Metropolitan Community Church


Metropolitan Community Church
Metropolitan Community Church
LogoMCC.JPG
The Metropolitan Community Church logo in front of the altar at a regional conference of the denomination at All God's Children MCC in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Classification Protestant
Orientation Mainline
Polity Congregationalist
Geographical areas Worldwide (divided into regions with congregations in 23 countries)
Congregations 250

The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) or The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) is an international Protestant Christian denomination. There are 250 member congregations in 23 countries, and the Fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families and communities.

The Fellowship has Official Observer status with the World Council of Churches. The MCC has been denied membership in the US National Council of Churches, but many local MCC congregations are members of local ecumenical partnerships around the world and MCC currently belongs to seven state-wide councils of churches in the United States.[1][unreliable source?]

Contents

Beliefs and practices

Part of a series on
LGBT topics and Christianity
Christianity and homosexuality

Christianity and transgenderism

History of Christianity and homosexuality

The Bible and homosexuality
Queer theology
Blessing of same-sex unions
Ordination of LGBT clergy
LGBT-affirming churches

Denominational positions
Anglican · Baptist · Eastern Orthodox · Latter-day Saints · Lutheran · Methodist · Presbyterian · Quaker · Roman Catholic · United Church of Christ · Uniting Church in Australia · Metropolitan Community Church
v · d · e
Eucharist at an MCC worship service

MCC bases its theology on the historic creeds of the Christian Church such as Apostles' and Nicene creed. Every church is required to celebrate the Eucharist at least once a week, and to practice open communion, meaning that recipients need not be a member of the MCC or any other church to receive the Eucharist. Beyond that MCC allows its member churches independence in doctrine, worship, and practice. Worship styles vary widely from church to church.

MCC sees its mission being social as well as spiritual by standing up for the rights of minorities, particularly those of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT). MCC has been a leading force in the development of Queer theology.[2]

Many local churches are also involved with other national and international campaigns, including Trade Justice[3][dated info] and Make Poverty History

Infant baptism in an MCC church

Among its social justice works, MCC has a strong commitment to marriage equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. MCC's founder, the Revd Elder Troy Perry, performed the first public same-sex marriage in the United States in Huntington Park, California in 1969. In 1970, he filed the first lawsuit in the U.S. seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriages. Perry lost that lawsuit but launched the debate over marriage equality in the U.S. Today, MCC congregations around the world perform more than 6000 same-sex union/marriage ceremonies annually.

The Reverend Brent Hawkes and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto were key players in the legal action that ultimately brought same-sex marriage to Canada.[4]

A notable aspect of MCC's theology is its position on homosexuality and Christianity where it fully embraces and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Indeed, the majority of members are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, with many clergy being openly LGBT. MCC fully affirms the ministry of both men and women, seeing them as equal, and the recent election of the Revd Elder Nancy Wilson as Moderator makes MCC one of a small number of communions with female senior leadership.[5]

History

The first congregation was founded in Los Angeles by the Reverend Troy Perry in 1968, a time when Christian attitudes toward homosexuality were almost universally negative. The MCC has grown since then to have a presence in 23 countries with 250 affiliated churches. The largest presence is found in the United States, followed by Canada. The denomination continues to grow: In 2010, El Mundo reported that the first MCC congregation in Spain would be established in Madrid in October. It would be the first church to recognize and perform religious same-sex marriages in the country, as the Roman Catholic Church (the former state church) refuses to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies or adoptions.[6][7]

Perry served as moderator of the Fellowship until 2005, when Nancy Wilson was elected moderator by the General Conference; she was formally installed in a special service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2005.[citation needed]

The denomination has had a few news-making controversies. In 2002 it was revealed that the Black Hills MCC congregation had knowingly hired convicted child molester James A. Forsythe, a former Catholic priest who had ministered with MCC from the early 1990s on the condition that he was forbidden from working with minors. The denomination claims it did not ask for Forsythe to resign, as he was neither accused nor charged with any crime in Black Hills other than failure to register as a sex offender, which he did after the story broke and which was then treated by authorities as an oversight. Nevertheless, Forsythe chose to leave the church, having lost his two day jobs as a result of the story's publication and knowing the MCC could not support him financially and wishing to spare them negative publicity.[8][9]

In 2003, a scandal occurred involving the flagship of the church, as well as the largest gay church in the world, Cathedral of Hope when former board member Terri Frey accused Rev. Michael S. Piazza of financial impropriety, an accusation that prompted the UFMCC to open an investigation. However, the investigation ended when the Cathedral's membership voted to disaffiliate from UFMCC with 88% support. The split cost UFMCC 9% of its membership, and 7% of its annual operating budget. Church members, including copastor Mona West, claimed that the vote was less about the investigation and more about the congregation's long-simmering frustration with the denomination, including the opinion that the denomination was focused too much on gay issues and hampered their desire to reach out to Dallas residents disaffected by conservative churches; as church member Michael Magnia explained: "The tie with MCC was more about gays and lesbians. You're going to have a difficult time getting even progressive heterosexuals to come to a church that is anchored to a gay and lesbian church." [10]

Governance and administration

Leadership

MCC is led by a Board of Elders (BOE) and a Board of Administration (BOA). The Board of Elders consists of a Moderator and six regional elders (one of whom is appointed vice-moderator). The BOE has responsibility for leading the Fellowship on matters of spirituality, mission development, and Christian witness. The Board of Administration is made up of up to seven members appointed by the Board of Elders and is the legal corporate board of the denomination, handling responsibility for financial and fiduciary matters. The two boards are assisted by a small permanent staff.

