People of African Descent, friends, and allies conference
2014 MCC Conference for People of African Descent, Friends, and Allies
15-17 MAY 2014
FIRST MCC of ATLANTA
BE THE CHANGE
The MCC PAD conference is for everyone. Let us come together to proactively transform ourselves as we create the beloved community and transform the world!
This is going to be a remarkable journey, folks! And it is our sincerest hope that you can get on the bus and come along for the ride! Transforming Ourselves As We Transform the World is our charge and “BE”ING THE CHANGE is our goal. Whether you are a person of African descent, a friend or an ally – ALL ARE WELCOME and we hope to see you there!
|Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas renowned for her work on sexuality and the Black Church, will lead the charge with a historical perspective on how far we’ve come as LGBTQI peoples of African descent and what’s on the horizon as we fully show up as we are.|
|Rev. Dr. Ronald Hopson a scholar in psychology and religion/theology, will help us reimagine what healing and transformation can look like in our lives in light of and in spite of our collective stories.|
|Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson , widely known for her community-building efforts across cultures and faith traditions, will talk about Jesus and social justice, focusing us on the outward manifestation of inward spiritual health and wellness.|
|Rev. MacArthur Flournoy will round out the plenary sessions, along with an esteemed panel of local and national leaders, to help us understand the value of building a faith movement that makes room at the table for all that we are and all that we bring.|
|Rev. Dr. Ken Samuel, Senior Pastor of Victory for the World Church believes that our love for Jesus should never be separated from justice. He will be the guest preacher for opening worship on Thursday evening.|
|Rev. Carolyn Mobley, Interim Pastor of MCC of Richmond will use her gift as a minister who speaks through her music to start the day on Friday for the morning worship.|
|Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Founder and Executive Director of The Freedom Center for Social Justice (FCSJ) and Founder of Sacred Souls Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a spiritual leader and social activist. She will be bringing a dynamic message to the conference on Friday evening.|
|Rev. Mykal Slack, Founder of 4LYFE Ministries provides pastoral and educational resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in faith communities across a broad spectrum. On Saturday morning he will share a word of inspiration to take us into the final day of the conference.|
|Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of MCC will round out the conference on Saturday evening. She will offer visionary words of truth, passion, and love.|
Saturday evening will also come alive with a Gospel Extravaganza. Come and join your fellow conference participants in an event overflowing with music.
Do you have time to volunteer during the 2014 People of African Descent, Allies, and Friends Conference? We are looking for people with kind hearts and generous spirits to volunteer their time. Volunteer opportunities include (but are not limited to): conference registration, worship (usher, greeter, acolyte), workshops, audio visuals, hospitality, VIP Buddies, and so much more.
To find out more about all of the volunteer opportunities: http://padconference.mccchurch.org/register-attend/volunteer/
|Promote your business, group, or ministry by becoming a sponsor.Our Sponsors:|
Register to join us for this powerful and inspiring event.
Be a Pillar to help someone attend the conference.
Volunteer to help make a difference at the conference.
If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Candy Holmes, PAD Conference Planning Chair for more information.
Querido(a) Amigo(a) de ICM:
Mientras el año comienza a moverse a su fin, nuestros pensamientos se dirigen a la gratitud y a lo que significa para la mayoría de nosotros(as) –nuestras familias y amigos(as), nuestros compromisos más profundos, el tipo de mundo que anhelamos.
Como ustedes, este es mundo momento en que estoy inundada de peticiones de donaciones navideñas e invertir en formas que puedan bendecir a otros y confirmar mis propios valores de justicia, esperanza y compasión, incluyendo mi iglesia local de ICM.
Hoy más que nunca, me enorgullece el servir cada día como la Líder Mundial de las Iglesias de la Comunidad Metropolitana, un movimiento que salva vidas, que da a luz nuevas comunidades, que abre sus puertas a los refugiados – políticos, religiosos, y espirituales. Una iglesia que apoya a activistas en lugares difíciles y peligrosos, que encarna el amor y la inclusión radical en nuestro mundo dividido. Una iglesia que recientemente fue una poderosa testigo en el Consejo Mundial de Iglesia en Corea del Sur. Un movimiento que desde hace 45 años, ha estado hablando de un Jesús que nos enseña a amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos.
