Though he began his business career working then managing lunch counters for Walgreens, Chuck Renslow quickly established himself as a entrepreneur. He would have been considered a gay entrepreneur but for the fact that back then we didn’t use the word “gay”. He was the founder in 1950 and photographer of Kris Studios, one of the earliest and most durable of the physique houses. He published Triumph, Mars and Rawhide Male magazines. He was also a noted photographer of the Ballet. His dance photography is now in the Newberry Library dance collection as the “Chuck Renslow Dance Photographs”. He opened the first leather bar, the Gold Coast, in Chicago, in 1958. He was a founder of Second City Motorcycle Club, the first club not on the West coast, in 1965. He was the founder of many bars and clubs since the 1960s. Among his many clubs were Chicago Eagle, Bistro Too, Stages (now Metro) and the bathhouse, MansCountry, which has survived for more than 40 years.
He was among the earliest members, often among the founders, of many gay liberation organizations and movements. He was the publisher of GayLife Newspaper (having purchased it from Grant Ford.) He has sat on the Board of fourteen different LBGT organizations. He was the founder of Prairie State Democratic Club in 1980. He was the lover of Dom “Etienne” Orejudos for more than 40 years and, by encouraging him and publishing his work, he is partially responsible for the art of Etienne.
Chuck Renslow was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Lesbian and Gay Hall of Fame in 1991 and has received just about every honor and awards the gay and leather communities can give him, including the Leather Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011. He was on the Board of Directors of the NGLTF twice, first from 1978 to 1985 and later from 2005 to 2007. He has served as a U.S. Representative to I.L.G.A. International Lesbian and Gay Association. He is the founder, in 1979, of International Mr. Leather, which grew out of his Mr. Gold Coast contest and the experience he had managing A.A.U. physique competitions. When Dom “Etienne”died,Chuck combined his Hugh collection of Etienne’s art with his own personal archives from his business and his life. These were the foundation of the Leather Archives & Museum. which Chuck co-created with Tony DeBlase in 1991. Chuck is the president of the Leather Archives and Museum and has been since it’s conception.
Rev. Colleen Foley (Program Officer) began attending New Light MCC in Hagerstown, MD in August 2006. After receiving a warm welcome from the pastor and members of the congregation, Colleen returned the next week with her husband John. It was during her time at New Light MCC that she felt the call to become a pastor. Leaving her position with the State of Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans Program, encouraged by the Pastor and supported by the congregation and special friends within MCC, she was led to becoming a student at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA. She expects to complete her seminary education mid-January 2013 and is looking forward to ordination with MCC. Colleen applied for the Heterosexual Inclusivity Council in order to share her positive experiences of being part of MCC with the rest of the MCC community. It is her hope that any heterosexual person, wherever they may be on their spiritual journey will find a warm and welcoming reception at any MCC in which they choose to visit.
Rev. Mary Cantrell is the mother of three children, ages 26, 23 and 12. She received an M.Div. from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, in December of 2001. She entered ministry as a student pastor for another denomination in 1998. In October 2008, she served as a part-time pulpit-supply pastor at Wichita Falls MCC and in March 2009 became a part-time chaplain at United Regional Health Care System in Wichita Falls, Texas. After much discernment, she participated in REVM in 2010 and received an In-Care Status with the UFMCC. As she was working on her MAP during her time In-Care with the UFMCC, she began working as a full-time chaplain. Mary now serves as the Supportive Care Chaplain working in the critical care unit of the hospital as well as with several units. She also serves on the Patient-Centered Care Team and on a subcommittee for employee wellness. Mary also writes quarterly articles for the hospital and creates services of worship for the hospital. Mary was approved for ordination on September 15, 2012, and was ordained on October 7, 2012, at Wichita Falls MCC, as an UFMCC pastor. She currently serves on the Transformative Committee for the Wichita Falls MCC, her church home, and has organized an active Pride Committee for Wichita Falls, Texas. Mary also has extensive training in new-church starts, church-size theory and family systems theory through various organizations.
Emily Worman is a heterosexual married woman who calls MCC home. In 2004 she helped a same-sex attracted friend who was struggling to find a GLBT affirming church. It wasn’t easy! That search led Emily to discover MCC South London. On arrival she told the pastor, Rev. Jean White, that she was straight and Rev. Jean looked at her like Emily was crazy. Not crazy for coming to MCC but crazy for asking if she was welcome! The message was loud and clear, we are Christians first and our sexuality comes second. Although Emily had been a church goer all her life this was the first time that every single week she heard that God loved her and had plans for her life. It was a game changer. It was here that Emily finally found the confidence to live as one of God’s children. Emily feels proud to attend a church with such a strong human rights focus. MCC is a church she can tell my friends about! Emily’s boyfriend started attending and over the months became a committed follower of Christ. In 2008, Alan and Emily were married by Rev. Jean White. By the end of 2009 they had a bit of an epiphany. They sold pretty much everything they had, resigned from their jobs, gave up their flat, went on a pilgrimage across Spain, volunteered in India and moved to New Zealand. During this time they both felt the calling to go into ministry. They are now back in New Zealand at MCC Auckland and Emily is on the journey of becoming MCC clergy. They are not part of MCC as it is a place where gay people are welcomed. They are part of MCC as they believe that the Church should be a place where EVERYONE is welcomed.
Amanda Alvarado is a member of MCC Austin where she also holds the position of Program Coordinator. Her responsibilities include overseeing the church’s small groups ministry, Sunday school and youth group, and maintaining contact with visitors. Amanda grew up in Kansas City, Missouri where she was raised in the Presbyterian Church USA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Avila University in Kansas City. After living in New York City for a number of years, Amanda and her husband, Sergio moved to Austin where they discovered MCC. They immediately felt at home, and Amanda has been getting more involved ever since, including her participation in the denomination’s LEAD (Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship) program. She and Sergio have a beautiful daughter, Naomi. Amanda is passionate about spreading the word of God’s radically inclusive love to all of God’s children and welcomes any opportunity to do so.
