1. Rev Elder Troy in CubaThere was a total openness to dialogue and questioning regarding what and how to address the policy of the Cuban Government in aspects relating to the family code. This is a document the Communist Party has been working on the since 2007 which would establish a set standard of what a family is among the people of Cuba. There is an intense discussion of course, led by Ms. C. Mariela Castro and CENESEX, to at least figure out how to remove the “Unions of fact” in this code which would ensure that the concept of family does not take a more open perspective.
  2. It was interesting to hear that in the first years of the Cuban revolution, people who identified as Christian, experienced harsh discrimination. And how some who have openly accepted their LGB sexual orientation were doubly discriminated against, particularly in the case of the Rev. Raquel Suárez, who will no doubt be a presenter for the Hispanic pre-Conference at the General Conference.
  3. We found that some churches are willing to openly address the issue of inclusion. Yet there are many more that refuse to even consider the question. .
  4. The Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas, after the visit of the President of the Baptist churches, has been very assertive to engage in much dialogue and discussion on inclusion. They openly made a statement by hosting this event.

The team in Cuba29 April, was the night the Rev. Elder Troy Perry presented a lecture on the history and foundation of MCC, which was well received. Without a doubt, it was a much awaited moment by participants of the conference, as the crowd enthusiastically welcomed him.  At the end of the presentation at the Conference,  the Rev. Elder Troy, the Rev. Elder Dr. Mona and the Rev. Elder Hector had the opportunity to answer questions from the attendees.

 

We can say, with all truth, that MCC needs to be at this Conference next year, as a fundamental partner with Group SOMOS.

There we at least 90 participants at this event.

 

 

  1. LABOR DAY – MAY FIRST

 

May Day ParadeAround the world, except in the United States, the first of May is a day of great celebration, particularly in Cuba, where practically everyone participates in the parade, to celebrate the Cuban working people. We had the opportunity to attend this celebration as spectators. On all sides, we could only be witness smiles, cheerful, friendly, respectful, and very proud of being Cuban faces. The offered us the gift of hospitality with their supportive reception without noting our differences. The entire delegation enjoyed this day. Including the rain, which the Cuban people said, was a sign of blessing.

In the evening, the Group SOMOS, prepared for us a welcome dinner with Cuban music, food and joyfulness. We enjoyed a lot on the First of May in Matanzas, Cuba.

SOMOS

 

 

  1. VARADERO – LOVING CARE HOUSE / REST ON VARADERO BEACH (MAY 2)

VaraderoOn Saturday we went along with some members of the group, SOMOS who were heading to Varadero, where we could learn about the ministry being offered in the “Love House”. The Loving Care House is a center for social services and education (CESERSE) founded by the Rev. Dr. Sergio Arce Martínez. This ministry was founded to offer social services to groups of children with various acute or chronic ailments, in many cases they are terminal. Loving Care House also provides housing for the elderly.

The Center’s goal: To promote and arrange educational and cultural spaces of healthy recreation with physical, psychological and spiritual benefits for a highly vulnerable sector of the population. For this sector, House of Love offers the possibility of enjoying the natural surroundings of Varadero beach. The Director of the Centre is Nacyra Gómez; with whom we will be in communication to establish some kind of formal partnering relationship between MCC and the “House of Love”.

Of course, we also took advantage of the Varadero Beach to enjoy some time to rest.

Varadero Beach

Meeting with SOMOSMEETING WITH THE GROUP “SOMOS”

On Saturday  afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet with the group SOMOS to share with all the people who are a part of this group, about MCC, our vision, mission, core values and Strategic Plan. They are very interested in being a part of MCC. They are already enthusiastically saying,” WE ARE MCC”. We are entering a time of discernment with them through intentional prayer and dialogue.

Meeting with SOMOS 2

  1. SUNDAY WORSHIP IN THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MATANZAS (MAY 3)

 

SUNDAY WORSHIP IN THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MATANZASOn Sunday, we were invited to participate in the Sunday worship service at the First Baptist Church of Matanzas, which involved a number of the members of our group. The Rev. Hector Gutierrez was invited to preach, the Rev. Troy Perry was asked to consecrate together with Pastor Orestes Roca Santana and the Rev. Mona West to jointly serve communion to the participants. (We have a video with the bilingual consecration.)

