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/
“Hacia un mundo libre y en igualdad”, Rev. Obispa Dra. Nancy Wilson, Moderadora (Foto: Bill Owen, Allegheny College)
Se enviarán boletas individuales por medio de Survey Monkey vía correo electrónico a las personas delegadas de la Cámara Laical y de la Cámara Clerical elegibles para que puedan abrir la boleta de votación. Recibirás un correo electrónico directamente de Survey Monkey el miércoles, 6 de maya 2015, a la 1 pm UTC/GMT (9 am EDT).
Si no recibes el correo electrónico antes de las 2 pm UTC/GMT (10 am EDT), favor de contactar a la Rev. Vickey Gibbs a RevVickeyGibbs@MCCchurch.net o al teléfono 1-281-940-1558. La Rev. Vickey estará disponible para las personas delegadas hasta las 11 pm UTC/GMT (7 pm EDT) del 6 de mayo y comenzará de nuevo a las 12 hrs GMT (8 am EDT) el 7 de mayo.
Habrá un enlace en el correo electrónico que te llevará ya sea a la boleta de votación laical o clerical, según corresponda. Las instrucciones para la votación estarán disponibles en los siguientes cuatro (4) idiomas: inglés, alemán, portugués y español.
¿Qué puedes esperar en la boleta de Survey Monkey?:
La primera pantalla será la bienvenida y agradecimiento por participar en esta votación.
La segunda pantalla pedirá tu nombre, correo electrónico, tu designación de voto y el nombre de tu Iglesia.
La designación de tu voto para el Laicado será Delegada Laica de Iglesia, Líder Pastoral Interino, Laica Miembro del Consejo de Obispos/as, o Laica Miembro de la Junta de Gobierno. Para el clero, deberán elegir entre Activo o Jubilado.
La tercera pantalla pedirá que emitas tu voto para afirmar a Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dwayne Johnson, Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M., Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León y / o Rev. Dra. Candace Shultis seleccionando SI, No, o Abstención.
Una vez que termines tu votación, debes elegir “Done”. Se te redirigirá a la página web de ICM.
Favor de tener en cuenta que una vez que elijas “Done,” no podrás regresar a la bolete de votación.
La votación se concluirá el jueves 7 de mayo a las 9 pm UTC/GMT (5 pm EDT). Los votos serán contados por una firma independiente, y enviará los resultados a la Junta de Gobierno. La Moderadora ha designado a la Rev. Onetta Brooks, Presidenta del Comité de Gobierno/de la Junta de Gobierno, como Secretaria en esta Conferencia General Especial.
SI TE PERDISTE LOS FOROS DE NEGOCIOS
Si te perdiste los Foros de Negocios en vivo, fueron grabados y se han publicado. Incluso cuentan con ejemplos de las boletas de votación de ambas Cámaras, en la presentación de PowerPoint, así como en las presentaciones grabadas. Puedes consultarlos en el siguiente enlace:
Esperamos tu participación en esta Conferencia General Virtual para afirmar a Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dwayne Johnson, Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M., Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León y / o Rev. Dra. Candace Shultis para el puesto de Obispas y Obispos.
Paz y Bendiciones,
Junta de Gobierno de ICM
|Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator (Photo: Bill Owen, Allegheny College)|
Individual Survey Monkey ballots will be sent via email to eligible Lay House and Clergy House delegates at their email address of record when the poll opens. You will receive an email directly from Survey Monkey on Wednesday, 6 May 2015, at 1 pm UTC/GMT (9 am EDT).
If you have not received an email by 2 pm UTC/GMT (10 am EDT), please contact Rev. Vickey Gibbs at RevVickeyGibbs@MCCchurch.
There will be a link in the email that will take you to either the Lay or Clergy Ballot, as appropriate. The voting instructions are provided in the following four (4) languages: English, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.
What you can expect on your Survey Monkey Ballot:
The first screen will welcome and thank you for participating in this vote.
