YouTubeTwitterFacebookTwitter
           
I'm NEW to MCC... Tell Me More!  |  Find a Local Church  |  Give To MCC  |  Contact Us

Archive for the ‘MCC News’ Category

Year End 2013

endofyear_noclick

Do you want to know more about Metropolitan Community Churches?

What does it mean to “Be MCC”?

Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) values inclusion, community, spiritual transformation, and social action. We are committed to spread the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ and to respond faithfully to God’s call for justice. The context of doing justice is the creation of community and the preservation of all creation.

To sign up for Headline News - MCC’s electronic bimonthly international newsletter – click here.

For MCC Moderator’s Circle - Members contribute directly to MCC to support its ministry and vision through a monthly donation – click here.

To find out about  bringing an MCC to your area please email revdarlenegarner@mccchurch.net

To learn more about MCC’s virtual church opportunities please email revdarlenegarner@mccchurch.net

If you have a Prayer Request please email prayers@mccchurch.net

From the Moderator

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.

marchingwithbanner
Vittorio Amaruso (second from right) walks in his first Pride Parade while attending General Conference in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Also holding the MCC banner include, from left: Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, MCC Moderator; Rev. Lisa Heilig, Interim Pastor at MCC of Our Redeemer; Vittorio, and Rev. Marian Cavagnaro, Pastor of Congregational Life at MCC of the Palm Beaches.

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.

christmastree

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,
2462[1]

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




wishing-you-a-blessed-christmas

Transforming graphic (black/transparent)

 

 

Fellowship Sunday 2013 – Resourcing our Networks

FellowshipSunday2013

2013 Fellowship Sunday Offering Pacesetters

(in alphabetical order)

aChurch4me? MCC
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Rev. Rachelle Brown, Provisional Pastor

Agape MCC
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
Edinburgh, Scotland
Rev. Maxwell Reay, Pastor, Associated Minister

Church of The Trinity MCC
Sarasota, Florida, USA
Rev. Charles Tigard, Pastor

Cornerstone MCC
Mobile, Alabama, USA
Rev. Sandy O’Steen, Pastor

Emerald City MCC Seattle
Washington, USA
Rev. Kimberly Brown, Interim Pastor

Exodus MCC
Abilene, Texas, USA
Rev. Margaret C. Walker, Pastor

FirstCoast MCC
St. Augustine, Florida, USA
Rev. Ruth Jensen Forbell, Pastor

First MCC of Atlanta
Georgia, USA
Rev. T. Paul Graetz, Pastor

First MCC of Wichita
Kansas, USA
Rev. Jackie Carter, Pastor

Founders MCC Los Angeles
California, USA
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Pastor

Heartland MCC
Springfield, Illinois, USA
Rev. Tony Thieman-Somora, Pastor

Holy Covenant MCC
Brookfield, Illinois, USA
Open Pulpit

Imago Dei MCC
Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA
Rev. Janice Bowker, Pastor

Joy MCC
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
Bath, UK
Rev. Kieren Bourne, Pastor

MCC Austin
Texas, USA
Rev. Karen Thompson, Pastor

MCC Boston
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Open Pulpit

MCC Brighton
UK
Rev. Michael Hydes, Pastor

MCC Brisbane
South Brisbane, Australia
Rev. Dr. Leigh R. Neighbour, Pastor

MCC Corpus Christi
Texas, USA
Rev. Ed Paul, Interim Pastor

MCC Family in Christ
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Rev. Ken Pilot, Pastor

MCC Hartford
Connecticut, USA
Rev. Aaron Miller, Pastor

MCC Key West
Florida, USA
Rev. Steve Torrence, Resident Pastor

MCC Knoxville
Tennessee, USA
Rev. V. Jill Sizemore, Pastor

MCC Louisville
Kentucky, USA
Rev. Colleen Foley, Pastor

MCC New York
New York, USA
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Pastor

MCC Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston, Pastor

MCC of Albuquerque
New Mexico, USA
Rev. Judith L. Maynard, Pastor

MCC of Baltimore
Maryland, USA
Open pulpit

MCC of Baton Rouge
Louisiana, USA
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
Missouri, USA
Open pulpit

MCC of Lubbock
Lubbock, Texas, USA
Open Pulpit

MCC of New Orleans
Louisiana, USA
Rev. Gail Minnick, Pastor

MCC of Northern Virginia
Fairfax, Virginia, USA
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears, Pastor

MCC of Ocala
Florida, USA
Rev. Vickie Miller, Pastor

MCC of Omaha
Nebraska, USA
Rev. Tom Emmett, Pastor

MCC of Our Redeemer
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Rev. Lisa Heilig, Interim Pastor

MCC of Paducah
Kentucky, USA
Rev. Lillian Ferguson, Pastor

MCC of Rehoboth
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA
Rev. Dusty Pruitt, Pastor