Rev. Candy Holmes (Program Officer) brings rich perspectives and insights stemming from her spiritual bedrock and life experiences. As a clergy person with the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), she lifts up a liberation theology united with her Baptist, Pentecostal, and Interfaith roots to form an ecumenically- based vision and social justice-seeking ministry that boldly proclaims “God’s love includes everyone.” Rev. Holmes currently pursues two work paths – a Federal management career and ordained ministry with MCC. She is a graduate of the Episcopal School of Divinity, Cambridge, Massachusetts and The New Seminary, New York City, New York. Rev. Holmes’ multi-layered ministry includes serving as MCC’s Program Officer for People of African Descent. As Program Officer she develops relevant programming and nurtures relationships between MCC and organizations (both secular and faith-based) addressing issues related to people of African descent. In addition, she serves as Ecumenical Liaison to The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and leads the MCC People of African Descent Advisory Council and Conference for People of African Descent (PAD) and Our Friends Conference. In her ministry, Rev. Holmes organizes and connects faith-based, academic, civic, and social justice voices to inform and empower the LGBT community, LGBT people of African descent and their allies around pertinent spiritual, justice, and life issues of the day. Rev. Holmes continues to put feet on the divine message of liberation through her social justice work. Because of her “equality in the workplace” stance, Rev. Holmes was called upon to witness the signing of the Presidential Memorandum extending benefits to same-gender domestic partners of federal employees, and additionally testified before Congress on the merits of legislation to extend full benefits to LGBT federal employees. As a spiritual presence in the LGBT community, she was a key clerical spokesperson for marriage equality, called upon to express a justice and faith perspective with the media, as well as testifying before the Maryland Senate and House of Representatives. In addition, Rev. Holmes provides faith leadership for national and local initiatives with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), and the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (NGLTF). Whether tearing down walls that divide or building bridges of hope, you will find Rev. Holmes working out her mission: “Be the change you want to see.”
The Rev. Brendan Y. Boone, a native of Southeast Virginia, was raised as a Baptist in the African-American tradition and was nurtured in a church that valued and emphasized the importance of living in community with all people, from all walks of life. Having that principle instilled in his being from childhood has fueled his passion for tearing down the walls of the institutional church and building up communities of faith which embody the message and ministry of The Christ. Rev. Boone has been involved in Metropolitan Community Churches for over twenty-five years, serving in several leadership capacities on the local, regional, network and denominational levels. A graduate of Hampton Institute and Wesley Theological Seminary, he currently serves as the Senior Pastor of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, a community of faith committed to ministering to and being in ministry with persons from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, physical ability, spirituality or religious tradition, as well as the Network Team Leader for MCC’s in North and South Carolina.
Lessie Henderson, a resident of Oxon Hill MD attends MCC of Washington DC. The reason Less attends MCC-DC is, “because of the immediate connection I felt when I first walked through the doors in early 2012 and seeing the diverse congregation, and getting the sense that this was not just a church service but a community where everyone could worship without judgment. At the time, I just moved in the area and felt that something was missing in my life. After the service, I knew that MCCDC was where I belonged. It was then that I realized that spirituality was that missing piece. After going through many issues in my life, I understand many of the challenges that many GLBT people of African descent face on a regular basis that often leads to depression, alienation and frustration. Since being a part of MCC, I realized the importance of a strong community and network and the difference that it makes for people coming in from the outside to feel welcomed and to have a reliable network. This is why I accepted the opportunity to serve on the PAD Advisory Council.”
Ellen Denise Junious is author of Unleash the Power of Personal Advantage, and currently teaches business at a community college. Denise’s career spans more than twenty years as a technology professional in the areas of healthcare and financial services. Denise has been featured in newspapers, magazines and radio media, and recently appeared in Who’s Who in Black Houston, and Black Enterprise Magazine. Denise’s lifelong commitment is to promote healthy communities, leadership and diversity. In 2008, Denise served as the keynote speaker for the 9th Annual Flo Berkman Awards Banquet, which recognizes social workers and leaders within Child Protective Services. In 2006, Denise spearheaded a community education and awareness initiative to promote positive outcomes for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her effort included collaboration with Montrose Counseling Center, and Montgomery County Women’s Centers. She sponsored a race team in the 2006 Race Against Domestic Violence. In 2004, Denise co-facilitating a 6-week book-study on The Purpose Driven Life, written by Rick Warren, Other community activities includes volunteering for Flight XXV a mentoring program at Landrum Middle School, serving as a tutor for Literacy Advance of Houston, supporting causes for Literacy Council of Fort Bend County, AIDS Foundation Houston, and the Houston Area Women’s Center. As a Leadership Houston Class XXVI graduate, Denise joins over thirty years of distinguished leaders in Houston, Texas. Her present and past membership associations include International Coach Federation, Houston Coaches Association, National Black MBA Association, Society for Human Resource Management, Writers League of Texas, and Women in Technology International. Ellen is an avid fan of local sports such as basketball, baseball, and football.gement, and has his State of Michigan HIV/STD prevention certificate. Roland retired at the age of 48 after rendering 29 years of service to the Wayne County Friend of the Court as a Supervisor of Conflict Resolution. Currently he is in his second career as the Executive Director of the Wayne County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, and trains volunteers to advocate properly for children placed in foster care due to abuse and neglect. A long-time activist and advocate for the LGBTQ community, he served as President of the Triangle Foundation, a Michigan advocacy group, for three years. Roland accepted Christ as his personal Lord and savior at nine years of age. Throughout his career in the church, he has sung in the choir, ushered, taught Sunday school and became an ordained Deacon. Currently he resides with his partner, Paul Mattson. Both active members of MCC Detroit, they sing in the choir, serve as prayer ministers, and lead Bible study/Connection Groups. He considers himself a blessed man who has come to know and love God above all. One of his favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times and his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Rev. Roland Stringfellow is licensed with the Metropolitan Community Church and United Church of Christ. Currently he is the Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church Detroit and also works with congregations on LGBTQ inclusion as the Director of Ministerial Outreach for the African-American Roundtable, a program of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Sexuality on the campus of Pacific School of Religion. Rev. Stringfellow has been consulted by media outlets regarding his work on marriage equality and the role people of color and communities of faith played in this local, state and national debate.
