MCCDC Rev Elder Dwayne Johnson 45th Anniversary Closing Testimonial
MCCDC Cecelia Hadyen Smith 45th Anniversary Testimonal May 15, 2016
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#44
The author of today’s testimonial is Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis, Changed Lives, Part# 2
And what can I say of Rev. Larry J. Uhrig. He was a phenomenal preacher who taught me to put my heart into preaching. He was a colleague and friend who guided us to the purchase of 415 M Street, the first property owned by any LGBT organization in Washington, DC. He also had a vision for building a home for MCCDC which came to fruition after many years of planning, saving and fund raising and is the ministry facility at 5th and Ridge Streets, NW. We walked around the building on the day it was dedicated: I held a bowl of water and he sprinkled water on the building while it poured down rain! He lived to see his office completed, preached the late service on Christmas Eve and died early in the morning of December 28, 1993. His calling hours were held on New Year’s Eve and there were long lines of people outside the building waiting to pay their respects. His funeral was on New Year’s Day and it was standing room only. He was well loved and was a visionary who inspired others.
Larry mentored many into ministry in MCC, including Rev. Elder Dwayne Johnson, your present pastor. I was so pleased when I heard, from my new home at King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg FL, that you had elected Dwayne as your pastor! I pray that you will have many fruitful years of ministry together in the years ahead!
MCCDC gave me a home and a place to grow and serve. You hold a special place in my heart and always will. Best wishes on your 45th anniversary and for many years of ministry to the Washington DC community in the years ahead.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#43
The author of today’s testimonial is Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis, Changed Lives Part#1
I first learned of MCCDC when I was in seminary and working at Calvary Baptist Church. Both churches were a part of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations and I went to those meetings. Bob Johnson, Dan Schellhorn and Ford Singletary attended on behalf of MCCDC. I later heard that they took one look at me and said (amongst themselves), “There’s one of us.”
When I came out, I was still in the ordination process in the United Methodist Church (UMC). While serving United Methodist churches in Hagerstown and Baltimore, I became a member of MCCDC and was elected to the Board. After a few years I realized where my heart and future ministry was and began the process of leaving the UMC. I turned in my ministerial credentials on April 1, 1983 which was also Good Friday. On Easter Sunday, during the time of response following the sermon, I came forward, handed Rev. Larry Uhrig one of my stoles and asked him to keep it for me until I could take it on again as clergy in MCC.
I was licensed as clergy at the MCC General Conference in July, 1983 and began to serve MCCDC as a (very) part-time assistant pastor in August. Over the years, I came on staff full-time, had my title changed to associate pastor and when Larry died, after the pastoral search process, became senior pastor in 1995.
During my years at MCCDC one of the enduring memories is of funerals held for people who had died of AIDS. We held too many, both for our own church family and for many others who either had no family or whose families had disowned them. We also lost beloved members who died of other causes.
I remember well Robert (Bob) and Wally Buchanan for whom the upstairs Chapel is named. Both left the church monies from their estates which enabled the purchase of the land on which the present church stands. Jim (James Vincent) McCann was involved as a Deacon and in the music ministry. He would lead us in what we called ‘Singspiration’ before the official start of worship at First Congregational Church. His was one of the first funerals we did for a church member who died of AIDS. Bob Hager was a trustee and realtor. He wrote the three contracts, all of which were contingent on the other two, to enable the purchase of the land. He died while the building was being constructed and his ashes were interred (top row, far left) in the columbarium before we actually were given the building by the builder. Bob Johnson, Ford Singletary and Dan Schellhorn were a beloved friends and dedicated laity and served in many official positions. Sibbie Deal and her sister Miss Ida, who had Down Syndrome, were dear friends and very active in the early years of MCC. So many saints, past and present, have touched my life.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#42
The author of today’s testimonial is Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline
Why MCCDC Is, for Me, the Place to BE!
I remember the first time I came to MCCDC. It was 2005, immediately following the installation of Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson as Moderator of MCC. Many from the greater D.C. area-and people like me and the congregation I then led in Richmond-gathered for fellowship and celebration after that momentous time at the National Cathedral.
I remember two things that stood out that day. We were treated to an incredibly rich and moving musical celebration while we munched on cookies and drank punch (I will say I was hoping for more substantial food!). I also was stunned by the physical beauty of the sanctuary, indeed the entire building. At that time, I had never seen a church built in a contemporary style, not a copy of some beautiful old shrine but a modern structure that captured the cutting edge nature of MCC.
It was bold (and still is) and, as a lifelong lover of trees, I was enraptured by the view of God’s special arboreal representative standing gracefully above the communion table and choir. I still am awed and comforted by it today.
There are special bonds between MCCDC and MCC Richmond, where I served as Pastor for 10 years. The first is that some of your early leaders were instrumental in helping a small band of spiritual seekers plant the church there in 1978. The second is through our Pastor, Rev. Elder Dwayne, who served as the second full-time spiritual leader of the Richmond congregation in the early to mid-1990s. The church reached its largest numbers and greatest influence during his pastorate, and he remains
much beloved among many Richmond leaders, both in the church and in the wider community. When I was called to Richmond in 2003, he was a source of wisdom and strength for me. Thus, Jonathan and I were delighted, just before relocating to Greenbelt from Richmond, to join you in celebrating his appointment as Elder last year.
Rev. Cathy has a Richmond connection as well. When she was in seminary and seeking an internship as part of her training, I was thrilled when she approached me about coming to Richmond. I was bowled over then (as I am yet today) by the quality of her intellect and leadership, and had dreams of being able to hire her as Associate Pastor after graduation. Alas (for Richmond), she was snagged by MCCDC (I had a dream of a job for her, your leaders had a real one!).
I hope you can understand from all this why I am so thrilled to be a member of MCCDC today, and to be privileged to serve as your first Writer-Theologian in Residence. For me, MCCDC is truly the place to BE!
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#41
The author of today’s testimonial is Cecelia Hayden Smith (MammaCee):
First attended at 1987, joined in 1989
I was invited to MCCDC 415 M St. NW by a person I had just met in September of 1987. Ms. Esther Smith asked me to come to hear the choir sing. After much thought, I said yes. I was really fearful because I wasn’t doing God at that time. I showed up at church and tried to open the door and it was locked. I did not know at that time that the altar was behind the door. But it made sense to me because I did not believe God liked me, much less loved me. So I took the door being locked as a sign that I wasn’t wanted. I was ready to run fast and get out of dodge. But then I saw the biggest smile coming around the corner that belonged to Dr. Dan Englejohn. He asked me, “Are you trying to get in?” I replied, “Yes.” Then he showed me how to get to the entrance. Fear had kinda taken over and I did what I was told. I enjoyed the music. The communion service was something I’d never seen before. People praying over you. I was surprised that people laid hands on you while praying. Esther asked me to come back the following week and I said that I would think about it. I did come back and the rest is history.
Learning that I was important to God was a new concept to me. Experiencing God’s mercy and grace and the love from the church was a slow, long process for me. It took over two years before I felt that I belonged. I slowly starting participating in things. In the beginning I gave very little of my time, talents, and treasures. But after a while I started giving a little more of myself.
I began to learn that if I leaned on God more and trusted Him, He opened doors for me. Then my whole world opened up. The more I learned, the more I turned to God-I began to believe in His word. Now I try to give God as much of me as I can. I shared myself with God and all God’s gifts that He has given me. I started with fellowship,
doing all the special events of cooking at the church. I served communion, ushered, trustee, I was one of the original members of the people of color ministry and the stewardship team. I work on all things where I can give a helping hand whenever and however I’m needed. I love fund raising and the passion that comes with that.
Doing and giving to the Lord and to God’s church brings me great joy and pleasure. I would pass on to anyone that is part of the LBGTQ and straight and friends community…”come on with.” If you see this eblast please know when you walk through the doors that you are safe. The Lord Jesus Christ is here. Love is here. Grace is here. This is a safe place. This is God’s space, loving and safe. God made you and God doesn’t make mistakes. MCCDC: The place to be.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#40
The brief history short has been compiled by Kareem Murphy
During the nine years at 415 M Street the congregation began to outgrow the facility. By the late 1980s, average attendance reached back up to levels prior to the move. Membership finally broke 200 in 1987, and we started offering two morning worship services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and an evening service at 7 p.m. The Board of Directors also established the Buchanan Memorial Building Fund, and its Trustees began looking at the possibility of acquiring land in the neighborhood to build a larger ministry facility. During the years of 1987-89 we assembled the six lots at the corner of 5th and Ridge Streets, N.W. upon which stands our current ministry facility. Construction began on December 23, 1991, and on December 17, 1992 the congregation moved into our new home at 474 Ridge Street, NW. The first event (a Christmas Concert the night of December 18, 1992) began the excitement of worshiping in a new ministry center. On March 27, 1993 our Ministry Center was dedicated to the Glory of God. The previous move to M Street also encouraged several members to live in the surrounding blocks, with several of them living on Ridge Street. They constituted a critical mass by the time the current ministry facility opened.