A principios de este año, recibí un correo electrónico de Vittorio, un joven italiano. Quien estaba ansioso por tener conexiones con personas de fe LGBT, sintiéndose aislado y desconectado. El disfruta participar viendo Founders MCC en Los Ángeles, California (USA), y al Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, virtualmente pero aun anhela tener una comunidad local en la cual participar.
Dejaré que Vittorio hable de la alegría y gratitud que siente por nuestra respuesta a su necesidad:
“Mi nombre es Vittorio Amoruso. Vivo en Italia. Después de largo período de profunda reflexión y sentirme oprimido por la Iglesia Católica por ser gay, Decidí cambiar con la ayuda de mi familia. Solamente quiero ser yo mismo en un lugar que sea llamado IGLESIA. Después de descubrir la presencia de las Iglesias de la Comunidad Metropolitana, pedí a la Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, que me diera una oportunidad de ser parte de la Iglesia ICM en los Estados Unidos. Ella re-envío mi correo electrónico al Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt quien me ofreció la posibilidad de pasar dos meses como invitado Trinity MCC en Gainesville, Florida, descubrí que Dios tiene un amor incondicional y eterno para cada ser humano, incluyendo a las personas LGBT. ICM me salvó y ayudó a comprender el plan que Dios tiene establecido para mí. He sido llamado a ser un Pastor/Ministro de ICM y servir a la comunidad LGBT en Italia, donde ICM no tiene presencia.”
Rev. Jim Mulcahy, pastor de ICM que trabaja en Europa del Este y en Rusia me envió esta nota recientemente:
“Recibí esta nota de una joven mujer rusa que es parte de una familia muy tradicional quienes literalmente la matarían si se enteran que ella es lesbiana. ‘Hi Jim! Permíteme agradecerte nuevamente por tu visita a Moscú. El servicio del domingo pasado me dio la fortaleza de vivir. Es la primera vez que recibo la comunidad en una Iglesia no Ortodoxa. En tus acciones reconozco que Cristo partía el pan. Muchas gracias por tu sermón tan inspirador y lleno de amor, esperanza y sinceridad. Tus palabras me enseñaron a aceptarme y amarme.’ ”
Jóvenes como Vittorio y esta mujer de Rusia nos necesitan, en cada país, incluyendo Estados Unidos. Ellos necesitan que seamos ICM, con un mensaje fuerte e inequívoco, con nuestra celebración inspiradora, nuestras comunidades locales vibrantes y comprometidas con la justicia y la inclusión radical.
Así que, para todos los Vittorios y todos los que conocemos debemos ser familia y comunidad para muchos como él, les invito a unirse en el recuerdo de ICM en esta temporada navideña con su generosidad. Cada donativo hará posible el salvar vidas y sanar corazones.
Gracia y paz,
Rev. Obispa Nancy Wilson
Moderadora de la ICM
Dear MCC Friend:
As the year begins to move to its end, our thoughts turn to gratitude and to that which means the most to us–our friends and family, our deepest connections and commitments, the kind of world for which we yearn.
Like you, this is a time when I am inundated with requests for holiday giving, and invest in ways that will bless others and confirm my own values about justice, hope, and compassion, including my local MCC church.
More than ever, I am proud every day to serve as the global leader of Metropolitan Community Churches, a movement that saves lives, that gives birth to new communities, that opens its doors to refugees – political, religious, and spiritual. A church that supports activists in difficult and dangerous places that embodies love and radical inclusion in our divided world. A church that recently made a powerful witness at the World Council of Churches in South Korea. A movement which for 45 years, has been speaking up for a Jesus who tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Earlier this year, I got an email from Vittorio, a young man from Italy. He was starving for connections with LGBT people of faith, feeling so isolated and disconnected. He loved watching Founders MCC in Los Angeles, California (USA), and Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, virtually but still longed for face-to-face community.
I will let Vittorio speak for the joy and gratitude he feels for our response to his need:
“My name is Vittorio Amoruso. I live in Italy. After a long period of deep thinking and feeling oppressed by the Italian Catholic Church because of my being gay, I decided to make a change, with the support of my family. I just wanted to be myself in a place where it is called CHURCH. After discovering the presence of Metropolitan Community Churches, I asked Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, to give me an opportunity to be part of an MCC church in the United States. She forwarded my email to Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt who gave me the possibility to spend two months as a guest of Trinity MCC in Gainesville, Florida, and discover how God has an unconditional and everlasting love for each human being, including LGBT people. MCC saved my life and helped me understand the plan that God has in store for me. I’ve been called to be an MCC Pastor/Minister and serve the LGBT community in Italy, where there is no MCC at present.”