Roland Smith is a native Detroiter who resides with his partner in the northwest suburbs of the city. He has earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, and has his State of Michigan HIV/STD prevention certificate. Roland retired at the age of 48 after rendering 29 years of service to the Wayne County Friend of the Court as a Supervisor of Conflict Resolution. Currently he is in his second career as the Executive Director of the Wayne County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, and trains volunteers to advocate properly for children placed in foster care due to abuse and neglect. A long-time activist and advocate for the LGBTQ community, he served as President of the Triangle Foundation, a Michigan advocacy group, for three years. Roland accepted Christ as his personal Lord and savior at nine years of age. Throughout his career in the church, he has sung in the choir, ushered, taught Sunday school and became an ordained Deacon. Currently he resides with his partner, Paul Mattson. Both active members of MCC Detroit, they sing in the choir, serve as prayer ministers, and lead Bible study/Connection Groups. He considers himself a blessed man who has come to know and love God above all. One of his favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times and his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Patrice Ford began singing in church at the age of 3 and has been singing ever since. In grade school,she auditioned for and was accepted into a performing arts school where she studied singing and acting. From there she attended the Hamilton Music Academy and Pete Knight High School where she was active with the Gay/Straight Alliance, graduating in 2008.
Ms Ford first attended Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pacoima, CA until she moved to Palmdale, CA at the age of 16. She began attending Living Stone Cathedral of Worship in Little Rock, CA in 2006, where she sang with the Young Adult Praise team as well as the Adult Choir. Additionally, Ms Ford was a Young Adult leader for elementary and middle school children within the church.
Patrice found her love of serving the community by helping feed the homeless in the Antelope Valley, CA and helping on skid row in Los Angeles. She has also volunteered at several Senior Centers in the Antelope Valley.
Ms Ford currently attends Founders Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, CA and is active with the Young Professionals Ministry, and the Azania (People of African Descent and their Friends/Allies) Ministry. She was instrumental in putting together the programs for the Juneteenth and Kwanzaa Services in 2013 and 2014 respectively. She currently works as part of a team to put together a monthly Creative Service at Founders MCC which is an untraditional service that showcases the talents of people within the community in a church setting based on scripture. Additionally, Patrice is also an active Co-Mentor within the church helping with youth transitioning out of the foster care system to include LGBTQI youth who may otherwise end up on the streets with little to no support.
Ms Ford is also active on the UFMCC Theologies team and has also participated in the Young Adult Leadership Mentoring Retreat.
Patrice is currently working on a BA in Religious Studies with plans to pursue a MDiv degree in the near future. Her goal/dream is to become a Pastor and Music Minister.
Rev. Mel Martinez (program lead) 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. 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.
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. Jackie Carter (Program Officer) is the senior pastor of First Metropolitan Community Church of Kansas. Her passion for social justice and equality provide the motivation for her life and ministry. Jackie was recently recognized as an American Red Cross Hero for her work with the food pantry at the church which has become the second largest in the city, feeding over 800 people per week. Jackie graduated from Wichita State university with a Masters in Sociology and from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a Masters of Divinity degree. Jackie embraces a progressive theology which is reflected in creative and innovative worship experiences. Her personal goal is to live her life in such a way that she demonstrates to the world the truth that God loves you……Period.
Council Members: Marian Cavagnaro, Lisa Kelson, Carmen Llanos, Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk
Rev. Marian Cavagnaro, M.Div., M.S., MASCP, MT(ASCP)DLM , is a Deacon and Pastoral Care Minister at Sunshine Cathedral MCC, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and is currently serving as a Clergy Intern at MCC of the Palm Beaches(2012). Born in Massachusetts, Marian has lived in Florida since 1972. Since 1994, she has been the Director of Laboratory Services, Memorial Hospital West, Pembroke Pines, Florida. Marian received a Master Certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology in October 2011, is certified as a Diplomate in Laboratory Management and holds a Florida Clinical Laboratory Supervisor License. She received her Bachelor’s in Medical Technology from Barry University and a Master of Science in Management from Florida International University. Marian received a Master of Religious Studies from Light University (now Samaritan Institute, Sunshine Cathedral MCC) and graduated in May 2012 with her Master of Divinity degree from Florida Center for Theological Studies. She has served as an Adjunct faculty member for Barry University and St. Thomas University, both in Miami, Florida. Marian has been involved with training laboratory professionals in hematology and laboratory management for 30 years, presenting workshops at local, state, and national meetings. Marian was a laboratory consultant for ASCP in their Global Outreach work from 2005-2009 in the countries of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Guyana, and Haiti. She went this summer to Kenya on a mission trip to the Rafiki Children’s Center in Nairobi, Kenya. Marian has served on the Boards of the Sunshine Cathedral, the Sunshine Community Foundation, the United Way of Broward County and on the LifeNet4Families/Cooperative Feeding Program of Broward County.
Lisa Kelson accepted her call to ordained ministry in 2011 and is currently studying at the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts while also serving as Education Minister at Holy Cross MCC in Pensacola Florida. She is the oldest of four siblings, all sisters, including a twin. Lisa, like many, has come full circle, geographically speaking. She was born in Pensacola but left home to attend Edison Community College through a softball scholarship where she obtained an Associate Degree in Sports Science. She later received her Bachelor’s in Sports Science from the University of West Florida. Subsequent to her college years Lisa joined the Army training as an aircraft electronics technician and served in Desert Storm during 1990 and 1991. In the fall of 1994, Lisa and her partner moved from Savannah Georgia to Atlanta Georgia where she obtained an M.Ed in Technology Education at the University of Georgia while teaching high school. In 2002, Lisa returned home to Pensacola and began her affiliation with Holy Cross MCC. Lisa worked as a purchasing agent on the Navy base and until surrendering to her call in 2011.
