The Metropolitan Community Church October 1968: Steve Gunderson recalls the founding of the first Chirstian church ministering specifically to gays – Safety in numbers
Ten years ago, as two of my closest friends battled the AIDS virus, they asked if I knew a pastor who would be willing to serve them “When the inevitable happens.” Even worse than the scourge of their disease, as they lay dying they had experienced the ultimate form of prejudice: hatred in the name of God. They had been disowned by their church for being gay.
In 1968, Troy Perry was told by the Pentecostal Church that he could not serve God as a gay man. He and his friends knew better. So rather than walk away, they gathered in Los Angeles to create a Christian church where all people could “find hope and live the joy of their faith.” Today, from that humble gathering of a dozen people, the Metropolitan Community Church serves over 44,000 members around the world, providing a spiritual experience that affirms all of us as God’s children worthy of his unconditional love.
In too many ways, organized religion represents the last major barrier to equality and justice for gays and lesbians. Only now are some mainline Christian churches following in the footsteps of Perry’s example and beginning to conduct the dialogues essential in bringing clarity and understanding to the historical and accurate meanings of scripture as it relates to homosexuality. The MCC told the world in 1968 that no one could deny us the love of our God. Slowly but surely, other churches are humbly walking the same path toward justice and love. In the future no one will need to ask if there is a church or a pastor willing to serve their spiritual needs. And in affirming our faith, we will be enriched as individuals and as a community.
Gunderson, a former U.S. congressman, is a columnist for The Advocate.
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