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Archive for the ‘MCC News’ Category

Review Team Report Regarding the Nomination Process for MCC Moderator

23 March 2016

Dear Lay and Clergy Delegates to General Conference, and MCC Friends:

This past week, we received the report from the Review Team authorized by our Governing Board to review our Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC) process. During that time, we postponed the MNC Moderator candidates’ webinar.

On Friday of last week, the Governing Board voted, by majority, not unanimously, to accept the recommendations of the Review Team, and to resume the MNC process. Some of the recommendations are short term, and some are longer term recommendations that will eventually require by-laws changes to our process, should we move forward with them.

In the spirit of transparency, we are releasing the entire report.

Again, we are grateful for the service of the MNC, and for our review team, Dan Hotchkiss, a board consultant and author of Governance, and Phil Griffin, a lay leader in MCC, with a background in governance and conflict issues.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Nancy Wilson
Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Sarah-Jane Ramage
Vice Chair, Governing Board, Metropolitan Community Churches

Click Here to Read the Review Team Report


The Review Team

Dan Hotchkiss
has consulted with hundreds of congregations and denominational bodies in more than 30 denominational groups. A Unitarian Universalist minister, Dan is the author of Governance and Ministry (now in its second edition) and Ministry and Money, both published by Rowman & Littlefield under its Alban Books imprint.

Phil Griffin
is a graduate of the L.E.A.D program and currently a L.E.A.D. Co-Coordinator in the OFLD. He has been a member of MCC for more than 25 years and served in a variety of roles within MCC churches. He is also a Certified Change Cycle facilitator who has assisted several churches in pastoral transitions and board struggles. Professionally, he is an upper manager in state government (Public Health) and frequently serves as the Hearing Officer for Administrative Regulations promulgation, which results in conflict resolution on things such as abortion regulations.

In the Spirit of Transparency

A Pastoral Letter from the Moderator and Governing Board to Metropolitan Community Churches

22 February 2016

Dear Clergy and Lay Delegates of MCC:

As Moderator of MCC, I am also the Moderator of MCC’s Governing Board. I am proud to have served for nearly six years with over a dozen people who are pioneering a new model for MCC governance, elected by the General Conference. We have done a lot of wonderful work over the last several years, weathered storms, proposed a strategic plan, balanced budgets, and have tried to serve you faithfully.

Recently, we have struggled very painfully with deep disagreements over substantive issues of direction, process, and values. We are in the process of working through this with the assistance of a governance and board consultant; in other words, we are getting some outside help. Those of you who have served on church boards know that getting some outside help can make a difference.

We are accountable to you, and we want you to know we have help, and we invite your prayers.

As we move towards General Conference and a transition to a new Moderator, as I said in my previous pastoral letter, we are engaged in our first selection of a Moderator from among a number of candidates. This is new territory for us. Concerns have arisen, and we are working diligently to work through them and to accurately answer questions that have been posed to us.

In the process, three Governing Board members have resigned.

Rev. Karen Thompson had been newly appointed to the Governing Board and felt that the recent conflicts that existed before she joined the board made it impossible for her to contribute in a positive way. I thank Rev. Karen for her honesty.

Gail Rissler also resigned due to these differences. Gail made many positive contributions during her time on the board over the last several years. We are greatly in her debt. Thank you, Gail.

Finally, Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin submitted his resignation, effective 26 February 2016. Rev. Robert has faithfully served the board since 2010.

We have thanked and expressed appreciation to the Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC). We have asked them to reschedule the March MNC webinar to a later date to allow us to sort through our issues and have resolution before we plunge into the next phase of this process.

In the spirit of full disclosure, we want you to know that a Governing Board motion to reject the slate of nominees that the MNC brought forward, failed. We approved, as a subsequent motion, to review the process and concerns that have surfaced.

With our consultant and outside team, we are reviewing the Governing Board’s role and responsibilities. While this happens, we have asked the MNC to delay the next step in the process which is the webinar to meet the candidates. The webinar is now scheduled for 16 March 2016.

Once we work through our concerns and issues, we will publicly summarize and share our findings.

We will publish the minutes of our Governing Board meetings of the last few weeks after we approve them at our monthly meeting on 25 February 2016.

We thank you for your patience, for your prayers, and encouragement. We respectfully decline as a Governing Board to respond or conduct our business on social media. We hope you will understand that, and bless us for it– just as you would expect of your local church board.

If you have questions for the Governing Board, please contact us directly at GoverningBoard@MCCchurch.net.

