MCCA: Coming Home

Metropolitan Community Church of Austin (MCCA) doesn't conceive of itself so much as the "gay church," as the inclusive church. And indeed, no one versed in any Christian tradition should feel slighted at an MCCA service. God is referenced variously by male and female pronouns or even "Heavenly Parent." The Gospel is read once in another language (one Sunday, Luke 18:2-5 was read in French), and then again in English. The communion service is reminis-cent of Catholic mass, but there are four celebrants, two male and two female. Musical liturgy is quintessentially Southern Gospel.

The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was formed in 1968 by the Rev. Troy Perry, author of The Lord is My Shepherd and Knows I'm Gay. So MCCA's first ministry is to the gay men and women (who seem to be equally numbered in the church membership) who are "out" in every aspect of their lives, and don't want to have to teach people all over again to accept them. "Many have suffered terribly at the hands of established churches," says MCCA pastor Ken Martin. The members also tend to feel strongly about building their own institutions with the gay community, he says.

In that vein, Martin's goal is to establish MCCA as a hub for gays and lesbians, pulling together services ranging from counseling for gay teens to AIDS care, to social gatherings. Originally, the hope of the UFMCC was that one day there wouldn't be a need for a gay Christian church, but now the goal is to keep broadening the net, gathering all who may come, and reaching toward the rest of the world. "What's happening instead is we're making a different kind of alliance," says Martin, who has had many gays and lesbians - including some clergymembers - come out to him. "Lots and lots of bridges are being built."- R.A.

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