Metropolitan Community Churches Awards 2014

posted in: Awards | 0

2014AwardsKerry Brown Award for Distinguished Lay Leadership

This award is named after a pioneering lay leader, who, among many roles and offices she held, was a founder and mover of the pension plan for clergy in the US.


Gewecke-Jochen_6450Jochen Gewecke  is one of the founders of Salz der Erde MCC in Stuttgart, Germany, and an outstanding lay leader in MCC. He currently serves as the European Network Leader, and recently completed a three-year term on the Steering Committee of the International Task Force (ITF). He has supported the Moderator and the Global Justice Institute in our partnership with religious and secular organizations, including accompanying us to several countries and offering translation assistance. Jochen is well known for his award-winning traveling photographic art exhibit, “Come Together: Mosque, Church, and Synagogue” which received the European Citizen’s Prize in 2009. This bold effort has received international attention for its effort to foster religious and cultural tolerance. Jochen has made the journey to Romania five times since 2007 to attend Gay Fest and plans to attend a Human Rights conference in Bucharest later this year. Jochen shares his gifts of healing prayer and intercession with many in MCC and beyond. As part of his service on the ITF, Jochen developed a dictionary of MCC terms as a way to standardize the translation process . Jochen embodies the spirit and values of MCC in his service.

Paula de Oliveira Warmling


Deacon Paula de Oliveira Warmling is a 25-year-old MCCer who is a very important leader in the movement for Trans-women in the State of Paraná, Brazil. Since 2010, she has been in charge of a variety of ministries in ICM Maringá and in the Casa de Missão Amor Gratuito (Mission House “Gratis Love”) that is sustained with the support of ICM Maringá and other churches in ICM Brazil. This facility provides safe space for homeless LGBT people who have nowhere else to turn.  Paula, who is also a talented musician, is a role model for ICM and inspires all who meet her. Paula has earned the admiration of her family and the Metropolitan Community Churches (ICM) in Brazil.


Rev. John H. Hose Award for Dedicated and Faithful Service
by a Clergy person in MCC

This award is named after Rev. Elder John H. Hose, one of the very first MCC clergy, serving at MCC Los Angeles, California, who became part of the very first Board of Elders, who served as Treasurer of MCC, and who contributed a great deal to MCC’s Statement of Faith.


Rev Pat BumgardnerRev. Pat Bumgardner has been the pastor of MCC NY for 27 years. Under her leadership, MCC New York has become the “queer cathedral of New York,” which houses Sylvia’s Place, a queer youth shelter; a vibrant food pantry and social service center that serve the neighborhood in “Hell’s Kitchen,” including seniors, and those with HIV/AIDS.  The church also houses an art gallery that promotes new artists in the community. Rev. Bumgardner founded “Rev Pat’s Finishing School,” a successful training program for transgender women seeking to improve their lives and secure employment. Rev. Bumgardner is a community icon who has trained many MCC pastors and leaders over the decades, and has served the denomination in many capacities.

Rev. Bumgardner was invited by the Moderator to become the founder and Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute, the justice and human rights arm of MCC. The Institute manages partnerships and programs globally. Rev. Bumgardner oversees and collaborates with a diverse team of justice workers and activists. She has traveled to Malaysia, Pakistan, Korea, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Romania, Costa Rica and many other countries to offer encouragement, concrete support, hope, and solidarity to many who need to know that we care. Rev. Bumgardner chairs MCC’s Public Policy Team, which was founded in conjunction with other key volunteers to help shape MCC’s voice in the public square.


Ed Paul Award for Leadership in Transitional Ministry

The Ed Paul Award for Leadership in Transitional Ministry is offered annually to an outstanding Interim Pastor.

Reverend Pressley Sutherland


Rev. Pressley Sutherland has served as the Interim Pastor of MCC of Greater Saint Louis, MCC Newcastle, England, and is now the Interim Pastor of MCC Tampa. Our Office of Church Life and Health appreciates Rev. Sutherland’s bold and pastoral leadership in the interim process, as he helps churches navigate all the challenges of transition. Rev. Sutherland is also a valuable volunteer for our Interim Ministry training program. Pressley originally came into MCC through MCC New York, where he did his internship and served on staff. He has also served MCC churches in London, UK and  Cape Town, South Africa, and served as the OFLD Coordinator for UK/Western Europe.



Purple Grass Award

This award is named for a sermon still preached by Rev. Elder Freda Smith, the first woman ordained in MCC and elected an Elder. It is given to persons who have a passion for Evangelism, and for sharing the vision and message of MCC in creative and innovative ways.

Rev. Judith Maynard


Rev. Judy Maynard is the senior pastor of MCC Albuquerque, and MCC clergy for 17 years. Rev. Maynard has served as a Network leader for years, in the New Mexico/Texas Network. We are recognizing Rev. Maynard for her amazing efforts in Marriage Equality in New Mexico, where she performed 95 weddings in a week’s time following the decision by officials in Bernalillo County to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Rev. Maynard became the voice and face of Marriage Equality and of MCC’s pastoral and justice commitments during this critical time in New Mexico’s history. She was pictured in the New York Times, and was featured in the media in New Mexico for weeks.



Jennifer Justice and Carlos Chavez Young Adult Award

This award is named for Carlos Chavez and Jennifer Justice, whose commitment to Young Adult leadership and inclusion in MCC has changed the denomination forever. The awards are given each year to young adults who demonstrate MCC’s values, and who show promise of future leadership in MCC. 

Kakay Pamaran


Kakay Pamaran is a leader in her congregation, MCC of Quezon City, in the Philippines. She is a seminarian at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines, our MCC partner seminary, and a leader in her community. Her leadership in her church, with MCC in the Philippines, and at our recent General Conference is a wonderful sign of all that God is doing through Young Adults in MCC, in many challenging places in the world.

Dominic Kessell


Dominic Kessell has been a lay leader for many years at Good Hope MCC in Cape Town, South Africa. He has been a committed part of Good Hope’s Health and Wellness Ministry; he oversaw a project assisting children, and for several years, coordinated a soup kitchen. Additionally, he served on the committee of Cape Town Pride on behalf of MCC. At the denominational level, Dominic served a three-year term on the International Task Force. He also coordinated volunteers as part of his responsibilities as a member of the Core Team for General Conference XXV, held in Chicago, Illinois, USA, in July 2013. Dominic has always given of himself, his time, and his talent tirelessly, to be God’s hands and feet in this part of God’s vineyard.


Phoenix Award

The Phoenix Awards is for those who have revived a church or ministry.

Vickie clergy photo


MCC of Ocala and Rev. Vickie Miller MCC honors REV. VICKIE MILLER AND THE CONGREGATION OF MCC OF OCALA who persevered after the death of their pastor. Rev. Miller responded to an urgent call to step in as a temporary pastor in MCC of Ocala’s time of need, and was called to be their settled pastor in August of 2013. The church is outgrowing its facility, has had to buy new chairs, has a new (growing) choir, and is a (the) hub of the community in Ocala, Florida. They have grown in attendance, membership, vitality, and spirit. The commitment of the church and the willingness of Rev. Miller and her partner, Carol Lidey, to commute to Ocala made the difference in the church’s ability to recover. Rev. Miller’s gifts and skills helped MCC of Ocala re-assess their mission and vision, as they have reached out to their community with love and acceptance.

Rev. Alejandro y Ramón Piña 4


ICM Casa de Luz, Monterrey; Reverend Alejandro González and Ramón Piña After a time of transition, ICM CASA DE LUZ, Monterrey, was struggling in survival mode. A longtime committed lay leader, RAMÓN PIÑA, and a new pastor, REVEREND ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ, forged a pathway and plan for ICM Casa de Luz. The church celebrated its sixteenth anniversary this year, held the first Size Summit in Mexico, and expanded their sanctuary which included adding chairs to accommodate the growing attendance. A few years ago, this church fought to survive. ICM Casa de Luz is now the anchor MCC church of its nation, has been featured on several media outlets in Mexico, and is serving its community with excellence.



Distinguished Service 

The Distinguished Service Award is given for exemplary efforts that have positively impacted local churches and the MCC movement worldwide.  

Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt. Senior Pastor, Trinity MCC, Gainesville, FL


Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, pastor of Trinity MCC in Gainesville, Florida, is being recognized for his efforts in several areas. He served his Network during the crisis that MCC Ocala faced during the death of their pastor, offering pastoral care and leadership. He has served for several years on the Public Policy Team, especially in Marriage and Family Equality issues. He developed, edited, and published the MCC Advocacy e-newsletter; and he stepped up to the challenge of organizing MCC’s first Pride participation at General Conference XXVI in Chicago. It was an enormous success, as MCC unveiled the global “Be MCC” brand at one of the largest Pride events in the United States.

Rev. Jake Kopmeier


Rev. Jake Kopmeier is the founder of The TRANSformative Ministry at King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg, Florida, and is a leader in the TransAction Florida organization. Rev. Kopmeier has a heart for those who are homeless, or who’s civil or human rights are being violated. His perseverance, commitment and outreach beyond the church walls has helped his own church grow in its visibility and diversity. In addition, Rev. Kopmeier has offered workshops at Network gatherings and at MCC’s General Conference that have inspired us.

Rev. Gordon McCoy


Rev. Gordon McCoy has served MCC with distinction in the past in his District and Region, and more recently as a pioneering Network Leader and Coordinator. He has been an MCC pastor for decades, and has continued to serve MCC in retirement with excellence and devotion. Most recently, Rev. Gordon served tirelessly on the General Conference Core Team as the leader of MCC’s host Network Conference Hospitality Team. Rev. Gordon McCoy and his life partner of 43 years, Dr. Eugene Thomas, are an MCC treasure.


 Donna Payne

Donna Payne is a lay member of MCC Washington, D.C., and has worked for the Human Rights Campaign for 15 years.