Please pray for those you have elected to serve you, and for us to be faithful to the Holy Spirit as we seek discernment and wisdom. Pray for those who will stand for election for Moderator and as members of the Governing Board.

Let’s get ready for our family reunion in Victoria, British Columbia, this coming July, and invite the joy of our God to reign in our hearts and minds. As we welcome first-timers to conference, new churches, new emerging groups, as well as those of us who have been in ministry for decades, let us face the future and BE MCC with love, hope, and courage!

God bless all of you, and God bless MCC!

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Nancy Wilson Signature
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

MCC’s Marie Alford-Harkey Named Next President and CEO of the Religious Institute

Marie Alford-Harkey

Today, Metropolitan Community Churches Global Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, congratulated Marie Alford-Harkey, who will be the new CEO and President of the Religious Institute, on 1 May 2016.

“We are thrilled to learn that Marie Alford-Harkey will become the head of the Religious Institute. Ms. Alford-Harkey’s leadership in MCC, academic training, and pastoral heart are a perfect match for the intellectual rigor and practical theology of the Religious Institute,” said the Dr. Wilson. “Marie Alford-Harkeychas a Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School, a Masters from Wayne State University, and is well on her way through the ordination process of MCC.”

Religious Institute Board Chair, the Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield, said, “The Board of Directors of the Religious Institute is pleased and excited that Marie Alford-Harkey will be guiding us into our promising future as an organization that brings healing, insight, and hope to our world. Marie has so thoroughly demonstrated her skills and creativity as educator, planner, and communicator as well as her vision, passion, and commitment to our mission for sexual justice that we are confident she is exactly the one we need to lead us.”

Ms. Alford-Harkey has served as the Deputy Director of the Religious Institute since 2011, and is stepping into the role of President/CEO following the Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner, who founded the Religious Institute in 2001. Together, Religious Institute programs include the Sexually Healthy Seminary Project and online courses in sexuality issues for religious professionals, outreach in Southern states, and the Gilead Sabbath to end violence and persecution against LGBTQ people around the world. Ms. Alford-Harkey is the lead author of the Religious Institute’s guidebook, Bisexuality: Making the Invisible Visible in Faith Communities. She works with faith communities, seminaries, LGBTQ organizations, and reproductive health groups though workshops, keynotes, and training.

We make baptism available to all…every child is a child of God

Global Moderator of MCC speaks out as Mormon leaders divide families
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.
 
 

“When Mormon officials announced that baptism would be withheld from children until they turned 18, when they would be required to reject their same-gender parents, I was shocked,” said Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. “Only days ago, a Mormon official stated that public officials would have to follow the law of the land which is marriage for all loving couples. I thought they were making progress.”

baptism

“Today, I want to invite all Mormons to Metropolitan Community Churches. We will baptize your children regardless of the gender of your spouse.  We will not ask your children to turn on you when they are 18 and to live with that dread all of their childhood years.

“Mormon LGBTQ people, their friends and families have heard the message loudly and clearly.  Over 1,000 Mormons have pledged to show up as many turn in their membership and officially resign from the Latter Day Saints.  They were told they must choose. They chose to turn away from their abusive mother, the church, and embrace their true families of love. It is the right choice, but heartbreaking, nonetheless.  An abusive parent also has a choice-get help!”

“MCC is ready to help!  On Saturday, November 14, we will stand with the Mormons who are resigning their membership in the LDS Church,” said Salt Lake MCC pastor, Rev. Cindy Solomon-Klebba. “Join us at 12:45 p.m. MST at the plaza in front of Farr’s Ice Cream at 50 East South Temple. The event begins at 1:00 p.m. MST at Temple Square. f you cannot attend, send a letter: http://www.mormonresignation.com/.

To worship at Metropolitan Community Church in Salt Lake City, write to Rev. Cindy Solomon-Klebba.”

Below is MCC’s current statement on our practice of Baptism:

Metropolitan Community Churches includes baptism as one of our sacraments. We make baptism available to all, members and non-members, in the same way we offer an open communion, because of our high value on radical welcome and inclusivity.

MCC has always baptized infants, in the way that most Christian churches do, and, for those parents who are from backgrounds that do not practice infant baptism, we provide a rite of blessing, or dedication, of infants.   Our eclectic ecclesiology and the ecumenical nature of our denomination encourage us to be bold in our welcome and flexible in our practice.

Our belief is that every person is a child of God. Among the many meanings of baptism in the Christian faith, one of the meanings is “welcome to the family,” the human family, the family of faith.  We are grateful for the gift of children, the blessing they are to our families and churches, and we acknowledge our sacred responsibility to them through baptism.