An interesting sign of solidarity and inclusion was experienced as Pastor Orestes, invited us to receive communion first, as a sign of the communion between the First Baptist Church and MCC.

SUNDAY WORSHIP IN THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MATANZAS 2

 

  1. LA HAVANA – CONSUL OF CHURCHES OF CUBA / INFORMAL VISIT TO CENESEX (MAY 4)

The Council of churches of Cuba, received the US Secretary and some members of various ministries, including those who are responsible for preparing promoters for the prevention and care of the LANDLESS. The Council brings together around 30 denominations and of course, they were aware of the presence of MCC in Cuba.

Council of Churches in CubaThe Chairman and other members of the Board of directors were not present because they had to leave to attend to the emergency flooding which in previous days had claimed at least three lives and created hundreds of victims in the city of Havana who lost their houses and belongings.

They shared with us about the walking churches in Cuba, the difficulties they once had to survive in the Communist regime and the reunion with the same Communist regime which requested the support of the churches to sustain the population after the Cuban crisis in 1994, when they stopped receiving support from Russia.

Among the things that we shared was that there was never a ban in the country of the profession of faith. Yet some discrimination was experienced by some members of the community. They also told us that it was difficult to have Bibles for everyone, during that period. Their solution was to, in some communities, separate books of the Bible and distribute them among the families so that everyone would have access to reading a book. As one family completed a book, they put it back in the rotation for others.

Council of Churches in Cuba 2A great difficulty and concern that, faced with the new panorama of relations with the United States, is the onslaught that they will experience from fundamentalist Churches seeking to offer Bibles in exchange for the support of the Government to be able to meet with the tobacco business on the island. They plan to offer Bibles for all the Cuban people, in exchange for tobacco.

They shared with us about the prevention and care of people with HIV/AIDS. Those infected were placed in isolation with virtually no contact with their families. Even when the medicine is free, it is difficult having all the medications required, as the vast majority come from abroad.

A recommendation and request, that we heard a great deal is that MCC must lend its support to the end the embargo to Cuba. They expressed that it may seem to Americans that everything has changed in Cuba yet  that is not the reality as long as the US  continues its embargo to Cuba.

At noon, we had lunch with the Attorney of CENESEX MsC. Manuel Vázquez, with whom the Rev. Elder Troy Perry availed himself of the opportunity to plant the idea of the possibility that Ms. C. Mariela Castro consider participating in the MCC General Conference in Victoria, Canada. The Rev. Elder Troy will talk with the Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson on the process to be followed.

 

  1. MATANZAS – VISIT TO KAIRÓS / MEETING WITH THE OFFICER OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY IN MATANZAS (MAY 5)

MATANZAS – VISIT TO KAIRÓS - MEETING WITH THE OFFICER OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY IN MATANZASWe had a meeting with the Kairos Center, which is a Christian Center that cultivates and promotes  liturgy which integrates art and social work, with an ecumenical approach, renewed and contextualized in the Cuban culture.

Its mission is to offer liturgical formation to the churches in Cuba and establish relationships that encourage discipleship, service and human solidarity, integrating art and social work in a renewal form that keeps the spirit and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

The leaders and members, run the local and national programs. Groups of people, of other faiths,  in the city are invited to participate as well as residents of the city of Matanzas, and members of the most vulnerable groups. MATANZAS – VISIT TO KAIRÓS - MEETING WITH THE OFFICER OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY IN MATANZAS 2Creative people and artists from across the country also participate as do children, youth and young adults. People, both Cuban and foreign, and institutions that are interested in working in the Kairos Center are invited to participate.

In the afternoon, we had a meeting with the Officer of the Region of Matanzas, for religious affairs in the Auditorium of the Communist Party. It was an interesting exchange between the Rev. Elder Troy Perry and the delegate about the change of direction in the relations between Cuba and the United States. They discussed the speeches by the Presidents of both countries and the expectations of the near future. The delegate made some very positive comments about the event at the Evangelical Seminary and the work that we are doing. The delegate told us about the deference that we were to receive at the Headquarters of the Communist Party in the city of Matanzas.