Rev. Jim Mulcahy, an MCC pastor who works in Eastern Europe and Russia, sent me this note recently:
“I received this note from a young Russian woman from a very traditional family who literally would kill her if they knew she was a lesbian. ‘Hi Jim! Let me again thank you for your visit to Moscow. Last Sunday’s service gave me the strength to live. It was the first time I took communion not in an Orthodox Church. It your actions I recognized Christ breaking the bread. Thank you very much for your inspiring sermon full of love, hope, and sincerity. Your words taught me to accept and love myself.’ ”
Young people like Vittorio and this young woman from Russia need us, in every country, including in the United States. They need us to be MCC, with our strong, unequivocal message, our inspiring worship, our vibrant, local communities committed to justice and radical inclusion.
So, for all the Vittorios and all of us who know we must be family and community for so many like him, join me in remembering MCC this holiday season in your generous giving! Every gift makes it possible for us to save lives and heal hearts.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson
Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
2013 Fellowship Sunday Offering Pacesetters
(in alphabetical order)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Rev. Rachelle Brown, Provisional Pastor
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Rev. S. David Wynn, Pastor
All God’s Children MCC
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Rev. DeWayne L. Davis, Pastor
Augustine United Reformed Church
& Our Tribe
Rev. Maxwell Reay, Pastor, Associated Minister
Church of The Trinity MCC
Sarasota, Florida, USA
Rev. Charles Tigard, Pastor
Mobile, Alabama, USA
Rev. Sandy O’Steen, Pastor
Emerald City MCC Seattle
Rev. Kimberly Brown, Interim Pastor
Abilene, Texas, USA
Rev. Margaret C. Walker, Pastor
St. Augustine, Florida, USA
Rev. Ruth Jensen Forbell, Pastor
First MCC of Atlanta
Rev. T. Paul Graetz, Pastor
First MCC of Wichita
Rev. Jackie Carter, Pastor
Founders MCC Los Angeles
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Pastor
Springfield, Illinois, USA
Rev. Tony Thieman-Somora, Pastor
Holy Covenant MCC
Brookfield, Illinois, USA
Imago Dei MCC
Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA
Rev. Janice Bowker, Pastor
Orlando, Florida, USA
Rev. Terri S. Steed, Pastor
King of Peace MCC
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis, Pastor
Liberating Spirit MCC of the Treasure Valley
Garden City, Idaho, USA
Renee McCall, Pastoral Leader
Living Springs MCC
Rev. Kieren Bourne, Pastor
Rev. Karen Thompson, Pastor
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Rev. Michael Hydes, Pastor
South Brisbane, Australia
Rev. Dr. Leigh R. Neighbour, Pastor
MCC Corpus Christi
Rev. Ed Paul, Interim Pastor
MCC Family in Christ
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Rev. Ken Pilot, Pastor
Rev. Aaron Miller, Pastor
MCC Key West
Rev. Steve Torrence, Resident Pastor
Rev. V. Jill Sizemore, Pastor
Rev. Colleen Foley, Pastor
MCC New York
New York, USA
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Pastor
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston, Pastor
MCC of Albuquerque
New Mexico, USA
Rev. Judith L. Maynard, Pastor
MCC of Baltimore
MCC of Baton Rouge
Rev. Keith Mozingo, Pastor
MCC of Charleston
South Carolina, USA
Rev. Lorraine Brock, Pastor
MCC of Central Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Rev. Peter Trabaris, Pastor
MCC of Greater Saint Louis
MCC of Lubbock
Lubbock, Texas, USA
MCC of New Orleans
Rev. Gail Minnick, Pastor
MCC of Northern Virginia
Fairfax, Virginia, USA
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears, Pastor
MCC of Ocala
Rev. Vickie Miller, Pastor
MCC of Omaha
Rev. Tom Emmett, Pastor
MCC of Our Redeemer
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Rev. Lisa Heilig, Interim Pastor
MCC of Paducah
Rev. Lillian Ferguson, Pastor
MCC of Rehoboth
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA
Rev. Dusty Pruitt, Pastor
MCC of Richmond
MCC of San Antonio
Rev. Mick Hinson, Pastor
MCC of The Blue Ridge
Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Rev. Joe Cobb, Pastor
MCC of the Coachella Valley
Cathedral City, California, USA