For decades, MCC churches, pastors and leaders have provided weddings, baptisms, funerals and memorials for people who were rejected by their own churches, or who had no church home in which to celebrate life passages. During the worst years of AIDS, we never asked, “What church do you belong to?”  We responded with love, acceptance, and an open heart and community, a reflection of our understanding of the nature and heart of God.

Over the decades, MCC churches have welcomed those from a Mormon background, including some of our earliest leaders.  Every Metropolitan Community Churches stands ready to baptize and bless the children of Mormon couples, and those from other denominations who do not accept same-sex couples and their families, such as Roman Catholics and those from conservative Christian denominations.

Pope Francis, do you care about LGBTQ lives?

MCC Moderator Challenges Pope on Secret Meeting with Kim Davis
“Pope Francis, do you care about LGBTQ lives?”

Global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, spoke out today in response to the secret meeting between the Pope and Kim Davis, the county clerk who denied marriage licenses in defiance of a ruling by the Supreme Court for equality under the law for all couples.

Pope Francis, do you care about LGBTQ lives“As an LGBTQ faith leader who was at the White House last week to welcome the Pope, I am so disappointed and incredulous,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Global Moderator of MCC. “We politely urged Pope Francis to say out loud that LGBTQ people in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the USA have a right to life. Instead, in a secret meeting with Kim Davis, that is now public, he encouraged a woman who symbolizes contempt for the human and spiritual rights of LGBTQ people in this country.”

“As the Global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, I speak for LGBTQ people around the world who are literally dying for the Pope to take the next step after his ‘Who am I to judge?’ statement and say, ‘LGBTQ people are created in the image of God and deserve to live without fear of prison, persecution, or execution.'”

“Pope Francis, we so appreciate your advocacy for the poor. We are poor. We love your stand on climate care. We care! But, Pope Francis, do you care about LGBTQ lives? We are dying to know.”

Will Pope Francis Save the Planet?

Pool via Getty Images

The New Republic headline declared, “Pope Francis Won’t Save the Planet.” Maybe not, but we can! It is time to stop unchecked climate change. The life you save could be your own.

Pope Francis may be the best known and the most beloved planetary leader ever. His flock is over one billion strong, and they represent about half of all Christians. Catholics and Protestants alike are inspired by his dedication to the poor, and belief in the full humanity of prisoners and immigrants. His outspoken encyclical on climate care, his willingness to meet with sex-abuse victims, and to clean up the Vatican bank are all historic expressions of accountability as well as compassion.

The trip to the United States by the Pope is timed perfectly for a lead-up to the United Nations Sustainable Development meeting, which is considering a plan to eliminate hunger and poverty in 15 years. We can do it if we choose. But will we?

2015-09-28-1443464762-7946360-RNWPopeandClimateSeptember2015[1]

 

Climate is central to any such efforts. Sea levels are rising, violent storms are increasing, and poor people are literally at the brink of being swept away. Even middle class survivors of hurricanes Sandy and Katrina will tell you that everything you own can be swept away in a day, and you awaken to face poverty and homelessness.

The Pope is awake. A Reuters article in July quoted Pope Francis who said, “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.”

Churches and institutions of higher education are beginning to take this moral imperative seriously. There are people of good will who are making changes, and there are decent people whose highest priority is to protect investment portfolios–not the planet.

Fossil fuel investments do not look good on their own merits. The signs are everywhere if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Carmakers are shifting to plug-in cars as fast as they can create them. Oil companies have been drilling fast and furious, and decimating communities with impunity with a boom-and-bust mentality in places like the Dakotas. Today, with plummeting prices, it’s time to get out of oil and coal.

Right now, there is a growing movement of universities and religious institutions todivest from fossil fuel. In denominational settings, the arguments against fossil fuel divestment echo the arguments against divesting from South Africa at the height of Apartheid: “You will hurt the people who are most vulnerable.” “We need to stay invested so we can be at the table to change policies.” “You don’t know enough about investing to tell us how to invest.”

Today, personal choices about energy use and energy investments have a political impact. Our choices impact our neighbors; they impact the world.

A church colleague of mine announced on Facebook recently, “I am off the grid!” Did it cost money? Sure! It was an investment–a good one. Between solar panels and a plug-in car, one person divested herself in major ways from fossil fuels. You can be sure she will support legislation in her denomination to divest.