God must have had a plan for this congregation because of the demands of ministering to the gay community as the AIDS epidemic increased exponentially. By the 1990s, the church was hosting funerals or memorial services several times a week on average. In 1990 alone, more than 40 families of those who had funerals or memorial services at the church wrote Rev. Uhrig thank you letters and cards. The new worship facility was better able to accommodate the amount of funerals. In many ways, AIDS came to help define the church by the 1990s.
This was also a time of great joy, profound sadness, and tremendous change. Rev. Uhrig died on December 28, 1992, shortly after the Christmas Concert. Larry was much beloved and most of the church suffered with him as he slowly lost his battle with AIDS. Not only did the congregation lose one of their own friends and family members, they were losing their long-time pastor. His ashes (along with other saints) are interred on the second floor of MCCDC in the Buchanan Memorial chapel.
Today the vision and memories of those saints that came before us lives on in each of us as we are all trying so hard day by day to live out their awesome vision through a rich diverse ministerial / congregational life.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#39
The author of today’s testimonial is Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis
As MCCDC was readying for our move from First Congregational Church to 415 M Street, one of the things we knew was missing was a cross in the new sanctuary.
We did a great deal of renovation at 415, mostly comprising of tearing out walls, especially on the second floor just above the sanctuary. This space had been a place where bedrooms had been in the buildings previous incarnation. We simply opened the windows and threw lumber and drywall out to the yard below.
One Saturday, Rev. Larry Uhrig and his partner, Jim Plankenhorn, worked through the pile of debris to find two pieces of wood. They fashioned these into a cross and hung it in front of the window in the middle of the front sanctuary wall.
The wood had been hidden, closeted if you will. It was tossed away as unimportant and of no use. It was then reclaimed, refashioned and resurrected to become a cross.
That cross is the same one that now hangs on the front wall of our ‘new’ building at 5th and Ridge. It is out story. It is the story of the Christian faith.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#38
The author of today’s testimonial is Esther J. Smith
Siting in the Phase I (a lesbian bar) one Saturday night in May, 1973 I met and danced the night away with some young folks who were acquainted with the church, one of them stated that she had to leave early because she was an exhorter in charge of services tomorrow. All the clergy had gone to a conference. I got the info I needed and started checking out the services being held in the chapel of 1st Congregational Church at 945 “G” St., NW., Washington, DC. It took me two years to join the church.
I was more than elated to find more people who visibly loved God and grateful to be in a church that would embrace me and my faith just as I am.
I sang in just about every choir that was formed until the late 1990’s. I enjoyed ushering and getting to know everyone by name. I was the first black female in the Deaconate which entailed visiting the sick and incarcerated, helping people in the congregation, listening to and praying for those who needed it. We also served communion, and cleaned and cooked for members who were sick and shut in. During my time at MCCDC, I helped to start our first prayer service, recreational outings in Rock Creek Park, Stewardship Committee, first Black Gospel Concert.
I also remember going to conferences as a delegate, as well as participating in dialogue panels with churches of other faiths.
I would share with others that we are a Bible teaching church of children and adults so they learn of God’s love for us all and that it is a safe place to bring your family and friends to worship with you. This is place to learn of God’s goodness to you and plans for you. You can be a part of spreading God’s truth with your time, talents and treasures.
My prayer is that we would continue to grow as God’s people, taking His message into countries not yet free to worship as we do, continue “planting” MCC’s locally and continue to create community whereve
r we find ourselves. I pray that we will grow more leaders for tomorrow, stand for justice, goodness and mercy, and continue dialogue with churches of other faiths.
I am immensely proud of how far we have come in 45 years.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#37
The author of the brief history compilation is Kareem Murphy
MCCDC served as the hub of the gay community and much more. By 1973, we worshiped at First Congregational Church, at 10th and G Streets, Northwest, which was on the edge of downtown and not too far from several gay clubs and bars. The space was very large and able to accommodate far more people than Rev. Breton’s living room. Under Rev. Larry Uhrig (Sr. Pastor ’77-’93), the church had a major outreach to local gay bars starting in the 1970s. In fact, it was not uncommon for the pastor to be at the Eagle on any given weekend night, having fun and also inviting people to worship. He was very much a part of the leather community, and he encouraged those in the congregation who were into leather to embrace it as a part of their religious and congregational life. It was common for the leather people to wear their paraphernalia to Sunday worship. In fact, for a number of years leather men and women served as ushers.
Growth in the 1970s was a true gift and it offered unique challenges. In the fall of 1975, the congregation moved from the small chapel to the main sanctuary of First Congregational Church, where we remained until 1984. The years at First Congregational saw growth in many activities and many joint ministry efforts by MCC and the host church. The relationship between the two churches became a model for other congregations in relating to MCC congregations around the U.S.A. MCCDC will forever be indebted to First Congregational for their bold commitment to our ministry and their prophetic leadership to the church at large.
Some long time members say that it was in the late 1970s that the church moved from being a loose grouping of people interested in religion to becoming a traditional church. Rev. Uhrig’s gifts and talents had much to do with that. With stable leadership and growing consensus in vision, membership started to stabilize and the congregation grew.
In October 1982, the church partnered with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the NIH, MCC Baltimore, and Georgetown University Hospital to host one of the first AIDS forums in the nation (the event was held at First Congregational Church-which we were still renting at the time). MCC Washington went on to establish an HIV/AIDS ministry that grew out of a long partnership with the Whitman-Walker. The AIDS epidemic was also another seminal event in bringing the congregation together.
The AIDS epidemic called the laity into ministry service like never before. In the worst of the years, the church hosted as many as 6 or 7 funerals and memorial services in one week. The Care Team and the Deaconate, and the whole congregation
truly marshaled all of our resources, gifts, and talents to confront the epidemic. From the mid 1980s through to the late 1990s, much (if not most) of congregational life focused directly (or indirectly) on the AIDS epidemic. It provided a unifying framework for much of the church’s life and ministry.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#36
The author of today’s testimonial is Scott Strickler
Two other experiences that dramatically impacted my life in a major way were my participation in the creation of MCC Washington’s very first gospel choir and in the formation of the Capital EXCEL team. The first gospel choir was put together by a woman named Liddy, who was from New York. Because MCC was worshiping in leased space at the time (First Congregational Church at 10th and G Streets), we had to hold our choir rehearsals at a Lutheran church in Silver Spring (out near the Beltway). The choir director, the pianist, and almost all of the singers were African-American. In fact, there were only three white members of the choir — Adam DeBaugh, Craig Arnold, and me. I’ll never forget standing in front of David Singleton, while he attempted to help me “sway” back and forth in step with the rhythm. That first choir didn’t last long because Liddy soon returned to New York. After a brief interval, the church’s regular choir director, Carl Barnwell, re-formed the gospel choir, and I was once again part of it. Many years later, I was one of the original members of still another gospel choir that was put together by choir director David North and pianist Velia Corazon. All in all, I sang with various gospel choirs for roughly 20 years over a 29-year period.
I also attended the very first EXCEL weekend in the Mid Atlantic District, which was put on by a group from the Detroit area. Following that weekend, our District Coordinator essentially “commissioned” three of the people who had attended that weekend — Ron Swanda, Jim Woolard, and me — to form a new EXCEL team in the Mid Atlantic District. After more than a year of study, weekly meetings, and training, the newly-formed Capital EXCEL team put on our first EXCEL weekend. Many more were to follow. When I finally “retired” from the team after five years of attending regular weekly team meetings and two to three EXCEL weekends a year, I wasthe last of the original team members to leave. For several years after that, I continued to return as a guest team member and traveled all over the country to participate in weekends put on by other teams. I have so many fond memories of my years at MCC Washington, but I’ve attempted to share a few of the highlights.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#35
The author of today’s testimonial is Scott Strickler
To say that MCC Washington changed my life is a gross understatement. The church totally transformed my life. When I first walked through the doors of MCC Washington on Palm Sunday 1977, I was a hard-core atheist. I hadn’t attended church for over 11 years, except for occasional weddings and funerals. It was hardly surprising that I had left the Episcopal Church during my early college years since my image of God was pretty much the same as my image of my father — aloof, distant, stern and judgmental, someone whose expectations of me I could never possibly meet. I remain firmly convinced to this day that I could have spent my entire life in the Episcopal Church and never have known God. As it turned out, it was through MCC Washington that, many years later, I began the long and difficult process of healing my internalized homophobia and started to learn how to love myself. It was also through MCC that I met the love of my life, David Dagenais, who has been my life partner for over 37 years and my husband for the past 4-1/2 years. And most importantly, it was through MCC that I found God.