The second screen will ask for your name, your email address, your voting designation, and your church name.
Your voting designation for Laity will be Church Lay Delegate, Interim Pastoral Leader, Lay Member of the Council of Elders, or a Lay Member of the Governing Board. For Clergy, you will select either Active or Retired.
The third screen will ask you to vote to affirm Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dwayne Johnson, Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M., Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León and / or Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis by selecting Yes, No, or Abstain.
Once you have completed your ballot, select “Done” at the bottom of the page. You will be redirected to the MCC website home page.
Please note that once you select “Done,” you will not be able to return to the ballot.
The voting will close on Thursday, 7 May, at 9 pm UTC/GMT (5 pm EDT). The votes will be tabulated by an independent firm, and the results will be sent to the Governing Board. The Moderator has designated Rev. Onetta Brooks, Chair of the Governance Committee/Governing Board, as the Clerk for this Special General Conference.
IF YOU MISSED IT
If you missed the live Business Forum webinars, they were recorded and have been posted.There are also samples of both the Lay House and Clergy House ballots, found in the presentation PowerPoint charts, as well as in the recording presentations. You can access all these items via this direct link:
We look forward to your participation in this special Virtual General Conference to affirmRev. Ines-Paul Baumann, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dwayne Johnson, Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M., Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León and / or Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis for the position of Elder.
Iglesia de la Comunidad Metropolitana invitado por Bautistas de Cuba para discutir las personas LGBTQ y fe
un apretón de manos. El 28 de abril, líderes de la Iglesia de la Comunidad Metropolitana (ICM / MCC) harán historia al viajar a Cuba por invitación de Abriendo Brechas de Colores, un groupo de la Fraternidad de Iglesias Bautistas de Cuba. Lideres de Abriendo Brechas de Colores, también, organizaron la reunión en el Seminario Evangélico de Teología, en Matanzas, Cuba. Allí, compartirán su experiencia de casi 50 años de ministerio con la gente de fe que son lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgénero, y queer (LGBTQ). Mas y mas personas que no son LGBTQ pero quieren una iglesia abierta se unen a esta comunión.
La delegación incluirá el fundador de MCC, Rev. Obispo Troy Perry con su esposo Phillip De Blieck, así como la Rev. Obispa Dra. Mona West, y el Rev. Obispo Héctor Gutiérrez. El objetivo de la delegación es discutir los desafíos globales actuales que enfrentan las personas LGBT de fe, establecer relaciones con líderes religiosos en Cuba y explorar las posibilidades de ampliar la presencia de MCC en Cuba.
“Estábamos encantados de que MCC fue invitado a enviar algunos de nuestros mejores intelectuales teológicas y empresariales para el diálogo sobre la fe de nuestra historia de construir algo de la nada”, dijo la Rev. Obispa Dra. Nancy Wilson. MCC Moderador mundial, “Las personas LGBT y nuestros aliados estamos en un largo viaje; tenemos mucho que compartir de nuestros éxitos y desafíos. Sabemos que la gente de fe en Cuba también tienen tantas historias ricas para compartir con nosotros”.
“Como fundador de ICM / MCC que se remonta a 1968, he vivido lo suficiente para ver tantas iglesias abren sus puertas y para ver congregaciones MCC en casi todos los continentes”, dijo el Rev. Obispo Troy Perry. “Nuestra familia de fe cubana nos ha invitado a compartir y escuchar. Creo que todos vamos a inspirarnos a seguir abriendo puertas!”
Historic Metropolitan Community Churches invited to Cuban seminary to discuss LGBTQ people and faith
The delegation will include MCC founder Rev. Elder Troy Perry with his husband Phillip De Blieck, as well as the Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West and the Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez. The goal of the delegation is to discuss the ongoing global challenges faced by LGBTQ people of faith and to establish relationships with religious leaders in Cuba and explore possibilities to expand the MCC presence in Cuba.
