Metropolitan Community Church

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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
Region Worldwide (divided into regions with congregations in 37 countries)
Founder Rev. Troy D. Perry
Origin 1968
Los Angeles, CA USA
Congregations 222
Official website http://www.mccchurch.org/

The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), also known as the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), is an international Protestant Christian denomination. There are 222 member congregations in 37 countries, and the Fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families and communities.[1]

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 several state-wide councils of churches in the United States.[2][3]

Beliefs and practices[edit]

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.[4]

Many local churches are also involved with other national and international campaigns, including Trade Justice[5][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.[6]

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.[7]

History[edit]

The first congregation was founded in Los Angeles by 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 37 countries with 222 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.[8][9]

In 1972 Freda Smith became the first female minister in MCC. Later MCC adopted gender inclusive language in its worship services.[10]

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.[11] She is only the second person, and the first woman, to serve as moderator.[12]

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 minister 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." [13]

Governance and administration[edit]

Leadership[edit]

MCC is led by a Council of Elders (COE) and a Governing Board. The Council of Elders consists of a Moderator and regional elders appointed by the Moderator, approved by the Governing Board, and affirmed by the General Conference. The COE has responsibility for leading the Fellowship on matters of spirituality, mission development, and Christian witness. The Governing Board is made up of the Moderator, 4 Lay members and 4 Clergy members elected by General Conference, and is the legal corporate board of the denomination, handling responsibility for financial and fiduciary matters.[14]

As of 2012, the Council of Elders includes Nancy Wilson (Moderator), Lillie Brock, Darlene Garner, Ken Martin, Mona West, and Hector Gutierrez.[15] The Governing Board includes Raquel Benitez-Rojas, Rev. Onetta Brooks, Liz Bisordi, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin, Kareem Murphy, Bryan Parker, and Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis.[16]

Ordination of clergy by the laying on of hands

The primary responsibility of Elders is to give pastoral leadership and care to enable the Fellowship in its spiritual journey. The Elders exercise spiritual and pastoral authority to build a shared vision for the UFMCC, prepare UFMCC for the future, and support UFMCC’s strategic direction. The Elders serve as official representatives of the Fellowship in the areas of public and community relations; provide oversight of and support to congregations; consult with churches on issues related to church development; and fulfill other ecclesial and ceremonial duties.[14]

General Conference[edit]

Internationally, the government of the UFMCC is vested in the tri-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 2010 was held in Acapulco, Guerrero, with future conferences occurring every three years. The 2013 General Conference will be held in Chicago, IL USA.[17]

List of regions[edit]

The worldwide church is administratively divided into 7 regions, each of which are represented by an elder on the Council of Elders.[18] Since the 2000s, many are further divided into sub-regional networks.[19]

  • Region 1: Region 1 Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Western Canada (British Columbia, Yukon), China, Micronesia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Eastern Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Taiwan, Thailand, Vanuatu, Vietnam and the United States of America (Alaska, California (Northern), Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming).
    • Australasia Network
    • Pacific Northwest Network
    • Valley & Bay Area Network
    • Asia & Pacific Islands Network
  • Region 2 - Canada (Manitoba and Nunavut), and the United States of America (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas (Eastern), and Wisconsin).
    • Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama Network
    • Heartland Network
    • North Central US Network
    • South Gulf Coast Network
  • Region 3 - Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands and the United States of America (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia (Washington, DC).
    • Northeast United States Network
    • DC, Delaware, Maryland & Virginia Network
    • Carolinas Network
  • Region 4 - Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Denmark, Egypt, England, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Holland, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Wales, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
    • Western Europe/United Kingdom Network
    • African Network
  • Region 5 - Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Eastern Canada (Baffin Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec), Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, The Czech Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United States of America (Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia), Uzbekistan, Vojvodina.
    • Central US East Network
    • Canadian, Michigan & Windsor Network
  • Region 6 - Antarctica, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and the United States of America (Arizona, California (Southern), Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas (Southern).
    • Southern California/Nevada Network
    • Arizona, New Mexico & El Paso Network
    • Southern Texas Network
    • Ibero-America & Caribbean Network
  • Region 7 - Western Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories), and the United States of America (Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas (Northern).
    • North Florida Network
    • Central Florida Network
    • North Texas and Oklahoma Network
    • South Florida Network

Local congregations[edit]

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 or assessment of income to UFMCC, currently set to reduce from 15% of income to 10% by 1% every two years stating in 2005.[20] 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.

Popular culture[edit]

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

Notable clergy[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches". UFMCC Official Web Site. UFMCC. 
  2. ^ Metropolitan Community Church glbtq article
  3. ^ "Eccumenical Ministries". UFMCC Official Website. UFMCC. 
  4. ^ Edward R. Gray, Gay religion By Scott Thumma, Alta Mira Press, 2005
  5. ^ E.g., MCC of North London: see "Camden Churches Fairtrade Directory July 2007", retrieved October 2009
  6. ^ "Copy of the Court's Decision". Ontario Courts. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  7. ^ List MCC Board of Elders as of 16 October 2009[dead link]
  8. ^ Olga R. Sanmartín (07/03/2010 18:27). "Llega a España la primera Iglesia gay". El Mundo.  (Spanish)
  9. ^ Agence France-Presse (Sun Jul 4, 8:36 am ET). "Spain to get church for same-sex marriages: report". Yahoo! News.  [dead link]
  10. ^ "Home". Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  11. ^ "UFMCC Fact Sheet". FACT SHEET FOR METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES (MCC). UFMCC. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Moderator’s Corner | Metropolitan Community Churches". Metropolitan Community Church. 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  13. ^ 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.). 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."" 
  14. ^ a b "ARTICLE V – GOVERNMENT, ORGANIZATION, AND OFFICERS". UFMCC Bylaws as of June 2010. UFMCC. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  15. ^ "Council of Elders | Metropolitan Community Churches". Metropolitan Community Church. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  16. ^ "MCC Governing Board". 
  17. ^ "RECORD OF ACTIONS". GENERAL CONFERENCE XXIV BUSINESS MEETING. UFMCC. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  18. ^ "Welcome to Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles’ Membership/Inquirer’s Class" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  19. ^ "Network Leadership". Metropolitan Community Church. 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  20. ^ "Article IX - Church Finances". UFMCC Bylaws As Of June 2010. UFMCC. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 

External links[edit]