  1. LA HABANA – SCIENTIFIC EVENT OF CENESEX / OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE HEADQUARTERS OFFICES OF THE NATIONAL COMMUNIST PARTY IN THE REVOLUTION SQUARE IN HAVANA, CUBA; INTERVIEW WITH OFFICIAL OF THE RELIGOUS AFFAIRES (MAY 6)

On their day of observance of stopping the violence against homophobia and transphobia, they offered a more inclusive space. Some of the objectives of this Conference were:

Give visibility to, combat and overcome all forms of discrimination and violence on grounds of gender, in particular, and for men and women discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Promote the actions and outcomes of institutional, political and governmental work in their country, as part of the national sex education program, in favor of respect for the full dignity of homosexual, bisexual people and transgender people.

Promote respect and acceptance for people with HIV, with emphasis on vulnerable groups.

Meet with Ms. C. Mariela Castro EspinWe had the opportunity to dialogue for a few minutes with Ms. C. Mariela Castro Espin, who had many agreements with the Rev. Troy and the entire delegation of MCC. The event took place in the Auditorium of the Central Cuban workers in Havana, there were representatives of trade unions from several Latin American countries.

In the afternoon, we had a meeting in the headquarters of the Communist Party, which is located in the Plaza of the Revolution, with the officer of the Office of Care on the issues of religious affairs’, Lic. Maria of the Angels Perez Menéndez.

Meet with Ms. C. Mariela Castro Espin 2Lic. Maria presented to us, an abbreviated history of the churches in Cuba, how the relationship is working between the Cuban Government and the churches. She also said that the Muslim community is coming to Cuba and have decided to build the first mosque. The Rev. Troy shared with her our history and an account of the journey of MCC and our struggle with fundamentalist groups. He clarified that MCC is not a denomination that sends missionaries to countries where we would like to have churches,  but only at the request of the indigenous people. He did say that he was hopeful that MCC would have a Cuban church or two in the near future.

We give her a copy of the documentary “Call me Troy”

 

 

  1. LA HAVANA –VISIT TO MARTÍN LUTHER KING JR CENTER / VISIT TO THE FRATERNITY OF BAPTIST CHURCHES IN CUBA (FIBAC) (MAY 7)

A must-see in Havana, had to include the Martin Luther King Jr. Center which is a macro-ecumenical organization of Christian inspiration. The Center, according to the Cuban people and their churches, prophetically contributes to the solidarity and participation, conscious and organized, popular and critical, with a profound commitment in a socialist option. This contribution makes it a concept of Popular education and theology, critical, contextualized and liberating theology.

In the Refectory of CMLK

In the Refectory of CMLK

Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba (FIBAC)In the afternoon, we went to get to know the farm of the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba (FIBAC) that brings together about 30 churches. They shared with us their journey before forming the fraternity, when they were part of the United States Southern Baptist Church and their separation or expulsion from the Federation. They have wide expanse of property, on which they are in the process of building more facilities. Executive Secretary Santiago C. Delgado Castillo shared with us some details of its Bylaws and their avatars.

It was important for us is to visit this site, to thank them for their intervention in the obtainment of our religious Visas and their willingness to engage in dialogue with us.

 

 

 

  1. MATANZAS – OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE THEOLOGICAL EVANGELICAL SEMINARY OF MATANZAS (MAY 8)

Friday was the official visit to the Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas, where we had a very fruitful meeting with the outgoing Rector, the Rev. Dr. Reinerio M. Arce-Valentin; the new Rector, Rev. Dr. Carlos E. Ham; the Secretary Elizabeth González and the Professor Dr. Clara Luz Ajo Lazaro.

The Rev. Troy took the opportunity to thank everyone for their hospitality for having received us previously, sharing their experience and above all to say that MCC is committed to training and quality education in our clergy and laity.

The Rev. Mona and the Rev. Hector discussed the possibilities of establishing both academic, relationships of exchange of MCC teachers who can teach some courses in the seminary. It was very interesting to see their interest and openness as we began to take the steps to formalize the relationship of MCC with the SET.

OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE THEOLOGICAL EVANGELICAL SEMINARY OF MATANZASCurrently they have 611 students (55 women), half of which are lay participants in training programs. The Faculty is made of 13 professors and guest professors from different universities and seminars, with which they have relations of exchange.

MCC and SET have many possibilities of establishing an interesting exchange relationship. We left them a copy of a lot of e-books about queer theology.

The SET has a very important role within the new Cuban process, they are looking to offer training and education to all sectors in Cuba and to be able to confront fundamentalism which is hovering around like a roaring and destructive lion.

 

 

 

SHOWING OF THE DOCUMENTARY

“CALL ME TROY” IN THE “EL MIRÓN”

In the evening, regardless of our tiredness, we couldn´t miss the showing of the documentary; an experience that no doubt will forever mark the lives of those who were able to participate. For them and for us, it was an incredible experience to be able to enjoy the documentary, in the presence of the Rev. Troy Perry and his husband Phillip.

“CALL ME TROY” IN THE “EL MIRÓN”

 

  1. LA HABANA – JOURNEY AGAINTS HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA / ECUMENICAL BLESSING OF LOVE IN PAVILION CUBA (MAY 9)

LA HABANA – JOURNEY AGAINTS HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA - ECUMENICAL BLESSING OF LOVE IN PAVILION CUBA 2We were in  many publications that you could have already consulted during the past weekend. We made history together, all the organizers and participants to this wonderful day. And we can say with great pride MCC was a key player.

The Ecumenical ceremony of blessing of love, which was advertised by Mariela Castro, was based on a liturgy that the Rev. Hector Gutierrez shared with Elaine Saralegui and the Rev. Raquel Suárez. After contextualizing some phrases to the Cuban Spanish, Elaine and Raquel gave their approval. This will not be in the press, but we want to point out, that we are Transforming ourselves as we transform the world, in this last week, to put our best effort in the transformation of CUBA.

LA HABANA – JOURNEY AGAINTS HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA - ECUMENICAL BLESSING OF LOVE IN PAVILION CUBA

  1. LAST MORNING IN MATANZAS, CUBA (MAY 10)

They were two incredible weeks, which touched our hearts and which raised us our spirits about the potential fertile ground that we together, with our Cuban siblings on this wonderful day.

We could not be treated and recognized in a better way. Joy, strength, enthusiasm and the faith of the Cuban people, have no comparison.

Now, breathe, reflect, and get your hands on the future we can walk together, Cuba and the Metropolitan Community Churches.

LAST MORNING IN MATANZAS, CUBA

 

Rev. Elder Troy Perry

Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West

Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez

Baltic Europe MCC Emerging Church Gathering

Baltic Europe

MCC Emerging Church Gathering
26-28 June 2015

Learn with others developing new MCC churches
throughout Baltic Europe and beyond.

AGENDA
26 June—6 – 8 pm Meet and Gather
27 June—9 am— 5 pm Workshops and Small Group Discussion
(Lunch Provided)
28 June—10 am Worship

LOCATION
Stockholm, Sweden
Gathering at Sickla Industriväg 6
Specific lodging and transportation information available by contacting
MCC Office of Emerging Ministries assistant, Shannon Young,
shannonyoung@mccchurch.net

becomeMCC

Where are we int he fight against HIV/AIDS?

This video was originally produced by PublicHealth.org. To learn more about the ongoing efforts to raise awareness of HIV, please go here.

MCC Founding Pastor Presides at Blessing of Same-Gender Couples in Cuba

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President, sponsors blessing ceremonies and celebrates Cuba Pride

 

In another historic first for Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of MCC, was one of the presiding clergy at the first blessing of unions in Cuba. About a dozen couples pledged their love to each other as part of Cuba Pride on May 9, 2015. The Associated Press reported:

 

Luis Enrique Mederos and his partner for 14 years, Alain Morales, approached clergyman including Troy Perry, founder of Los Angeles’ gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, and held hands beneath a canopy while the pastors blessed their relationship.  “Luis, I give you my life,” Morales said, as the crowd of 300 applauded and cheered.  “It’s a step to strengthen our relationship because we’re both religious, believers,” said Mederos, a 47-year-old graphic designer. He said he saw the ceremony as an important step toward the eventual legalization of gay marriage in Cuba.