Rev. Clinton Crawshaw, Pastor
MCC of The Gentle Shepherd
Vancouver, Washington, USA
Rev. Ken Kerr, Pastor
MCC of the Good Shepherd
Western Sydney, Australia
Rev. Robert Clark, Pastor
MCC of the Palm Beaches
Rev. Dr. Lea Brown, Pastor
MCC of The Quad Cities
Davenport, Iowa, USA
Rev. Rich D. Hendricks, Pastor
MCC of the Spirit
Rev. Lori E. Rivera, Pastor
MCC of Topeka
Rev. Dr. Carol Trissell, Interim Pastor
MCC of Winston-Salem
North Carolina, USA
Rev. Ron LaRocque, Pastor
Rev. Tony Thieman-Somora, Pastor
Rev. Nathan Meckley, Pastor
MCC Sacred Journey
Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA
Rev. Jane Nelson, Pastor
MCC San Francisco
Rev. Victor Floyd, Pastor
Rev. Greg Smith, Pastor
Rev. Michael Kimindu, Pastor
New Creation MCC
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Rev. Margaret Hawk, Pastor
New Light MCC
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Rev. Dr. Y’Lon Dozier, Interim Pastor
New Spirit MCC
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Open Arms MCC
Pahoa, Hawaii, USA
Rev. Dr. William H. Knight, Pastor
Open Arms MCC
Rochester, New York, USA
Rev. Tom Decker, Interim Pastor
Open Circle MCC
Belleview, Florida, USA
Rev. Carol Chambers, Pastor
Open Door MCC
Boyds, Maryland, USA
Rev. Miller Hoffman, Pastor
San Mateo, California, USA
Rev. Terri Echelbarger, Pastor
Houston, Texas, USA
Rev. Troy Treash, Pastor
River of Life MCC
Rev. Catherine Dearlove, Pastor
River of Life MCC
Kennewick, Washington, USA
Rev. Janet Pierce, Pastor
St. John’s MCC
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Rev. Brendan Y. Boone, Pastor
St. Jude MCC
Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
Rev. John McLaughlin, Pastor
Spirit of Hope MCC
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Rev. Kurt Krieger, Pastor
SunCoast Cathedral MCC
Venice, Florida, USA
Rev. Dr. Sherry L. Kennedy, Pastor
The Met (MCC San Diego)
Rev. Dan Koeshall, Pastor
The Rock MCC
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Trinity MCC of Gainesville
Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Pastor
Valley Ministries MCC
Stockton, California, USA
Rev. Terri Miller, Pastor
Water of Life MCC
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Rev. Elder Dr. Charlie Arehart, Pastor
Wichita Falls MCC
Rev. Mel Martinez, Pastor
MCC Senior Leadership
Governing Board & Staff
Have you ever started a new program or ministry, knowing it would require a season of extra attention, nurture and investment if it were to succeed for the long-term? According to Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, that’s exactly where we are today with MCC’s Networks!
That’s why October’s Fellowship Sunday Offering is dedicated to resourcing MCC’s Networks by providing training opportunities for Network leaders and teams, enhancing communications between Networks and local congregations, and increasing the support and resourcing of local churches.
“The focus of this year’s Fellowship Sunday Offering Campaign is on MCC’s Networks,” said Rev. Dr. Wilson, “but the long-term beneficiaries are the health and growth of our local congregations.”
Has your church signed up to participate in MCC’s 45th anniversary observance by receiving a special, designated Fellowship Sunday Offering on 6 October 2013, or on another Sunday in October?
Signing up literally takes less than 60 seconds! Simply write to Rev. Dr. Wilson at FellowshipSunday@MCCchurch.net and let her know your church will participate. “I would be thrilled if your church would sign up this week to become a 2013 MCC Pacesetter Church by committing to receive a second offering in support of MCC’s Networks on Fellowship Sunday, 6 October 2013, or on another Sunday in October. I hope to hear from your church this week!”
To download photos for use in your church’s Fellowship Sunday Offering promotion, first click the image to open the full-sized version, place your mouse cursor over photo, right click, and select “Save Image.”
Pursuant to UFMCC Bylaw, Article V.C.4.e – GOVERNING BOARD: Vacancies: “In the event of a vacancy on the Governing Board, the Governing Board may appoint someone who meets the qualifications to fill the vacancy until the next General Conference, when an election shall be held to fill the unexpired term.”