My strongest memories of MCC Washington in the late 1970’s revolve around Larry Uhrig, who profoundly influenced my spiritual growth and development. When I first met Larry, he was engaged in a hotly-contested battle to become the pastor of the church. Rev. Roy Burchard was the interim pastor and the two other members of the church staff, Larry and Rev. Michael England, were the candidates for the permanent position. Although both of them were “on staff,” neither of them held a paid position. Larry was earning his living as a salesman in the furniture department of Woodward and Lothrop (“Woodies”), and I don’t know what Michael was doing to put food on the table. To me it seemed that the entire church was divided into two camps, Team Larry and Team Michael. I’ve always been grateful that I got to know the (very) human side of Larry before he turned into the incredible pastor and gifted preacher that he ultimately became. It was the first evidence that I saw of God’s power to transform lives.
The other “huge” influence on me during those years was a prayer and
Bible study group that Ray and I joined for several months. The other members included deacons Esther Smith and Bob Lewis, Art Runyan and Allen Grooms, and Ford Singletary and Randy Leonard. I was just totally blown away by the depth and the strength of their faith and the stories they told of how God had moved in their lives.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#34
The author of today’s testimonial is Dale Madyun-Baskerville
This is my MCCDC story I wanted to share:
On May 9, 2004 I became a member of MCCDC church. Long before that, I walked through the church in approximately January 2002. What brought me to MCCDC was the wonderful invention called the internet.
I had relocated from Mannheim, Germany to the DC area for a government job and found myself knowing very few people other than a few friends and family. It was through an internet search that I found the church’s web site that led me to its doors.
When I walked through the doors, the warm welcome of the members truly told me I was home. I was in a safe place to me. Throughout the years the church has seen me through various phases of my life. The most difficult one that comes to mind is when I was deployed to Iraq 2005-2006. It was the church internet presence that lifted me up through audio sermons, songs and prayers when I needed it most.
Now, fast forward to today I have retired from the military and government service and now I work on the church Web site Ministry trying to bring that light to someone else looking for that special church home.
MCCDC is my ROCK and LIGHT! I hope my web site ministry reaches others in the same way it lighted up my heart though many years ago.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#33
The author of today’s testimonial is Thomas McRoberts
I first came to MCCDC as a result of meeting someone I was interested in who was a member. I moved to the area in 1988 in order to go to graduate school at the University of Maryland. My life in Cleveland, Ohio was on a fast track to nowhere and at 33, I made the decision that my life could be changed and I could leave “all this” and improve my life.
I had never been much of a churchgoer. I went to Sunday School as a child and my parents were very active in our church on Long Island. When I was 12, we moved to Ohio and going to church there was not on anyone’s priority list, even though there was a church my family attended fairly indifferently; I guess they felt they should be regular attenders somewhere. I really didn’t go although I maintained a private belief in God and would pray if I needed something.
So, fast forward to coming to DC. I met quite a few people, including one guy (John) who introduced me to his pastor (Rev. Larry Uhrig), who impressed me immediately as a really cool, sweet guy. John took me with him to church soon after that and the teachings of Jesus loving us all came at just the moment when I needed reassurance in a way that I could take it in. I joined about 8 months later. John met someone he fell in love with quickly soon after I started coming to church and has never been seen since.
So the church became a great part of my life and has been ever since. In fact, when I started dating my late husband, Rhett Summers, there were many Sundays when I would leave him in the morning to go to church and then return to his place afterwards. When Rhett decided to start coming to church, I knew he was the man God wanted for me. The church was central to our relationship, which lasted as long as Rhett did.
A lasting remnant of our early days as members of MCC is the set of formal photos that were taken by a professional photographer. In the early 1990s it was awkward to go to your basic photo studio and get a good sitting “for the ages” as it were. Attached are some pics from that session and one from a later dance at MCC (2008).
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#32
The author of today’s testimonial is Kathleen Carey
I grew up in a strong religious environment. Roman Catholicism shaped my life, how I viewed the world and those around me and provided a moral compass that has guided me and continues to guide me to this day. However, that same moral compass moved me away from that church when I was old enough to see the internal inconsistencies – the massive wealth of the church, the crushing authoritarianism, the rigidity and the inability to accept that we are all holy and good in God’s eyes. I sought to hold on to the goodness that is Christianity, that accepts saints and sinners alike, that tells us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us, even when I had no faith community to sustain me.
For years I was a non-church goer after a childhood of daily Mass and prayer and sacrifice. That left a void and an emptiness in my life. Returning to Catholicism for a time helped bridge that void and led me to those guide posts that had been a focus of my daily life. But not until I started to attend MCC did I fully embrace and find fulfillment of my spiritual needs. Today MCC is a major part of my life. I found in this church a role to play in the service that was denied me as a young girl in the Catholic Church.
Reading scripture in the service was my return to a spiritual life in which I have discovered the beauty and the challenge of the Bible, the good that a religious community can do, and the joy that being with people united in Christ can bring. Being at MCC is the focus and highlight of my week and my life. It fills me with joy, peace, sadness and strength. Thank you to everyone at MCC and to my God for making my life so wonderful and joyful.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#31
The brief history shorts have been compiled by Kareem Murphy
This community of faith was founded in 1970 with Rev. J. E. Paul Breton as the founding pastor Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC. It was officially chartered in May 1971 by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community
Churches (UFMCC). The church originally met in Paul Breton’s home on Capitol Hill. Rev. Breton’s first outreach efforts involved inviting friends to his house and posting flyers throughout “gay DC.” At one of the first official meetings of the Board of Directors, in January 1973, the Board Members each loaned the church $3 to establish a petty cash fund for day-to-day expenses. These early years reflected the relatively informal structure of the church and many of its challenges to find accommodating space. Most Board meetings were held in Members’ apartments or at gay restaurants.
From the earliest days, MCCDC played a major role in the denomination.
Starting in February 1972, the denomination’s Executive Director, Rev. John Hose, made several personal appeals and visits to the church and to board meetings. He tasked the congregation with helping to facilitate church plants throughout what would become the Mid-Atlantic District. In the early 1970s, MCC Washington would go on to play key roles in the establishment of congregations in Northern Virginia, Roanoke, Norfolk, and Richmond, (all in Virginia) and in Maryland in the early 1970s. Rev. Jennie Boyd Bull, who was on staff at the church in the 1970s as the Minister of Outreach and as Associate Minister became the first pastor of MCC Northern Virginia. That congregation’s early membership came from the DC church. MCCDC delegates attended their first District Conference in 1973. In October 1975, denominational founder, Rev. Elder Troy Perry joined the congregation in inaugurating UFMCC’s official Washington, DC office in the Methodist Building.
Several early characteristics came to later define the MCCDC congregation. The congregation was bold and fearless. While gay liberation emerged as a major social force in urban America in the 1970s, parts of the government were not friendly to gay rights. In early 1973, the congregation set out to host an Easter Sunrise Service at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA. Hopes were dashed when it became next to impossible to obtain the necessary permits, but the congregation was undeterred. Rev. Breton and the first Boards were also actively engaged in the political life of Washington. The church sought allies wherever they could find them and reached out to the DC Statehood Party and the Virginia Society in trying to secure rights for gay men and lesbians. Many in the church found that the congregation quickly became the face of gay and lesbian Washington, DC.
There were other ways in which the church’s activism and ministry were fearless and committed. The church started performing so many Holy Unions that Rev. John Barbone (Sr. Pastor from ’73-’75) developed a policy and liturgy for them in addition to hosting couples seminars focusing on love, fidelity, and faith. The church’s ministry to gay and lesbian couples grew accordingly, all prior to any national discussion of same-sex marriage. By 1974, he had performed 32 Holy Unions, only two of which he saw dissolved. Congregational life expanded as well. The church established a program for licensing Exhorters to address the growing interest in lay ministry. Over the next several years, the church established the Parks Fund for benevolent acts. It hosted a regular Women’s Rap Session and formed a Couples Club. We taught sign language classes and began to offer sign interpretation on a regular basis during Sunday worship.
And there is so much more…
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#30
The author of today’s testimonial is Craig Arnold Part#2: How I Came to the Metropolitan Community Church
One of the speakers at that panel discussion, Clifford, spoke on the struggle of deaf people in the gay community. He himself was hearing, and a sign language interpreter…and he was very handsome. After he spoke, he sat next to me. After the event, we talked for a long time and he invited me to join him at Gay Pride Day. We spent a marvelous day together. After it came out that I had been involved in Christian groups, he said, “Well you need to come with me next Sunday.” He happened to be the sign language interpreter for Resurrection MCC there in Houston. I was nervous about it but I knew I would go. Oh the incredible Spirit of love that permeated that church service! Sitting there in church at Resurrection MCC felt more right than anything I had felt in my life. No longer were my halves like two ships about to collide. Instead, I was standing at the confluence of two mighty rivers. It was as if God had said, “Ok, Craig, you’ve had enough time away. Come back to Me.” Cliff and I dated all that summer and I went to church with him. I told my parents I had met him at my summer job. I felt bad about having to lie about that. I also told them he was Baptist (well, he used to be, anyway).
That fall, I returned to school at Maryland for my junior year. I knew right away I had to seek out a MCC here in the DC area. I remembered that there was another gay man at the campus hotline where I volunteered, Bob Freitag, who said he attended a
“gay church” and I was sure it had to be a MCC church. The next time I saw him, I asked, “Bob, could you do me a favor? Take me to church.” At that time MCC-DC met on Sunday afternoon in the 1st Congregational Church at 10th and G St, NW. Needless to say, I found the same incredible joy, love and acceptance there that I felt at Resurrection MCC. I knew I had found a church-home. And I realized then there were no coincidences. God had His hand in it all along.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#29
The author of today’s testimonial is Craig Arnold Part#1: How I Came to the Metropolitan Community Church
I began attending MCCDC thirty-seven years ago. I believe it was October of 1979. But believe it or not, MCCDC was not my first MCC. Of course, there is a story there.
I was a sophomore at the University of Maryland when I came out as a gay man in February of that year. I had been a volunteer at a crisis intervention hotline on campus. As you can imagine, such introspection made me come to grips with myself. How could I help others be in touch with themselves if I wasn’t in touch with myself. As I began to accept my gay self, it was then that I met a man at that hotline, Andy, whom I dated for a few weeks. I couldn’t have asked for a gentler introduction to the gay life.
As I became more involved in the gay student group on campus, I felt like a man who’d been freed from prison. It was like the air was different. I was no longer in denial about who I was and I was among people who were free to be themselves. Now I have to digress to say that until then, I had also been involved in Christian student groups and was a Bible study leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campus. So I felt my energy and focus divided between developing my faith and exploring my new life as a gay man. My two sides felt diametrically opposed at first, yet I could not deny either of them. I knew I was gay when I was eleven years old and had just quietly kept it to myself until then. I accepted Christ when I was fourteen (in the Southern Baptist Church) and while I loved my new faith, I also found new reasons to keep my sexuality a secret. I suppressed the inner conflict for several years and, as you can imagine for young teenager, it wasn’t easy.
That sophomore year in college, the conflict suddenly felt like two ships about to broadside one another in vast sea. I thought I needed to choose one or the other. So I chose to explore my new gay life. And in all fairness to InterVarsity, I decided to scale back my leadership role with them. When I met with their leader, he immediately asked, “Are you struggling with homosexuality?” I said “yes,” only because he got the homosexuality right, but I didn’t feel I was “struggling” with my sexuality. I was struggling with how to integrate my faith, especially coming from a evangelical background. Before I could offer my resignation as a leader, he asked for it. It was the first time I felt judged outright for being gay. I left InterVarsity altogether. Later, they came to me with a “solution” to my dilemma, which was perhaps the most intriguing plan I have ever heard. That’s another story, but needless to say, I did not take them up on it.
So I asked God if He didn’t mind if I took some time to explore this new out and open side of me. Well, it was more like I told God I was putting Him on a back burner for a while. I jumped into the gay life head first. I attended all the gay student group functions; went to dinner parties; and then began going to the bars downtown. Ok yes, my grades did suffer that semester. But it was quite a revelation for me, being with people who accepted me for just who I was. I had never felt that kind of unconditional acceptance and thought it ironic that I was getting it from the gay community instead of from InterVarsity.
That summer as usual, I went home to my parents. They had moved to Houston, Texas when I was a freshmen and I had no friends there. One night, my parents had a business dinner to attend and feeling bad that they couldn’t take me, they loaned me the other car to go to a movie. I had already noticed in the newspaper that it was Gay Pride Week in Houston and there was a panel discussion at the Gay Community Center. I didn’t care what the topics were, I knew that’s where I would go that night. I also didn’t care that my parents thought I was going to a movie.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#28
The author of today’s testimonial is Michael Peart Part#2
As I walked in and looked for Fred (this was at the 11 am service) there were lots of people milling around and talking and eating and just having a good time. Some people said hi to me. I asked someone if they knew where I could find Fred and the person pointed me in the right direction. Fred was so happy to see me. He introduced me to a few people and then he put me in the hands of Jim Rule. Fred couldn’t sit with us because he had to sing with the choir. He told Jim to take good care of me and for those who know Jim, there was no question that Jim would take care of me. Once I got passed my nervousness and relaxed, I was able to feel the warmth and love that surrounded this church. At that time David North was leading the choir. The choir had about 25 to 30 members on stage and the sound they put out was incredible. I was totally blown away. Then Rev Candice started to preach. I can’t say that I remember the topic of the sermon now but I do know I was very impressed with her. By the time service was over, Jim had told me just about everything one would need to know about a church and its congregation.
Fred then rejoined us after service was done and being the special person that he is (was) he didn’t just send me on my way home. Fred invited me to a birthday party for one of the choir members that afternoon. I was going to say no thank you at first, but that was just my nervousness taking over again. I ignored that voice and said yes instead. I was glad I did. I went to the party and had a good time. I met the choir members and spoke with many of them. Everyone was so friendly. It was hard for me to believe that people could be this welcoming to a total stranger.
Well, to make a long story short, I went back to MCC a few more times and before I knew it I had joined the choir. Over the years I have been part of many other ministries but the choir has always been home base for me. Through the church I formed some wonderful, lasting friendships. MCC came into my life at a time when I was searching for a church home. I’ve been to many churches but I never felt a connection. I didn’t know what that missing piece was until I arrived at MCC. That missing piece was being in a spiritual place where I could be my authentic self. I was in a place where others were their authentic selves. And guess what…. It was ok and God still loved me.
God still loved them. Part of the reason I decided to make the DC Metro area my home was because of MCC; the wonderful friendships; I was getting over my shyness; and best of all I found a place I could worship as the true Michael while knowing that God still loved me as I am. Over the years things have changed at MCC and with any change there is good and there is bad. Also, people have left for their own personal reasons, but people have come back. MCC is ever evolving. However, the Good News is that MCC will always be here. MCC is needed because MCC fulfills each of our special needs.
Happy Anniversary MCC
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#27
The author of today’s testimonial is Michael Peart, Part#1
I came to MCCDC in the year 2000 / 2001 because of Fred Dunsten. R.I.P. Fred. I had just moved here from Fort Lauderdale. During my transition here a realtor friend, name Reggie, was coincidentally helping Fred and his partner Bernard transition to Fort Lauderdale. Reggie asked Fred to meet with me to tell me about DC; where to go, things to do, the gay scene, etc. We met at Annie’s Steakhouse, my first time there.
Fred was very personable, full of life, and energy. For those of you who knew Fred, you know he’ll talk to you as if he knew you for years. During our conversation he mentioned the church he attended, Metropolitan Community Church. He said it is a gay church. I said I never heard of a gay church. For me gay and church in the same sentence meant I was being told that gay was an abomination and it’s against God’s will.
He proceeded to tell me all about MCC and how much he loved it. As he talked he began to get teary eyed because his move to Florida was taking him away from his church family. He loved this church and it’s people so much. So, there I was sitting across from someone I didn’t know and he’s crying. What do I do here? Do I console this stranger, give him a hug or do I just sit there until he’s finished weeping. Well, lucky for me he excused himself and went to the restroom to pull himself together. While he was gone I thought to myself, wow this must be some church for him to be this sad. And it’s gay also! I knew I had to check this out for myself. After a few weeks of procrastinating,
I finally called Fred (This was before texting became the norm.) to tell him I would meet him at MCC. I must admit I was a little nervous which is not unusual for me when going into a new environment, and this was definitely uncharted territory for me. But I continued on driving to MCC and surprisingly I didn’t turn around to go home.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#26
The author of today’s testimonial is Mark Dunkum
I am not one of the 20+ year members of MCCDC, but I have been aware of MCC since the 1980’s. I stopped going to church regularly after high school and lost my way spiritually by the time I reached my 40’s. In 2012 and early 2013, I had been struggling to stop drinking and felt like my soul was in a “brown out”.
