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Archive for the ‘MCC News’ Category

Ferguson and Racism: An Epistle to America

Dear America, we greet you as Christians who believe that freedom in Christ means that all persons deserve respect and equality before God and the law.

 

Today, we pray for Ferguson, the family of Michael Brown, and for people everywhere who are impacted by racism. We write to you as spiritual leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and join with the millions around the world who grieve the death of Michael Brown, who shot down with eight bullets while unarmed and holding his hands in the air. We grieve that the grand jury felt there was not even enough evidence to have this case go to trial. We grieve that so many people are in denial about the realities of racism today.

 
MCC was founded almost 50 years ago to provide a spiritual home to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. We have been a target of hate, and we come from all races. We know all oppression must be challenged because every person is created in the image of God. It is time for all faithful people around the world to pray and act to end racism.

Michael Brown (Ferguson, Missouri, USA)

(Photo: coxrare.files.wordpress.com)

 

 

As Christians, we remember how Jesus was challenged to go beyond his own cultural prejudice by a woman who was of the scorned Canaanite race. (Matthew 15:21-28) We remember the lives of so many African Americans who heard the Gospel and knew they were meant to be free. We remember all those of every race who have been willing to stand up — and even lay down their lives for freedom and justice — regardless of race, language, or identity.

 

As citizens of the world, we decry the use of war equipment to attack peaceful demonstrators. We stand up and speak out against the systematic criminalization of people of color. Just as Jesus overturned the tables of power and exploitation, surely Jesus would condemn a system that targets people by their skin color and economic status.

 

We must drop all pretense of so-called color blindness and pick up the mantle of prophecy to urge everyone to learn the facts about racial discrimination. In particular, to understandFerguson, we must understand the larger realities of African Americans:

Humanity has the power to do great good. Systemic racism can be dismantled. The Berlin wall was toppled. Apartheid was overthrown. Nazi Germany was defeated. Slavery was stopped. Systems of oppression are constructed by human beings and can be deconstructed by human beings. Will it be easy? No, but like every good thing we work for, it will be worth the effort. Our only regret will be that we did not act more quickly.

 

We urge all people of good will to ACT TODAY.

 

The Council of Elders of Metropolitan Community Churches:

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Dr. Mona West, Rev. Hector Gutierrez, Rev. Darlene Garner

Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent 30 November 2014

adventbanner

Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

30 November 2014

Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez

“Look out down from heaven, look at us!”

Isaiah 63:16

 

“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

Mark 13:33

 

If we review the situation that the Jews were facing in Isaiah after the cruel exile experience, and the huge challenges that they had in front of them, we can easily understand their feeling overwhelmed. We, right now in the 21st century, are not living a life that is so different from the life they were living. Just like them, we have two options: just accept with resignation what is and live our lives accordingly by remembering the good old days; or we can seize this moment as a great opportunity to change our reality and our future from this uncertain and volatile present.

 

As a Christian community, we are entering in the season of Advent, or Small Lenten Season, as it used to be call by our ancestors in the faith. In our hands, we have the opportunity once again to be transforming ourselves as we transform the world!

 

IWantChange

It is apparent, I believe, that our world is in desperate need of transformation as we bear witness to the madness that our world is experiencing. War in some countries (Ukraine, etc.); devastation in other places (the global climate change that is compelling us); confrontations in many cities (Ferguson, etc.); the hellish reality in my home country (Mexico) with thousands of people missing and presumed dead, like the 43 students recently found; hate crimes; Ebola and a multitude of other kinds of diseases.

 

The reality of our complex world, of course, can overwhelm anyone, but I want us to consider the words of Gerhard Ebeling who wrote, “the most real of the real thing, is not the reality itself, but its possibilities.” And as the dreamer that I am, and with our Christian and human grounding, we must focus our efforts on the possibilities that are calling for our commitment to transformation. I stand fast in believing that not everything is lost.

 

God needs our hands, our feet, our hearts, and our minds to bring about a transformation in this world. It is not enough just to pray about it. Rev. Troy Perry, our Founder, is right when he says: “Some prayers need our feet.”

 

beTheChurch
(Photo: fbctt.org)

Now more than ever, we need to “be on guard!” with our eyes and hearts, paying attention to the future that we want to leave for the people who are coming after us. Thus, we must be mindful of the future we are leaving them, as it directly correlates to our decisions and our actions right now. We need to refuse the temptation to live in the routine of our safe lives. Advent calls us to risk it all.