To that end, the Governing Board will appoint a Clergy Person to complete the remaining three-year term until the 2016 General Conference XXVI in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). At such time, the General Conference will elect a new Clergy Person to begin a six-year term ending at 2022 General Conference XXVII.
We are seeking an interested Clergy person who meets the qualifications stated in UFMCC Bylaw, Article V.C.4.a – GOVERNING BOARD: QUALIFICATIONS:
“Members of the Governing Board must be members in good standing within the Fellowship who, in the sole discretion of the UFMCC, have spiritual quality and leadership, are mature, have sound judgment, and have a proven record of accomplishment. Consideration will be given to elect members with diverse perspectives, core competencies, and complementary skills consistent with the required functions and responsibilities of the Governing Board.”
We have implemented the following process to fill this vacated seat by our October 2013 Governing Board meeting:
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Rev. Onetta Brooks,
We look forward to receiving your application to serve on MCC’s Governing Board!
MCC Governing Board
Today we join our voices with many others calling for an end to the rampant violence against LGBT people in Russia. Reports of anti-LGBT violence continue to be received, including harassment, physical brutality and government condoned murder of LGBT people since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
Prominent British broadcaster Stephen Fry likened the new laws to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews earlier this week, and on Thursday, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations was personally confronted on his New York doorstep by activists wielding a petition signed by more than 300,000 people.
“The events unfolding in Russia should rightly cause concern for all fair-minded citizens of the world. They’re a complete travesty meant to divert the attention of the Russian people from President Putin’s failure as their leader,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz.
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute (GJI), said, “We, as human beings, must not remain silent while any of our lives are criminalized. It’s not simply the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly that are at stake here, but our very lives when you consider the rise in violence and increased rates of HIV in areas where LGBTI life is deemed illicit.” She added, “Russia, and indeed the world must be put on notice: Attempt to silence any of us and you will hear from all of us.”
The GJI calls for an end to violence against LGBTQ people in Russia around the world. We call on fair minded people of faith to join efforts to speak against these acts of violence and murder and to stand in solidarity with those who are victimized. We call on members of the clergy to speak boldly for the divine value of every person. Finally, we join our prayers with those of people of faith for an end to the victimization of LGBTQ people in Russia and around the world.
This statement prepared by Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt on behalf of
The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director.
Contact: Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt at
Pope Francis asked a stunning question: “Who am I to judge?” This was in response to inquiries about whether or not there are gay priests in the Vatican — the now-renowned “gay lobby.”
In a 90-minute interview returning from his travels in Brazil, an affable, relaxed Pope Francis covered a range of topics, but the “who am I to judge?” response made the world do a double take.
“Who am I to judge?”
Well, the pope! You are the pope who inherited two millennia of, well, pontificating about what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and what’s immoral.
I am sure the Vatican leaders are wringing their collective hands over a pope who may be viewed as a security and PR nightmare. He may seem out of their control, dispensing mercy and off-the-cuff pastoral kindness that blurs the lines of official church policy and pronouncements. We could almost feel the winds of Vatican II blowing.
My hope is that this is not just the kind of rock-star popularity that masked the sometimes-kind conservatism of John Paul II. He gave “warm fuzzies” to big crowds but became increasingly dogmatic as a corrupt system of financial and sexual exploitation lurked beneath the surface.
Pope Francis’ step toward humility was stunning, but few are naïve enough to think that everything has changed. Gay priests must still be celibate, and Pope Francis declared that “the door is closed” on the ordination of women. But what the pope did in that interview was to begin to live up to the Catholic Church’s own teachings about humankind.
Honestly, if all Christian denominations and traditions lived up to their own teachings about humanity, there would be a great revolution of respect. But that respect must include women as full human beings, worthy of greatness — worthy of ordination — and it must include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.
I sincerely hope this pope really does want to shake up things. Celibacy should be optional. Catholic women need the church to move into the 20th, not to mention the 21st, century and recognize their full eligibility for the priesthood. Sexual assaults on children must be eliminated. Decisions about contraception, reproductive health and choice should be in the hands of women, not by unaffected men who like to dictate policy. The use of condoms to save lives through prevention of HIV/AIDS must be commonplace. A revolution of respect can happen!
Virtually every faith tradition has a core belief that human beings have inherent worth as creations of God. The inherent worth of each human being means that Christians should be aghast at the brutal murders of gay men in Russia, Cameroon, Yemen and even in theUnited States.