As the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, I have asked our Creation Care Team to urge our members and congregations to commit to the Paris Pledge, and reduce their carbon emissions 50 percent by the year 2030. If the world makes this pledge, we can keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius and avoid tragic environmental consequences.

May we stand together with faith communities around the globe to practice what we preach. We also need to CHANGE what we preach.

In his papal encyclical, “On Care For Our Common Home,” Pope Francis upends the belief that people can exploit, decimate, and despoil our environment based on Genesis 1:28, where God gave humankind dominion over the earth and all creatures.Dominion thinking gave birth to movements that idolize unrestricted use of private property and melds American nationalism with beliefs that Christians will rule the world.

Pope Francis’ challenge to dominion thinking is grounded in scripture, as well. In the introduction of the encyclical, he repeatedly quotes his predecessor pontiffs to remind readers that many Popes and saints expressed love for God’s earth. In the section on dominion, Pope Francis quotes no one but scripture and breaks new ground. This is a new interpretation, a life-saving interpretation. The excerpt from paragraph 67 of thepapal encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home,” says:

“We are not God. … We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. …Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. …God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: ‘The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me.’ (Leviticus 25:23)”

When I read this dramatic shift in understanding our place in creation, I realize there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Blessed Tomorrow is a coalition of faith leaders who are working with the congregations and with national leaders to mobilize all people of faith to address climate change.

Those of us in the United States have a bigger responsibility. We represent 5 percent of the world’s population, and we use 25 percent of the world’s energy. How do we reduce our consumption by 50 percent? Here are 50 ideas, and here is a Blessed Tomorrow Action Workbook for congregations.

What you do every day makes a difference. How you drive, the settings on your water heater, how you wash and dry your clothes, all make a difference. Most importantly, how you think makes a difference. If you think you do not matter, you are part of the problem. If you shift your thinking to “everything counts,” you will know that every act of conservation–a light turned out, less aggressive driving, added insulation–reduces energy consumption.

The time is now. It is the only moment we have. Pope Francis is using his moment to help the world come to its senses. How about you?

Remembering Father John J. McNeill

September 2, 1925 – September 22, 2015

MCC Global Moderator Marks the Passing
of Father John J. McNeill

 

“Father McNeill remained steadfast and clear in his faith.  He was a joyous lover, friend, and compassionate teacher and counselor.”

Father John J. McNeill, renowned Catholic and author of The Church and the Homosexual, died September 22, 2015, with his partner of 45 years at his bedside.

Father John J. McNeill

“It does not feel like an accident that Father John McNeill died this week during the first visit of Pope Francis to the United States,” said Global MCC Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “Forty of Father McNeil’s 90 years, four decades were dedicated to being a Jesuit priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis is also a Jesuit.

“The Jesuits are renowned for their scholarly rigor and compassionate leadership. It was this scholarly and compassionate approach that shone forth when Father McNeill published The Church and the Homosexual in 1976. He gave hope and healing to a generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Catholics who struggled to reconcile faith and sexuality.

“It is amazing how much hope Pope Francis gave to the LGBTQ world when he simply asked, ‘Who am I to judge?’ Today, the Pope could say to LGBTQ Roman Catholics, and to those who knew and loved Father McNeill, ‘I grieve with you.'”

John McNeill fought the good fight. Ordained a Jesuit priest in 1959, he began to minister to gay and lesbian Catholics in the 1970s and helped birth DignityUSA in 1974. His 1976 book, The Church and the Homosexual, gave the movement great hope. After a whirlwind of public engagements, including  coming out on the TODAY show, the Vatican silenced him. He obeyed the public silence for nine years, but kept up his ministry of counseling and retreats. This was not enough for Cardinal Ratzinger; he ordered Father McNeill to stop all ministry to LGBTQ people. When he refused, John McNeill was expelled from his beloved Jesuit community.

“Despite this persecution, he remained steadfast and clear in his faith,” Dr. Wilson said. “He was a joyous lover, friend, and compassionate teacher and counselor.

“I met Father McNeill in 1974, as he was founding DignityUSA in New York. I followed his writings and was interviewed for Brendan Fay’s video biography,Taking a Chance on God. Father McNeill was the most gentle and pastoral of prophets.

“At Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church, I often worshipped with John and his beloved Charlie Chiarelli. Besides the God who created him, he loved Charlie most of all. Their profound witness changed the church and the world.

“John was personally encouraging to me as both a pastor and Global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. Like many Roman Catholics and the faithful from all denominations, MCC became home for John and Charlie – the place that will not turn you away. He had a profound ecumenical spirit and gave his all to our movement.