Born in Madrid, Spain, Carmen Llanos moved to Canada with her partner Raquel in the year 2,000. There she discovered MCC six years later, after a friend mentioned there was a church where she and her partner could get married: MCC Toronto. She found a church home after so many years of detachment to any church or anything that represented a male-dominated hierarchy that was discriminating towards women and LGBT people. Then she started getting involved in several groups and ministries before being: installed as a deacon, joined the anointing and serving ministry, created a Spanish-speaking welcoming group called HOLA, became a member of the Dragonboat team of the church, the Drag’N Angels, of which she was elected the following year to be on the Executive Board where she has been serving for four years. She is the co-founder of ICM España (MCC Spain), and she offers leadership and support to the congregation and serves as the liaison with the denomination. She is a member of the MCC Hispanic/Latino/Spanish-speaking ministry development leadership team in North America, representing the Spanish-speaking community in Canada. Carmen recently graduated as a Creating a Life that Matters Certified Trainer, and is currently studying at the ICM Rev. Obispa Darlene Garner Instituto de Formación del Liderazgo de Iberoamérica for lay leaders and clergy. Carmen has a passion for global ministry through the local church.
The Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk has been an ordained clergywoman in MCC since 1997. She served for six years as Pastor of MCC Boston and was a founding member of the Massachusetts Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, which successfully organized over 1,000 religious leaders in support of Massachusetts’ marriage equality campaign. A second-career clergywoman, Joan earned an M.A. in Feminist Spirituality at the Immaculate Heart College Center in Los Angeles, and completed a D.Min. degree in 2008 at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her doctoral thesis explored the traumatic psychological effects of anti-queer hostility (a/k/a homophobia, transphobia, etc.) on queer people, and considered the implications of these individual traumas for the dynamics of predominantly queer congregations. Prior to ordination, Joan served as HIV/AIDS ministry director for MCC Ventura, CA. Her passions in ministry are teaching and worship, including the creation of feminist and progressive Christian rituals. Currently, Joan is co-director with her wife, Sharilyn Steketee, of MCC New England Ministries, an outreach and resource for GLBTQ college students in Greater Boston/Cambridge. She has also taught MCC’s online course in Queer History several times since Fall 2010, expanding the curriculum to include perspectives from Canada and the United Kingdom as well as the United States. A former aerospace engineer in Santa Barbara, California, Joan works as a college mathematics professor and is starting a consulting business in editing and checking mathematics curricula for the college market. She lives in Greater Boston, MA with her wife of seventeen years, Sharilyn Steketee, and their cat Bridget.
Angel Celeste Collie is a transmasculine person from Bunn, NC. He leads MCC’s Transgender Ministries, serves on the LGBT-Religious Archives Network Advisory Committee, The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Transgender Roundtable, the Freedom Center for Social Justice board, and and was on the 2006 and 2007 Soulforce Equality Rides. In addition, Angel was elected by his peers to serve on the Diversity Committee and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate at Yale Divinity School. Angel says it is his hope to advocate on behalf of transgender, gender-non-conforming, and gender variant people in communities of faith. He said, “I am a shy, inked-up dork who likes exploring the intersections of faith, gender, and sexuality.”
Rev. Miller Hoffman was ordained by MCCNY in 2004. He studied at Union Theological Seminary and was awarded the Roswell Dwight Hitchcock Prize in Church History. He has worked with LGBT civil rights, anti-violence, and queer youth organizations in NY and PA. Mind-body-spirit connections to social justice and the connectedness of all forms of physical, emotional, and spiritual violence deeply influence his theology and ministry. Miller lives in Carlisle, PA, with girlfriend Corrine Bertram. Rev. Miller and Rev. Emma Chatton of MCC NoVA presented a two-part webinar series on trans inclusion in church community and ministry which is available online:
Rev. Jake Kopmeier is the minister for social justice concerns and for transgender concerns at King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg, FL area. He is a founding member of Transgender FORGE and its director for youth and families. Prior to becoming active in MCC in Florida, Rev. Kopmeier was a clinical social worker helping in the LGBT community in the Washington, DC area.
Zach McCallum is a fabulous, queer, disabled transman who lives just outside San Francisco with one housemate, three algae-eating snails, ten tropical fish, and fourteen pet rats. He hails originally from both Michigan and Tennessee, but has lived in coastal California for over twenty years so no longer has any tolerance for temperatures above 80°F or below 30°F. To hear his Nashville accent, sit him down with another Southerner or eavesdrop when he’s on the phone to his sister. He spent a year studying geology in upstate New York, then bailed on the sciences and got a bachelors degree in Theatre from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He moved to San Francisco when he graduated, for “true love” (it didn’t last), and decided California was the place for him. At various times he’s earned a living (or in some cases more like a pittance) as a graphic artist and animator, a user experience designer, a stage manager, a theatrical director, a makeup artist, a phlebotomist, a janitor, and a writer. He is currently Managing Editor at Owldolatrous Press, a progressive web journal focusing on spiritual and humanist values, arts, and ideas for the LGBTQQIA community and their allies. In addition to making weekly publication happen, he writes essays about gender, culture, and spirituality. He also writes fiction (mostly gay romance, fantasy, and sci fi) and poetry about anything that catches his ADD eye. He’s the token Pagan member of Peninsula MCC in San Mateo, CA, where he’s been attending services (and singing in the choir) since January 2007 when he went to be polite to some friends who’d invited him, and found much more than he’d bargained for. His step-father is a former Presbyterian minister, his best ex-girlfriend is a Church of Canada minister, and a handful of his closest friends are either ministers, chaplains, or former seminary students, so he’s rather surrounded by the voice of the Divine in one way or another.
Rev. Aaron Miller (M.Div.’08 Yale Divinity School) is the Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford (CT) and a chaplain at Yale New Haven Hospital. Prior to being called to MCC Hartford, initially as the interim pastor, Aaron served as the Associate Minister for Pastoral Care at MCC New Haven where he was ordained and also a member for nearly 13 years. In addition to serving on this Advisory Council, Aaron is also a member of the Moderator’s Climate Care team. Aaron serves on the Board of Directors of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (CT) and is working with the CT Fair Housing Center in state matters of housing discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Aaron is a political and spiritual activist who is passionately committed to social justice issues and, in particular, the human and civil rights of trans*/gender non-conforming people, working with political incumbents toward full equality. Aaron is passionately committed to educating and advocating for the full inclusion of all genders and sexualities that we may all, individually and in community, experience and live out the unconditional love of God.
