I was still in high school in 1968, but I remember how turbulent that decade was and especially how much was going on that year. What I didn’t know was that there was something going on that would change my life and the life of so many other people like me. There was the stirring of a spiritual movement in the Gay community, well before the weekend of the Stonewall riots in New York City. That was about a year later.
A gay young man in Los Angeles, Troy Perry, felt called by God to hold a worship service open to anyone, but especially to other people like him: people who had been excluded, kicked out and otherwise told God didn’t love them. So, Troy put an ad in a national magazine, prepared a sermon, set up the coffee table for communion, put a recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the record player, and 12 people showed up.
Troy is a pretty charismatic man. Not only is he a fabulous preacher, he has a heart for justice. He also knew how to get the attention of the press. Pretty soon people all over the United States and beyond heard about Troy and this new “Gay Church,” Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). People reached out to Troy from San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Toronto and so many other places. “Can you help us start a church here?” they asked.
There are still people all over the world who need to know that God does not hate them, but loves them completely and fully, just as they are.
I found out about MCC when I lived in Washington, DC. I was in seminary and working at a Baptist Church, although I was a United Methodist. I was just coming out to myself. The local MCC was part of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations and I met members of MCC by going to those meetings. Since MCC met for worship on Sunday afternoons I showed up one day. I cried through the whole service. I think when we find a place where our spirituality and our sexuality are both celebrated we tend to be overwhelmed at first. It’s good to always go back and remember those feelings. There are still people all over the world who need to know that God does not hate them, but loves them completely and fully, just as they are.
That MCC message is needed as much today as it was over 50 years ago. Today, MCC has a presence across the globe. I have had the pleasure to worship with our people in Cologne, Germany and London, England; in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Matanzas, Cuba and many other places when I travel. Everywhere I go, I find MCC to be filled with love and JOY! In larger churches and in small gatherings, on rooftops and in glass buildings, God is always present, blessing those who gather, just like God did on October 6, 1968 when an openly Gay pastor and 12 others gathered around a coffee table in a living room and began a movement that has changed the world, one person at a time.
ABOUT THIS MCC AUTHOR: Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis grew up in Kingston, NY and Pittsfield, MA. She earned her baccalaureate degree from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), B.B.A. (accounting), in 1973, her master’s and her doctorate at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, M.Div., 1980 and D. Min., 2004. Her doctoral dissertation is entitled: The Creation of a More Diverse Congregation: A History of the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC. From November 1973 through August 1976, she served as a disbursing officer in the United States Marine Corps. She first attended the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC in 1979. Candace served as the Associate Pastor of MCC Washington from 1983 until 1995 when she was elected Pastor. She was called and elected to be the Pastor at King of Peace MCC, St. Petersburg, FL in December 2007. Read More