Tearing Down Walls, Building Up Hope: An MCC Update

September 3rd, 2006 • Category: Denomination (MCC)

from the Weekly News, September 3, 2006

Our Church is part of a denomination called Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). MCC consists of 240 congregations located in the United States and 15 other countries. Our denomination arose out of the gay and transgender community in the late 1960s at a time when there were no affirming churches. As a result, MCC has always had a profound commitment to “tearing down walls and building up hope.”

We are striving to tear down the walls that keep people away from God — and each other. We are seeking to awaken spiritual hope, especially among those not welcome in other churches, encouraging all who wish to build a deep relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Our denomination is led by two Boards — a Board of Elders and a Board of Administration. The Board of Elders is charged with spiritual oversight, while the Board of Administration is charged with finances and business matters. Pastor Jeff serves as Chair of the Board of Administration, giving us a front-row seat for supporting and influencing the future course of MCC. Last week Pastor Jeff attended almost 60 hours of meetings of both Boards in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He reports that wonderful progress is being made on the following fronts:

Evangelistic Outreach and Justice
MCC is currently making monumental efforts to “tear down walls and build up hope” in Eastern Europe and Latin America. In both these areas, gay and transgender people face ferocious persecution. The churches that dominate in these cultures make conservative churches in our country seem mild by comparison. For example, a recent protest march in Eastern Europe organized by MCC had to be protected by legions of state police. As young gay and transgender people marched in solidarity — a first in that culture — churches along the way tolled “death bells.” That’s the attitude in Eastern Europe — death to those who are gay and transgender. Because of MCC’s pioneering justice work in these cultures, many gay and transgender people are giving Jesus a second look, and church planting opportunities are arising faster than we can keep pace.

Church Revitalization
Over the past 35 years, MCC has been among the fastest growing Christian denominations. For the past five years, however, growth has slowed dramatically. The rapid growth of our own church stands in marked contrast to what most US-based MCCs are now experiencing. In response, MCC’s Boards have launched efforts to identify congregations that are serious about wanting to make progress and providing “best practices” consulting and resources to help them do so.

Resource Development
As a young denomination, MCC is just reaching a place where it can begin providing effective training resources across the denomination. Pilot projects have been launched to prepare customized curriculum for children and youth within MCC, and to provide training on a whole host of critical subjects via web cast across the globe.

Financial Stability
Because we are still a relatively small denomination, and because historically little attention was paid to business practices, our denomination has struggled financially. Over the past several years, MCC’s two Boards have launched an intensive effort to upgrade the quality of how we do business. The goal is to maximize the ministry value gained from each dollar donated. Enormous progress is being made. For example, all key MCC staff now operate under detailed strategic work plans, relationships are being built with key prospective institutional donors, and the finishing touches are being put on an MCC endowment program that will be managed through Merrill Lynch. For the first time in its history, MCC will have planned giving and endowment programs.

We here at Jesus MCC are proud to be part of a denomination that is doing such critical work in the world, and we are glad to share some of Pastor Jeff’s time to help shape MCC’s future. Each month our congregation sends 15% of what is collected in our general offerings to support the ongoing worldwide work of MCC. That means a portion of each dollar you give here on Sunday is spreading hope, justice, and the message of Jesus Christ in places like Eastern Europe and Latin America. May God bless our continuing work together!

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