Rev. Maxwell Reay has been a member of Metropolitan Community Church since 1989. He was one of the founding pastors of Living Springs MCC in Bath, England. He was licensed as MCC clergy in 1993. Maxwell has worked and volunteered within the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender community for over 25 years. He is a qualified teacher, social worker and worked in the HIV voluntary sector for several years. Maxwell is an out gay trans man. He co chaired FTM London for 5 years and severed on the committee of Transmen Scotland for 3 years. He worked for LGBT Youth Scotland providing support to trans youth and trans educational sessions to other organisations. Maxwell is passionate about trans affirmation and visibility in church settings and has worked with several church communities in helping to improve trans inclusion. He helped to establish trans faith and spirituality groups in London and Edinburgh. Maxwell currently works full time as an NHS mental healthcare Chaplain in Edinburgh providing spiritual care to folks of any faith or no faith, in hospital and community settings. He offers monthly spiritual care sessions at the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Edinburgh. He is also volunteer clergy with Augustine United Church in Edinburgh. Maxwell co-ordinates the LGBT ministry “Our Tribe” and the transgender ministry “Transcendence” which are both joint ministries with MCC and Augustine United Church.
Stacy Sandberg attended MCC in Topeka until the summer of 2011 and Spirit of Hope MCC in Kansas City for the next 2 years. Stacy is currently a member of New Spirit MCC in Cincinnati and active at Eternal Joy MCC in Dayton. All MCC congregations have been so supportive of Stacy’s growth. Stacy wants to help make MCC a denomination that continues to accept, affirm, and celebrate the wonderful variety of God’s creations. For the first 50 plus years of their life, Stacy considered themselves to be a flawed male, to have something wrong with them that just couldn’t be gotten rid of. They would try to fight it, but would also take opportunities to express their “femaleness” in what seemed like the only way possible – wearing women’s clothing in secret. Stacy felt a sense of relief and excitement during those times, and then guilt afterwards for having given in to the temptation. Their life was shaken a decade ago by a divorce. Over the past 10 plus years Stacy has been on a journey to claim that part of their being which was suppressed, denied, and hidden for 50 years. What seemed like a curse during that time now sees like a gift from God that continues to enrich their life, as Stacy seeks authenticity. Stacy prefers the term “dual gender” to describe their gender identity. Along this journey, Stacy has come to realize that advocating and educating on gender identity issues are tasks they are called to do to give back for all the blessing they have received. Stacy has made several presentations related to gender identity and has participated in a variety of activities helping to raise awareness of gender identity as a component of each person’s sexual and self identity. Stacy is married to Rev. Joy Simpson, pastor of both New Spirit and Eternal Joy MCCs in southwest Ohio.
Sara Sills is a member of Cornerstone MCC in Mobile, Alabama. She and her life-partner Kay Hedgepeth were married on February 28 after successfully challenging the State of Alabama’s discriminatory stand against marriage equality. They share their home with five adorable fur babies, Princess Diva Roxanne, Samson, Steve, Amos Moses and Pistol Dillon. In May, Sara will receiver her M Div. at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana and will seek MCC ordination this summer. She is a graduate of the MCC Leadership Mentoring Retreat and looks forward to continuing to serve the transgender and gender non-conforming peoples among us.
Rev. Mykal O’Neal Slack is the founder and lead organizer of 4LYFE, an ecumenical, consultative ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches that develops anti-racist and anti-oppressive frameworks for church life and provides pastoral and educational resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in faith communities across a broad spectrum, inviting everyone to Live Your Faith Everyday. He also serves The Sanctuary Boston as their Director of Worship and First Parish Cambridge as their Community Life Coordinator, supporting their efforts to become a multiracial, multifaith, justice-making community.
As part of his ministry, Mykal sits on the Advisory Group of the Center for African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice, the Trans*/GNC Advisory Council of Metropolitan Community Churches, and the steering team of the Trans People of Color Coalition, the only national organization that seeks to promote the social and economic equality of all black and brown transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Before ministry called him, Mykal spent several years in public service, clerking for the Honorable Marilyn D. Go at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and serving as an attorney for the ACLU LGBT & HIV/AIDS Rights Projects. He currently blogs on mendingdrybones.com and is a featured blogger on Believe Out Loud, an online network that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.
Dr. Imani Woody is the founding director and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, a developing LGBT friendly residential housing in Washington, DC. She has a PhD in Human Services specializing in non-profit management. Her thesis is entitled: Lift Every Voice: A Qualitative Exploration of Ageism and Heterosexism as Experienced by Older African American Lesbian Women and Gay Males when Addressing Social Services Needs. She holds a Master of Human Services degree from Lincoln University and is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Paralegal program. Dr. Woody is currently working as a diversity consultant working in the field of aging and issues affecting the LGBT and people color communities. She has worked as the pro bono coordinator of the D.C. Bar and has served as the director of training for the National Association of Protection and Advocacy, coordinating and facilitating trainings across the country for people with disabilities and promoting cultural diversity.
As the director of client services at the Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer, Dr. Woody managed programs that provided educational and direct services to lesbians and bisexual women with cancer. She was also a program manager for the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, working on national health programs to educate elderly African American women. Formerly a training specialist for the AARP’s Foundation, Dr. Woody developed curriculum and delivery of on-site and web-based trainings. She trained substantive experts to become trainers through the Train-the Trainer program and provided on-going technical assistance to field trainers. Formerly a co-chair of PRiSM, AARP’s ERG group, Dr. Woody worked to help form the Washington, DC LGBT Elder Coalition.
