First Partnership Award to Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

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Darlene and Harry
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries, stands with Rev. Harry Knox, RCRC’s recently retired President and CEO. Rev. Garner presented MCC’s first Partnership Award to Rev. Knox at MCC of Washington DC on 5 June. (photo by C. Holmes)


Metropolitan Community Churches
Presents First Partnership Award
to Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Honor Recognizes Shared Commitment to
Sexual and Reproductive Freedom in Faith Communities

Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) presented its first-ever Moderator’s Partnership Award to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), an interreligious education and advocacy group supporting reproductive health, rights and justice.

The award recognizes organizations that share the vision of MCC as a movement. RCRC’s agenda includes eradicating the shame that religious denominations have attached to sex, sexuality and reproductive issues.

The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, MCC’s Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries, presented the award to the Rev. Harry Knox, RCRC’s recently retired President and CEO, on June 5 at an 11 a.m. worship service at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington DC, 474 Ridge Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

Partners in Advocacy and Faith
RCRC was selected for this new honor for inviting MCC and its Global Justice Institute to be RCRC’s first official LGBT-identified partner organization and for conveying the message of LGBT-friendliness to diverse religious denominations.

The partnership between MCC and RCRC was forged under the leadership of Rev. Knox, an MCC minister, who led RCRC from 2013 until he stepped down this spring due to ill health. Rev. Knox brought to RCRC a long record of leadership in the struggle for the rights of LGBTQ people in society and in the religious community. He was the founding director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program and the first Program Director at Freedom to Marry. Rev. Knox has served in other secular LGBTQ advocacy organizations and pastored churches in the South.

About MCC
Founded in 1968, MCC has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same gender marriages and has been on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the US and other countries worldwide.

MCC is a global denomination with 240 churches and ministries in 33 countries where its members work for human rights and justice. MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance. MCC leads from the margins and transforms.

MCC’s elected global leader, Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, has led the denomination since 2005 after the retirement of MCC’s Founder, Rev. Elder Troy Perry. Rev. Wilson is only the second person, and the first woman, to serve in the role of Moderator since the denomination was established. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Rev. Wilson to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Rev. Darlene Garner, who presented the award, is the MCC Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries. She was the first African-American Elder in MCC, and has helped create and lead the denomination’s Conference for People of African Descent. In 2008 and 2009, she served as MCC Vice-Moderator. Rev. Garner was highlighted in The African American Almanac, and in 2010 Capital Pride name Rev. Garner as a “Capital Pride Hero.”

About RCRC
RCRC’s member organizations come from diverse Christian and Jewish denominations. MCC, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ perspectives are represented together with views of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist streams of Judaism.

RCRC promotes access to comprehensive sexuality education, family planning and contraception, affordable childcare, health care and adoption services as well as safe, legal abortion services, regardless of income or any other unique circumstance.

Under Rev. Knox’s leadership, RCRC brought clergy to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court and allied with secular advocates such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL on the Hobby Lobby case. Rev. Knox also launched the It’s Time campaign to begin more honest conversation around the intersections of religion, sex, sexuality, contraception and abortion.

Rev. Knox also was involved in establishing new programs at RCRC – a grassroots advocacy program in the South, a Theologies of Reproductive Justice program and revamped pastoral care training.

These programs are part of a comprehensive renovation plan for RCRC. This transformation allows the 43-year-old organization to better bring interfaith voices into the debate over reproductive health, rights and justice, which have long been dominated by the religious right. The renovation, several years in the making, adds new funding, new staff and new communications. Because of Rev. Knox’s retirement, these changes include an interim leadership plan drawing on expertise within RCRC in religious leadership as well as advocacy, movement-building and administration. The full renovation will be introduced this summer to MCC and RCRC’s other constituents and allies.