My journey and spiritual awakening led me to MCCDC in March of 2013. It was because I had read and heard about our church and knew that it ministered to the LGBTQIA community that I chose our church. One night in May as I felt desperate, I screamed out to God to help me and I began to hear my conscience speak to me. I was told that I was loved and forgiven and that I had a purpose. I have never drank since.
At first my conscience was unsure if God loved the gay part of me, but after coming to MCCDC, those feelings quickly turned to assurance that I was deeply loved and that I could live as an instrument of God’s will.
Someone spoke to me and welcomed me that first day, or I doubt I would have otherwise returned. I joined the choir soon after my first visit. Though I am no great singer, singing and fellowshipping with the rest of the Worship Arts Ministry feeds my soul. I became an MCCDC member in August of 2013.
MCCDC provides a positive experience for those of us who have been “turned off” by those who say that God doesn’t love us all. I hope MCCDC will continue to minister to us for many decades to come.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#25
The author of today’s testimonial Maurice Kindle, Part#2
My story doesn’t end with yesterday’s post about my road to recovery. Later on, after a relapse, I found myself not being able to stay clean, again. At that time, Phil Mathews was assistant pastor at the church, and he is the one I went to, to talk to and to get some help. Once again, I got the help I needed. As we talked, Phil began to cry. He told me he had just left the bedside of a man who was dying of AIDS, but trying to live, and here, in front of him, was a man who was living and trying to kill himself. I still get choked up when I think of this. Then, Phil went on and asked me this question: “Mauri, what do you think would work for you?” I told him that I had tried many things (I actually thought my “lot” in life might be to die from the disease of addiction so that other might live), but that there was one twelve-step program that I though might work but that I had tried it time and time again. Phil said to me – I remember this as clearly today as when he said it – “But you haven’t tried it this time.” Well, I tried it “this time,” and I’m clean today thanks to what Phil said, thanks to Candice, and thanks to so many people in the MCC family.
One more thing I’m inspired to share. I participated in MCC’s first summer mission program to the Dominican Republic, in which we took a message, as well as classes, to two orphanage/schools there in the area of Santo Domingo/Boca Chica. Even though I was no longer a member of the church, I was invited to go along. As a result, colleagues of mine in the US (I was teaching in a middle school at the time) and I were successful in bringing five of our students from the DR to the US so they could experience a school here and life in the US. I was told many times that this would be impossible, but the US Embassy in Santo Domingo begged to differ. As a result, I am still in touch with those students today. One is a banker;
one is an office in the Dominican Air Force; all are gainfully employed; and all are taking classes at the college/university level. All are making plans to return to the US for a visit.
All I can say is, “Thank you MCC for forging the way, and for continuing to keep your doors open for people like me. Believe me when I say, “You DO make a difference.”
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#24
The author of today’s testimonial Maurice Kindle, Part#1
Today’s testimonial Part 1 My name is Maurice Kindle, and, as I was searching for a church after having moved to DC years ago, I was invited to go to MCCDC by a man I had met in a bar. I accepted his invitation and walked into an MCC church for the first time. I was astounded. I was still using drugs and had to pinch myself as a looked around and saw what appeared to be “normal,” yet gay, people actually worshiping. The experience was overwhelming.
The one thing that was an attraction to me from the beginning was the fact that this church was an inclusive, not an exclusive, community. After years of searching, I had finally found a place of worship where I felt I belonged.
I was a member of MCC for around 10 years. When I first joined the church, Larry Unrig was the pastor. Another attraction for me. I remember what may have been Larry’s last sermon – it was a Christmas sermon. Larry used a cane, walked slowly and breathed deeply that night. His persistence affected me greatly. I had read the books that Larry had written and was so grateful that I had the privilege of Larry having touched my life in so many ways.
I was still using, and crying inside and sometimes overtly, as I attended services at MCC, when Candace Shultis became assistant pastor. I could relate to her. She seemed to me to be so pragmatic in her approach to spirituality that I felt comfortable making an appointment with her, going to her, and telling her that I thought I had a “drug problem.” (Mind you, I was spending thousands of dollars weekly getting high, had severed relationships with family and friends and “thought” I had a drug problem.) Her response rings clear in my mind even today – some twenty years after I opened up to her: “Well, I can’t help you, but I know somebody who can.” I couldn’t believe that a “lady if the cloth” wasn’t praying over me or saying, “Hail Mary’s.” Candice did something very practical, very down-to-earth; she gave me a couple of numbers to the Whitman Walker Clinic. And, on Christmas day of that year, I used those numbers. This began a long, not always easy, road to recovery, which still continues to this day.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#23
The author of today’s testimonial is Margaret Nunnery MCCDC IS THE PLACE TO BE!
My name is Margaret, and I came to MCC in 2000, joining
in Sept. 2000, I believe. I joined due to the good preaching,
and friendliness of those I had met. At that time, they even
has Sunday Evening Services at 7PM. There was a Praise
Team I sang with. I joined the Gospel Choir after attending a
Christmas Concert. I.haven’t been able to resume choir due
to health issues right now.
MCC has great pastors, a wonderful Church Ministry reaching
out to the community. Members march in the Pride Parade each
June, and I have enjoyed marching a few times myself.
In late June 2013, our Choir was honored to be a part of General
Conference, Regional Conference in Chicago. I have been to
3 Conferences, the sole rep singing from my church at the
Conferences. I was so Happy I had company to join me in the
Mass Choir in Chicago with our Director, Justin Richie! We all
had a marvelous time!
MCC has a lot to offer- good preaching by our pastors, an Open
Communion table offered to All, with prayers when receiving.
At the end of the Service, Singing of the Lord’s Prayer is an
uplifting experience. MCCDC is a wonderful church to be a part of.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#22
The author of today’s testimonial is Mark Kornmann
I have been attending MCCDC since 1996. 20 years. But it seems like just yesterday. From the time I walked in the door, I knew MCCDC was my home, was my spiritual place to be, and was the place that would help me through my greatest challenges and help me to see how much God loves me..
Why is MCCDC the place to be? It is, it has been, and it will be that place for many people to find their spiritual center. Their home. The place they can be free to be themselves. Some days I just stand in the Sanctuary and watch the people in the room. The joy, the excitement, and yes, sometimes the hurt I see in the room convinces me more and more why MCCDC is so needed. It also reminds me how important the work is that we all do. Whether it be your role in a ministry or serving on the Board of Directors, what each of us does in this church matters.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day# 21
The author of today’s testimonial is Bob Whitman: WHY MCCDC, Part# 2
Since my arrival at MCCDC…I have always tried to do something at the church, to give back what I was given every Sunday. However, I had one bump in the road that kept me from being the real person God had created. I had inherited the disease of alcoholism from my family….and at times that was not a pretty scene. In October of 1995, my “Higher Power” whom I have always called God brought me to my knees and said enough is enough…and because of His love for me and His guidance, I have not had a drink since October 15, 1995. The only reason I mention this is because at that time I believe my “Higher Power”..aka GOD was leading me down a path to be of service in some manner. I didn’t know at the time that service would be a worship coordinator for a period of time, a deacon for several years and eventually a member of the Board of Directors for 8 years…a time that was a little scary for me and the church as we were without a pastor for two of those 8 years.
But you know, God did what I was always told..He surrounded me (us the church) with His love and lead us through those two years and brought us Rev. Dwayne. Since October 1995 from Pastor Candace at the beginning and to today with Pastor Dwayne…I continue to hear some message from my “Higher Power” that it’s only one day at a time, one step at a time and even though at times there is fear in my life…I could always Face Everything And Recover or Forget Everything And Run. I have tried to stay and Face Everything And Recover with God’s Help. God is good ALL THE TIME.
I believe that my “Higher Power” is not done with me nor is He (GOD) done with MCCDC. Even in our worse days just as in my life He has plans for us…to grow…to preach..to learn and let others know…no matter who they are, what they are or where they are going….WE ARE ALL MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE and we are indeed loved.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#20
The author of today’s testimonial is Bob Whitman: WHY MCCDC Part#1
I have always gone to church as long as I can remember…I used the church to hide from a very dysfunctional family and to find love. I started to hear that I was loved by a loving God and made in God’s image. WOW…what an idea as I looked around and saw the many different people in the church, in the neighborhood and thought God has many images and loves us all.
However, as I got older and realized that I had feelings for other little boys, then teenage boys etc… I was told that that these feelings were wrong and that GOD didn’t love me. How could that be….at one time I was loved and then I wasn’t, I felt like I was in my house again…a place where I was confused if I was loved at all because of my family life. I thought is there anyone or anything out in the world that did love me for just me. Even though I was told that I wasn’t loved…I kept going to church to run from my family life…at least church some people were friendly and I loved the music, the youth group and hearing about Jesus.