MCC of Richmond
Virginia, USA
Open Pulpit

MCC of San Antonio
Texas, USA
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
Florida, USA
Rev. Dr. Lea Brown, Pastor

MCC of The Quad Cities
Davenport, Iowa, USA
Rev. Rich D. Hendricks, Pastor

MCC of the Spirit
Pennsylvania, USA
Rev. Lori E. Rivera, Pastor

MCC of Topeka
Kansas, USA
Rev. Dr. Carol Trissell, Interim Pastor

MCC of Winston-Salem
North Carolina, USA
Rev. Ron LaRocque, Pastor

MCC Peoria
Illinois, USA
Rev. Tony Thieman-Somora, Pastor

MCC Portland
Oregon, USA
Rev. Nathan Meckley, Pastor

MCC Sacred Journey
Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA
Rev. Jane Nelson, Pastor

MCC San Francisco
California, USA
Rev. Victor Floyd, Pastor

MCC Sydney
Australia
Rev. Greg Smith, Pastor

Neema MCC
Nairobi, Kenya
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 pulpit

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

Peninsula MCC
San Mateo, California, USA
Rev. Terri Echelbarger, Pastor

Resurrection MCC
Houston, Texas, USA
Rev. Troy Treash, Pastor

River of Life MCC
Dorchester, UK
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)
California, USA
Rev. Dan Koeshall, Pastor

The Rock MCC
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Open Pulpit

Trinity MCC of Gainesville
Florida, USA
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
Texas, USA
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!”

Resources

2013 Fellowship Sunday Bulletin Insert
2013 Fellowship Sunday Bulletin Insert
2013 Fellowship Sunday Bulletin Insert.pdf
Date Updated: 1 October 2013
2013 Fellowship Sunday Bulletin Insert A4
2013 Fellowship Sunday Bulletin Insert A4
2013 Fellowship Sunday Bulletin Insert_A4.pdf
Date Updated: 1 October 2013
2013 Fellowship Sunday Press Release
2013 Fellowship Sunday Press Release
2013 Fellowship Sunday Press Release.docx
Date Updated: 25 September 2013
2013 Fellowship Sunday Press Release
2013 Fellowship Sunday Press Release
2013 Fellowship Sunday Press Release.pdf
Date Updated: 25 September 2013
2013FellowshipSundayBullIns SpanEd
2013FellowshipSundayBullIns SpanEd
2013FellowshipSundayBullIns_SpanEd.pdf
Date Updated: 2 October 2013

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.”

Members of MCC's Southwestern U.S. Network Team make themselves accessible to localchurches and foster connectedness by sharing their names, photos and e-mail addresses.

Members of MCC’s Southwestern U.S. Network Team make themselves accessible to local churches and foster connectedness by sharing their names, photos and e-mail addresses.

Networks provide care, connection and communicationto local churches. Here members of the Heartland Network take part in a Network Gathering at MCC Omaha (Nebraska).

Networks provide care, connection and communication to local churches. Here members of the Heartland Network take part in a Network Gathering at MCC Omaha (Nebraska).

MCCers in the Carolinas Network gather from across North andSouth Carolina at St. John's MCC for workshops, training,resourcing and fellowship with Rev. Elder Ken Martin.

MCCers in the Carolinas Network gather from across North and South Carolina at St. John’s MCC for workshops, training, resourcing and fellowship with Rev. Elder Ken Martin.

MidwestNetwork@

MCC leaders in the Midwest Network draw inspiration, find fresh vision for ministry and deepen their connectedness with other MCC churches at this Network Gathering held at MCC Iliana.

MCC local church leaders taking part in the Western Europe andthe United Kingdom Network Gathering at MCC Newcastle (Upon Tyne, UK), joined by Rev. Elders Darlene Garner and Dr. Mona West.

MCC local church leaders taking part in the Europe Network Gathering at MCC Newcastle (Upon Tyne, UK), joined by    Rev. Elders Darlene Garner and Dr. Mona West.

 

FellowshipSunday2013

Feel free to use this in bulletins at your Fellowship Sunday service

MCC Moderator’s
2013 Fellowship Sunday Prayer


1968 – 2013

On the Occasion of the

45th Anniversary of the Founding

of Metropolitan Community Churches


God of Liberating Hope:
     We thank you for 45 years of the miracle
          of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Today, October 6th, 
     is truly a feast day for us,
          as we remember the blessings of our past,
               as we open ourselves to renewal,
                    as we boldly embrace the future .

Jesus Christ, in whom our faith is rooted:
     How could we have imagined that You
          would use our humble beginnings
                to change lives and change history
                     in so many places around the world?

We thank you for being Emmanuel,
      -- God with us!  --
               for all these decades.

Today we lift up Founders’ MCC, where it all began;
     we lift up the newest MCC’s in many places around the world;
          we lift up churches that are seeking a new pastor; 
               churches that are re-examining their vision and mission; 
                    churches that are persevering through tough times; 
                         churches on the brink of a new era of ministry.