As of 2009, the current Board of Elders includes Nancy Wilson (Moderator), Lillie Brock, Diane Fisher, Darlene Garner, and Ken Martin. Since this current structure was adopted in 2002, four elders have left office before the scheduled end of their terms.[citation needed]

Ordination of clergy by the laying on of hands

MCC divides the world into seven regions (originally nine, then reduced to eight then further reduced to seven) each served by an elder (broadly similar to a bishop - although the use of this term is controversial within the denomination) who has authority to affiliate and disaffiliate churches, appoint regional staff and spend funds from the regional budget. Since the resignation of the Reverend Jim Mitulski, their former regions have no dedicated elder and is served by other elders working together. They have no direct control over the permanent election of pastors or the day-to-day operation of congregations, instead their role is to support the pastors and local congregations.

General Conference

Internationally, the government of the UFMCC is vested in the bi-annual General Conference, subject to the provisions of the Fellowship Articles of Incorporation, its bylaws, or documents of legal organization. The General Conference is authorized to receive the reports from the various boards, committees, commissions and councils of the Fellowship. Throughout its history the General Conference has met both in and outside of the continental United States, in places such as Sydney, Australia and Toronto and Calgary, Canada. The last General Conference in 2007 was held in Phoenix, Arizona, following which the conference is expected to meet tri-annually from 2010.[citation needed]

Local congregations

MCC of North London taking part in Pride London 2011.

Each affiliated member church of MCC is a self-governing, legally autonomous body, is vested in its congregational meeting which exerts the right to control all of its affairs, subject to the provisions of the UFMCC Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, or documents of legal organization, and the General Conference. An ordained pastor provides spiritual leadership and administrative leadership as the moderator of a local church administrative body. In the United States and Canada the local church administrative body is usually called "board of directors". Each local congregation is required to send a tithe of income to UFMCC, currently set at 13% of income, although many larger MCCs delay payment of these dues.[citation needed] Each local church elects its own pastor from the roster of MCC credentialed clergy.

Each local congregation is free to determine matters of worship, practice, theology and ministry providing they meet certain basic requirements involving open access to communion and subscription to the traditional Christian creeds. Styles of worship include liturgical, charismatic, evangelical, traditional and modern — diversity is an important part of MCC.

A recent innovation has been for some MCC congregations to explore multi-denominational affiliation. New Spirit Community Church in Berkeley, California was an outreach of MCC San Francisco and, in addition to MCC affiliation, has affiliated with the United Church of Christ and is In Care with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Popular culture

MCC was featured in the 2009 Lifetime Television movie Prayers for Bobby.

Notable clergy

This list includes notable present and former clergy associated with MCC.

See also

References

  1. ^ Metropolitan Community Church glbtq article
  2. ^ Edward R. Gray, Gay religion By Scott Thumma, Alta Mira Press, 2005
  3. ^ E.g., MCC of North London: see "Camden Churches Fairtrade Directory July 2007", retrieved October 2009
  4. ^ Copy of the Court's Decision
  5. ^ List MCC Board of Elders as of 16 October 2009
  6. ^ Olga R. Sanmartín (07/03/2010 18:27). "Llega a España la primera Iglesia gay". El Mundo. http://elmundo.orbyt.es/2010/07/03/elmundo_en_orbyt/1278171641.html.  (Spanish)
  7. ^ Agence France-Presse (Sun Jul 4, 8:36 am ET). "Spain to get church for same-sex marriages: report". Yahoo! News. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100704/lf_afp/spainreligiongaysrights_20100704123620. [dead link]
  8. ^ Fountain, John (2002-05-08). "Gay Pastor's History of Abuse Shocks a South Dakota City". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/10/us/gay-pastor-s-history-of-abuse-shocks-a-south-dakota-city.html. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  9. ^ Thomas, Judy L. (2002-05-15). "Ex-Priest, Once Imprisoned, Resigns Ministry". Kansas City Star. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2002_05_15_Thomas_ExPriest_James_Forsythe_4.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  10. ^ Caldwell, John (2003-09-30). "When the rainbow isn't enuf: a disagreement over its gay focus splits the world's largest GLBT denomination from its biggest church". The Advocate (Liberation Publications, Inc.). http://www.thefreelibrary.com/When+the+rainbow+isn't+enuf%3A+a+disagreement+over+its+gay+focus+splits...-a0110917225. Retrieved 2010-08-20. "church member Michael Magnia. "The tie with MCC was more about gays and lesbians. You're going to have a difficult time getting even progressive heterosexuals to come to a church that is anchored to a gay and lesbian church."" 

External links


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