 

The importance of this season, I believe, is not the observance of the season itself; the importance is the meaning and transformation that we can receive for our ministries, for our lives, for our churches, and for our communities.

 

expecting

What kind of Advent are you expecting, my siblings? How must we live the Advent Season among the many in our world who do not expect anything?

 

As Christians, we are not just preparing ourselves to celebrate the Christmas Season, as that can be a devastating goal for us this First Sunday of Advent; our commitment should be to expect and to help to establish the real Realm of God in the world, creating something completely different than the current reality.

 

Maybe we can refuse to celebrate the Advent, but we are not allowed to refuse to lend a helping hand to all people of this earth, to work hard to bring about the advent of a new world.

 

Let me conclude my reflection by adding my voice to my siblings in Mexico in their demand: VIVOS SE LOS LLEVARON, VIVOS LOS QUEREMOS (You took them alive from us, alive we want them back with us).

43veces

  • Reflexión para el Cuarto Domingo de Adviento 21 de diciembre de 2014
  • Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 21 December 2014
  • Reflexión del Tercer Domingo de Adviento 14 de diciembre de 2014
  • Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent 14 December 2014
  • Reflexión para el Segundo Domingo de Adviento 7 de diciembre de 2014
  • Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent 7 December 2014
  • Reflexión para el Primer Domingo de Adviento 30 Noviembre 2014
  • Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent 30 November 2014
  • Statement in response to immigration reform actions by U.S. President Barack Obama

    November 21, 2014 – Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute applaud U.S. President Barack Obama for making bold moves to reform the U.S. immigration system.  Building on the immigrant reform actions of his nine predecessors, he announced changes that would permit children brought to the U.S. by their parents to remain indefinitely, expand the system of work permits, reduce barriers to higher education, and support family unification for certain bi-national families.  These measures constitute a major step in the right direction.

     

    While we applaud President Obama, we are reminded that these actions fall short of the comprehensive immigration reform we, along with all other fair-minded stakeholders, have been seeking for years.  We must not leave LGBT families separated across borders, isolate and marginalize LGBT asylum seekers, or exclude any immigrant group from access to health care and social services.  Money spent on border security would better serve immigrants’ need for quality health care, education, affordable housing.  Despite these shortcomings, the President’s reforms constitute an expanded foundation upon which we must pursue greater freedoms.

     

    We remind the President and Congress that immigrants are our sisters and brothers, neighbors, co-workers, friends, classmates, and fellow parishioners. They are contributors to healthy, vibrant communities. They are all children of God who deserve dignity, respect, and the freedom of opportunity that all other U.S. residents enjoy.  Because executive actions by any President are temporary, we call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation to ensure that all who desire a better life in the United States have a permanent and legal pathway toward that pursuit.

     

    For more information on MCC/GJI’s immigration reform principles, see our statement “No Stranger to God: A Call for Sensible Immigration Reform that Supports and Reunites Families

     

    Statement: World AIDS Day

    WAD2014

    One year ago, we marked the 25th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. Who among us is better off? PReP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) protocols are becoming more widely available each month. Activists and advocates the world over have endorsed this approach as a major milestone toward ending the HIV epidemic. Earlier this year, MCC issued a statement applauding the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its approval of PReP. We knew that it was not the cure all for which we have prayed for decades. Combined with access to the basic necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, and systems of love and support), PRep can and has helped many. But looking back over the past year, we remain challenged by the fact that, throughout the world, the faces of AIDS remain stubbornly brown, stubbornly poor, and alarmingly female and MSM (men who have sex with men). Scripture tells us that Jesus saw himself in those around him, particularly those in need {Matthew 25}. We must, too. They are us, and we are them. Medical advances continue, but they remain out of reach for far too many.

     

    As a movement that is concerned with the holy integration of our sexuality and our spirituality, MCC holds to a positive spirituality concerning all bodies.  Positive Spirituality is a spirituality that sees our sexuality as a part of our wholeness. Living into MCC’s core values of Inclusion, Community, Spiritual Transformation, and Social Action means that no one can be left beyond the reach of our prayers, our loving embrace, and our activism.