“We were thrilled that MCC was invited to send some of our top theological and entrepreneurial minds to dialogue about faith from our history of building something out of nothing,” said global MCC Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “LGBTQ people and our allies are on a long journey; we have much to share from our successes and challenges. We know people of faith in Cuba also have so many rich stories to share with us.”
“Throughout the Americas and the world, people know that Cuba’s future will impact everyone’s future,” said the Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez, head of the Latin American MCC Network. “I meet people in los pueblos where they live their daily lives and increasingly see families supporting each other, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I am so hopeful about supportive relationships with our partners in Cuba.”
Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West, a leading author for the MCC Theologies Team, said, “I was ordained as a Southern Baptist before I came to MCC, and I so look forward to talking with my Cuban Baptist family in the faith. The possibilities of building partnerships that help everyone are real. We go with open hearts and open minds to learn how we can work together.”
Largest Historically LGBTQ Church in the World Calls Prominent MCC Los Angeles Pastor
The long-awaited announcement of a new senior pastor for an historic mega-church in Dallas, Texas, came on April 12, 2015, after morning church services. Members of the Cathedral of Hope, which has a primary ministry with the LGBTQ community, celebrated after a year-long search culminating in the election of the Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, who will begin serving as senior pastor on May 24.
“We congratulate both Cathedral of Hope and the Rev. Dr. Neil Cazares-Thomas,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, moderator of the global Metropolitan Community Churches. “Cathedral of Hope has long been a church where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people could worship God freely. Today, Dallas families worship together at the Cathedral in glorious diversity. Dr. Cazares-Thomas, a member of MCC since he was fifteen, will continue to hold MCC credentials and to provide leadership in MCC as he becomes senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope. We know it will be a blessing to the whole congregation and the community.”
“I am grateful for the ministry opportunities that I have had in my 25 years of active service in Metropolitan Community Churches — first in Bournemouth, England, and for the past 13 years at Founders MCC Los Angeles,” said Rev. Dr. Cazares-Thomas. “Now I have the gift of being called to serve as the new senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope, a United Church of Christ congregation. Together, we will embody the partnership between MCC and UCC as we make real God’s love for all people. I will be forever grateful to the people of Founders MCC Los Angeles, who for the past thirteen years have taught me, nurtured me and allowed me to be their Pastor. The future of congregations who welcome everyone is bright.”
Dr. Cazares-Thomas has served MCC as Chair, Board of Ordained Ministries (European District), as a member of the Elder’s Task Force on Education, European District Committee, and board member of Samaritan College in Europe; he was a supervising pastor, and the MCC Ecumenical Officer. More recently, he served on the Moderator’s Advising Team and consultant to the MCC Office of Formation and Leadership Development. In 2010, he was honored by the Metropolitan Community Churches with the 2010 Ecumenical Award.
Dr. Cazares-Thomas recently served as the President of California Faith for Equality and as an adjunct professor at Claremont School of Theology. Until June 2010, he was president of the Los Angeles LGBTQI Clergy Council, and that same year, he was awarded the Harvey Milk Award by Christopher Street West.
Rev. Dr. Cazares-Thomas is married to Isaiah Thomas-Cazares, and they have an infant daughter, Sofia, 8 months old.
Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same-gender marriages and has been on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the U.S. and other countries worldwide.
27 March 2015
Dear MCC Leader:
We are writing to share that the response to this year’s Easter Offering for the Global Justice Institute has been strong! 32 congregations have signed up already!
THANK YOU TO ALL THE CONGREGATIONS LISTED BELOW WHO HAVE ALREADY PLEDGED THEIR SUPPORT!
If we haven’t yet heard from you, will your congregation join in collecting a special offering for Global Justice between Easter and Pentecost? Write to Global Justice Institute executive director Rev. Pat Bumgardner at revpat@
You’ll be joining with the following 32 congregations that are leading the way for this year’s offering!
Join us in bringing a message of hope to our global siblings!
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches