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social sciences

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Metropolitan Community Church  
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Although Perry's religious roots are in the Pentecostal church, his vision for the MCC has always been ecumenical. Two of the first clerics to join him in the MCC ministry were Richard Ploen, a Presbyterian who served with him at the Mother Church in Los Angeles, and Arthur Green, the founder of the Chicago congregation, who came from the Old Catholic denomination.

Perry credits Ploen for his help in "gleaning what we needed from other denominations' ceremonies" in order to make members feel comfortable in the new church. The modern MCC, in the words of John Dart, "displays a patchwork of spirituality to people attracted to its congregations." While some churches retain the charismatic Pentecostal tradition, others favor a more metaphysical philosophy, and a San Francisco congregation has been described as "dam [sic] near Unitarian."

Sponsor Message.

Official Doctrines

The official doctrines of the MCC are, in fact, mostly quite close to those of conservative Christian churches. They set forth beliefs in the trinity, the divine inspiration of the Bible, and salvation by grace.

A doctrinal difference between the MCC and more traditional churches is, of course, their views on homosexuality. The MCC reading of the Bible verses cited as condemnations of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-28, I Corinthians 6:9-10, and I Timothy 1:9-10) is that the texts as written in the original Greek actually condemn temple prostitutes of both sexes and rather than same-sex partnerships or non-heterosexual people themselves.

The MCC also has sacraments and rites similar to those of mainline churches, including baptism, Holy Communion, ordination, and Holy Union. The rite of Holy Union, "the spiritual joining of two people," has been a part of MCC practice almost from the beginning. The MCC has been at the forefront of the fight for legalizing same-sex marriage.

Rejection by the National Council of Churches

The MCC sought membership in the National Council of Churches (NCC) in 1992 but was not admitted. The MCC does belong to several state councils of churches. It has so far been denied even observer status at the NCC, although MCC members meet with gay and lesbian caucuses of NCC member churches, and MCC clergy attend NCC General Assemblies, albeit without official standing. The denomination applied for and was granted observer status by the World Council of Churches in 1991.

The MCC was authorized to provide chaplains for United States Veterans Administration hospitals and other facilities in 2002. Church officials announced plans to apply to provide chaplains to the military services as well.

The MCC Mission

The MCC describes its identity and mission in the statement "The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is a Christian Church founded in and reaching beyond the Gay and Lesbian communities. We embody and proclaim Christian salvation and liberation, Christian inclusivity and community, and Christian social action and justice. We serve among those seeking and celebrating the integration of their spirituality and sexuality."

Perry says that when he founded the MCC he anticipated a day when the major churches would change their views and teachings about homosexuality, at which point MCC members would "go home to [their] own denominations," an idea that he now calls naïve. The MCC has grown every year, even when AIDS was taking its greatest toll.

Melissa Wilcox calls "the failure of Perry's original dream of assimilation" the most important element in MCC's survival. She describes the MCC as a "hybrid organization," conservative in much of its essential theology and its evangelism, yet radical in its affirmation of glbtq people. The church offers a welcoming community for glbtq Christians who find themselves condemned by mainline churches because of their sexual orientation and at the same time marginalized by many in the glbtq community who regard religion with skepticism or scorn.

In 2003, the denomination was rocked by the decision of its largest congregation, Dallas's Cathedral of Hope, to leave the fellowship. Although the Cathedral's dean was under investigation by the MCC for fiscal irregularities, Cathedral officials credited the decision to sever ties with the denomination to a desire to reach a larger Protestant audience. In 2006, the Cathedral of Hope voted to affiliate with the United Church of Christ, perhaps the most gay-supportive mainline Christian denomination in the United States.

The Future

The most insistent question facing the MCC is that of the transition of leadership upon the retirement of Perry in October 2005. At the denomination's General Conference in Calgary, Alberta, in July 2005, Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson was overwhelmingly elected to succeed Perry as Moderator. Wilson, a longtime leader in the denomination, has served as pastor of several MCC congregations, including a stint as Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, the denomination's Founding Church.

As Wilcox points out, the MCC has been long concerned with having a good organizational structure and has also taken on arising concerns of the glbtq community such as the AIDS crisis, issues, and the question of same-sex marriage. This combination of stability and the willingness to move with the times, together with the church's provision of a welcoming haven for glbtq (and other) Christians who feel marginalized, suggests that the MCC will prosper even after the departure of its charismatic founder and continue to build on his determination to seek social justice and his message of hope and love.

Linda Rapp

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Dart, John. "Gay and Mainline." The Christian Century 118 (March 21-28, 2001): 6-8.

"Gays and the Gospel: An Interview with Troy Perry." The Christian Century 113 (September 25-October 2, 1996): 896-901.

Metropolitan Community Churches.

Perry, Troy D., with Thomas L.P. Swicegood. Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Reverend Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches. New York: St. Martin's Press: 1990.

Wilcox, Melissa M. "Of Markets and Missions: The Early History of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches." Religion and American Culture 11 (Winter 2001): 83-108.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Metropolitan Community Church  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 11, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
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    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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