7-10 November 2014
Applications due: 12 September 2014
Goals and Expectations
Do you feel called to serve MCC beyond the local level, either as a leader, as a volunteer, or as a full-time vocation as clergy or lay leader? Have you wondered if you might be called to be an Elder? Or serve as part of the MCC Global Staff? Or do you want to understand more about the relationship of local church ministry and denominational/movement goals? Do you want to help shape MCC’s future?
If so, then this retreat is for you!
This retreat is designed for individuals under the age of 35 interested in serving MCC beyond the local level, as a volunteer or as a full-time vocation; as clergy or as lay leaders. The retreat will include denominational leaders and staff and will provide registrants with an opportunity for discernment about a vocation on a denominational or movement level with MCC, and to really get the BIG picture about MCC globally.
Registration is now open for the Young Adult Gathering in July!! The rate is $50.00USD. Register today! Click here to register
Led by young adults, this Young Adult Retreat will be an experience of meeting and connecting with your peers, having spirited discussions, and working on strategies for empowering our young adults in their home churches and in MCC’s around the world. The retreat will take place July 17-July 20th in St. Louis, MO. The event will begin at approximately 7:00pm on the 17th and will end at approximately 12:00pm on the 20th. This retreat is intended for only those 18-35 years in age.
We will spend time identifying who we are as a young adult group, working to serve others through a service project, discussing the future of MCC with MCC leadership and taking time for Spiritual Connection.
The host church for the retreat is MCC of Greater St. Louis in St. Louis, MO. MCC of Greater St. Louis has graciously agreed to host our retreat in July and will provide lunch and dinner for retreat attendees on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the retreat. We will end our gathering by attending the Sunday morning church service at MCC of Greater St. Louis.
Our hotel for the gathering is the Sheraton St. Louis City Center Hotel (400 South 14th St., St. Louis, MO 63103). The room rate is $99.00 (+ tax). CLICK HERE to reserve your room today.
To keep costs low and make this retreat as accessible as possible we have set the registration rate at $50 per person.
MCC of Greater Saint Louis
1919 S. Broadway
St. Louis, MO 63109 USA
314.361.3221 | www.mccgsl.org
*Proposed Schedule – times and locations subject to change
Thursday – July 17, 2014
5:00pm – 6:45pm – dinner and registration at MCC of Greater Saint Louis (dinner provided by the church)
7:00pm – 7:45pm – worship – praise service
8:00pm – 10:00pm – EMPOWER – Small Group Activities
10:00pm – 10:30pm – large group gathers back at MCC of Greater Saint Louis
Friday – July 18, 2014
8:30 – 9:30am – breakfast onsite at MCC of Greater Saint Louis
9:30am – 10:00am – morning spiritual reflection at MCC of Greater Saint Louis
10:00am – 10:15am – break
10:15am – 12:15pm – ENGAGE – large group activity
12:15pm – 1:15pm – lunch provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site
1:30pm – 2:30pm – ENGAGE – tools and resources for ministry
2:30pm – 3:30pm – workshop on Sexuality and Spirituality
3:30pm – 5:30pm – large group social activity
5:30pm – 6:30pm – dinner provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site
7:00pm – 8:00pm – worship – creative service with hands on experiences
FREE TIME and social time the rest of the evening
Saturday – July 19, 2014
8:30 – 9:30am – breakfast onsite at MCC of Greater Saint Louis
9:30am – 10:00am – morning spiritual reflection at MCC of Greater Saint Louis (Rachel Meyer Lead)
10:00am – 10:15am – break
10:15am – 12:15pm – EMBODY – create action plans
12:15pm – 1:15pm – lunch provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site
1:30pm – 4:30pm – service project community outreach (AmeriCorps)
4:30pm – 5:30pm – shower and clean up
5:30pm – 7:30pm – dinner and conversation – gather with MCC Leadership Rev. Mona West (in person),
Rev. Nancy Wilson (via skype) dinner provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site
8:00pm – 9:00pm – worship – Rev. Mona West will lead us in a service of blessing and communion
FREE TIME and social time the rest of the evening
Sunday – July 20, 2014
8:30 – 9:30am – breakfast onsite at MCC of Greater Saint Louis
9:30am – arrive at MCC of Greater Saint Louis for morning worship
10:30am – lead and participate in worship at MCC of Greater Saint Louis
12:00pm – closing prayer and pot-luck lunch
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
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
Exodus International leader Alan Chambers apologized recently for the harm done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by the so-called “ex-gay” movement. In that moment, the face that came to mind for me was the bruised, burned and emaciated face of 15-year-old Raymond Buys.
In 2011, Raymond was sent to a South African boot camp where boys — especially effeminate boys, or boys who were thought to be gay — were supposed to become men. The camp directors are now on trial for torturing Raymond to death. I am haunted by photos of his emaciated body in the hospital bed where he looks like a victim of a Nazi death camp.
Alan Chambers can apologize for suicides, deaths, lost years and damage to families, but his apology is only as good as real actions to counter the lies spread throughout the world by Exodus and other groups that underpin so much anti-LGBT persecution. Religious people who promoted ex-gay programs must bring the same fervor to saving our lives as they have brought to trying to separate our souls from our God-given sexual orientations and gender identities.
Around the world, effeminate boys and masculine girls continue to be tortured, raped and sometimes murdered with the tacit support of so-called “ex-gay” movements. For decades, they have promoted the lie that LGBT people could be heterosexual if we really wanted to and prayed hard enough.
Even in a country with constitutional protections like South Africa, Raymond’s mother was not immune to homophobia. Raymond’s mother thought her son could man up with a little help from a boot camp.
She was devastated by his death and learned through testimony that Raymond had been chained to his bed for extended periods and left in his own soil. Tortures included being forced to eat his own feces, and camp leaders put a pillowcase over his head and used an electric cattle prod on his fragile body. When he arrived at the hospital, he had multiple burns, his bones were broken, and he was starved and dehydrated. Medical attention came too late.
Too many mothers and fathers send their children to military boot camps or through so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” programs where debunked psychology is enmeshed with religious bigotry to produce persecution and unwarranted shame.
Alan Chambers’ apology is historic, but apologies from others who left these pseudoscientific programs have not been able to stop the purveyors of “ex-gay” lies. Exodus International is shutting its doors, but Exodus Global Alliance is still perpetrating spiritual violence against LGBT people around the world. Spokespeople like Alan Chambers must step up and condemn these programs as well.
What led up to this moment?
Chambers is not the first “ex-gay” program survivor to come out and apologize. Michael Bussee, founder of Exodus, recanted years ago and now spends his life working for equality.John Paulk, a one-time Focus on the Family star who was once featured on the cover ofNewsweek as “ex-gay,” said he is gay and expressed regret for the harm his work had done.
Some are outed. Paulk only apologized after being photographed in a gay bar. Matt Moorewas caught on a hookup site called Grindr. Moore is still saying that he was using Grindr to just see who was “in the neighborhood.” After being caught, Moore sold his computer, locked his phone, ended his blog and said more “seasoned believers” than he should be in the public eye.
When secrets, lies and obsessions combine with dogma and vulnerable people, it is always a disaster.
For example, Aubrey Levin (dubbed “Dr. Shock”) was arrested in Canada after a career of torturing gay men with electric shock aversion “therapies” in South Africa. He moved to Canada, where he continued to prey on vulnerable men. Finally, he was stopped when one of his court-mandated patients secretly recorded a session where Levin sexually abused him.
In another public debacle, a Florida newspaper photographed George Alan Rekers, a board member of NARTH (North American Reparative Therapy), vacationing with a “rent boy.” He tried to say the man was there to carry his luggage for him.
In New Jersey, Chaim Levin and three other men recently filed suit against leaders of JONAH, a Jewish “reparative therapy” network. Levin’s description of being told to strip naked as part of his therapy is shocking.
Tragically, much of the efforts to convert lesbian and gay people are deeply rooted in misguided religious beliefs. Originally, groups like Exodus and NARTH tried to position themselves as traditional counseling and psychotherapy, but no research has held up under scrutiny, and key players like Joseph Nicolosi and Richard A. Cohen lost all credibility as a result of ethics violations.
There is no viable scientific support for “ex-gay” programs. In 2007, the American Psychological Association assigned a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The task force reviewed more than 80 studies, which were overwhelmingly flawed, and none could prove that sexual orientation could be changed.
In 2012, the researcher highly cited by conservatives, Dr. Robert Spitzer, apologized for his own research in which he interviewed people in the so-called “ex-gay” movement and asked them if they had changed their sexual orientation. Of course, a few claimed to have changed, but there was never proof.
With the veil of scientific legitimacy in shreds, the only remaining smoke screen has been religion.
