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People of African Descent Advisory Council

Rev. Candy Holmes

Rev. Candy Holmes (Program Officer) brings rich perspectives and insights stemming from her spiritual bedrock and life experiences. As a clergy person with the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), she lifts up a liberation theology united with her Baptist, Pentecostal, and Interfaith roots to form an ecumenically- based vision and social justice-seeking ministry that boldly proclaims “God’s love includes everyone.” Rev. Holmes currently pursues two work paths – a Federal management career and ordained ministry with MCC. She is a graduate of the Episcopal School of Divinity, Cambridge, Massachusetts and The New Seminary, New York City, New York. Rev. Holmes’ multi-layered ministry includes serving as MCC’s Program Officer for People of African Descent. As Program Officer she develops relevant programming and nurtures relationships between MCC and organizations (both secular and faith-based) addressing issues related to people of African descent. In addition, she serves as Ecumenical Liaison to The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and leads the MCC People of African Descent Advisory Council and Conference for People of African Descent (PAD) and Our Friends Conference. In her ministry, Rev. Holmes organizes and connects faith-based, academic, civic, and social justice voices to inform and empower the LGBT community, LGBT people of African descent and their allies around pertinent spiritual, justice, and life issues of the day. Rev. Holmes continues to put feet on the divine message of liberation through her social justice work. Because of her “equality in the workplace” stance, Rev. Holmes was called upon to witness the signing of the Presidential Memorandum extending benefits to same-gender domestic partners of federal employees, and additionally testified before Congress on the merits of legislation to extend full benefits to LGBT federal employees. As a spiritual presence in the LGBT community, she was a key clerical spokesperson for marriage equality, called upon to express a justice and faith perspective with the media, as well as testifying before the Maryland Senate and House of Representatives. In addition, Rev. Holmes provides faith leadership for national and local initiatives with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), and the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (NGLTF). Whether tearing down walls that divide or building bridges of hope, you will find Rev. Holmes working out her mission: “Be the change you want to see.”

Rev. Brendan Y. Boone

The Rev. Brendan Y. Boone, a native of Southeast Virginia, was raised as a Baptist in the African-American tradition and was nurtured in a church that valued and emphasized the importance of living in community with all people, from all walks of life. Having that principle instilled in his being from childhood has fueled his passion for tearing down the walls of the institutional church and building up communities of faith which embody the message and ministry of The Christ. Rev. Boone has been involved in Metropolitan Community Churches for over twenty-five years, serving in several leadership capacities on the local, regional, network  and denominational levels. A graduate of Hampton Institute and Wesley Theological Seminary, he currently serves as the Senior Pastor of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, a community of faith committed to ministering to and being in ministry with persons from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, physical ability, spirituality or religious tradition, as well as the Network Team Leader for MCC’s in North and South Carolina.

Elisa Vega-Burns

Elisa Vega-Burns is an accomplished business operations and business process expert for the world’s leading developer of information infrastructure technology and solutions.  Her current job responsibilities include providing business process consulting services specializing in best-in-class standard enterprise-wide processes.  In addition to her professional pursuits, Elisa is active in several LGBT advocacy organizations.

From 2004-2011, Elisa served as President for her company’s LGBT employee resource group and continues to serve on its Board.  At the end her tenure, her company had achieved a 100% score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index with the enactment of transgender healthcare coverage.  In addition, Elisa is a member of the Out and Equal Houston Affiliate Leadership Council, and previously served on the HRC Houston Diversity Committee.

Since 2009, Elisa has served as Treasurer of the Resurrection MCC Board of Directors.  An overwhelming desire to give back to a church home that has―and continues to—enrich her life and the lives of so many others is what motivated Elisa to join the Resurrection MCC Board of Directors.  On the MCC national level, Elisa helped to develop the MCC Church Treasurer’s Manual and contributed to the development of pastoral search resources for local church use.

Elisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University and a Master of Business Administration from Simmons School of Management.  Legally married in Massachusetts in 2004, Elisa now resides in Houston with her spouse, Gemma Burns, and their seven-year-old Goldendoodle, Condy.

Lessie Henderson

Lessie Henderson, a resident of Oxon Hill MD attends MCC of Washington DC. The reason Less attends MCC-DC is, “because of the immediate connection I felt when I first walked through the doors in early 2012 and seeing the diverse congregation, and getting the sense that this was not just a church service but a community where everyone could worship without judgment. At the time, I just moved in the area and felt that something was missing in my life. After the service, I knew that MCCDC was where I belonged. It was then that I realized that spirituality was that missing piece. After going through many issues in my life, I understand many of the challenges that many GLBT people of African descent face on a regular basis that often leads to depression, alienation and frustration. Since being a part of MCC, I realized the importance of a strong community and network and the difference that it makes for people coming in from the outside to feel welcomed and to have a reliable network. This is why I accepted the opportunity to serve on the PAD Advisory Council.”

 

Ellen Denise Junious

Ellen Denise Junious is author of Unleash the Power of Personal Advantage, and currently teaches business at a community college. Denise’s career spans more than twenty years as a technology professional in the areas of healthcare and financial services. Denise has been featured in newspapers, magazines and radio media, and recently appeared in Who’s Who in Black Houston, and Black Enterprise Magazine. Denise’s lifelong commitment is to promote healthy communities, leadership and diversity. In 2008, Denise served as the keynote speaker for the 9th Annual Flo Berkman Awards Banquet, which recognizes social workers and leaders within Child Protective Services. In 2006, Denise spearheaded a community education and awareness initiative to promote positive outcomes for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her effort included collaboration with Montrose Counseling Center, and Montgomery County Women’s Centers. She sponsored a race team in the 2006 Race Against Domestic Violence. In 2004, Denise co-facilitating a 6-week book-study on The Purpose Driven Life, written by Rick Warren, Other community activities includes volunteering for Flight XXV a mentoring program at Landrum Middle School, serving as a tutor for Literacy Advance of Houston, supporting causes for Literacy Council of Fort Bend County, AIDS Foundation Houston, and the Houston Area Women’s Center. As a Leadership Houston Class XXVI graduate, Denise joins over thirty years of distinguished leaders in Houston, Texas. Her present and past membership associations include International Coach Federation, Houston Coaches Association, National Black MBA Association, Society for Human Resource Management, Writers League of Texas, and Women in Technology International. Ellen is an avid fan of local sports such as basketball, baseball, and football.gement, and has his State of Michigan HIV/STD prevention certificate. Roland retired at the age of 48 after rendering 29 years of service to the Wayne County Friend of the Court as a Supervisor of Conflict Resolution. Currently he is in his second career as the Executive Director of the Wayne County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, and trains volunteers to advocate properly for children placed in foster care due to abuse and neglect. A long-time activist and advocate for the LGBTQ community, he served as President of the Triangle Foundation, a Michigan advocacy group, for three years. Roland accepted Christ as his personal Lord and savior at nine years of age. Throughout his career in the church, he has sung in the choir, ushered, taught Sunday school and became an ordained Deacon. Currently he resides with his partner, Paul Mattson. Both active members of MCC Detroit, they sing in the choir, serve as prayer ministers, and lead Bible study/Connection Groups. He considers himself a blessed man who has come to know and love God above all. One of his favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times and his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

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Rev. Roland Stringfellow is licensed with the Metropolitan Community Church and United Church of Christ. Currently he is the Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church Detroit and also works with congregations on LGBTQ inclusion as the Director of Ministerial Outreach for the African-American Roundtable, a program of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Sexuality on the campus of Pacific School of Religion. Rev. Stringfellow has been consulted by media outlets regarding his work on marriage equality and the role people of color and communities of faith played in this local, state and national debate.

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