Guest Post: Do We Need a Gay Church?

Editor's Note: This is a guest post written by Dr. Nacy Wilson,the elected Moderator (global leader) of Metropolitan Community Churches. She is only the second person, and the first woman, to serve in that role since MCC’s founding. Rev. Nancy is the spiritual leader and spokesperson for MCC, while also leading the Governing Board and Senior Leadership Team as we resource and support our local churches around the world. She currently serves on the board of the Global Justice Instituteas well as on the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

By. Dr. Nancy Wilson 

The question since New Year’s Day is “Do We Need a Gay Church?” A story about Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) by the Associated Press asked, “Do gays need a church of their own anymore?” HuffPost Live opened with the question “Do We Need a Gay Church?” Leaders from MCC were ready with an answer.  
The answer is, “YES!” Amazing changes have occurred in the last decade—Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians opened the door to ordination of openly gay and lesbian people. The United Church of Christ ordains and marries qualified candidates regardless of orientation or gender identities.  But even with so much progress, in every case there are caveats.  Ordination is OK but not so fast on marriage.  Ordination is OK if your region will approve you.  Marriage is OK if your Bishop allows you.  Everything is OK if your local congregation agrees. Transgender is OK because we have not come up with a rule against it—but we will demote you anyway.
We celebrate the changes but stand firm with a theology of radical hospitality. As such we embody the range of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, straight and more in our congregations. We have been the foundation and backdrop for equality in churches throughout our 45 years of life-saving, barricade-breaking ministry.  In 1968, a year before Stonewall, Metropolitan Community Churches was founded. The Rev. Troy Perry, a Pentecostal preacher, survived persecution to preach a Gospel of love for all God’s people.  He was the first to bring a law suit for marriage rights.  He was the first to perform marriages for same sex couples. He was the first to say, “The Lord is My Shepherd and [God] Knows I’m Gay!”
As the current head of MCC, I can tell you that MCC pastors are on in the hallways of courthouses, in the galleries of State Congressional meetings and everywhere loving couples are ready to marry once equality becomes law.  We work with the White House and sit at the table with diverse faith leaders at the President’s Council on Religion.  Our “Entrepreneurial Ministry” makes a way out of no way.  We are in almost every state and 40 countries.  Our youth are empowered and our elders are respected.  Families of all constellations find a home here.
In the HuffPost Live interview, Paul Raushenbush suggested that MCC has a conservative theology. I reminded him that our members come from almost all traditions with large numbers of Catholics, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Baptists, and Protestants.  If there was ever an ecumenical movement embodied by a single denomination, it is MCC—and our theologies are just as diverse.  We are holy rollers and we are liberation theologians; we are Catholic high church and we are Pentecostal shouters—sometimes all in the same service. We are alive! We are compelling! We are queer! Our common life is the theology of embodied love shared at the common table that is open to all. 
That openness came through in a tweet cited at the end of the HuffPost Live interview.  It came from longtime MCC member, Barb Crabtree, who had the final broadcast word: “I believe in separation of church…and hate.”  MCC, a church that welcomes everyone—and we really mean it!