In a 2009 study on “ex-gay” programs, researchers from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force concluded:
Young people are now being used as ammunition in the evangelical Christian and political right-wing’s war against equality for LGBT Americans. Ex-gay organizations, in particular, have taken what used to be an intensely personal process (coming out to one’s self, friends and family) and have created dedicated programs and conferences that link the personal lives of young people to battles over same-sex marriage and the election of conservative political leaders.
When Christians from almost 200 countries gathered in South Africa for the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, the “ex-gay” movement was there. This time, it was the Exodus Global Alliance. This 2010 conference was the largest evangelical gathering in recent history. Exodus presenters claimed there are no more than a few thousand gay people in each African country, and that these are all products of the West. They intone that being gay is not a greater sin but say no other sin has a movement for acceptance. A speaker parroted the completely discredited myths about rejection, sexual abuse and distant fathers as “causes” for being gay.
In a world that allows Raymond Buys to be tortured to death because he was a soft and delicate boy, the travesties continue.
Even though nine countries in Europe, several in Latin America, and South Africa have marriage equality, more than 70 countries throughout the world have laws making same-gender love illegal, and in seven countries, being gay is punishable by execution.
What is critical to understand is that conservatives who claim they are acting out of Christian love are exporting these same defamed and debunked conversion “treatments” all around the world as a “gentler and softer” alternative to prison and execution. These same people are perfectly willing to label gay people as evil and sinful and then are surprised when punitive laws are enforced and people in the street begin to take the law into their own hands and attack and kill people they believe are gay.
Just last week, USA Today reported that an evangelical pastor appointed to head Brazil’s Human Rights Commission led the committee to approve a bill to make it legal for psychologists to treat homosexuality as a disorder or pathology. Where is the voice of Alan Chambers on this scandal?
Whether it is in the United States, South Africa, China, Africa, Latin America or Eastern Europe, homophobia is still at work, and too many evangelicals are still trying to position “ex-gay” ministries as the compassionate approach.
They are not!
Whether it is the death penalty, prison, shock treatment, laws that silence, or conversion therapy, all of it kills. Whether it kills the spirit, promotes suicide or results in the death penalty, carnage lies in its wake.
Raymond Buys, rest in peace. I will not forget you. I will not forget your broken body. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who defend our young people who are LGBT or gender-nonconforming. Your journey ended, but your story continues.
Read Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson’s Washington post article Prepared for change: There have always been gay Boy Scouts.
We invite you to submit your photos and stories for inclusion on this page.
Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America (1985-present)
MCC ordained, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
Episcopal Divinity School.
“I am proud to be an Eagle Scout. I am equally proud to be an openly gay man. In fact, I attribute my many years in Scouting — first as a Webelos, then as a Boy Scout, and finally as a camp counselor — as helping me to come out, and to be honest with the world about who I am.
The first principle of the Scout Law is to be trustworthy. That means telling the truth — even if it might be uncomfortable or inconvenient — and living with integrity. By contrast, the closet, or hiding one’s sexual orientation, is the opposite of living a life of trustworthiness. “
Read the full Huffington Post article “A Scout Is Trustworthy” by Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.
Len Shelton, Clerk of the Board, MCC Austin
John E. Plumadore, Retired Scout Executive and MCC Toronto member.
Bryan Parker, Eagle Scout and 2013 MCC Governing Board member.
“The award that is shown in Nancy’s article is the God and Country award. I was the first Boy Scout in Michigan to earn the Protestant version of the award (there was a Scout that earned the Catholic version a year before me). So as a historical side note it was this GAY Protestant Scout that earned the God and Country award in Michigan first and also became an Eagle Scout at the very early age of 13. By the time this gay Eagle Scout finished his scouting years at the age of 18 he was a member of Order of the Arrow (an elite honors division of the BSA) and earned his silver, gold and bronze palms. This are additional awards given to Eagle Scouts that continue to earn merit badges beyond those required to obtain Eagle. They go in that order because most only earn the silver and gold – very few get the additional merit badges after becoming an Eagle Scout to earn all three so being an Eagle Scout with a bronze palm is considered the highest honor in BSA.”
The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” This week, gay Boy Scouts are prepared for equality. At the same time, they are prepared for discrimination. They know that even if the policy changes to allow gay Boy Scouts, there will still be those who discriminate. There will be those who are frightened by change and by the full range of human expression of love and family.
read the full article on the washington post website http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/05/22/prepared-for-change-there-have-always-been-gay-boy-scouts
23 May 2013 — Today the 1400 member national council of the Boy Scouts of America, meeting in Texas, voted to allow openly gay youth to join the Scouts effective January of 2014, while continuing to ban openly gay Scout leaders. Council spokespersons said that while people have differing opinions on this policy revision, most agree that youth are better off because of their involvement in Scouting troops and activities.