“When I first heard the news that John was in hospice care, I remembered that it took 350 Years for the Vatican to admit Galileo was right, the Earth does orbit the Sun. Will it take 350 years for the Vatican to admit Father John McNeill was right, that God loves LGBTQ people? I hope not.

“We lost a great leader this week, when Father John McNeil went to God, but we had him for a lifetime and his life made a difference. He will never be forgotten,” Dr. Wilson said.

Gifts in honor of Father John McNeill can be sent to Sunshine Cathedral MCC for the John J. McNeill Legacy Fund.

The Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change — What is Missing?

Pope Francis, when you arrived for the first time in the United States, it was my privilege to be among the throngs of people welcoming you to our home. It was so gratifying to know you would be visiting a prison, and addressing the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations on Climate Care. Your challenges to people of faith to address the needs of the poor inspire me to say YES to you as a Pope of the people.

Your encyclical, LAUDATO SI’: On Care for Our Common Home, will help the world of faith and civil society face our climate crisis caused by human beings. Your passionate insistence on facing the facts, with faith and courage, is truly a miracle of our time. Your work to galvanize people of all faiths to shift away from a fossil fuel dependent world could literally save us.

PopeEncyclical

Read the full article on Huffington Post.

 

MCC Moderator Speaks to Vatican Discomfort with Gay Bishop and Activist Nun at the White House Welcome for the Pope

MEDIA RELEASE

DATE: 21 September 2015

Contact: Linda Brenner-Beckstead, Linda@MCCchurch.net, 941-321-7886
Ann Craig, craignewyork@gmail.com, 917-280-2968

MCC Moderator Speaks to Vatican Discomfort with Gay Bishop
and Activist Nun at the White House Welcome for the Pope

Global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, spoke out in response to a “senior Vatican official” who said the Vatican was urging the White House to disinvite openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson and “Nuns on the Bus” leader, Sister Simone Campbell, from the event to welcome the Pope at the White House on Wednesday morning.

According to the Wall Street Journal, an unnamed “senior Vatican official” said the White House should disinvite Bishop Robinson and Sister Simone because they might seek a photo op with Pope Francis that would imply approval of LGBTQ people or nuns who seek more leadership roles for women.

A word from Pope Francis

“As one of the LGBTQ faith leaders who will be at the White House on Wednesday morning to welcome the Pope, I want to let the Vatican and the world know that we will be present to offer hospitality and respect to Pope Francis,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Global Moderator of MCC.

“Will we be pushing our way to the front? Perhaps we should. In the Bible, the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment was a social outcast who fought for her moment with Jesus. Although we know that the Pope is not Jesus, we know a word from Pope Francis about the right to life for LGBTQ people in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the USA could reduce hate, and save so many lives.

“As the Global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, I speak for LGBTQ people around the world who are literally dying for the Pope to take the next step after his ‘Who am I to judge?’ statement and say, ‘LGBTQ people are created in the image of God and deserve to live without fear of prison, persecution, or execution.'”

Global Moderator of MCC to Help Welcome Pope at White House

MEDIA ALERT

DATE: September 21, 2015

Contact: Linda Brenner-Beckstead, Linda@MCCchurch.net, 941-321-7886
Ann Craig, craignewyork@gmail.com, 917-280-2968

Global Moderator of MCC to Help Welcome Pope at White House:
Faith leaders Will Convene for Climate Care, and to Hear Pope’s UN Address

WHAT:
During Washington D.C. visit, Pope Francis will be welcomed by religious and community leaders at a ceremony at the White house on Tuesday morning, including the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. Dr. Wilson then joins other national religious leaders who are part of “Blessed Tomorrow” to work on Climate Care and to build on Pope Francis’ Encyclical.

WHEN:
Wednesday, September 23, 8:15am – White House Reception
Thursday, September 24, 7:30 RSVP – National Cathedral DC Worship Service
Friday, September 25, 8:30 – 11:30am ET:
Religious leaders meet on climate care and to hear Pope’s UN Remarks

WHO:
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson and a host of prominent religious and community leaders

WHY:
“The Pope and I agree on so much-mercy, forgiveness, care for the poor and climate care,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. “When it comes to his views where we disagree, like acceptance of LGBT people, women’s ordination, and women’s birth choices, perhaps I can borrow a line from him, ‘Who am I to judge?’ In the meantime, we will urge the Pope and the Vatican to catch up to Catholics in the pews who are more progressive than their leaders.”

WHERE:
September 23 – White house (red entrance)
September 24-25 – National Cathedral – 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC