The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) or The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) is an international Protestant Christian denomination. The Fellowship is considered by many to be a liberal mainline church. 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.
Beliefs and practices
the Rev. Elder Cecelia Eggleston
MCC bases its theology on the historic creeds of the Christian Church such as Apostles' Creed 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. Communion can be presided over by either a member of the clergy or by a designated lay person; in some congregations the pastor or clergy rarely preside.
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.
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.
For many, the defining 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 Cecelia Eggelston as Moderator makes MCC one of a small number of communions with female senior leadership. Additionally, it is unique in that the majority of current senior leaders are women.
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.
Troy Perry served as moderator of the Fellowship until 2005 when Nancy Wilson was elected by the General Conference as moderator. Wilson was formally installed as moderator in a special service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2005. Photos and videos can be viewed here.
Governance and administration
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:
- The Revd Elder Nancy Wilson (Moderator)
- The Revd Elder Ken Martin
- The Revd Elder Diane Fisher
- The Revd Elder Darlene Garner
- The Revd Elder Lillie Brock
Since this current structure was adopted in 2002, four elders have left office before the scheduled end of their terms. As a California corporation, MCC is still officially headquartered in West Hollywood, California, USA, but all denominational offices have been dispersed to a number of locations as the executive director wanted to live in Texas and the moderator wanted to live in Florida.[Citation needed]
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.
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]
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.
Congregational affiliations with other churches
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).
There are a number of musicians within MCC who have explored Christian music within a LGBT context. Among the most notable are Marsha Stevens and the Reverend Delores P. Berry. In 2008 Ray Boltz held concerts in two MCC venues.
MCC was featured in the 2009 Lifetime Television movie Prayers for Bobby.
This list includes notable present and former clergy associated with MCC.
- Troy Perry (founder)
- Nancy Wilson (Moderator as of 2009)
- Arlene Ackerman
- Delores P. Berry
- Andy Braunston
- Lillie Brock
- Florin Buhuceanu
- Don Eastman
- Cecilia Eggleston
- James Ferry
- Diane Fisher
- Darlene Garner
- Chris Glaser
- Bob Goss
- Brent Hawkes
- Cindi Love
- Jim Mitulski
- Rembert S. Truluck
- Mona West
- Jean White
- Mel White
- Queer Theology
- LGBT-welcoming church programs
- Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
- Metropolitan Community Church
- Edward R. Gray, Gay religion By Scott Thumma, Alta Mira Press, 2005
- E.g., MCC of North London: see "Camden Churches Fairtrade Directory July 2007", retrieved October 2009
- E.g., MCC Québec: see Organizations K-Z at Make Poverty History, Retrieved 18 August 2009
- List MCC Board of Elders as of 16 October 2009
- "Find an MCC" interative
- Fervent ‘Prayers’ | Earnest Lifetime TV movie tells an important story for the right audience
- Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches — official website
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