The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries around the world. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with a sitting president in 1979. She became a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2011.
Leaders of the global denomination, Metropolitan Community Churches, decried the spray-painted threat on the door of Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer in Augusta, Georgia, on the night of July 20, 2015.
“We are clear this is not just vandalism; this is life-threatening hatred. When people who cite chapter and verse to send others to hell, they are usually prepared to personally send you there,” said Global Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “It is sad that we have to remind people that hate is not a Christian value.”
|Vandals leave spray-painted messages of hate and violence at Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer, Augusta, Georgia, on July 20. A GoFundMe account has been established to repair the damage and purchase a security system. (photo by R. Sosbe).|
“As an African American woman, I know that hate is hate. Whether it is the shooting of the Charleston nine, burning of churches, or spray-painted threats on church doors, the intent is to silence us with fear for our lives,” said the Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries. “We will not be silent! Silence will not protect us. It will only embolden those who use guns, torches, and spray paint because they have not opened themselves to the power of love.”
Rev. Rick Sosbe, Senior Pastor at Church of Our Redeemer, said, “In Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer here in Augusta, we believe that love is love and that all people are equal before God. After the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared that the Constitution allows all people to marry the person they love, someone stole our rainbow flag from the front of the church. This spray-painted threat is an escalation of hostility and we are taking it very seriously.”
We are sad to share the news of the death of MCC staffer, Bill Hooper. Bill had a stroke last Sunday, while visiting family in Austin, Texas, and died in hospice care on July 18, 2015.
Bill began his MCC career by volunteering in our offices in West Hollywood and became a full time staff member in 2005. He later moved to Abilene, Texas, and finally relocated to Sarasota, Florida, to work at the current MCC Moderator and Business Office.
Bill primarily served as the administrative staff for MCC’s Board of Pensions USA for many years and also served as support staff to our business office, under the direction of Barb Crabtree. Bill monitored MCC headquarters’ phone and worked with a wonderful group of volunteers at our Sarasota offices.
Everyone loved Bill Hooper. He was kind, compassionate, and dedicated to the mission of MCC. He had a wry sense of humor and was meticulous about his work. He was a team player and had a servant’s heart. He was always willing to help the clergy he served, and us, his colleagues in the office. He was a loving and sweet presence. We will miss him.
Bill was a proud father of Matt Hooper and Lindsay Shoush and grandfather of Vivian who is five, and Bennett who is two.
Bill became ill just after celebrating a long anticipated family reunion. All of us who work with him are thrilled that he had a last chance to see and be with his family, who were so important to him.
Memorial arrangements are pending.
|Bill spent some of his free time on the beach and especially enjoyed taking sunset pictures.|| Bill often shared stories about his family. This is a picture of Bill’s granddaughter who is now
five years old.
|Bill occasionally dressed as Santa to raise money for charities.|
Click here to watch the recorded media event following the historic SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality in the USA.
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, MCC Global Moderator, celebrates the historic decision by SCOTUS to support same-sex marriage.
Contact: Linda Brenner-Beckstead, Linda@MCCchurch.net, 941-321-7886
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries around the world. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with a sitting president in 1979.She was a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“Today, love and equality win! The Supreme Court concluded that all loving couples deserve the right to marry! Finally, the U.S. Constitution applies to every family,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. “More children in America can now go to school proudly and know their families are protected by the highest court of the land. I am thrilled but we cannot rest until all people, regardless of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation are free to live without fear.”
“O happy day! LGBTQ couples in the United States have the right to marry! MCC was the first to marry same-sex couples in1968. In 1970 we brought the first lawsuit for marriage equality,” said the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches. “Metropolitan Community Churches demonstrated for marriage licenses every Valentine’s Day. We married couples at Pride marches. We performed thousands of marriages in our churches, and we never gave up!”
“We are thrilled with the Court’s decision for marriage equality. Today, we redouble our efforts to let the world know that discrimination is wrong-not just in marriage, but in employment and every walk of life,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Director for Marriage Equality for MCC’s Public Policy Team.
“We are celebrating-and getting back to work,” said the Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute. “LGBTQ people in Kenya, Eastern Europe, and 76 countries live in fear for their lives. After almost 50 years, MCC is still on the cutting edge of ministry. Known as ‘The Human Rights Church’ in many countries, MCC knows the next chapter will be Global. LGBTQ people in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America deserve to live in peace.”
“While marriage equality is a significant stride toward justice, injustice remains for too many people. We have learned the painful lesson that unless we stand up for each other, some people will never experience justice. Black lives matter, Trans lives matter, Immigrant lives matter-and the list goes on! We are not finished with our work for justice until all lives matter,” said the Rev. Darlene Garner, Director of Emerging Ministries with responsibility for diversity and inclusion.
Contact: Linda Brenner-Beckstead, firstname.lastname@example.org, 941-321-7886
Ann Craig, email@example.com, 917-280-2968
WHAT: MCC Media Event: Call in via Adobe Connect link
Log in with your name under “guest.” Click video and microphone icons at top left
WHEN: 6 pm Eastern time today 26 June 2015
WHO: Media, MCC members, and all Interested Parties may log in.
MCC Spokespeople: Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
Rev. Elder Troy Perry
Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt
“Will the U.S. Constitution applies to every family?” asked the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. “We will either celebrate or mourn the SCOTUS decisions, but no matter what, we cannot rest until all people, regardless of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation are free to live without fear.”
The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches said, “Metropolitan Community Churches have been working for legal marriages for almost 50 years. Every Valentine’s day we applied for licenses. We married couples at Pride marches. We performed thousands of marriages in our churches, and we never gave up and never will until all people are free!”
“The Court’s decision will inspire us to redouble our efforts to let the world know that discrimination is wrong—not just in marriage, but in employment and every walk of life,” said Rev. Elder Dr. Jim Merritt, Director for Marriage Equality for MCC’s Public Policy Team.
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute. “MCC is on the cutting edge of ministry. In the United States, we help homeless LGBTQ youth and asylum seekers. Around the world, we are known as ‘The Human Rights Church.’ Whether in the United States, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, or Latin America, LGBTQ people deserve to live in peace, and be supported by fair laws.”
|Photo Credit: ABC News|
While studying the Bible together, a young man, apparently well-schooled in racially inspired hatred and animosity, announced he would kill those gathered simply because they were black.
There are no words to take away the anger, pain, sorrow and loss of the families and friends of the victims and the community of Charleston, or that will adequately address the outrage of those among us who have spent lifetimes working for the dismantling of racism and its systemic supports and the promotion of goodwill among all.
There are, however, words to address this senseless act: STOP THE VIOLENCE! STOP THE HATE! JUST STOP IT! Pass sensible gun laws that protect society from the animosity of the few. Reinstate the legal protections that many fought and died for, like equal voting rights legislation and equal educational opportunities and job programs. Teach and practice love before all other options. Teach and practice kindness, compassion, acceptance, generosity and appreciation of difference. Someone taught that young shooter that difference was to be eliminated, not reverenced as a part of God’s good design.
There are words we can all remember and hold on to for inspiration and guidance as we move through this tragedy. A little over 50 years ago, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, facing a similar tragedy with the murder of 4 little girls at Sunday School in a Church in Alabama, called the nation and the world to accountability when he said, those who have been taken from us have something to say.
“They have something to say to every minister of the Gospel who has remained
silent behind the safe security of stained glass windows. They have something to
say to every politician who has fed his constituents the stale bread of hatred and
the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government
that has compromised …. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we
must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned
not merely about WHO murdered them, but about the system, the way of life
and the philosophy which PRODUCED the murderers. Their death says to us
that we must work passionately and unrelentingly to make the American dream
All of us can and must do something every single day we are blessed to grace this earth to make that dream of a world at peace with its God-given diversity a reality. As the saying goes, “See something, say something.” Never ever allow a racist remark to go unchallenged or pass for humor. Push for strict and enforced gun legislation that will eliminate easy access to weapons that do nothing but take life. Challenge legislators to reinstate the principles and practices of law and governance that challenge inequality and promote the value, dignity and worth of each life. Preach, teach and practice the ways of nonviolence.
As we collectively mourn this needless tragedy at Mother of Emanuel, let us remember the promise of that community’s name ~ that God is with us ~ and that we can do all things through the One who strengthens us.
Let us pray to the Mother of All Life for the courage to do the things and live in the ways that bring peace to this earth and honor the promise of all life.
Let us pray together ~
The people of Mother Emanuel have faced hatred and oppression in the past, and have risen like a phoenix from the ashes of despair and heartache with you by their side.
We pray that they will once again rise from this painful moment, and will be an example of hope that cannot be destroyed, integrity that will always survive, and community that no prejudice can divide as we stand together in solidarity.
Holy One, bless the dear people of Emanuel AME Church and all of us, and let the power of your love bring healing to the hearts and minds of people everywhere who continue to face hatred, injustice, and undeserved pain.
And, loving Spirit, we pray also for the assailant who took innocent lives. Even as Justice demands that he be held accountable, mercy also requires that we pray for the healing of his soul, and for all souls that have not learned to replace blind hatred with love of self and
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.
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.
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)
EVENT IN THE MATANZAS THEOLOGICAL EVANGELICAL SEMINARIO (SET): GENDER AND NON-HETERONORMATIVE SEXUALITIES: CHURCH ADDRESING CHALLENGES.
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:
29 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.
Around 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.
On 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.
MEETING 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.
On 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.
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.
The 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.
A 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.
We 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. Creative 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.
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.
We 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.
Lic. 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”
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 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.
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.
Currently 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.
We 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.
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.
Rev. Elder Troy Perry
Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West
Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez
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.
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.”
More 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/