Dr. Imani Woody has been an advocate of women, people of color and LGBT issues for more than 20 years and has served on the board of directors of the Mautner Project, Women in the Life Association and Whitman Walker Lesbian services. She currently is a Commissioner on the (Washington, DC) Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Counsel, the Program Officer for the Older Adults Advisory Council for the Metropolitan Community Churches, is the Chair of SAGE Metro DC (an organization serving LGBT elders), and is an Advisory Board member of the SAGE National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. She has been a life coach for more than 10 years and is the founder and principal of Living Life Like It’s Golden, a six-part program that empowers people to live their lives more fully through visioning. She lives with her wife of thirteen years in Brookland, WDC.
Annette Beall was born in Denison, Texas. She currently resides in Cypress, Texas with Carolyn, her partner of 26 years. She is a member of the management team at Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, where she has been employed for 20 years. Prior employment includes 10 years as the Office Administrator of MCC of the Resurrection now known as Resurrection MCC. Annette joined Agapé MCC in Fort Worth, Texas in 1974. She co-founded an evangelistic ministry in 1976 and traveled for 1½ years with a team which conducted spiritual renewal services at MCC’s across the United States. In 1978, she settled in Houston, Texas where she assumed a position with the local MCC. She is a member of RMCC and currently participates in worship services as a member of the Gospel Ensemble, a reader and a participant in the distribution of communion. She is also a member of the church’s Stewardship Committee. Her previous service in RMCC includes the Board of Directors, lay delegate and the church staff. She also served on MCC’s Inclusive Language Task Force. Annette enjoys time with her families (birth and chosen), her friends and her pets, Champ, Mitch and Bella. She also enjoys the time she spends on her Honda Goldwing Trike, riding with the Resurrection Riders.
Robert Collins has extensive experience in a broad range of human relations activities, having been employed in various private enterprise and Government administrative positions including Private Secretary to a Cabinet Minister, Industrial Relations Consultant and Policy and Research Adviser . He has a keen interest in social justice advocacy for the LGBTI community through his involvement in an Ageing Action Group and as a member of a Reference Group to an Ageing and Aged Care Working Group of the National LGBTI Health Alliance, the peak health body for a range of organisations and individuals from across Australia that work together to improve the health and well-being of LGBTI and other sexuality, sex and gender diverse people and communities. He is also Honorary Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association (GLWA), an incorporated not-for-profit organization operating a peer-to-peer telephone counselling service offering support, referral and information for LGBTI people throughout Queensland and the Northern Rivers district of Australia.
Alan Dismore began a 30 year career in aging, disability, and health policy as a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on aging. Chief responsibilities were: Medicare/Medicaid anti-fraud and abuse, housing policy and briefing of Committee Chair, staff director, and majority professional staff members on these issues. On departure from this position, he began a 27 year career as in governmental relations with the American Foundation for the Blind, retiring in 2006 as Associate Director for Advocacy. During that time Alan represented AFB on the governmental relations steering group working for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In addition he co-chaired the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities task force on employment and task force on technology. As co-chair of the task force on technology he worked with members of the disability community on the 1996 amendments to the Telecommunications Act, assisting in the creation and passage of sections creating access to telecommunications for people with disabilities. During that time I also represented AFB on the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. Alan was one of the founding officers of SAGE Metro DC, an affiliate of SAGE USA. Currently, he co-chair the Older Adults ministry of MCCDC with Dr. Imani Woody. Alan is a member of the board of Prime Timers of DC, an affiliated of the largest international membership organizations for men over age 65. He is also a member of the program committee of At Home In Alexandria providing services to residents of Alexandria, Virginia who wish to remain independently in their own homes. Alan has lived in Alexandria for over 30 years with David, his partner of 26 years. This February Alan will turn 70!
Rev. Elder Freda Smith first entered MCC in 1971. She attended the 1971 General Conference as a delegate from Sacramento, California. Following MCC licensing in 1972, Freda was elected pastor of MCC Sacramento. In 1973, Freda was elected to the Board of Elders of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches where she served as World Church Extension Elder and Vice-Moderator for the next 20 years. She has attended and been active in every General Conference since 1971. Freda was senior pastor of MCC Sacramento – from 1972 until she retired in 2005 to become an Evangelist for the denomination.
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears was ordained as MCC clergy in November 2001. He served as pastor of MCC of Corpus Christi, Texas from December 2001 until July 2007; and he has served as pastor of Holy Covenant MCC in Brookfield, Illinois since July 2007. Danny holds both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In his spare time, Danny enjoys exercise (he is a certified Spinning instructor), reading and cooking. He and his husband Richard are allowed to share living space with their three cats, Powder, Anthony and Cleopatra (Tony and Cleo).
Lydya Chapman. I moved to Florida from San Francisco, California on November 1st 2002, where I purchased my first home and live with my partner of 10 years Linda, and our dog Bijou, and cat Clark Gable.
I work for a nonprofit named The Pantry of Broward as the Director of Operations. We help seniors on low fixed incomes and grandparents raising their grandchildren in Broward County Florida. We feel that our senior community is the forgotten or the lost generation. We provide food support, and other ancillary services, that help make their lives less stressful.
I became involved with Sunshine Cathedral MCC in late 2002, and became a member in March 2003. I was President of The Women’s Guild for 2 years, a member of the Music Ministry for 8 years and am a member of the Chancel Ministry Team 3 years, and Team Leader for the past 2 years. I have been attending The Samaritan Institute and received my AARS degree in October of 2013 and an ordained Deacon in December of 2013.
Preben Babko Sloth is 49 years old and has been living with HIV for 25 years. He works as a social worker with people who are physically and mentally challenged and part time studies comparative religion at Copenhagen University. Preben joined Markens Liljer MCC, Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1989 and now is a member of Basisgemeinde MCC, Hamburg, Germany. He has worked as staff and volunteer in Danish and international HIV NGO’s and FBO’s since 1989, among others as a consultant on HIV issues to the Lutheran Church of Sweden. Preben has made exchange visits to various HIV projects in Southern Africa. Though many of us who have access to ARV’s are living physically well, HIV is still a challenge to the individual and to us as church – both spiritually and diaconal. Treatment has made HIV more invisible in our communities but for those who get a positive test result today it is still an existential shock with loneliness and despair as a result, and the silence, ignorance and fear surrounding HIV and those of us, who are living with HIV, must constantly be addressed. MCC has a lot to offer both individuals and our communities as well as ecumenical settings. HIV is also an opportunity for change and hope.
