Tearing Down Walls. Building Up Hope.
WEATHER AND PRAYERS
Many of our MCCers and their nations, as well as others around the world, have been stricken with horrendous weather conditions. We need to continue praying for each of these situations and the people left homeless, without power, mourning the loss of loved ones, unable to work, etc.
The floods continue in Australia, especially Queensland and northern New South Wales. Rev. Leigh Neighbour, pastor, and others went to see the damage to the facility MCC Brisbane uses. There was still water in the building and the smell was awful. The items they were able to move to an upper floor were safe; however, everything that remained on the main floor had to be thrown out (desks, room dividers, carpet, etc.). They are prayerful that their piano, even though it stood in one metre of muddy, smelly water, can be repaired. They have to do cleanup without utilities available in their area. All members of the congregation are safe.
Rev. Dr. Hector Gutierrez, Director of Latin American Church and Leadership Development, wrote “As a community of believers in the God of Life, I invite you to raise our prayers to this same Father/Mother God in whom we believe so that those who have lost their lives in Brazil (more than 700 to date) will be received by God into the Eternal Reign; and so that our solidarity will be made manifest with all those who have seen their belongings ruined and in some cases have lost everything because of the intense rains in the entire Southeast region of Brazil, especially in the States of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. I hope that each one of our communities will pray especially with this intention.”
North America has seen torrential rains on the west coast (and in Hawai’i), unprecedented snowfall in the southern US, and blizzard conditions in the northeast US and Maritime provences of Canada. Many people are without power.
As we just past the first anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, let us remember the 800,000 people there who continue to live in tents and makeshift quarters.
FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT
Rev. Marge Ragona is retiring. She is only 81! She was licensed in 1977 and ordained in 1979. During the past 33 years she has pastored MCCs in Providence, Rhode Island; Ventura, California; MCC Boston (Massachusetts); Pensacola, Florida; and Covenant MCC (Birmingham, Alabama).
She was the founding pastor of MCC of Mobile (Alabama, now Cornerstone MCC) and Bethel MCC (Birmingham, Alabama). Additionally, she served on the staff at MCC Los Angeles (California) and First MCC of Atlanta (Georgia).
Rev. Marge was a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry in the Gulf Lower Atlantic District and in the Southwest District. She spent many years teaching Hebrew Scripture through Samaritan. Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson was her first District Coordinator. She is a breast cancer survivor and was even the Grand Marshal of the Pride Parade in New York City in 1976.
The first church east of the Mississippi River was Good Shepherd Parish in Chicago, Illinois. When they closed most of their vestments, altar ware, etc., were given to achurch4me? MCC, a church plant there.
A while back the host church for Bethel MCC had a disastrous fire and both churches lost almost everything. Upon hearing of this, achurch4me? MCC sent a box filled with stoles, a frontal, an alb and two communion cups. What Rev. Marge and the staff from the host church could not use, she sent to our offices in Abilene to share with others.
Then last month, Angel Collie sent out a request for rainbow stoles which he could take on his trip to Eastern Europe. Contacts there had requested the stoles.
Bill Hooper saw Angel’s email and remembered Rev. Marge’s donations. He found the boxes and sent some of the stoles to Angel.
Those stoles are carrying a long history of dedicated service in MCC as they make their way to young clergy as MCC reaches a new generation in Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Poland.
|PEOPLE IN THE NEWS|
Rev Dr. William Knight has left his position as interim pastor of MCC San Jose (California) to become the new provisional pastor for MCC San Francisco (California) where he will serve for the next six months.
Rev. Brendan Boone, senior pastor of St. John’s MCC (Raleigh, North Carolina), was the guest preacher at MCC Richmond (Virginia) earlier this month.
Denise Rosner just released her new CD “For Good” at special concerts last Wednesday and Thursday. The proceeds from both the concerts and the CD will benefit MCCNY/Charities/Homeless Youth Services: Sylvia’s Place.
Reverend Dr. Pat Langlois is teaching a Bible study at MCC/ICM Los Angeles (California) entitled “Going Green with God”.
Rev. Reg Richburg has resigned as pastor of New Life MCC of Hampton Roads (Norfolk, Virginia) and is serving as staff clergy at MCC New York (New York).
Rev. Elder Debbie Martin ran the Honolulu (Hawai’i) Marathon in eight hours, 17 minutes and some seconds….suffering only a few blisters and sore muscles.
Rev. Jane Newall is co-chair of the Yakima Associations of Churches and Faith Communities and vice-chair of Planned Parenthood’s National (US) Clergy Advisory Board.
Rev. Presley Sutherland will be the interim support pastor for MCC Newcastle (England) until Easter. Their pastor, Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston, remains on compassionate leave with her spouse Monica.