 

Mariela Castro was in the middle of Cuba’s Pride celebration, and she gave her blessing to the proceedings but was not present for the actual blessing of the unions. The MCC delegation had informal conversations with Mariela Casto and met more formally with Cuba’s Religious Affairs Commissioner, with officials in the Cuban Council of Churches, and with the Fraternity Of Baptist Churches in Cuba.

 

MCC leaders traveled to Cuba on April 28 at the invitation of leaders of the Baptist LGBTQ group, Abriendo Brechas de Colores, from the Federación de Iglesias Bastistas de Cuba.  Supporters convened at the Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas, Cuba, where they heard MCC experiences of almost 50 years of ministry with people of faith who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), as well as people who are not LGBTQ but who value an open church community.

 

Rev. Elder Troy Perry traveled with his husband Phillip De Blieck, as well as the Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West, and the Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez. The delegation talked with Cubans about the global challenges faced by LGBTQ people of faith and plan to continue collaborations with LGBTQ religious leaders in Cuba.

 

“As the founder of MCC going back to 1968, I have lived long enough to see so many churches open their doors — and to see MCC congregations on almost every continent,” said the Rev. Elder Troy Perry. “It is exciting to be part of a moment when Cuban people of faith and political leaders are opening doors to all loving couples and to LGBTQ people!”

 

“We were honored for MCC faith leaders to be part of this historic event,” said global MCC Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “These blessings for loving couples in Cuba parallel MCC’s many firsts — first to marry same-sex couples, first to convene AIDS awareness day, and first to provide a welcoming worshipping community for LGBTQ people.”

 

“Throughout the Americas and the world, people know that Cuba’s future will impact everyone’s future,” said the Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez, head of the Latin American MCC network. “I meet people in los pueblos where they live their daily lives and increasingly see families supporting each other, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I am so hopeful about supportive relationships with our partners in Cuba.”

 

Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West, a leading author for the MCC Theologies Team, said, “I was ordained as a Southern Baptist before I came to MCC, and I was so blessed to talk with my Cuban Baptist family in the faith. The possibilities of building partnerships that help everyone are real.”

Director of Development – Metropolitan Community Churches

The Director of Development is a member of MCC’s Senior Leadership Team and reports to the MCC Moderator. The Director of Development is responsible for leading the MCC’s Development Program and paid/volunteer staff, within the framework of the strategies and annual fund development plans adopted by the Governing Board. The Director is also responsible for developing, managing and maintaining active and productive relationships between the Development Program, institutional funders, individual donors and local church partners.

 

Specific areas of responsibility include:

 

Fund Development

  • Collaborates with the Governing Board in the development of annual fundraising plans to meet the aggressive denominational goals adopted by the Board
  • Designs and oversees strategic implementation of all fund development activities including monthly and annual giving programs, major donor solicitation, capital campaigns, planned giving, and other activities.
  • In collaboration with the Governing Board, creates and manages the Development Office budget
  • Manages all strategies and activities for donor cultivation, solicitation, and retention and upgrading of their gift amounts.
  • Develops grant proposals for submission to foundations and corporations and manages the relationship between MCC and grant-makers, including the timely delivery of any required reports.
  • Develops and manages strategic initiatives, including a revamped planned giving program in concert with the 50th Anniversary of the denomination; and denominational collaboration and sharing in major donor solicitation with local churches.
  • Develops and manages fundraising training and coaching for Board Members, Senior staff and other key MCC leaders, to ensure and maintain institutional capacity to engage in effective development.
  • Assumes responsibility for all Development reports to the Moderator and Governing Board, and attends face-to-face Board meetings.

Development Office Infrastructure

  • Creates and improves office systems to support all Development projects and operations.
  • Supervises donor and gift record-keeping and acknowledgement.
  • Provides and coordinates development research activities.
  • Oversees the management of databases and all records, files, and gift processing.
  • Manages the pledge reminder and acknowledgement programs.

Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising

  • Ensures that the Development Program materials and approaches are consistent with MCC’s branding and marketing strategies
  • Manages the design and production of all Development Program materials
  • Develops and implements a communication and promotional plan for routine and special fund development campaigns
  • Develops and implements strategies within Development to promote the MCC vision and mission, and MCC’s case, to the internal constituencies of MCC and the community at large.

Qualifications:

  • A minimum of four years of success in leading a Development Program
  • Successful experience in development work in a faith context is a plus
  • Proven track record in designing and managing development in a non-profit setting
  • Successful experience in major donor solicitation
  • Successful experience in developing and maintaining productive working relationships with board members, donors, constituents and colleagues.
  • Cross-cultural and international experience is a plus
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work as a leader and as part of a team.
  • Familiarity with the MCC story and history, our accomplishments and goals
  • The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE)credential is noteworthy

Additional Key Information

  • Work location: flexible
  • Position is available as of1 July 2015
  • Relocation package is not available
  • Response needed by: 10 June 2015
  • Contact Director of Operations, Barb Crabtree (BarbCrabtree@MCCchurch.net), for questions regarding job responsibilities and qualifications, benefits, and salary range
  • Please submit resume and cover letter Linda Brenner-Beckstead, Assistant to the Moderator: Linda@MCCchurch.net.

National HIV Testing Day is June 27

TakeTheTest_250x300More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, but one in six does not know they are positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) recommends all  people between the ages of 13-64 get tested for HIV as part of routine health care. Early diagnosis and treatment improves health, extends life and helps prevent the spread of HIV.

Greater Than AIDS is proud to support our partners across the nation in your outreach and testing efforts around National HIV Testing Day. Greater Than AIDS makes available free  informational and promotional HIV/AIDS materials for download under the theme of ‘I Got Tested,’ produced especially for this day.

Greater Than AIDS partners with Walgreens and local AIDS organizations to offer FREE HIV testing during June. You can also find local free and low cost HIV testing throughout the year here: http://locator.aids.gov/

 

Pride 2015

 ColorOurWorld2015 PRIDE International Theme

Color Our World With Pride!

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June in most of the world to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, New York USA. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement. The last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the world the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

 

PRIDE TODAY

 

Over time, the smaller marches and gatherings organized by community members evolved into a highly organized slate of events attracting a broad range of LGBT community members and straight allies. The increasing popularity and visibility of Pride events can partially be attributed to greater levels of acceptance towards the LGBT community. While Pride events play a key role in raising the profile of the LGBT community and commemorating the history of the LGBT social movement, Pride also marks an opportunity for the LGBT community to come together, take stock and recognize the advances and setbacks made in the past year. It is also a chance for the LGBT community to come together and celebrate in a festive, affirming atmosphere.

 

THE MANY FACES OF PRIDE

 

The number and variety of Pride events throughout the world reflect the diversity of the LGBT community. Pride events vary from city to city, region to region and nation to nation. Local volunteer groups, often with the sponsorship of corporations and local businesses, organize most LGBT Pride events, and they include a variety of events catering to different segments of the community.

In the early 1990s, Black Prides emerged as a powerful force in the U.S. and now take place in more than 30 major cities. Black Pride events, which include New York City’s “Pride in the City” and Detroit’s “Hotter Than July”, offer a unique opportunity for LGBT communities of African descent to celebrate their myriad of experiences and identities with their allies, friends and families. (For a list of more Black Pride events, please visit the International Federation of Black Prides.)

 

In recent years, other Pride events specifically targeted to other communities of color, specifically for the Latino/a community, have also occurred.

 

In many places, Pride events specifically for women occur on the day before or the same weekend as other Pride events. These events are usually offered as a grassroots supplement to Pride celebrations catering to the entire community and often have high-profile corporate sponsors and events. While these events are usually targeted to lesbians and transgender people, they are open to all and usually include a rally and a march.

Youth and young adult Prides have also gained popularity in recent years. These events are for young LGBT people, their families and straight allies. School organizations such as gay-straight alliances come together to celebrate the community in rallies and marches.

In addition, Pride events now occur internationally throughout the year, and they are most popular in Canada, Latin America, Australia, UK and throughout Europe, though events are held in other parts of the world. Pride events and related rallies in some international cities have resulted in conflict and violence, providing a stark contrast to Pride events in the United States and other countries with more visible LGBT populations.