Fast forward…I moved to Alexandria, Virginia in June of 1992 and was having lunch at Annie’s one Sunday and heard some guys talking about what happened at church that morning and I asked what church they went to. I was told MCC and at that time there was two of them of them one right around the corner from Annie’s and one on M Street. I decided to try the one on M Street first……and never looked back. I finally felt I was home and that God did love me. Pastor Candace was the associate pastor at the time and her messages were filled God’s love and it was for me. I found out I could be me…I could be gay….I could love another man….and it was reinforced that I was indeed made in God’s image. Wow, God’s image in my mind as a gay man…just blew me away, as I continued to attend MCCDC and become a member in January of 1993.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#19
The author of today’s testimonial is Tim Hassett
I moved back to Washington, DC about four years ago and spent some time churching around to find a spiritual community. Had not practiced the faith in which I was raised, Roman Catholicism, for many years. Feeling free to search for the right spiritual community was empowering for me, and also a bit overwhelming, since I almost gave up after months of effort.
It was on Palm Sunday, three years ago, when I recalled attending an Easter Service with MCC in New York City way back in the 1990’s. It was great; the Reverend Troy Perry was also visiting and MCCNY was in full celebration. Not sure why I did not continue worshiping with them, but perhaps this memory was surfaced for a reason. I Googled to see if there is an MCC in the Washington, DC area; in fact, there is and it is located just two blocks from where I live. What a coincidence!
The Palm Sunday service was wonderful. I realized I had found a spiritual home. It took me many more months to actually join MCCDC as I had never officially joined any other non-Catholic congregation before. I remembered the messages shared by the nuns at St Mary’s, my elementary school, about the fire and damnation for those who abandon the Catholic Church. Attending another congregation’s services was one thing, but actually joining was very much another matter.
I marshaled the courage to become a member of MCCDC about a year and half ago and my fears were relieved, nothing bad happened to me. In fact, some
very good things started happening. With MCCDC I actually read the Bible and did so in 90days – who would have imagined? Participating in the spiritual development workshop, Creating a Life that Matters, helped me deal with a lot of roadblocks in my spiritual path and introduced me to some wonderful people. I now do my best at serving as a Pastoral Care Minister, and, once again – who would have imagined?
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#18
The author of today’s testimonial is Jerry Lee Giem
I first came to MCCDC in 1986 when I was married and feeling trapped and wanted to come out of the closet and be true to myself and others. I’d heard that MCC was for gays and decided to try it. I looked in the telephone book and found MCC Washington DC. Next Sunday, I visited MCCDC at 415 M St. NW when Rev. Larry Uhrig was the pastor. However, I didn’t become a member until Jun. 1, 1997 (18 yrs) when Rev. Elder Dr. Candace Schultis was the pastor.
It was really great and liberating to be able to worship openly with other LGBT Christians. The Pentecostal and Baptist churches that I came from were very judgmental and didn’t believe that you could be gay and be a Christian. MCCDC was a place where I felt accepted and loved by the members and I could worship and grow spiritually closer to God.
My spiritual contributions to the church have been in the following ministries: usher/greeter; communion; music; pastoral care; and the adult Sunday school Bible class.
For those who are still looking for a safe and spiritual home, I have found that MCCDC is a very warm and friendly church. The people treat you like you are one of the family. There is a very safe and special and spiritual place at MCCDC for all who want to know God and for those who are maturing and growing closer to God in their daily walk.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#17
The author of today’s testimonial is William Terrell, Part#3
Many wonderful things happened through the 22 years. The listings are many, but I will select a few that are important in the history of MCCDC.
– Many wonderful events like Easter services and Christmas concerts took place yearly. A good number of deaf people attended yearly. At one of the Christmas concerts, I led the choir in the Lord’s Prayer in ASL. I also appeared at least 3 Christmas concerts.
– There was a faithful Deaf member who served as usher every Sunday morning for over 15 years – Vilas Johnson.
– We were blessed to hear some guest speakers. To name a few are Rev. Troy Perry, Rev. Mel White, Rev. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Delores Berry. For a month I was blessed to know Rev. Larry Uhrig – hearing him preach two times before he passed away.
– There were two civil ceremonies of two deaf couple . The first couple were married along with a Deaf minister. The second wedding was officiated by Candace Shultis.
– There were 3 ASL classes – each for six weeks. Many hearing people signed up to take ASL courses. I was blessed to have them in classes.
– There was a memorial service at MCCDC conducted by Bill Terrell. A former Deaf member of MCCDC had passed away in Florida. We had an almost packed sanctuary, full of deaf and hearing congregants at that service.
– There were 2 social events given by Deaf Ministry. What a wonderful turnout they were. Both hearing and deaf people came. Everyone had a fabulous time – meeting people, learning signs, playing games and wonderful meals to eat.
God has been good to His people. We, the Deaf congregants, are full of gratitude to MCCDC for providing accessible services to the Deaf and Deaf/Blind. Through the 22 years there have been several pastors, associate/assistant pastors, musical directors, two interim pastors. Membership may dwindle. Someone mentioned that we are living in a changing world. I say: God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow . . . forever! We still feel the presence of God. It is wonderful to attend MCCDC – the Place to Be!
On behalf of the Deaf members and congregants, we send best wishes with God’s blessings to MCCDC upon its 45th anniversary. Remember MCCDC – the Place to Be. This icon is my favorite…
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#16
The author of today’s testimonial is William Terrell PART#2
Many wonderful things happened through the 22 years. The listings are many, but I will select a few that are important in the history of MCCDC.
– We had over 60 deaf as well as 2 deaf/blind people coming to MCCDC. At least 18 became members of MCCDC. The largest “audience” of deaf people (about 25) was at Easter service that was held at Warner Theater many years ago. Another time it was held at the Old Convention Center, which was very well attended, too.
– There was a roster of interpreters (17) who regularly and/or occasionally attended MCCDC. Some were members. We were blessed to have them for about 14 years. Then there were two different interpreting agencies that provided interpreters for a few years. Since 2012, a Deaf Ministry was formed and began to hire free lance interpreters – about 12 interpreters (5 active and 7 inactive). In all, we are blessed to have them at different times and at each service or event.
– There was a Sunday School Class for the Deaf that was held in the upper Chapel room every Sunday for a few years. At that time, there were 2 services – 10:00 am and 12 noon. We met around 9:50 am in the chapel for Sunday School class before we joined the congregation at 10:30 am. About 15 deaf people were in the class.
– Patrick Graybill, a Deaf deacon, preached at least twice at MCCDC. Again, a large pack of deaf people attended to hear him preach.
– One time there was a talent show on a Saturday night in 1995 or 1996. Bill Terrell, as a Southern Belle, gave a skit rendering ASL song along with a vocal interpreter for the congregation.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#15
The author of today’s testimonial is William Terrell PART#1
My name is William Terrell, a 22-year Deaf member of MCCDC. As we approach the 45th anniversary of MCCDC, what a memory lane I have been trekking on the past 22 years. I want to share my “Deaf: History in MCCDC with you.
Looking back to the fall of 1993, I was visiting a dying friend diagnosed with AIDS (celebrating his birthday) at Dupont Circle apartment. While there, I happened to pick up Washington Blade from the vendor and saw an ad about MCCDC. One line caught my eyes – ASL interpreted.
On a Sunday, November 28, 1993 I went to “visit” and worship MCCDC on 5th and Ridge Street, NW. As I entered the church, I immediately knew I found a “home” in the House of Worship. The scriptures came to my mind:
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19-20 (KJV):
I truly felt the presence of God inside MCCDC. Like the true words of Mel White, I had that genuine feeling “I am gay, I am proud and God loves me.”
A week later, Saturday, December 4, there was an ASL Lavender Workshop held at the Old Post Office. I went there and was amazed to find a huge group of deaf LGBT people. It was then I decided to come out openly. In the early spring of 1994 I became a member of MCCDC.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#14
The author of today’s testimonial is Robert Wilson
MY EARLY YEARS WITH MCCDC
In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, I was working for the federal government as a NASA engineer in a job that required a security clearance. I was very much in the closet with my sexual orientation because at the time if you were known to be a homosexual, not only would your security clearance be revoked, but you would be fired from your government job. I was happy with my job, but I was frustrated with my personal life because none of my friends were gay. I didn’t know how to meet anyone who was gay other than in a gay bar, and I was not inclined to take that route.
Sometime in 1973 or 1974, I read in a Washington news article about a church for gay people called the Metropolitan Community Church. It took a lot of courage because I didn’t know what to expect, but one Sunday I made my way to the Chapel of the First Congregational Church at 10th and G Streets NW. Rev. John Barbone was the pastor. The service was very uplifting and everyone was so friendly. I knew I had found a place where I belonged socially and where I wanted to be spiritually.
