Sunday 4th October is Anniversary Sunday in MCC. We’ve come a long way since we began in 1968. Same sex marriage is now a reality in many places and the world is changing in ways that are liberating and exciting to watch. However, just as many countries leap forward in their commitment to human rights there are places that have taken a step backwards, retreating into patriarchal and often violent ways. To be openly LGBT under the current regime in Russia is to risk imprisonment or worse. Places like Poland have also retreated into mindsets that deny the rights of LGBT people, and death on the streets is common.
On the one hand the need for an LGBT affirming denomination is greater than it has ever been. We are desperately needed in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, and in parts of Europe. Yet sadly the funding for MCC has more than halved in recent years and in those places where the greatest strides forward have been made the church is struggling. Church attendance in the USA and the Europe has steadily been declining, and MCC is not an exception.
Many mainline churches now accept LGBT people with open arms and so it’s easy to think that MCC isn’t needed any more.The reality is that MCC is needed now more than ever. Those of us who have lived through times of sanctioned homophobia, where it was impossible to openly be who you are, have experienced some of what others throughout the world are going through right now. I know what it is to be publicly assaulted and not feel able to go to the police. It was 30 years ago but fresh in my memory. When I found MCC I didn’t just find an ally, I found an advocate. Here were straight and gay people together fighting for the human rights of the LGBT community. It wasn’t just about being accepted, it was about having someone by my side as we fought to change the world.
I don’t want to simply go to church, I want a church that is radically Christian, that will stand in the midst of the LGBT community telling our stories and fighting for our rights. I want to know that the person sat beside me, regardless of their sexuality or gender expression, has made a commitment to stand and be counted with me, just as I have made a commitment to stand and be counted with them.
On Sunday October 4th we will be taking a special collection for the work of emerging churches around the world.
Even though we are an emerging church we are taking part in this collection because because we stand in solidarity s with every other MCC, and especially with the emerging MCC’s that are growing in hostile soil. Places like Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. (Visit the Anniversary Sunday page so you can see for yourself.) We stand side by side with every one of them showing our support.
On October 4th I ask that you please give generously. I also ask that you lift the emerging churches in your prayers and if you find them on social media to reach out with a few words of support. I’m really fortunate. I can reach out to colleagues that speak my language. I have the support of Rev. Elder Cecelia Eggleston in Newcastle and we benefit financially through her church Northern Lights MCC. We live in a town where being LGBT is generally accepted. We have problems, yes; homelessness in the LGBT community is disproportionately higher than in the general population, there is still some homophobia and places in Brighton where it’s not safe to walk at night, and LGBT people face new challenges as we grow older, but compared to many of our sibling churches emerging around the world our work is relatively safe.
On October 4th we show them that they are not alone. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them, empowering them and supporting them. They are in our prayers just as surely as we are in theirs. As we celebrate 47 years as MCC we understand that our work is no where near finished; in many ways I believe that we’re just getting started.