While we applaud the decision to welcome gay scouts, we believe the amended policy sends a mixed message to youth seeking to integrate their sexual orientations and gender identities into their full personhood as they grow and mature.
Children are not better off when they are left without strong role models who represent the deepest truest parts of who they are as people of God, a truth sadly reflected in the scores of LGBT youth who suffer greater rates of homelessness and bullying than their non-gay peers.
As people of faith we call on the Boy Scouts of America to remedy the confusion youth will experience because of their new policy, and act to include all youth and adults who seek to participate in Scouting, help other people, and keep themselves mentally awake and on a path of moral integrity.
This statement published by the Public Policy Team
of Metropolitan Community Churches.
As more and more children and youth and their families come through the doors of MCC, having a program designed just for them is essential.If there is no program you will soon lose those families to churches who realize that this is an important under served population in our community.
To help your congregation, MCC offers this listing of resources by age groups including descriptions, websites, and in many cases an MCC contact person who has used the program. Individuals listed as “Resource Person” are MCC program leaders within a local church and have agreed to have their name and email address included. Please use these individuals to help navigate any questions about specific programs.
If you or your church has had excellent experience with resources please email Rev. Arlene Ackerman .
The following alphabetical list of resources is for use by local churches offering children’s Sunday school and/or Vacation Bible School (VBS).
Center For Progressive Christianity Ages 6 – 10: “A Joyful Path” is available for purchase. The curriculum is free from dogma and creed and does not make reference to the atonement/sacrifice issue that is in classical Christianity. It treats Jesus as a teacher of a way to live a fulfilling and spiritual life. It respects and celebrates the many wisdom teachings that exist and focuses on a joyful path and finding God within all. http://progressivechristianity.org/childrens-curriculum/
Cokesbury – ages 3 – 13, many options available for purchase from http://www.cokesbury.com/forms/curriculum.aspx?lvl=Children
Live BIG curriculum – theologically love based, multi-ethnic/racial, multi-media. Some adapting needed. Resource person – Joel Palomares, Youth Ministries Program Coordinator at Resurrection MCC, Houston, TX ().
“Grow, Proclaim, Serve ”curriculum, http://www.growproclaimserve.com/. This program was created and released by the United Methodist Church. The program is age appropriate and easy to implement with a volunteer staff. It also features work books and fun packs for the children and resource material that follows the week to week curriculum.
Cokesbury – ages 6 months to 3 years
SundaySchool Group – ages 3 – 13, many options available for purchase. Sundayschool.group.com
The Group uses different programs for different ages groups. Theologically evangelical, love based, multi-racial, and multimedia. Some adapting needed.
United Church of Christ – ages 3 – 18 Gather ‘Round, just a few options available free of charge. https://secure3.convio.net/ucc/site/Ecommerce/64022948?FOLDER=1190&store_id=1401
BluefishTV – ages 13 – 21 & adult – There are many any options available for purchase and some free downloads. Good selection of programs, multimedia, reasonably priced, bible based material. Some adapting needed. http://www.bluefishtv.com/Home
MCC Teen Ministry – “You! A Faith That Fits” Ages 13 – 17, minimal cost, designed specifically for MCC youth. Much of the religious education material that is available for teens is so inappropriate for use in MCC and can not be easily adapted because it is very denominational in nature or because it addresses questions of faith and sexuality in ways that are hurtful. This program is designed to serve as part of a spiritual rite of passage. The curriculum attempts to address some of the basic questions of adolescent faith development in an atmosphere of loving acceptance of them and their families. It is designed for small, mixed-age groups and is very flexible offering numerous options for each of the twelve sessions. Resource person –). To order, call 281-940-1558 or
“Tree of Life” – developed by MCC Omaha – a teen and preteen led worship resources. Contact MCC Omaha
The following are resources not necessarily limited to a Sunday school or youth group program.
Kid Spirit – ages 11 – 15, is a new coed quarterly magazine for with great articles. It is also a unique forum for kids who are curious about the meaning of life and age-old questions that affect us all. They want to help the young people of the world show their colors and share each others’ belief systems, cultures, art, traditions, ideas and values. Their goal is to share many perspectives and encourage each other to think about what is important in our lives and in our world. (Learn More)