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MCC Seattle celebrates 37th anniversary
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MCC Seattle celebrates 37th anniversary

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Seattle, the oldest welcoming and affirming congregation in the Pacific Northwest, celebrates its 37th anniversary on August 23 at 12:30 p.m. in the Chapel of Temple de Hirsch Sinai at Capitol Hill.

"It is exciting to be a part of a church and a denomination that has never had to take a vote on whether any person can attend worship or become a member," said Rev. Ray Neal, MCC Seattle's pastor. "Other religious groups talk about being open to everyone but seldom are. MCC Seattle and our denomination are truly open to anyone and everyone: Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Intersexed, questioning or confused."

And if you are straight, Rev. Neal says, "Well, you are included, too!"

Also speaking at this Sunday's worship are newly appointed Associate Pastor Rev. Michelle Carmody and Rev. Gloria Root, a member of the congregation and a local hospital chaplain.

MCC has a diverse congregation made up of a variety of different religious backgrounds.

"We are diverse not only in our sexual preferences and gender orientations, but we are an amalgamation of Christian traditions and worshipping styles," Rev. Neal told SGN. "What many of us have in common is the experience of being rejected from our own faith traditions and communities because of our sexuality. That was why MCC was founded, and remains one of the reasons why we exist today."

He said MCC is a unique church with a unique mission in the LGBT community. He said the other open and affirming churches, which MCC does not view as competition, welcome the Queer community. "We are focused on the Queer community and the special needs and problems LGBT individuals encounter daily in their lives, and in their spiritual lives, too."

One of his biggest concerns is that people understand that there are still ministries throughout the country and Seattle which still teach that a person cannot be Christian and Gay.

"I got a phone call last week from an 18-year-old young woman. She had come to the Seattle area with her girlfriend to look for work and establish a new life together. They were invited to stay at her aunt and uncle's home," said Rev. Neal. "But as soon as they found out that the couple was more than friends, they tossed them out onto the street because they said they couldn't have that kind of sinfulness in their Christian home."

Neal asks, "What kind of Christian throws out their 18-year-old niece to live on the streets?"

He said they call it "tough love" in many Christian circles, but he says, "I call it, plain and simple, child abuse." Rev. Neal, along with his partner Mark, opened their home up to the young ladies until they can find transitional housing and jobs.

MCC is a small but growing congregation which is boldly involved in political issues, as well as justice, social and health issues that affect the LGBT and straight communities. MCC has a team in the upcoming Lifelong AIDS Walk in September and will be present at the Gender Odyssey program on Labor Day weekend.

The church is in discussion with the University District Ecumenical Campus (UDEC) feasibility study board and may join the group next month. UDEC is an effort to build one joint campus shared by many congregations in the University District which will offer a home to several Christian and community ministry groups.

Still, Rev, Neal says MCC will never permanently leave Capitol Hill.

"No, we won't leave the Gayborhood," he told SGN. " If that campus is built, it will serve us as a second worshipping group in the University area."

MCC Seattle is a member congregation of the University Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. It was founded in 1968 - a full year before Stonewall - by Rev. Elder Troy Perry, who began a new congregation in the Los Angeles area that would minister to the LGBT community. MCC was the first church to have a direct concern and ministry for the Queer community.

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