Revered Jeffrey H. Jordan-Pickett is the senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia A native West Virginian, Rev. Jeff moved to Pennsylvania after being outted and defrocked by the then Bishop of the 3rd Episcopal district of the AME Church. Jordan-Pickett, originally met MCCP when accidentally stumbling upon and attending his first pride parade in 1993. In October 1994, Pastor Jeff was installed as pastor of MCCP. Critically ill with pneumocystis pneumonia, Pastor Jeff was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1998, the same year that his preaching credentials were accepted by UFMCC. During this time of being bed-ridden, Rev. Jeff was brought back to full health through the love and support shown to him from the congregants at MCCP. Because of this love that he experienced, Pastor Jeff has accepted HIV ministry as a vital part of his calling.Rev. Jordan is an active member of ACT UP Philadelphia and on the executive committee of the University of Pennsylvania HIV Prevention Research Division Community Advisory Board. As an AIDS activist Rev. Jeff has spoken at events such as AIDS Watch in Washington DC and The Prevention Justice Conference held during the Center for Disease Control Meeting in Atlanta Georgia. Recently, Pastor Jeff led the congregation which he shepherds in a campaign demanding that Hersey Corporation allow a young man with HIV be admitted to the Milton Hershey School. Under the leadership of Pastor Jeff, MCCP Philadelphia quarterly sends money to support two AIDS orphans at Mother of Peace Orphanage in Zimbabwe, raised close to $2,000 to support women with HIV at MCC of the Substance in Nairobi Kenya and distributed over 75,000 condoms in Philadelphia communities at risk. The Bridge Over Trouble Water Support Group, One of Philadelphia oldest support groups for POWs, recently recognized Rev. Jeff for his work in AIDS advocacy with the Lawrence Taylor HIV community Service Award. Rev. Jeff is supported and strengthened by his husband and partner of 18 year David E. Pickett.
Carl Krysa, currently leads the HIV support group at Milwaukee MCC. He also chairs the ARCW (AIDS Recourse Center of WI) and CAB (Consumer Advisory Board). Carl also has served as a care taker in an AIDS hospice were he has offered compassionate care. He is a passionate activist because her believes that there still is a need especially in third world countries to understand, affirm and support persons with HIV/AIDS.
Georgia Lacy is a recent early retiree a former Public Service Administrator who worked in social services for more than twenty plus years. In that capacity she has had the privilege to serve many marginalized and vulnerable communities. While a member of some of those communities herself. She is a Christian and the proud mother of three productive adult children. Her affiliation with MCC started in the seventies at Good Sheppard Parish. Benefiting and participating in MCC local churches as well as serving as a former delegate for Church of the Resurrection MCC. This inclusive faith community had been her rock. AIDS and HIV issues have been a part of her life since it began in the US. AIDS severely impacted MCC in its early days. The pivotal point in the crisis for her came when her brother became positive in the 1980’s. The new face of AIDS/HIV in the US and Africa are of great concern to her. She states that currently HIV and AIDS disproportionally affects communities of color, women and residents of the south in the US. She Worked in the community with the BROTHERS, Stop AIDS Chicago and acted as an advocate in a professional setting with her employer and staff. She has also participated in many self help health movements: Emma Goldman Women’s Health Center, Mather Women’s Health Project, Mental Health first aider, suicide prevention, CPR and first aid training. It has been her privilege to spend early retirement in the south, traveling to many major urban areas in the US and travel abroad. Georgia is a graduate of Northeastern University in Chicago, Illinois. She currently resides in the Chicago area and attends A Church 4 me.
Dr. David Williams, M.D., M.P.H., was born in Kingston, Jamaica where he completed his primary and secondary school education. Upon immigrating to the United States he completed his undergraduate studies in biology/biochemical engineering. Since graduating from medical school he has worked as an emergency/trauma medicine physician and surgeon in the US and several overseas locales as well as a project/program director in employee health and safety for a number of major telecom equipment manufacturers and providers. Dr. Williams has more than 20 years of medical and engineering experience. He holds degrees in engineering, medicine and public health; and has extensive experience in managing complex development and deployment projects for large health care companies/organizations, and multinational telecom providers. A summary of Dr. Williams’ clinical qualifications is as follows: Practiced clinical emergency medicine and public health for over twenty years. Post-training clinical experience in a very diverse range of practice settings, (in the public, community and private sectors), including a number of foreign countries where he gained an understanding of national/local public health and emergency medical systems compared with those of the U.S.A. Studied, at the master’s level, qualitative and quantitative aspects of the U.S. healthcare system policy and politics, including epidemiology of, and comparison with international perspectives on, emergency medicine, public health and HIV/AIDS. Consulted for several years in administrative leadership positions within critical care, emergency medicine and HIV/AIDS. Trained medical and nursing students, nurses, residents, fellows, and allied health professionals in on-the-job, basic and advanced life support clinical skills. Dr. Williams resides and practices in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, and travels extensively internationally lecturing on varied subjects in the fields of emergency medicine/trauma surgery and public health. He currently serves on the boards of the MCC Christ the Liberator and the New Jersey AIDS Partnership.
Originally from Livingston, Texas, Kedric Brown is currently the lead inventory specialist and analyst for Valerus Compression Services-Houston. He is instrumental in working with project managers, coordinators and engineers, training new hires on product and equipment in the oil and gas industry. As a member of Resurrection MCC, he sings tenor and serves as assistant director to Cassandra White with the Gospel Ensemble, a lead lay facilitator and coordinator for the young adult ministry, serves as reader, vocal and clarinet soloist, has served a term as Lay Delegate, a member of the HeavenSound Handbells, worked with the Imagine Capital Campaign, sang with the RMCC Singers, served as an usher, communion distributor, worked with the teen’s ministry and recently co-directed a theatrical production of Maurice Evan’s “Café Christmas”…a queer musical. Outside of the walls of Resurrection, Kedric sings with Damian Price and Praise and is active in volunteering with different community service programs for different events in the Houston area. His most recent volunteer act was with the T.R.U.T.H. (Telling Real Unapologetic Truth Through Healing) Project. This is a quarterly event that gives different people an opportunity to express circumstantial healing truths about themselves…from destroying abuse to human rights. He has also sang with Houston Chapter of the Edwin/Walter Hawkins Love Fellowship Mass Choir, supports local effort in equality by attending projects such as Brother2Brother meetings to discuss the positive movement and advancement of African-American same gender loving men, has volunteered with Junior Achievement and HRC. Currently, Kedric is getting geared to enter into the MCC L.E.A.D. Program and become a CLM Trainer.
Reverend Brian Hutchison currently serves as Interim Pastor for MCC New Haven (Connecticut). Brian most recently served as Director of Volunteer Ministries for Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL. During that time, he also assisted Celebration MCC in Naples, FL through their pastoral transition. Before that position, he was the pastor of New Covenant MCC in Laurel, Maryland. Prior to ordination, he completed a clergy internship at MCC San Francisco. He also completed a Clinical Pastoral Education internship at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, CA. Brian holds his Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland (College Park), and a Certificate in LGBT Studies from the same. Before ordained ministry, Brian was active in lay ministry at MCC-DC. Brian’s talents and passions include singing, preaching, pastoral care, religious education, small group meditation and study, HIV ministry, sexuality studies, and social justice work. Brian is married to his husband of six years James who is a trained chef and artist.
Rachel Meyer: Rachel Meyer is a 22-year old originally from Colorado Springs, CO, and residing in Toronto, Ontario since 2004. She recently graduated with an Honours BSc in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario and is excited to pursue a career in strength and conditioning training and nutrition. Rachel has been attending MCC since she was a toddler, at Pikes Peak MCC in Colorado Springs and MCC Toronto. She has been an active member of the community – helping to begin and grow MCC Toronto’s Children’s Ministry, participating on and leading three groups of young adults on outreach trips to the Dominican Republic, and raising funds for MCC’s Far Reaching Faith Scholarship Fund for children’s education in the Dominican. She has been a guest preacher at MCC Toronto, CRAVE MCC in Sydney, Australia, and at local churches in the Toronto area. Rachel was honoured to be the youth representative on the host committee in Acapulco for General Conference 2010 and is equally honoured to be a member on the Young Adult Advisory Committee. Rachel has attended the Young Adult Conference, the Young Adult Leadership Mentoring Retreat, and will be furthering her spiritual journey in Creating a Life that Matters this summer. Rachel is passionate about MCC’s message of inclusive and unconditional love and hopes that the Young Adult Advisory Committee will aid in spreading that message for generations to come.
Alex Pittaway: I was honoured to accept the invitation to join the Young Adults Advisory Committee.
I walked into the doors of MCC Sydney 5 years ago after leaving my old church, never before had I been in a place where the word community really meant something. That through Jesus we’re all in this journey of faith together.
Rev. Melissa L Smithee, currently serves as Minister of Congregational Care at Founders MCC in Los Angeles, the founding congregation of the MCC movement. She is a California native who spent nearly 2 years in the Mid-West creating programming and growing the local church as a staff pastor. During that time she attended the first MCC Young Adult Retreat in Ft. Lauderdale where the attendees worked together to articulate a purpose and vision statement and create community. Rev. Melissa learned of MCC in 2004 as a result of a pro-gay theology chat hosted by her Students For Social Justice group at Vanguard University, an Assemblies of God private college. Since then, she has been committed both to the progressive gospel of MCC and the reconciliation of spirituality and sexuality. Upon joining the staff at Founders MCC in 2012, she co-founded the Young Professionals Group and is on the leadership team for a new Creative Arts Worship Service. Reverend Melissa has completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and is now eligible to be a Board Certified Chaplain. After being approved for ordination at General Conference in Acapulco in 2010, Melissa was invited by the Office of Leadership Development and Formation to serve on interview committees for current candidates. This is part of her Passion and Call, to see people as God created them and facilitate their coming into fullness and healing. As such, she’s been a huge advocate for the Creating A Life That Matters as a certified facilitator and Master Trainer candidate.
My name is Mark Farris. I have a one year old son, and have been married for five years. I have been a member of the MCC for four years. I am currently the Multimedia Director at MCC San Antonio, and help my wife with the Young Adult Group. I have a bachelors degree in Radio-T.V.-Film, and a masters degree in Communications. I enjoy being a media creator, and activist and a father. I am an ally, but also have a parent that is transgender. I am compelled to make the MCC, and specifically the MCC young adult experience a better one.
Vita Caradonna is a 31-year-old Sydney-based lover of Life and of People. Born into an Italian Family she began her journey with God in the Roman Catholic Church and from a young age enjoyed serving in many areas from Singing to Reading and being involved in Youth Group. She was also voted as Liturgy Captain and Outreach Captain during her high school years where she enjoyed bringing her peers and community together through acts of faith and service. Nowadays, Vita works Part-time as a Radiographer while also contributing to the Profession by Lecturing and Tutoring in Radiography at University level. The remainder of her time is currently being spent completing a second Bachelors Degree in Contemporary Music and Song Writing at JMC Music Academy in Sydney, Australia, after which she would like to teach Singing privately, and continue to write and spread her thoughts with the world. At present Vita serves as the Young Adult Representative on the MCC Australasian Network Committee led by Reverend Elder Darlene Garner and has just recently graduated from the CLM – “Creating A Life That Matters” course together with her partner. She can also be found at MCC Sydney serving in a variety of ways, from singing in the Choir to Prayers and Acolyte service. Vita was involved in the Australasian Women’s Retreat in 2014, and the Australasian Young Adult Retreat in 2015, and presented sessions at both these events. She plans to commence her theological studies in 2016, and combine this with further studies relating to Young Women and Christ in the not too distant future.