Rev. Jen Glass is beginning an online Bible study on Facebook for Vision of Hope MCC (Mountville, Reading, and York, Pennsylvania). The focus will be the “Five Practices of a Healthy Church”.
Rev. Renee McCoy was the guest preacher last Sunday at Emerald City MCC (Seattle, Washington) to celebrate the weekend honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. Roberta (Bobbie) Dunn’s last Sunday at MCC Pittsburg (Pennsylvania) will be 30 January. Rev. Elder Diane Fisher will be the guest preacher.
Casey Easterling of MCC New York (New York) is the new leader for the Northeast Network (New England, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania). Thanks are expressed to Rev. Jim Mulcahy who had been serving in this capacity.
Dr. Steve Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School was the guest preacher on Sunday at MCC of Greater Dallas (Texas).
In addition to his clinical practice, Rev Elijah Nealy is currently teaching at Columbia University School of Social Work and serves as faculty at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City, where he is facilitating a postgraduate clinical program on work within the transgender community.
Rev. Kieren Bourne serves as the Mayor’s Chaplain in Bath, England, and helped prepare the service for the Mayor’s Call to Prayer Breakfast, which was attended by several from Living Springs MCC and featured participants from the LGBT group at Bath University.
MCCs IN SOUTH AFRICA
The MCC congregations and some of their allies joined together under the leadership of Good Hope MCC (Cape Town) to publish a lengthy statement in the Cape Argus newspaper in order to counter the recent crusade of the Family Policy Institute and His People Church, which attacked homosexuality, as well as other issues about sexuality.
Their goal was to ensure that people realized that there were other Christian views, that discrimination and name-calling was wrong, that faith and interpretation of Scripture is personal and not dictated by another or an organization, and that taking a few verses out of context doesn’t speak for all of the Bible.
They went on to affirm their nation’s constitution and the fact that same-sex couples being joined in Civil Union doesn’t infringe on other people’s rights or threaten family values, that there are many definitions of family, that adoption should focus on the best interests of the child, that homosexuals are not any more responsible for child abuse and HIV than are heterosexuals, and that the various sexualities cannot be stereotyped. Click here to download a .pdf copy of the statement in its entirety.
SPECIAL SERVICES AND CELEBRATIONS
MCC Quezon City (Philippines) celebrated a special New Year Worship Service on 5 January with the launch of their new mission statement: “500 Members in 5 Years (2011-2016)”. They also recently held their first Bahay Kubo and Friends Awards Night with guests from different LGBT and human rights organizations, including Ladlad Partylist, Gabrieala Womens Partylist, and other Clans and groups.
Over 50 people attended the Kwanzaa celebration at Resurrection MCC (Houston, Texas), which focused on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement.
At MCC Topeka (Kansas) whenever a week has a 30th in it, on that Sunday the congregation is giving a special offering with 3 in it, like $3, $30, etc., as part of their “3 for the 30th” campaign, as their 30th anniversary approaches.
MCC Toronto (Ontario) celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first legal same-sex marriages in the world by hosting a Renewal of Vows and Reception last Friday.
On the 30th MCC Omaha (Nebraska) will celebrate their 37th anniversary with a potluck honoring all those who joined the church last year.
Open Circle at the Villages MCC (Oxford, Florida) celebrated their 1st anniversary on 9 January by being recognized as a fully affiliated church. Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson was their special guest for the event during which charter members were installed and Rev. Carol Rawling-Chambers was welcomed as MCC clergy.
MCC Manchester (England) began the new year with a traditional Covenant Service, which comes from the Methodist setting in which John Wesley encouraged the people to renew their commitment to God at the start of each new year, reminding them of the cost of discipleship.
MCC Wichita Falls (Texas) celebrated their 24th anniversary over the weekend with a spaghetti dinner and a concert by Sandi Baker.
Over 1000 people attended the MCC Christmas Eve Service in the Sydney (Australia) Town Hall. Mr. Justice Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, welcomed everyone and Mrs. Shelly Argent, National spokesperson for PFLAG Australia and Queensland Senior Citizen of the Year, was the guest speaker. There were performances by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, the Sydney Homotone Band, and vocalists Henry Onzem, Justin J Bear, and Opera Baritone Michael Tesoriero. For photos, click on www.mccgoodshepherd.com, then on the Facebook icon.
The Couples Ministry at FirstCoast MCC (St. Augustine, Florida) will meet with a lawyer, Rusty Mead, on Friday evening to learn how to legally protect themselves.
Rainbow Cathedral MCC (Yakima, Washington) partners with three other churches to make sandwiches for the homeless. They rotate the responsibility of hosting the event and providing the food and supplies.
MCC Detroit (Michigan) is starting an LGBT Book Club next week, which is open to the community and will meet at a local restaurant. They have chosen Zeitoun by Cave Eggers as their first book.
Next week the Speaker Series Program begins at Sunshine Cathedral MCC (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida), featuring Val Kalende, who founded the only lesbian organization in Uganda and leads the campaign against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, legislation that proposes the death penalty for LGBT people.
The Young Adults Ministry at MCC Knoxville (Tennessee) went bowling together following the potluck lunch at church yesterday.
The “teens and tweens” of MCC Winston-Salem (North Carolina) will join with the youth of Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship for Winterjam 2011 on 5 February. The contemporary Christian concert will be held at the Greensboro Coliseum.
It’s a Revolution! That’s the name of the group for 18-30 year olds at All God’s Children MCC (Minneapolis, Minnesota). They meet on Sunday nights to dig into Progressive Christianity and what it means to follow Christ in today’s world.
King of Peace MCC (St. Petersburg, Florida) raised over $34,000 (USD) in 2010 to give away to such causes as MCC Global Justice, MCC Haiti Relief, Suncoast Hospice, Act One Arts, monthly dinners for the homeless, and bus passes and food gift cards to those in need. They also collected hundreds of pounds of personal care items for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and A Turning Point.
Through the ten Sundays of Epiphany, the sermon series at First MCC of Atlanta (Georgia) will focus on helping congregants reach their spiritual goals and achieve their highest potential.
Folks from MCC San Diego (California) filled a table at the All People’s Breakfast last Monday morning, celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Monday evenings from 24 January-11 April, folks at MCC Austin (Texas) will be studying The Way of Prayer. Participants will engage is a broad array of prayer practices to integrate prayer into their daily lives. They are committing to 30 minutes every day for readings and exercises.
Real Men Do Drag! The show at the Aqua Nightclub on the 30th will feature some MCCers, as well as benefit the ministry of MCC Key West (Florida).
Holy Covenant MCC (Brookfield, Illinois) hosts a Middle Eastern dance class each month.
Last Saturday there was a stitching party at Agape MCC (Ft. Worth, Texas) as part of Share A Square, a group which will put together 150 crocheted afghans to give to children with cancer during summer camps in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
On 30 January the Board of Directors of MCC Tampa (Florida) is hosting an old fashioned cook out to honor the congregation’s gifts of time, talent, and treasure.
The theme at MCC Charleston (South Carolina) this month is “Journey Inward”. Next month’s will be “Reaching Outward”.
The topics for Spirit Café on Wednesday evenings at Church of the Trinity MCC (Sarasota, Florida) include Quantum Physics and Spirituality, Recognizing Our Saints, Finding Our Place in the “Emerging Church”, and Prayer, Charka Balancing, and Meditation.
Beginning 1 February MCC Fredricksburg (Virginia) will have theological discussions focusing on various Christian doctrines.
MCC NOVA (Fairfax, Virginia) has begun “The Cup of Our Life”, a seven week spiritual growth process which includes a 15-30 minute daily discipline, as well as weekly worship participation.
WOW! MCC Las Vegas (Nevada) successfully completed their goal of building four homes in the mountain country of Nepal in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity International.
MCC of the Rockies (Denver, Colorado) will have a planning day on the 29th during which they will set goals for 2011, determine what traditions to continue, decide what ministries to let go and what new things to add.
When faced with having to rewire their building within 30 days by order of the Fire Marshal, MCC of Paducah (Kentucky) got on the local news and put up a page on Facebook to get assistance in raising the necessary funds.
achurch4me? MCC (Chicago, Illinois) is spending seven weeks exploring Living Questions 2.0, which features the wisdom of 30 contemporary theologians.
The Adult Bible Study class at Reconciliation MCC (Grand Rapids, Michigan) is using the Bible Reading Plan. For 100 days they are committing to reading designated chapters each day and then gathering on Sunday to discuss the stories.
Folks from SunCoast Cathedral MCC (Venice, Florida) are participating in the five week study offered by the Venice Interfaith winter education series “Islam: Beyond Headlines and Soundbites”.
The Women’s Ministry at New Spirit MCC (Cincinnati, Ohio) is recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans, plus they purchased 24 new pew Bibles for the sanctuary.
Bethel MCC (Birmingham, Alabama) held their final worship service on 2 January.
Save the Date!
19 – 22 May 2011 in Washington, DC
The 2011 People of African Descent,
Friends & Allies Conference
– Loving Ourselves Into Liberation –
If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because
Your liberation is bound up with mine, then let’s work together.
Have You Registered?
Click Here & Register TODAY!
Looking forward to seeing you in Washington, DC!