Advent and Christmas Blessings
Dear MCC Congregations and Clergy,
In the past, it has been the practice of a number of the members of the Council of Elders (COE) to give Advent greetings to our Point Elder churches and clergy. In recognition of our 5-year terms expiring soon (January 2021), we wanted to provide our last Advent Greetings with a review of our five years as the Council and to express our heartfelt gratitude for the time we have served MCC as Elders.
During our 2015-2020 terms, the members of the Council of Elders instituted several initiatives. We implemented the COE’s Call to Prayer, inviting MCCers to write a prayer, which the denomination’s communications office published in weekly emails. We provided spiritual reflections for the seasons of Advent and Lent, as well as prayers for world events and memorial tributes upon the deaths of important historical or denominational figures. The COE has issued important social justice statements concerning such topics as gun violence, systemic racism, immigration, and international human rights. In addition, the COE will soon be issuing a statement affirming the denomination’s spiritual practice of celebrating same gender marriage and advocating for equal application of the rights of marriage, such as protecting the best interests of children through presumed parentage and adoption. The members of the COE also adopted the Point Elder system, in which an Elder was paired with congregations and clergy members, to provide requested pastoral care, spiritual support, perform ceremonial duties, and resource churches and clergy to appropriate denominational staff. Other projects included hosting “rolling” world-wide worship services and a webinar before the 2019 General Conference to discuss the answers to the question, “What is the Spirit calling Metropolitan Community Churches to do and be that requires all our churches to work together?”; proposing a number of amendments to the UFMCC Bylaws such as changing the procedure by which Governing Board membership is made through appointments and the process of recognizing affiliated churches; reviewing the judiciary process; exploring flexibility for pathways to authorized ministries; providing the opening prayer for the Governing Board monthly meetings; hosting a twice monthly live broadcast on spiritual practices called Spiritual Nourishment; as well as providing spiritual support during General Conference, including pastoral care of Moderator and Governing Board candidates.
In addition, we want to send an Advent prayer with our wishes for a hope-filled Advent and Christmas season, remaining available to our Point Elder congregations and clergy until the Special General Conference affirms the new Council of Elders in January 2021.
O God, For all the ways you are being born anew in our world, we give you thanks and praise. For the promise and potential this Season of Hope holds, we thank you. As we clear a path through the many wildernesses and deserts life has strewn in our way, help us to be mindful of that prophetic call to level the playing fields of this world, smoothing out the rough places, and lifting up those trodden underfoot.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and wipe the tears from every eye. We long to hasten the day when we are able, as a global family, to rejoice and celebrate together.
Bless all your children the world over and this movement of faith, commissioned to proclaim salvation for all, community for all, social justice for all. In the name of Jesus the Christ, we pray. +Amen
It has been our honor and privilege to serve as Elders of the Metropolitan Community Churches. We have been humbled by the faith MCCers have put in us, along with your prayers and your grace. We are excited about the formation of a new Council of Elders for the next three years, during which time the denomination will be in conversation about what it means to be a spiritual leader in MCC today and leading into the future.
With deep gratitude,
The 2020 Council of Elders
Rev. Elder Ines-Paul, Köln, Germany
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, New York City, NY, USA
Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston, Somerset, England, UK
Rev. Elder Tony Freeman, Tucson, AZ, USA
Rev. Elder Hector Gutiérrez, Guadalajara, Mexico
Rev. Elder Dwayne Johnson, Washington, D.C., USA
Elder Nancy Maxwell, Kansas City, MO, USA