In South Africa, where so-called “corrective rape” is used mostly against lesbians but also against transgender people and gay men, the brutality is shocking and too often endorsed by family members. Duduzile Zozo was raped with a toilette brush and left to die in early July. Bishop Tutu presided at her memorial service and famously said that he “would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.”
Most anti-LGBTQ rapes, beatings, tortures and murders happen with little comment because it is too dangerous to report the assault or murder of a gay friend or family member for fear of police reprisal. Even with high publicity, the Cameroon police do not seem to be pursuing the person(s) who murdered gay rights advocate Eric Lembembe. Instead, Cameroon police arrested three organizers who have been critiquing the lack of action by Cameroon officials!
Where are the faith voices? Pope Francis, we urge you not to be silent! Use your moral weight to stop vicious attacks and cruel persecution. Promote a campaign for tolerance. We do not have to punish people for being different!
Why are Christians silent when Eric Lemembe is tortured with a hot iron in his own home? Why are Christians silent when lesbians are raped — even raped to death? Why are Christians silent as Russia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and so many other countries pass laws that make talking about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people punishable by prison or fine?
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe recently condemned LGBTQ people and promised to cut off our heads. Pronouncements like these are de facto endorsements of street violence, mob attacks, family rejection and official persecution against anyone who is perceived to be LGBTQ — as well as against their families. Mugabe is a Catholic who should hear from his new pope that violent homophobia is unacceptable for Catholic leaders.
Although the pope did not suddenly change the church’s view that LGBTQ people should remain celibate, whether as priests or as lay people, he did tell Christians around the world that it’s time to live up to the highest values of the faith rather than descend to base disrespect for human beings.
Pope Francis modeled a more tolerant approach to LGBTQ people. He is the first pope to use the word “gay.” Tolerance is a humble platform from which people across the world can be speaking out for mutual respect. It is not a perfect platform, but it appears that it might suit a pope who doesn’t think of himself as infallible but as a human being who respects God’s good diversity. How refreshing!
As the head of Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in 40 countries, I know that it is time that Christians step up and strive to fulfill the basic teachings of Jesus: Feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit prisoners — and, like the pope, judge not.
Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
Calls for Prayer and Personal Discernment
as Zimmerman Trial Verdict is Released
Earlier this evening, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman, a now 26-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old when, walking to his father’s home through a residential area in Sanford, Florida on a rainy evening , he was shot in the heart after an altercation with Zimmerman. Wearing a hoodie and talking on his cell phone, having just purchased a package of Skittles and a can of iced tea, Martin became a symbol of young people of color across the United States who are often targeted by law enforcement, shop owners and other citizens as “suspicious.”
Approached and followed by Mr. Zimmerman for this reason, a physical fight ensued that would end in the death of a child, and come to symbolize our nation’s on-again/off-again struggle to accept and value its diverse citizenry.
As a community of largely LGBTI people of many religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, many of us know what it is like to be viewed with suspicion simply because of who we are. Many of us still live in parts of the world where our sexual orientations or gender identities are sufficient to endanger our lives.
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s parents, appealed for peace in the wake of a verdict and said that they could finally see “the end of the tunnel.”
The real end of the tunnel for all of us will be on that day when we stand face to face with the Creator God who made us all and pronounced all life good. In the end, we will be invited to share one table together. The Gospel of Matthew says people will come to that table from East and West, North and South, meaning from many directions.
I know the members and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches may be coming from many directions with regard to this case and all the issues it has raised, from racially motivated animosity to the use of firearms. People around the globe suffer and struggle daily with the loss of children’s lives to violence — violence that is often times fueled by the failure to value the diversity of God’s creation.
Yesterday at the United Nations, another child targeted by violence, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan named Malala, spoke to the world saying that education is the key to a future of peace and good will for all of us. Shot because she was a girl wanting to go to school in a culture devaluing its female children, she said, “They thought that the bullet would silence us,” but what really happened was that “weakness and fear died…and courage was born.’
I urge all of us on this night when many of us may be reacting with shock, disbelief and anger and others with support for a legally rendered verdict, to really search our hearts and minds and spirits for the ways prejudice and fear have weakened our commitment to the prophetic vision of a world where lions lay down with lambs, and little children play safely over adder’s dens. I urge all of us as people of faith to recommit to the Biblical injunction against taking a life for any reason. The legal standard for “self defense” can never replace Scripture’s call to love others as God loves all of us.