     

    We are called to do hard work. Loving those whom they say are unlovable. Touching the untouchable. Defending those who are defenseless. Medicine alone is not the answer. Global systems of domination and exploitation rob people with HIV from meaningful access to cutting edge anti-retroviral medications. They withhold housing, shelter, employment, family, love, and spiritual companionship. There is only one fight: OUR fight. The late United States Senator Paul Wellstone famously said, “We all do better when we ALL do better.” MCC, we can continue to provide global leadership so that we ALL do better, everyone, everywhere.

     

    Perhaps more than any other global religious movement, Metropolitan Community Churches knows that Faith Is Greater Than AIDS (Faith > AIDS). The first International AIDS Vigil of Prayer was held at MCC San Diego (USA) in 1986. This later evolved into World AIDS Day.

     

    We invite you to join MCC worshipping bodies around the globe and take the following actions:

    • Take pictures of your Advent-themed worship space, with members and congregational leaders wearing AIDS ribbons and/or red attire, and post them on Facebook under the Ending HIV/AIDS One Prayer at a Time group between now and 1 December.
    • Visit MCC’s World AIDS Day page for resources to help with worship this Sunday, including litanies, prayers.
    • Include a specially-dedicated prayer around the theme of “Ending HIV/AIDS One Prayer At A Time.”
    • Contact a local HIV/AIDS service organization to start or expand use of your worship site as a testing location (global locator site).
    • Know Your Status, and help others become more comfortable in knowing their status.
    • Contact your local, state/provincial, and national government leaders and urge them to take action to end the criminalization of HIV.

     

    We are blessed to have so many other faith traditions join this work to ensure that all HIV+ persons have resources, medical care, housing, food, clothing, and family support. More will never be enough until HIV is eradicated. This work is not done.

     

    This statement is a collaboration between the Public Policy Team of MCC, the Global Justice Institute, and the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council of MCC.

    JOIN WORLD DAY OF ACTION AGAINST JAMAICA’S ANTI-BUGGERY LAW

    WEDNESDAY 6 AUGUST 2014

     

    MCC is joining with human rights activists, LGBT Jamaicans, and people of faith from around the world for a day of global protest on Wednesday, 6 August 2014, in opposition to Jamaica’s Anti-Buggery Law.  The law has provided legal cover for extreme anti-LGBT violence throughout the country.  The anti-LGBT movement in Jamaica has been highly effective in spreading hateful propaganda about the community.  MCC joins activists from around the world in calling for a coordinated, global response in solidarity with LGBT people on the ground.

    6 August is Jamaica’s Independence Day, and we invite you to join us in calling for an end to violence and the legal system that enables it. 

     

    10562982_473357036137287_4259168785229981968_nJamaican Consulate Protests:

     

    • Jamaican Consulate/High Commission in 303 Eglinton Avenue East, London, Toronto, Canada 12 noon Eastern Standard Time (4pm GMT)
    • Jamaican Consulate, 767 Third Avenue New York, NY USA.  12 noon Eastern Standard Time (4pm GMT)
    • Jamaican High Commission, 1 Prince Consort Road, London, England UK, 5pm BST (4pm GMT)

     

    Our Day of Action will send a powerful message that the British-era colonial law has no place in any modern society.  Dwayne Brown, the founder of Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, said, “For too long, the government of Jamaica has failed to take decisive action to address the ongoing crisis of anti-LGBT violence.  One important step is immediately repealing the buggery law, which has been used in various ways to terrorize the LGBT community.”   It will further support the legal challenges taking place in the Jamaican judicial system to eliminate the anti-buggery law, an effort led by MCC’s Maurice Tomlinson.

     

     

    Here’s what you can do to join the movement:

    • Work with your church and local partners to stage a demonstration or activity, ideally at the same time as the consulate protests in Canada, USA, and UK.  Virtual and in-person are equally encouraged. 
    • Help gather signatures for the Petition Calling for the Repeal of the Anti-Buggery Laws. Download the petition HERE and email the completed ones (with signatures) to Jason Latty care of MCCNY.  jasonlatty@outlook.com
    • Follow the Protest’s Facebook page and stay update about local actions around the world.
    • Tweet #JamaicaRepealBuggeryLaw in support.


    MCC Moderator to Witness Signing of Presidential Executive Orders with NO Exemptions

    “We Dare Not Confuse Sincere Prejudice with Sincere Religion”

    MCC global moderator to witness signing of presidential executive orders with NO added exemptions

    The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which has ministries in over 40 countries.  Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with U.S. White House staff in 1979, and she served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

    The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson has been invited to the White House to witness President Barack Obama sign two executive orders. The first will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1965 Lyndon Johnson executive order which banned discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or nationality in hiring by federal contractors. The second order adds gender identity to the list of protected classes of federal workers and was first signed by President Richard Nixon, who added disability and age. President Clinton added sexual orientation, and President Obama adds gender identity.