10 Things About LGBT Pride You Probably Did Not Know

 

  1. cocOldest LGBT Organization – The oldest surviving LGBT organization in the world is Netherland’s Center for Culture and Leisure (COC), which was founded in 1946, and used a ‘cover name’ to mask its taboo purpose. For more information on the COC, check out their site.

 

  1. Annual Reminders – Although the Pride Movement did not galvanize until after the Stonewall Riots, there were a handful of gay rights demonstrations prior to 1969. The most direct link to the early parades were Annual Reminders. Every fourth of July, beginning in 1965, homophilic groups would picket Independence Hall in Philadelphia to inform and remind the American people that LGBT people did not enjoy basic civil rights protections. After Stonewall, picketing seemed too pacifistic, and Reminder organizers instead helped plan the first Gay Liberation parades.

 

  1. Black Cat Tavern Riots – In 1967, two years before to the Stonewall riots, The Black Cat Tavern, a gay bar in LA, was raided by police, and much like what occurred at Stonewall, the patrons fought back and eventually began a protest against the police.  Two of the patrons were so enraged, they began a publication for the gay population of Los Angeles, which eventually became one of the largest LGBT magazines, The Advocate.

 

 

  1. stonewallStonewall Rights – In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. Although police raids on gays bars were common, the bar’s patronage, as well as more than a hundred spectators who gathered outside the bar, decided enough was enough — they fought back. It was the first time that queer people stood up to police on such a large scale, and is often cited as the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement. For more information on Stonewall, check out the PBS documentary, Stonewall Uprising.

 

  1. ‘Gay’ Becomes Okay

The first gay rights group to use the word ‘gay’ in their name was the Gay Liberation Front, which was formed In the immediate wake of the Stonewall Riots. Whereas previous organizations, such as the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, had deliberately chosen obscure names, the GLF believed directedness was necessary, as exemplified by a slogan on one of their fliers: “Do You Think Homosexuals Are Revolting? You Bet Your Sweet Ass We Are!” For more information on the GLF, check out this site.

 

  1. flagsThe First Flag – The first rainbow flag made its debut at the San Francisco Pride Parade in 1978. Designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, the original flag was hand-dyed and consisted of eight symbolic colors: Hot Pink (sexuality), Red (life), Orange (healing), Yellow (sunlight), Green (nature), Turqoise (magic/art), Blue (serenity/harmony) and violet (spirit). In 1980, to meet increasing demand for the flag, Baker approached Paramount Flag Company for mass production. There was an unavailability of hot pink baric, so Baker dropped the hot pink stripe from the design. To keep an even number of stripes, turquoise was also dropped, resulting in the six-stripe flag that is widely used today.

 

  1. The Rise of ‘Pride’ – Early marches commonly used ‘Gay Liberation,’ and ‘Freedom,’ in their names. Then, with cultural changes and decreased militancy in the 1980s and 1990s, these words became less frequent, and the term ‘Gay Pride,’ became commonly used.

 

  1. SaoPauloPride in Sao Paulo – With an estimated 3.5 million attendees in 2011, Sao Paulo, Brazil, hosts the world’s largest Pride parade. For more information about Sao Paulo Pride, check out their site.

 

  1. Europride

Europe has a pan-European international Pride event, called, appropriately, Europride. The event is hosted by a different European city each year. For information on upcoming events, check out Europride’s site.

 

  1. AmsterdamFloating Floats

Amsterdam hosts the only Pride parade whose floats literally float on water, as 100 decorated boats travel through the city’s famed canals. For information on Amsterdam Pride, check out their site.

 

ufmcc_tWorship Resources

LGBT Pride Responsive Reading

Called in Grace and Gifted in Love

LGBT Pride Bulletin Insert

Hymn: Praise the Source of All Creation

Hymn: When Bodies Join and Souls Combine

 

CalendarsCalendars.

Worldwide Gay Events & Pride Calendar

http://www.gaycities.com/events/

Interpride Calendar

http://www.interpride.org/events/event_list.asp