A Better Bang for Your Buck! – Sermon Text

Some 49 years ago this week Rev.Troy Perry, led the very first MCC service in his living room. and right from the beginning, MCC was a church that not only welcomed Lesbian, Gay, bi, and trans people but affirmed them.

The first same-sex blessing was in 1969 and only a few years later Troy was filing lawsuits designed to change the law to allow same-sex marriage.

Of course, back then same-sex marriage was a pipe dream. as was a denomination of over 240 congregations. But now the work is paying dividends. And did you know that:

  • The global justice institute reaches out all over the world to support LGBTQ groups?
  • World Aids day was first an MCC event?
  • MCC create’s truly inclusive liturgy and was using inclusive language long before most denominations knew why it was important. (Many still haven’t).
  • The only time I’m aware of the world council of churches ever taking communion together was when MCC led a service for them and offered it?

In TRoy’s very first sermon he laid the foundation for MCC when preached about Christian Salvation, Christian Community, and Christian Social Action.

Christian Salvation
And if you’re here, whether or not you’re a Christian, you know a little about Christian Salvation. I certainly do.

  • Saved me from pretending to be straight.
  • Saved me from thinking there was only one way – we’re a gathered church.
  • Saved me from believing I had to have a Christian as a partner.
  • Saved me from the law – I’m with Paul on that one.

What we do is live Salvation, live life fully. “I came so you may have life and have it in abundance.

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Christian Community – What is it to be church, be the village MCC?.
We have a Vision: We call for a world where LGBTQ people live free from discrimination. The ark of history bends towards justice. MLK

We have a mission: We are called primarily to empower and serve the LGBTQ community. Answers the question – why are we here in this time and place?

Then the things that we do are governed by Core Values: We are a Christian church called to do justice and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8). We seek at all times, to be honest, transparent, and true to our mission in the world. (……….and what does the Lord require of you – but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.)

Odd questions. I’m often asked, besides can you really be LBT and Christian:

Why are there two MCC Churches in Brighton, and how are they different?
MCC is a fellowship of churches that are all very different to each other. The Village MCC is a Christian church that’s happy to identify with the LGBT Community and support it. I don’t know how MCC Brighton sees themselves, but I’m sure their website will have lots of information.

Why does Andrew Ramage wear a collar, even though he’s not an ordained minister?
In the UK it’s not against the law for anyone to wear a clergy collar, and our denomination now allows lay leaders to wear one. However, at The Village MCC only ordained ministers wear a clergy collar.

This congregation is led by two ordained, accountable ministers, Rev. Peta and myself. It’s led by a dedicated and very talented musical director, Will. A dedicated board, that includes Wendy – our pastoral team leader, Keith – our treasurer, and Simon – our secretary.

Emergency team, Sarah and James, Web designer, Chris. Health and Safety – Mary. Hospitality – Dameon. Safeguarding – Sarah, Refreshments – Simon, and so much more – and we do it on an income of less than £800 a month.

Put that into context, according to the charities commission the income for One Church here in town is around £16,500pcm, and the New Life community church is around £5,500 a month. and if the name sounds familiar it’s because until recently they met next door here in the social hall at St. Mary’s.

What we do on our church budget is amazing – and this is how. My salary is £400 a month, neither Rev. Peta or Will get paid at all. We spend around £160 on rent, £50 on office stuff, £50 towards conference costs, £80 in assessments to UFMCC, £45 on advertising in G-Scene, and about £15 for guest speakers, events, etc. It’s very rough, but you get the idea.

So, if you give by standing order – Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Without you, we wouldn’t have church or be able to do what we do. Pride would not have had MCC serving accessibility, we wouldn’t have been able to host Peter Tatchell, or answer the pastoral calls for help we get every week from all around the world, or help those in distress, or have a Christian presence in G-Scene, or help the Community Safety Forum, or take funerals and weddings free of charge for those in need.

And if you don’t give by standing order then please consider it because I guarantee that your money will work so much harder here than anywhere else. Every penny makes a real difference, and every penny given by standing order helps us to plan.

Last month Will put together an amazing Music month. He worked so hard and gave so much time and energy just to those worship services. Rev. Peta was on Latest TV last week and has already been asked to write a regular article in a local magazine. Recently we kept a very vulnerable young man in accommodation whilst his benefit was sorted, helped someone on a zero hours contract buy food, dealt with 8 pastoral calls for help, made a community hospital visit, and so much more.

Imagine what we could do if Will, Peta, and I didn’t have to work two, three, or even four jobs apiece. I think we do amazing stuff with what we have, imagine what we could do with more!

Usually, when we talk about stewardship I talk about tithing. But this year I’m not. You know that every major religion in the world encourages or stipulates some kind of planned giving, For many Christians, Jews. Sikhs, etc, it’s 10%. Giving is one of the sacred pillars of Islam, and their obligation is 2.5% above their support for the Mosque. As a church, we give 10% in assessments to MCC, which I think is the most important money we spend as a church because without it MCC would not be able to work in the poorest regions of the world.

You know, right now a young priest is leaving the Catholic church in Latin America to start an MCC – funded by you. A young trans woman in the slums of Madras sees a glimmer of hope, because of you. An elderly Gay couple are in Moscow awaiting their papers to start a new life somewhere a lot safer than Chechnia. An underground LGBT church is meeting in Egypt, Uganda, and a dozen other places where it’s dangerous to be gay. And they’re learning that God loves them. God knows I only have to look at my own life to know how important that is.

You know about giving, “cast your bread upon the water”, and why it’s important. But even if you don’t believe in the flow of universal Grace and being a part of it then believe in the difference this church makes in this community and through MCC around the world. I can’t think of anywhere you get a better bang for your buck. And I’m hoping that’s a hunting metaphor and not something that’s going to get me into trouble.

We are the hands and feet of Christ. If you open your heart to the flow of love and life that we call Christ then that flow of love and life enters the world through you. Of course you are blessed by that. – It doesn’t take away life’s problems, or mean that you’ll win the lottery, but you will make a huge difference in the world.

In Troy’s very first sermon he laid the foundation for MCC when preached about Christian Salvation, Christian Community, and Christian Social Action. Almost a half a century later his words still ring true, and I pray that they are at the heart of who we are and what we do here at the Village MCC. Amen.
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