We lift up those who have not found MCC, 
     but who are starting to find us
          on websites and from newsfeeds,
               through press stories and in social media,
                    and by the public witness of local MCC congregations
                         and their ministries of compassion and justice.

We lift up those who have not found MCC, 
     but who are waiting...
          to connect with a community of faith;
     who are longing...
          to discover hope-filled spirituality;
     who are ready...
           to celebrate MCC
                in villages and towns, in cities
                     and countries, around our world.

God of our Past and of our Future:
     Grace us, we pray,
          to love relentlessly,
               to do justice faithfully,
                    to live hopefully
                         In a world that needs You,
                              and that needs us to BE MCC.

These things we pray
     in Your Many Names.
                                     Amen!

MCC Governing Board Announcement

  • MCC’s Governing Board has accepted Reverend Tony Freeman’s letter of resignation from the Governing Board. We extend our sincerest thanks to Tony for his service to MCC over the past three years. We wish him well on his next endeavor. Tony was elected by the 2010 General Conference XXIV in Acapulco, Mexico, for a six-year term of office. 

    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:

     

     

    • Applications are due by 9:00 pm UTC/GMT (5:00 pm U.S. ET) on Thursday, 12 September 2013.

     

    • The Governing Board will review all applications received.

     

    • The Governing Board will pre-select and conduct interviews with candidate(s).

     

    • The Governing Board will select and appoint a Clergy Person to serve by our October Governing Board meeting.

     

    • The Governing Board will send out an announcement to introduce our new Governing Board member following our October 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!

     

    Thank you!

    MCC Governing Board

Global Justice Statement on anti-LGBT violence in Russia

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.”

 

2013-142-2013-05-22T124351Z_1_CBRE94L0ZD700_RTROPTP_3_RUSSIAProminent 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.

 

Take Action:

  • The GJI calls on people of good will around the globe to make your voice heard on behalf of the freedom and safety of LGBTI people in Russia by contacting the Russian Embassy or Consulate nearest you and demanding that the legislation criminalizing LGBTI life be rescinded.

 

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 

Who am I to judge?

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.

Seriously?

“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 RussiaCameroonYemen 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

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.

 

+Nancy

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

.

Moderator of Largest LGBT Church “Freedom and Equality Won!”

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)

MarriageEquality2

Faith-Based Council Members sign-on to letter re ending human trafficking – Senate and House leadership

Dear Congressman/Senator:

 

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, .

Sincerely,

 

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

Faith-Based Council Members sign-on to letter re ending human trafficking – Secretary of State Kerry

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington DC

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to express our strong support for current 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 headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.

We represent members of both the current and previous President’s 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 the past year and issued a report with recommendations to President Obama.  One of the recommendations was to upgrade the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 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 entitled, “The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” 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 may 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 take any action in your authority to elevate the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau.

Sincerely,

 

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

MCC stands in solidarity with ICM Brasil – Igrejas da Comunidade Metropolitana do Brasil and everyone in Brazil.

Dear leaders, members and friends of the Metropolitan Community Churches in Brazil:

In this important moment of mobilization in Brazil ,I would like to express my solidarity with you and my support of the demands being expressed at the protests throughout the country. Those valuable acts of courage make me feel proud of our people, our brothers and sisters in Brazil. I would love to be there with you to march, requesting not only for “Circuses” (Confederations Cup) to be offered but also for “bread” to be a reality for all (respect and dignity for indigenous peoples, sexual minorities, Afro-Brazilians, the Landless Workers) and to be available on every table and in every household.

Much more that the $0.20 increase in transportation fares is at stake in Brazil. People’s social unrest must be expressed, heard, respected. It shall not be silenced. Governments’ betrayals (independently of their political party) shouldn’t be tolerated by the people anymore.

As an Elder at the Metropolitan Community Churches, I demand in God’s name that the requests and demands of our beloved Brazilian peoples be answered. Brazil is much more than the World Cup. Brazil is much more than the Olympic Games organization that only benefits a few. Now is the the time for Brazil to take the lead, to make itself heard with a strong voice in the world, to demand a government that works with and for the people, not to benefit from them.

Dear Brazilian men and women, the whole world is looking at you, our hearts going to you in solidarity. Your legitimate demands will be able to create a Brazil that can help, support and treat with dignity and respect each and every one of its inhabitants. No one and nothing can stop you from protesting, for demanding that Brazil for which you have fought so hard to build, that so many men and women have worked for to make the country a place of human rights building a more human nation.

We trust that President Dilma’s government will be able to keep up with this historical moment that you are living as a courageous and brave people.

I want our MCC Churches in Brazil to know that during the protests on Thursday, each and every one of our leaders, members and friends will be with you, thinking about you, praying for you, and following any developments.

Another world is possible, a new Brazil is possible, too.

My solidarity and prayers are always with you.

Blessings,

Rev. Hector Gutierrez

MCC Elder