    “We are thrilled that President Obama will sign executive orders to include sexual orientation and gender identity within Federal policies of non-discrimination. It is even more historic because no sweeping religious exemptions sponsored by conservatives will be added,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC).

     “Using religious exemptions as a smokescreen for discrimination is the kind of persecution the First Amendment to the Constitution helps us to avoid,” said Dr. Wilson. “Everyone loves religious liberty, but we dare not confuse sincere prejudice with sincere religion. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people know that exemption from the law is a dangerous by-product of religious bigotry, not religious liberty.”

    “MCC stands with all people of good will to support President Obama in this historic action,” said Dr. Wilson. “It is a deep honor to represent Metropolitan Community Churches at the signing event. While these executive orders will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes for federal contractors and workers, we will not rest until Congress passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with no religious exemptions so all Americans will be hired and fired based on their work and integrity rather than their gender identity or whom they love.”

     “We know that conservatives will continue to market their prejudices under the guise of religious freedom, but we will not let their brand of judgmental Christianity be the only voice of faithful Christians that the public hears. We are LGBT and straight people of faith together who know that we are created in the image of God,” said Dr. Wilson. “We categorically reject the disastrous religious dogma that God wants Christians to hate some people.”

    Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches Calls for Moment of Prayer In Face of Tragedies and Violence

    17 July 2014 -­‐-­‐-­‐ Today, as Israel and Hamas took a brief recess from their 10 -­‐day war, only to have that lull in fighting marred by the deaths of 4 Gaza children hit by missiles while playing on the beach near their homes; while violence claimed the lives of innocent civilians from the airport of Kabul to the streets of places like Syria and Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, someone shot an airplane out of the sky over Donetsk in the Ukraine, an already war-­‐ravaged area of the globe. Fields with purple flowers became the unintended resting place of 295 people on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The flight manifest has yet to be released, but we know from our friends around the world that at least 5 AIDS activists on their way from points in Europe to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne were among those lost.

    At times like this, our hearts are broken for the families and friends, the allies and co -­‐workers of all those lost to violence and the senseless tragedies it produces. While many on the airwaves debate who is responsible for the tragedies, I am drawn to the example of Jesus, who when pressed by the crowds of unrelenting needs around him for relief and healing and peace, would go off to a lonely place to pray.

    And so, I ask all MCCers and people of faith to join me in prayer now.

    O God,
    We give you thanks for the gift of life,
    and the chance you give to all of us
    to live each day with a heart for compassion and care
    and a spirit attuned to peace.
    We mourn all our brothers and sisters lost
    to violence and needless violence and tragedy today,
    especially those on Malaysia Airlines flight 17
    and those 4 little boys on the beach in Gaza Cit y.
    Be with their families and friends left behind,
    and help them to find some comfort in knowing that
    they are at peace with you, and that
    we will all one day be together again.
    With a full heart, O God, we pray for
    peace on this earth
    and goodwill among a ll.
    Regardless of our political persuasions or belief systems,
    help us to renounce all violence and to seek to live
    in a way that promotes the wellbeing of all your children.
    Give us all the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Christ,
    Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. +Amen

    The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
    Metropolitan Community Churches

    Metropolitan Community Church Response to Children’s Immigration Crisis

    When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them.  Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Sovereign your God.                                   –Leviticus 19:33-34 (CEB)

     

    SOS:  Save Our Children

     

    The world is facing a humanitarian crisis along the border between the United States of America and Mexico.  Over 50,000 young people have arrived in the U.S. seeking freedom from violence and oppression and opportunities for meaningful work and basic education.  They are innocent children—our sons and daughters, cousins, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, God’s children.  They are crying out in need.  The world must respond with favor, compassion, and resources.  Indifference would be the most awful thing in the world.

     

    Being compassionate requires us to examine the reasons families have in sending their vulnerable children to cross the border.  A wave of violence has swept the central parts of Latin America, violence unseen in recent history.  Children and their families are making the rational choice to seek shelter and refuge outside of their home countries and in the United States because the treachery of the journey and the uncertain fate awaiting them there pales in comparison to the known threats on their lives at home.  They seek nothing more than a better life.  As people of faith, we cannot idly sit by and let their struggles and their hopes be in vain.