For a number of years, in addition to Sunday services, I participated in various MCC activities such as Wednesday night prayer services, congregational meetings, rap sessions, retreats, and social activities. To help promote a sense of belonging, several members of the congregation formed an unofficial group called the Amazing Grace Family. They met in each other’s homes once a month for a meal and fellowship. The family members were Sibbie Deal, Ida Salmon, Jennie Bull, Bob Moore, Bob Lewis, Linda Christenson, Dottie LaBree, David Elwing, and me. We were also closely allied with Betty Fairchild who led the Washington chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Eventually several members of the Amazing Grace Family moved away and the group disbanded.
In 1976 when I was at an MCC social event, I was fortunate that an MCC member David Kromer introduced me to Elliott Lapin, an acquaintance of his from Baltimore. Elliott and I became life partners for 38 years until his death in 2014. I have MCC to thank for that wonderful chapter in my life. Now, after having been away from MCC for quite a few years, I recently came back to MCC. Like the Prodigal Son, I have found my home again.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day# 13
The author of today’s testimonial is Jeanie Broderick Part#2
For me the person who led the way through that revolving door and who I could not write about my experience at MCCDC without mentioning is The Reverend Larry Uhrig who was the pastor at the time. There is not enough space here to list
what I learned from him. I had never heard anyone speak to a congregation like Larry did. He was a pastors pastor and I am so grateful and blessed to have spent the amount of time with him at church and on a social level that I did. I learned so much about how to put my faith into my everyday life and hopefully have an impact for the good by doing that. Larry would always say “Live the truth and the truth would set you free!”
I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to play music with all the other gifted musicians at MCC in DC and throughout the country. Some are no longer with us but many are still connected with The Metropolitan Community Church somewhere serving in one way or the other.
I also wanted to mention just a few people who had a huge impact on me during my time at MCCDC. Jim Plankenhorn, Bette Collett, Debi Simmons, Phyllis Hunt, and Brendan Boone.
There is so much more I could have written but I’m pretty sure this booklet is not called Jeanie Broderick’s experience at MCCDC so for now thank you for the opportunity to share some of my story.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#12
The author of today’s testimonial is Jeanie Broderick Part#1
My first experience of MCCDC is the same as Judy Holmes. We showed up with all of our paint stuff to help out at 415 M St. I’m not sure of the exact dates but my hair was all brown! It is now all grey.
Judy and I attended the service the following Sunday morning and after being brought up in a Methodist household and church all I can say is I was blown away by the service. It had format but didn’t seem to me to have a lot of constraints like I was used to. I remember thinking to myself after an hour had gone by, this should be wrapping up soon and to my surprise my next thought was that I didn’t want it to. But the thing I remember most was the music! I had never heard hymns played like the ones I heard on that Sunday morning and every Sunday after. Some of the hymns I recognized but we sure didn’t play them the way I was hearing them played and sung now. There was music playing when we entered the doors and music playing as we were exiting them. I loved it and it wasn’t long before my drums were set up front in the corner between two old windows and I was playing along to these wonderful songs. I will be forever grateful to Stephen Carter-Hicks who was filling in as music director at the time and the person responsible for me playing drums in church. One day he said to me, after finding out that I played drums, Hey! why don’t you bring your drums and play along? I had never heard of drums in church but it was a life changing decision for me when I agreed to do it. We have been BFF’s every since.
One Sunday morning a young fellow named Dale Jarrett showed up to sing special music accompanying himself on the piano. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better as far as the music was concerned. It did! Dale was an incredible talent and I along with my former partner and friend, Virgil Night on bass guitar we started a musical bond that lasted over 5 years.
We played for every Sunday morning service accompanying the choir, playing our original music under the name Witness, and backing up guest singers like Delores Berry.
MCCDC would also have these events that were totally new to me called revival weekends. Revivals would often start on a Thursday night and sometimes extend through evening service on Sunday night. There was often a guest speaker and we played non-stop throughout the weekend. On Saturday evening there was usually a dinner on the grounds followed by a hymn sing before the guest preacher would start. My favorite guest preacher/teacher/speaker and friend for these weekends was the Reverend Elder Jeri Ann Harvey but there were many others who were wonderful as well. It was and still is a revolving door of spiritually enriched people who are willing to give whatever gifts they have towards the greater good without judgement or prejudice.
The author of today’s testimonial is Judy Holmes Part#2
I will always remember…
* Playing “Liz” in Twig Wilder’s production of “Love Match” and singing – if you can call it that – “Suzy Snowflake” in the Christmas talent show. I was so nervous, I couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of Ron Swanda’s lap!
* Painting the front of the church in Marshmallow White with Blush and Cranberry Whip trim. Jeanie and I were so proud of ourselves, and ready for all of the accolades that would be bestowed on us, that we completely forgot about daylight savings time and arrived at the church an hour late that Sunday morning. We just looked at each other and said, “Perfect.” God really got us!
* Starting and then staffing the first nursery. I just LOVED that we had babies in our congregation!
* Serving on the board with awesome people like Bob Johnson, Cathy Campbell, Dan Schellhorn, David Smith, Deana Dudley, Ford Singletary, Melody Jackson, Ron Swanda, Sibby Deal and Twig.
* Being on the board during the construction of 474 Ridge, and the excitement of raising funds – community events, selling bonds, potlucks – and purchasing the lots, “volunteering” Albert Hutchings to oversee the construction, the ribbon-cutting!
* Hundreds and hundreds of people finding their way back to their faith journeys, just like I did.
* The awesome, diverse music of so many talented and inspired voices and musicians, and shedding the tears of the world over dozens of hymns, including old favorites of mine and a new one from one of our own, Marsha Stevens, “For Those Tears I Died”.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#10
The author of today’s testimonial is Judy Holmes Part#1
I’m not 100% sure, but I believe I joined MCC in 1985, so it’s been a long run – the longest relationship in my 61 years, except for my relationship with Jesus – and it’s been a very joyful one!
I first met MCC in 1974 when out-of-town friends were looking for a pastor to perform a Holy Union, but I didn’t start attending until 1984 after the congregation bought 415 M, but I didn’t start attending until 1984 after the congregation bought 415 M
. Jeanie Broderick and I were both companions and business partners at the time. We had a small painting and wallpapering business, and we saw in the Blade that MCC had bought a building and needed people willing to do any manner of thing to spruce things up. We volunteered, met a bunch of really great people, and never left!
I will always remember…
* The AIDS crisis and saying goodbye to so many brothers. I shudder to think how I/we would have gotten through it without the Christian love and fellowship of my MCC sisters and brothers.
* Switching the baby Jesus that Pastor Larry was going to place in the Christmas manger on the altar during Christmas Eve service. And this was no ordinary baby Jesus. It was porcelain, and so fragile that Larry carried it home on his lap from a trip to Italy. Jim Plankenhorn, Jeanie and I conspired to put a Cabbage Patch doll in its place upstairs where it was waiting for Larry to retrieve and then process down the aisle. I hid around the corner with the actual doll while he freaked out and then appeared like an angel in the night with the real one. He laughed about it later – a lot later!
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#9
The author of today’s testimonial is Michael Cunningham Part#2
If you never been to 415 M Street then picture and old wooden townhouse with wooden floors and due to age slanted floors at that. There were three floors in the church. First floor had the sanctuary, kitchen and a small powder room. Entry was a side door which led to a hallway here we had the welcome table and name tags. Pass the powder room was the sanctuary with seating for about one hundred people and a small altar and choir area. Stairs in the back of the church led to the other two floors. These stairs were usually full of people because the sanctuary was full. Second floor had rooms though I don’t remember what they were used for. The third floor was Larry and Candace’s office.
I will always see 415 as MCCDC as the most spirited filled place ever. I remember when we started organizing to get the Ridge Street lot to build a bigger church. Everyone was asked their opinion on what was needed for the new church and how it should be designed. My thought was that the kitchen be in the basement and we set up the rest of the basement as a banquet hall. When the building was built and I saw the kitchen I felt that something was missing so a group of us went back to 415 M street and brought over the metal island that was in the kitchen and place it in the new kitchen where surprising to me it still is. I am still at MCCDC because my dear friend Rod said before he passed away shortly after the church was built that no matter what happens in the church, whether the church leaders leave or the music director leaves or something happens you don’t like always remember MCCDC is where Jesus took you when you needed spiritual guidance.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#8
The author of today’s testimonial is Michael Cunningham Part#1
I came to MCC in April 1989 with a friend I had just met. Rod and I met in Feb. 1989 and became instant friends. Rod and I talked about everything including our relationships with God. I told him that I always felt that God and Jesus do not like me as much as they love other people. Rod told me about a church that he goes to MCCDC. I decided to go with him to see what it was about. When we walked up to 415 M Street, I thought what is this place and what have I gotten myself into. When I go to a place I never been to I sit in the back but Rod took me to the second row left side. He said these are the best seats in the house. Larry Uhrig was preaching then and I felt an instant liking to him. I still remember some of this sermons but the one I remember the most is the one of learning to forgive others and yourself. He talked about forgiveness and letting Jesus into your heart and letting all that hurt and anger out. Wow, I thought Jesus must have whispered into his ear and said this is your sermon.