“As one of HRC’s key representatives, Payne works closely with civil rights organizations and their leaders to increase visibility of the LGBT community within the religious and people of color communities. Her work includes being the founder of HRC’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program in supporting LGBT students on their campus and addressing concerns with HBCU administrators . . . . As a change agent, Ms. Payne has directly advocated for open dialogue between African American ministers and the LGBT community . . . . [She] has also written articles nationwide on being a LGBT civil rights African American lesbian and received many awards for her transformational organizing work without regard for race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or age. In 2012 . . . [she] was named one of the Top Twenty Black LGBT Movers and Shakers who are making exceptional contributions in their professions and communities.

“In 2001, Donna was the LGBT representative for HRC and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa . . . . She volunteered with the Clinton administration during its national health care reform efforts at the White House [and] is a founding board of the National Black Justice Coalition” (

At MCC, we are proud that Donna is very public about her MCC membership and always connects her faith to her work.



New Church Starts


Shenandoah Valley MCC building and logo


Shenandoah Valley MCC, Winchester, VA, USA began in mid-2012 as a parish extension of New Light MCC. Upon the departure of their founding pastor after only six months, a core of lay leaders moved the new congregation forward with their vision of creating an inclusive church fully committed to living into the MCC vision, values, and mission. Today Shenandoah Valley MCC is growing in numbers and in spiritual depth, a beacon of hope for Northwestern Virginia and a shining example of what it is to be MCC.

Igor Simões


Igor Simôes, Interim Pastor at ICM Fortaleza, Brazil.
 IGOR SIMÔES has been the Interim Pastor at ICM Fortaleza since 2006. He is completing the work to get his credentials as MCC clergy. Igor has a profound call to expand the presence of MCC in different places in Northeast Brazil. Although it is not MCC’s tradition to send missionaries, that passion can be seen in Igor. He has worked with different groups to plant emerging churches like Mossoro, Campinas y Teresina, and he has begun working with parish extensions. He visits the new churches every two weeks to give the clear sense of MCC. Igor is always ready to share the word about MCC’s vision, mission, and values to everyone and is one of our most faithful leaders in Brazil.



Network Ministry Award


Network Clergy and NancyNorth Central US Network is being nominated for excellent service, especially in helping with the Office of Church Life and Health (OCLH) in church transitions and in keeping churches connected. The North Central US Network provided outstanding hospitality for MCC members and friends around the world during the Chicago Pride and MCC General Conference. The Network is led by Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown.

Rev. Rachelle BrownRev. Brown says “As the leader of the MCC North Central Network, I speak not only for myself, but the entire Network of pastors, lay leaders, and volunteers. No one person was able to accomplish the work, so as a Network, we are proud to accept this award, acknowledging the generosity of the people who are part of the Network!

The MCC North Central Network worked very hard in preparation for and during the 2013 MCC General Conference. The collaborative planning began many months prior to conference and included multiple pastors and lay leaders. Each church encouraged full participation and dozens of volunteers, which included many people who had never been to a General Conference! In order to prepare everyone, an afternoon session during the Spring 2013 Network Gathering was dedicated to training for conference, and pre-conference, hospitality and event coordination. 

The following pastors and people of these congregations are the real recipients of this award:  Rev. Wendy Woodruff, Milwaukee MCC; Rev. Michael Cooper, MCC Illiana, Portage, IN; Rev. Tony Thieman-Somora, serving at that time at Heartland MCC, Springfield, IL, and MCC Peoria; Rev. Danny Spears, serving then at Holy Covenant MCC, Brookfield, IL; Rev. Peter Trabarias, MCC of Central Iowa, Des Moines, IA; Rev. Rich D. Hendricks, MCC of the Quad Cities, Davenport, IA; lay leaders of Angels of Hope MCC, Greenbay, WI; and finally a special thanks to the lay leaders, especially the retired Rev. Gordon McCoy, and entire congregation of aChurch4Me MCC, Chicago, IL. Thank you to the Senior Leadership Team, Liz Bisordi, the Network Facilitator; Jennifer Justice, Carlos Chavez, and the MCC Staff for their incredible support. 

It was at the 2013 MCC General Conference that the MCC North Central Network expanded to include Michigan MCC churches: Divine Peace MCC, Waterford, IA; Detroit MCC, Ferndale, MI; MCC of Flint; and Reconciliation MCC, Grand Rapids, MI.

We are all so much stronger together, and as a ­Network Leader, it is my prayer our work continues to expand the reach of MCC in the states of the North Central U.S.”



Moderator’s Award: Special Recognition for Embodying the Values of MCC

Barry Hundley


Barry Hundley has served in leadership at his local church and in the denomination for decades. His service to MCC Districts and his Region were always “over and above.” He also served faithfully on the Structural Review Committee that recommended the last global structural changes. Barry has served with our People of African Descent program and conferences, and is a founding leader of MCC’s LEAD program that trains lay leaders like himself to connect the local and the global ministry of MCC. He also has served in various roles at General Conferences, including being a member of the Security and Hospitality Teams. Barry’s long term commitment to excellence, his faithfulness, generosity, decades of volunteer service, and passion for the message of MCC around the world is a role model for all of us.