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Can you picture this with me? It was a gorgeous day, and nearly a quarter of a million people streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue, including a large and vibrant MCC contingent, led by our Elders. I stood on the steps of the US Capital next to Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of MCC, and forty leaders of many other faiths as Troy led the Invocation for the National Equality March and Rally on 11 October 2009.
You and I had marched before, many times, yet at this march I saw and heard our future in young faces and voices.This was an energetic and young crowd-the youngest I have seen in decades.To see so many who had never marched before, carrying their churches’ banners, seizing the opportunity to proudly proclaim their faith and commitment to justice and equality-I knew I was seeing the next generation of activists and leaders for our church and movement. Did you see this too?
As I ask for your special year-end gift for MCC-I am reminded that this manifestation of young leadership is not accidental. MCC visionaries have seen for some years that our young people were looking for opportunities to learn, to experiment and to lead. While our efforts were not always ideal, we persevered. Your gifts provided resources for curriculum, opportunities for engagement, and space for our youth to try new things. The youthful power present at the March for Equality gave me a renewed perspective on our future ministries and movement, and reminded me what a difference young people are already making in MCC, and all over the world, much like Troy Perry did when he founded MCC as a young man in Los Angeles:
Every week I hear about those interested in starting new congregations in North America.So many long for an MCC in their community, having heard the life-giving and life-saving message of hope and God’s inclusive love from our books and website, witness and outreach. Young people will create new forms and enliven existing ones as the Spirit fires their visions.
Young people at Sunshine Cathedral MCC in Jamaica are turning the tide in their country, facing down lethal homophobia, deepening their spiritual conviction and their commitment to justice.They already dream of expanding MCC’s reach throughout the Caribbean to other groups eagerly anticipating an MCC presence in their countries.
A young lesbian in Moldova, supported by our church in Lancaster, PA and others in the UK, is seeking the theological education she will need to pastor in a culture that today has no women pastors.
A young man from Virginia Beach said, “the March for Equality relit my fire; my life has changed since the March.I am more focused, more involved and more vocal.I never thought I would be in love with a church, but I really believe in this church.Because of my MCC church, I feel like I can use all the gifts God has given me, not just in the gay community but for the whole community.”
The church in the Dominican Republic is growing and thriving, including a group of young Haitian students who are part of their growing community.
Young people in the Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan and Brazil are looking to us for support, training, mentoring and encouragement.We cannot fail them.
Funding from the Soros Foundation has made possible a training weekend in Eastern Europe this month, for those who are committed to combating religious homophobia there.
In 2010 we will hold a leadership mentoring retreat for lay and clergy leaders called to connect the local to the global ministry of MCC; and a Latin American leadership pre-conference training will be held the day before General Conference in Acapulco.
The faithful generosity of thousands of MCC people like you, have, over the last 41 years, won many freedoms that we-and our youth-now enjoy. Yet the work is not finished:
MCC’s religious innovation, our passionate and ecumenical spirit, is as relevant and as needed as ever before.With churches still splitting over the inclusion of people, and other churches continuing to slam the door shut, MCC is a movement that is a breath of fresh air, the breath of the Spirit.
MCC people modeled a compassionate response to people infected with HIV/AIDS; Globally, homophobic attitudes continue to complicate and undermine best medical practices; the infected are too often stigmatized and ostracized from family and community; MCC has more to do.
MCC continues to be a religious voice advocating for civil and human rights. Marriage equality, workplace discrimination challenges, hate crimes protections-MCC is making a difference on these moral issues, but the battle is not yet fully won, even in North America.Yet our achievements encourage others in places where the movement is just beginning and people are organizing for change.
This has been a challenging year economically for everyone.At the same time, MCC churches, in the US and around the world, continue to thrive, purchase property, expand their ministries, recruit and train volunteers, challenge religious bigotry, feed the hungry, house homeless youth, and march for human rights.Hard times only make us-all the “young and old” of us-more determined and more clear about our calling.
As we close 2009 and prepare for our world-wide gathering in Acapulco next year, I ask three things of you:
1. Pray for MCC every day.Pray that the Spirit would guide us as we discern our priorities and carry out our global mission to “Tear Down Walls and Build Up Hope;”
2. Say “yes” whenever you can. Offer your time and talent in support of MCC’s movement and ministries, locally and globally;
3.Finally, give the most generous offering you can, before year end, for the work of Metropolitan Community Churches.You can give on line using this link www.MCCchurch.org/giveonline, or send your check today to MCC, PO Box 1374 Abilene TX 79604. Your gift this year will enable MCC to keep working hard to create a better, fairer, radically inclusive church and world.Help embody and make real the radically inclusive love of Jesus in the 21st century.Our future is in sight.
Thank you and God bless you for all you are and do.