Pray with me this night for the family of Trayvon Martin who, regardless of a verdict, lost a child to fear and violence. Pray for the day when all of us are at ease in the presence of difference and see only in each other’s faces a brother or sister in Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
This statement prepared in conjunction with the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair. For more information or to arrange further comment
contact The Rev. Jim Merritt, Public Policy Team Communications, at
Global leaders of the historic Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) praised the decisions of the Supreme Court today as it ruled on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“Freedom and equality won today as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the US Constitution and every family,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “Children in California now know their families will be treated equally. Today, every American is free to live in the assurance that their loved ones will receive all benefits the US gives to any other family. As the head of MCC, a global church founded on the belief that all people are created equal before God and the law, I am thrilled that the Supreme Court decided that the US Constitution applies to all of us, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“We are committed to full equality for all people, and we will work for the full implementation of today’s Supreme Court rulings and for marriage equality around the world,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, Marriage Equality Director for MCC’s Public Policy Team.
Metropolitan Community Church’s history of marriage equality began in 1968 when the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of MCC, conducted the first, public same-gender wedding ceremony in the US. In 1970, Rev. Perry brought a lawsuit for marriage equality in California. MCC worked for decades, sponsoring weddings at Pride marches, protesting on Valentine’s Day in Justices of the Peace offices, and performing thousands of Holy Unions in their churches.
MCC will celebrate these decisions and move forward at its 25th General Conference in Chicago, Illinois, July 1-5, 2013. After 45 years of ministry and advocacy, the church continues to be on the cutting edge of ministry around the world. Known as “The Human Rights Church” in many countries, MCC will host U.S. Ambassador Daniel Baer and present the MCC human rights award to Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda, where he has fought the infamous “kill the gays” bill. MCC leaders will also celebrate the founding of their “Global Justice Institute,” in partnership with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. The Global Justice Institute is working with leaders in Asia, Africa and Latin America for equality for sexual minorities and all people who deserve justice.
(Click on the image below to read about MCC’s history of involvement with Marriage Equality)
We are writing to express our strong support for legislation that would enhance the United States anti-trafficking policy by upgrading the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau. We represent members of both the current and previous President Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As members of the current President’s Advisory Council, we studied the issue of domestic and international trafficking for most of the past year and issued a report with recommendations to President Obama. One of the recommendations was to upgrade the Office to a Bureau.
Our April 2013 Report states: “The Council appreciates and acknowledges not only the diplomacy and monitoring carried out by J/TIP, but the level of expertise and innovation the Office brings to the anti-trafficking movement. This Council believes that it is vitally important that the State Department’s J/TIP be elevated to a State Department Bureau, on equal footing with the Regional Bureaus and other priority issues for this Administration. Making J/TIP a Bureau would improve collaboration with the Regional Bureaus, Embassies, and international interlocutors.”
We are grateful that legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to upgrade the Office to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State. This simple redesignation, which does not involve additional bureaucracy or expense, will give J/TIP and its leadership access to the Secretary of State and parity with regional Assistant Secretaries. This upgrade is required for the issue of slavery eradication to receive the attention it requires.
As leaders of faith based and community organizations, we respectfully urge you to support this legislation, which sharpens the United States’ most precious diplomatic tool. The men and women who staff and lead the J/TIP Office are the nation’s leading experts on modern day slavery. While we understand that anti-trafficking concerns will sometimes be preempted by other U.S. interests, we believe that it is essential that J/TIP’s leadership have a seat at the table where key decisions on diplomacy and strategy are being developed and implemented.
We respectfully urge you to support H.R. 2283, “The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith in the House and S._____, companion legislation in the Senate that is sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal.
For information, please contact Allison Hollobaugh, and Joel Cohen, .
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, Policy Link
Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in American
Lynne Hybels, Co-founder, Willow Creek Community Church
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church
Miaohong Hsiangju Liu, Buddha’s Light International Association
Maria Nagorski, Executive Director, Fair Chance DC
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Assembly
Barbara Williams Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute
Elder Steven Snow, First Quorum of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Susan K. Stern, Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Past President, Leadership Council of Women Religious
Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)
Dr. Arturo Chavez, President, Mexican American Catholic College
The Reverend Canon Peg Chemberlin, Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches of Christ-USA
Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary
Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
Nancy Ratzan, Immediate Past President, National Council of Jewish Women
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
The Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only