End time for Metropolitan Community Church?

The Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1968 as a church home for the GLBT faithful who otherwise had no welcoming church home. With a change in attitude in many mainline congregations, however, the future of the Church may be in doubt, according to an article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal Online:

Metropolitan Community Church began in 1968 as an alternative for gays who felt alienated by most churches’ condemnation of homosexuality.

After a contentious summer in which the denomination suspended local worship for a month and revoked the credentials of the local pastor, the Rev. Beau McDaniels, Hope Metropolitan Community Church members are doing what many congregations do after a fight with church headquarters.

They are thinking about joining another denomination. The United Church of Christ, a liberal Protestant church that has ordained openly gay clergy and affirmed same-sex marriage, is mentioned as a possible successor to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Vikki Del Fiacco, a former Metropolitan member in Daytona Beach, has already switched over. She is training for the ministry with Port Orange United Church of Christ.

Del Fiacco likes the United group because “it’s open and affirming of everyone.” She noted Metropolitan founder Troy Perry “never thought MCC would last long term.”‘

Its original mission was “to be accepting,” Del Fiacco said. “But other denominations are accepting now.”

Episcopalians, of course, have gotten much attention for ordaining an openly gay bishop.

Some liberal Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist congregations have also embraced openly gay members, said Lesley Northup, an associate professor of religion at Florida International University.

Because of the growing acceptance, gays may no longer feel the need to segregate themselves in a niche church, Northup said.

The Metropolitan Community Church, however, was always intended as a temporary home for GLBT worshippers, and there is sadly still a need for a welcoming church for many:

Melissa Wilcox, a professor of religion at Whitman College in California, has written a book on Metropolitan Community Churches called “Coming Out in Christianity.”

She acknowledged Metropolitan Community Churches founders intended the church as a temporary, “stop-gap” solution until other denominations became more accepting of gays.

Wilcox, however, noted many gays are still uncomfortable going to even the most liberal churches, Wilcox said.

They feel awkward and conspicuous when identified as the church’s official “gay members.” They also encounter “there goes the neighborhood” resistance from members who did not want them to join in the first place, she said.

So Metropolitan Community Churches still fills a need as a place of acceptance. “I think there’s a future,” Wilcox said.

The whole thing is here.

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