     

    Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute call on elected and appointed officials at all levels of government and society to provide safe harbor for these children.  Housing them in anything less than stable homes is inhumane.  Robbing them of educational opportunities, suitable food, fresh clothing, and connection with loved ones in the U.S. is unjust.  We must not treat them like criminals.  They are our children.  They are the world’s children.  As such, they are gifts to be cherished.  We invite faith leaders of every tradition to join us in this call for justice.

     

    We call on governments from around the world to address the violence in Latin America that is driving migration.  We call on the U.S. government to open our immigration system so that civil society can care for these children.  The crisis highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform and we call on the Congress to take that measure back up.  Through the lens of compassion, let us see this crisis.  Through the lens of faith, may be stand up and respond.

     

    This statement prepared by Kareem Murphy on behalf of The Moderator’s Public Policy Team,

    Metropolitan Community Churches, The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

    To contact the Public Policy Team:  RevJim@RevJim.org

    MCC Moderator: “Religion Will be an Excuse to Discriminate”

    U.S. Supreme Court allows corporations to have religious freedom-opens the door to discrimination

    The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with U.S. White House staff in 1979, and she served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

    Today, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global leader of Metropolitan Community Churches, condemned the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on what is popularly known as the “Hobby Lobby” case. Dr. Wilson said, “The high court of the United States put all of our freedoms at risk today. Conservatives may now seek to deny a range of civil liberties and religion will be an excuse to discriminate.”

    “Although this decision impacts women and adds unnecessary steps to accessing reproductive health care, the scope of this decision could be much broader. We are deeply concerned that this decision could turn back the hands of time for generations. Religious dogma may now impact sexual minorities, religious minorities and historically oppressed racial groups. Any group that has been told to ‘stay in your place’ based on the Bible is a target again. We have worked for 45 years to claim civil liberties for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. This decision makes our work harder but we will not rest until justice comes for everyone!”

    The MCC Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice states in part:

    [MCC] affirms that all people are entitled to the rights and resources that equip them to make their own decisions about their bodies, their sexuality, and their well-being, including the inalienable right of women to control their bodies. We call on all levels of government and civil society to honor and respect those rights. … It is not up to government, civil society, or organized religion to instruct them on what their choice should be. We honor that tradition by calling on all levels of government to ensure that all women have the right to choose their reproductive health care options and the means to exercise those options at their sole discretion.

    For the full MCC Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, click here:
    http://mccchurch.org/statement-of-faith-on-womens-reproductive-health-rights-and-justice/

    FIRST-EVER (USA) NATIONAL HIV TESTING WEEK

    MCC, GLOBAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE, AND HIV/AIDS ADVISORY COUNCIL JOIN TESTING CAMPAIGN

    MCC has partnered with the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS) to promote the USA’s first-ever National HIV Testing Week.  It begins Saturday, June 21 and runs through June 27.  The theme is “Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV.”  The partnership seeks to increase how many people know their HIV status.

      

    Culminating in National HIV Testing Day (Friday, June 27), the campaign encourages everyone, including churches, to reach out to health providers and community organizations to plan and expand events to raise awareness, provide testing, and offer supportive services that encourage people to get into care.  Events and testing sites are being hosted around the nation, and they include government offices, doctor’s offices, health clinics, bathhouses, bars, and chemical dependency treatment facilities, among others.  Check out www.nhtwus.org to find a testing site near you or your church.  logo-transBG

     

    Here are some actions you can take to engage the campaign:

    • Share your story/program about what you and your church are doing to promote testing, treatment, and/or care.  Share them here
    • Download, share, and promote the coalition’s Testing Week resources. 
    • If your congregation or ministry group does not currently have an HIV/AIDS program in place, consider using this year’s Testing Week to plan the launching of one. Resources on how to start that discussion can be found here.

    Knowing one’s status is a crucial first step in getting people into systems of treatment and care.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Treatment Cascade analysis shows that the path to health and viral suppression starts with diagnosis.  If we can get people tested, they will know their status. If they know their status, we can link them to systems of care.  If we can link them to care, we can support them so that they stay in care.  If we can get them to stay in care, we can support an appropriate antiretroviral therapy program.  And if we can keep them on their medication and accessing other supportive services, we can keep them alive and thriving.  It all starts with testing.  As people of faith, we are called to do this work. 

     

    Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV