Metropolitan Community Church
The Metropolitan Community Church - MCC (full name: The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches or UFMCC) is an international fellowship of Christian congregations. It is congregational, prebyteral and liberal. There are 250 member congregations in 23 countries, and the denomination has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The MCC has Official Observer status with the World Council of Churches, but has been repeatedly denied membership of the (US) National Council of Churches. However, many local MCC congregations are members of local ecumenical partnerships and MCC currently belongs to seven state-wide councils of churches in the United States.
History
The first congregation was founded in Los Angeles by the Rev. Troy Perry in 1968, a time when Christian attitudes toward homosexuality were negative and hostile. MCC has grown since then to have a presence in 23 countries with 250 affiliated churches. During that time many local congregations have been the victims of homophobic hate crimes and more than 6000 members were lost during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Troy Perry served as moderator of the Fellowship until 2005 when Nancy Wilson was elected by the General Conference. Wilson was formally installed as moderator in a special service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2005.


Worship and Beliefs
MCC bases its theology on the historic creeds of the Christian Church such as Apostles' and Nicene creed. Every church is required to celebrate the Eucharist at least once a week, to practice open communion, (meaning that recipients need not be a member of the MCC or any other church to receive the Eucharist). Communion can be presided over by either a member of the clergy or by a designated lay person; in some congregations the pastor or clergy rarely preside. Beyond that MCC allows its member churches independence in doctrine, worship, and practice consequently worship styles vary widely from church to church.

MCC sees its mission being social as well as spiritual by standing up for the rights of minorities, particularly those of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Many local churches are also involved with other national and international campaigns, including Trade Justice, Fair Trade and Make Poverty History.

Among its social justice work, MCC has a strong commitment to marriage equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. MCC's founder, the Rev. Elder Troy Perry, performed the first public same-sex marriage in the United States in Huntington Park, California in 1969. In 1970, he filed the first lawsuit in the U.S. seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriages. Perry lost that lawsuit but launched the debate over marriage equality in the U.S. Today, MCC congregations around the world perform more than 6000 same-sex union/marriage ceremonies annually.

The Rev. Brent Hawkes and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto were key players in the legal action that ultimately brought same-sex marriage to Canada.

MCC fully affirms the ministry of both men and women, seeing them as equal, and the recent election of the Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson as Moderator makes MCC one of a small number of communions with female senior leadership. Additionally, it is almost unique in having the majority of current senior leaders being women.

Leadership
MCC is led by a Board of Elders (BOE) and a Board of Administration (BOA). The Board of Elders consists of a Moderator and 7 regional Elders (one of whom is appointed Vice-Moderator). The BOE has responsibility for leading the Fellowship on matters of spirituality, mission development, and Christian witness. Currently 7 out of the 9 member Board of Elders are women. The Board of Administration is made up of up to seven members appointed by the Board of Elders and is the legal corporate board of the denomination, handling financial and legal matters. The two Boards are assisted by a small permanent staff, headed by the Executive Director, currently the Rev. Dr. Cindi Love. As a California Corporation, MCC is still officially headquartered in West Hollywood, California, USA, but all denominational offices have been dispersed to a number of strategic locations.

MCC divides the World into 7 regions each served by an elder (broadly similar to a Bishop - although the use of this term is controversial within the denomination) who has authority to affiliate and disaffiliate churches, appoint regional staff and spend funds from the regional budget. They have no direct control over the permanent election of pastors or the day-to-day operation of congregations, instead their role is to support the pastors and local congregations.


General Conference
Internationally, the government of the UFMCC is vested in the bi-annual General Conference, subject to the provisions of the Fellowship Articles of Incorporation, its Bylaws, or documents of legal organization. The General Conference is authorized to receive the reports from the various Boards, Committees, Commissions and Councils of the Fellowship. Throughout its history the General Conference has met both in and outside of the continental United States, in places such as Sydney, Australia and Toronto and Calgary, Canada. After the General Conference in 2007 (Phoenix, Arizona,USA) the General Conference will meet tri-annually beginning in 2010.


Local congregations
Each affiliated member church of MCC is a self-governing, legally autonomous body, is vested in its Congregational Meeting which exerts the right to control all of its affairs, subject to the provisions of the UFMCC Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, or documents of legal organization, and the General Conference. An ordained Pastor provides spiritual leadership and administrative leadership as the moderator of a local church administrative body. In the United States and Canada the local church administrative body is usually called "board of directors". Each local congregation is required to send a tithe of income to UFMCC, currently set at 14% of income, although many larger MCCs delay payment of these dues. Each local church elects its own pastor from the roster of MCC acreditted clergy.

Each local congregation is free to determine matters of worship, practice, theology and ministry providing they meet certain basic requirements involving open access to communion and subscription to the traditional Christian creeds. Styles of worship include liturgical, charismatic, evangelical, traditional and modern - diversity is an important part of MCC.

Links
Metropolitan Community Church
MCC of Washington DC, typical US church
MCC Edinburgh, typical UK church
JesusMCC

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