Candace Shultis preached one Sunday about how a man had been hurt by his family and friends and each time he was hurt it made him sad and angry like stones place in his heart. He was soon stooped over from having some many stones in his heart. Once the man started forgiving everyone the stones left his heart and soon the man started leaping for joy. I soon started coming to MCCDC on my own. When I was in the hospital for a week in 1991, Larry called me every day and when I was home recuperating the deacons came every Sunday to give me communion and to talk with me. I thought this was a very caring and loving church to all people to come there and not just members I joined in Sept. 1992. I ushered and did hospitality at the 11 am service. There were three services then 9 am, 11 am and 7 pm. Hospitality was outside in nice weather because there really was nowhere to place the food. When it was inside we had to clear chairs to place tables for the food.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#7
MCCDC History. Did you know?
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH OF WASHINGTON, DC
MCCDC is one of the first churches in MCC, having been founded in May, 1971.
MCCDC founding pastor was Rev. J.E. Paul Breton.
The congregation has worshiped in 5 locations since its beginning:
– 705 7th Street, Southeast
– St. Stephen and the Incarnation, in Columbia Heights, NW
– 10th and G Streets, NW (First Congregation Church)
– 415 M Street, NW (Townhouse around the corner from present location)
– 5th and Ridge Streets, NW (Present location)
As at all Metropolitan Community Churches, we believe in the “Priesthood of all Believers,” which means that we believe every person is a child of God, called by God and authorized by Scripture to respond to the Word, serving as Christ served, to the end that the Church may be edified and the world transformed. MCCDC affirms that this is the ministry of every lay person.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#6
The author of today’s testimonial is Johanna Hardy
I found MCCDC in 1994/95. I was attending law school and a woman I met while volunteering at the Whitman Walker Clinic, Jeanette Williams, suggested I visit MCCDC. And, so I did. I don’t recall much from that first visit other than a choir member, Casey Thompson, cornered me after services and informed me I needed to come to choir rehearsal. When choir rehearsal night came, I called a cab but it never came. I decided to walk. For some reason, I was determined to go.
At that rehearsal, I felt welcomed and a choir member, Diana James, offered to give me rides to and from rehearsals. The choir became like a family to me. But, I refused to join the church. Having been ordained as an American Baptist deacon, I made up excuses not to join – MCCDC sprinkled people for Baptism, for example.
While active at MCCDC, I decided to visit a prominent Baptist church in the area. I joined that church, but I didn’t leave MCCDC. For a time I was active in both churches. But, splitting my time was draining. I knew I had to make a choice and so I prayed. I asked God to make crystal clear which I should choose.
Not long after that, I was invited to apply to be a deacon in that other church. But, during that process it became crystal clear gay people were not welcome. Around that same time, my father passed away. No call, no card, and no acknowledgment from that other church to see how I was doing. But, I did get a call from then-MCCDC Assistant Pastor Phil Matthews checking to see if I needed anything. God made it very clear what my choice should be. MCCDC was my support – it was my church home. It was a caring, Christ-centered church and that was what mattered.
I quit the other church and showed up to a MCCDC membership class in 2003. I recall Rev. Phil was surprised to see me that day. I joined 8-9 years after first walking into MCCDC. I have served in various ministries – choirs, as a deacon, on the board of directors, scripture readers, helped to start Eclectic Praise – whatever I could do to help.
MCCDC offered real people who cared not out of obligation but because they really cared. I have also grown spiritually, learning from the diversity of spiritual traditions at MCCDC. And, much of what I have learned about music, I learned at MCCDC. The church is not perfect – no church is – but, we at least try to have honest and direct discussions, without judgment, to work through conflicts.
In the future, my hope is MCCDC does not lose that character of caring, trust, and family but rather grows to embrace those things even more.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#5
The author of today’s testimonial is Steve Cupo Part#2
I suppose my most significant contribution to MCCDC has been the gift of singing that God graciously gave me. Those who have been around for a while know what joy it gives me to sing out loud and share in the spirit by making a joyful noise! However, now that I am older, I definitely am not as present as I was in the past. But now, 9 AM Director of Music, Daniel Scearce has asked me to share my music, so I am back singing with the joy and the passion that was given to me.
I have gained a strong sense of who I am through the security of Jesus’ love. I gained a sense of community. I gained an outlet to express my gifts. And a learned a very valuable lesson: allow others to help you. It is possible to be an instrument of God’s Glorious message even in the worst of circumstances. Here is one more story:
In 1997, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That was the bad news. The Good News was that I had Jesus and MCCDC in my life. After my surgeries, I went through months of recovery. I couldn’t “do” for myself and my partner, Dan, was overwhelmed. But I discovered, by allowing people (and the members of MCCDC in particular) the opportunity to give of themselves and help me, I was able to let them express their generosity! It is a glorious thing to be able to receive the gifts of others, because in their giving, they are blessed! That was an enormous life lesson I gained.
And one more lesson learned from that time: the healing power of prayer. Beside my own prayers, I had the prayers of HUNDREDS of people helping to send love and healing my way. I learned, through MCCDC, that prayer REALLY works! The healing power of Jesus Christ through prayer is REAL and not simply rhetoric. It is a Living, Loving Light that shines on us all. My writing this today shows that I am proof of that.
Oh my! I have gained SO much and I am truly thankful for MCCDC. May it’s beacon shine for many, many years.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#4
The author of today’s testimonial is Steve Cupo Part#1
I moved to Washington, DC from Manhattan in 1988. Soon after, I met a dear man in a BAR, who was a long-time deacon of the church, named Leon Hampton. It was Leon who first took me to MCCDC when it was on M Street. Leon was incredibly active in the life of MCCDC and held it in his heart right up until his death in 2010.
I had been raised Dutch Reformed (Protestant) in upstate New York. Church had always been an important part of my life. However, when I left home to attend college, I drifted away from the church and I remained away for many years. During that time, I always felt that something was missing in my life, but I really didn’t know what it was. Skip to when I first came to MCCDC. Like SO many before me, walking into that sanctuary and hearing “my” first sermon by Rev. Larry Uhrig, I felt as though I had come home. The feeling of security, love and, well, sanctuary overwhelmed me. I knew it was there to fill the empty void I had been feeling for so many years.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day#3
The author of today’s testimonial is Joan Cunningham
I have attended MCC for more than 20 years and have been a member since 1998.
Our Church has been blessed by all of the pastors whose love has embraced us. Pastor Phil was a great spiritual help to me when I was mourning the death of my mother. My partner Cynthia and I are grateful to Pastor Candace who gave us a special couples’ blessing and we have now been together for 26 years! We were active in the couples’ group and enjoyed several couples’ retreats.
We deeply appreciate our current pastors Dwayne and Cathy and the loving support we have received at MCC. We are please to congratulate you on 45 years as a beacon of joy.
45 Years of Changed Lives Day# 2
The author of today’s testimonial is Larry Harris
22 years, five month member of MCCDC
I first heard of MCCDC when I saw Rev. Candace Shultis on TV on some sort of special talk show featuring a panel of clergy consisting of straight and gay ministers. I come from a strict Pentecostal background that teaches homosexuality is a sin. For that reason I had stopped going to church. After I saw Rev. Shultis on TV I decided to check out MCCDC. From the very first service that I attended at MCCDC when the church was still located on M Street, N.W., I felt welcome and at home. I became a regular attender and on September 20, 1993 I officially became a member of MCCDC.
It felt good to know that God still loved me and accepted me as I am. Shortly after I joined MCCDC David North was forming a Gospel Choir and I decided to join since I loved to sing. I became an active member of the Gospel Choir as it grew from seven members to fifty members. While I was still in the Gospel Choir I served two years on the Board of Directors. Later I joined the Soundboard Ministry and became so involved with the Soundboard Ministry that I had to give up the Gospel Choir.
I would recommend MCCDC to anyone that has been made to feel like God doesn’t love them. MCCDC is a safe place where you know that you are loved and can be yourself without fear of someone judging you.
My hopes for the future of MCCDC is that it continues to grow and that MCCDC continues to reach out to those that feel they have nowhere to turn to. There seems to still be a number of young people that choose to take their own life because they feel that God doesn’t love them and their families have turned their backs on them.