This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
40 years ago, The Reverend Troy D. Perry, Founder and Moderator Emeritus, sent a young Howard Wells on a journey. With not much more than five dollars and a slip of paper that held a phone number in his pocket, Reverend Troy sent Howard to New York City with these instructions. “When you get to the city, call this number. . . . A man will answer. Tell him I sent you. He will help you.” That man was Mac McLane, a publisher, who indeed did help. He became a founding member of MCCNY, and for years was an extremely generous benefactor. In his later life, he would come to the office and sit at the piano bench and just find his comfort in being there. Howard’s journey continued as he founded several MCC congregations. He was the first openly queer student at Union Theological Seminary and he founded the first LGBT seminary caucus in the country. 40 years later, the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, the Spiritual Home for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community, Open to All, continues that Journey of Promise started by Troy and Howard and Mac. The Promise of God’s inclusive love. The Promise of God’s eternal love. The Promise that Jesus Christ came for all of us and that all of us includes God’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans children. Join us, your family of faith, on Sunday, January 8, 2012 as we kick-off the 40th Anniversary Celebration of MCC New York’s Journey of Promise. We will worship three times that Sunday with our Moderator, The Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson and we will celebrate with an “open house” style luncheon at the Houndstooth Pub from 1 to 4 pm. The Pub is located at 520 8th Avenue and tickets are $20 per person. (Please see Reverend Pat if you need a scholarship.)
A Christmas Message from Rev. Pat Bumgardner:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a land of deep shadows, a light has shone . . . . — Isaiah 9
light that is shining in the “darkness.” We know Isaiah was writing to exiles from the Northern Region, deported by Assyria, many enslaved in spirit if not in body, by the remembrance of what had once been. But it is precisely from that place of what felt so empty and bereft that the prophet proclaims the sighting of a great light. It will be in that very shadowy land that salvation is born. To me, that really is the Good News of Christmas, and many of us had a chance to rejoice in that Good News — that God is always with us, always calling forth new life no matter what — on Gaudete Sunday. You can see that in the photos that adorn this issue of the Query. Gaudete Sunday, as we recall every year, as Christmas draws near, is a time set aside for rejoicing in the midst of an otherwise seriously reflective season of the Church year. And, rejoice we did — no matter what we came into the sanctuary bearing, no matter the burdens or the loads — rejoice we did, as children, ages 10 months to 13 years old, sang for us, reminding us to never, ever fail to keep the light alive; to always, always stoke the promise each life holds. Rev. Edgard preached eloquently and humorously about the need for giving ourselves a break and for focusing on all the possibilities every moment of life, pregnant with the presence of God, holds for us. Together we remembered again the miracle of Christmas, and what it’s like to be wide-eyed in expectation that “something beautiful, something good” is about to be called forth from each of us. We remembered again what it really means to be a Child of God. “In children,” my Hebrew Scriptures professor, Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller, once wrote, "we come face to face with what is most essential, most beautiful and most worthy of our dedication.” Gaudete Sunday really helped me remember this year, that what is most essential and worthy of my dedication, as a Child of God, is not life’s burdens and despair — but life’s possibility and promise. Gaudete Sunday helped me remember that
Dear friends: As I write this, we have not yet crossed over from Advent into the Christmas celebrations that await us. But as I prepare for that “silent night, holy night” and the dimmed sanctuary with only the faint glow of candles by which to sing, I find myself once again pondering that text from Isaiah’s ninth chapter, and thinking that sometimes the “darkness,” the places of “deep shadows,” as Isaiah phrases it, are clearer to the eye, and maybe our spirits, than are the places or moments of illumination — maybe sometimes they even hold the greater attraction or claim on our hearts. I remember when my brother and I were younger, we would rush home (as much as rushing home was possible in a land dependent upon rickety old school buses transporting us across acres and acres of farmland) to see a show on television called “Dark Shadows.” It was scary to us on some level, a world inhabited by vampires and those afraid they would be bitten or smitten in some cases, but we loved to watch it and plan what we would do if a vampire ever came our way. I think in some way we felt our world was one of “dark shadows,” and things beyond our control. There are a lot of things beyond most of our control these days and nights of winter. Many of us at MCCNY have experienced the loss of wages, even the loss of jobs; some of us have lost our apartments or been unable to pay the maintenance fees on our homes. A lot of us have had to make sacrifices in the way we live and sometimes in the way we help others to live. There are many shadowy, dimly lit places in our lives these days, both as individuals and as a community of faith. And I don’t know about you, but for me, there are moments when it is my temptation to allow life’s circumstances to “poof out,” as the children sang this past Sunday, the
neither an Emperor’s decree, nor a stable rude and bare, could delay or stop the birth of God’s promise in this world. It helped me recall again, that what we are looking forward to at Christmas is not the birth of one child, but the rebirth of all of us, the Children of God. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Illumination, people who write about such things say, is an observable property and effect of light. Maybe what the people of Isaiah’s community
(continued on page 2)
Celebrate the Holidays at MCCNY!
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Saturday, December 24th: 7 p.m.
Followed by our Annual Christmas Party
(Photo by Dallas Phelps)
Christmas Day Service* Kwanzaa Service
Sunday, December 25th:11 a.m.
Followed by our Annual Holiday Brunch
Sunday, January 1st: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 7 p.m.
Followed by our Annual Kwanzaa Feast *Please note: On Christmas Day, we will gather the entire MCCNY family of faith for the 11 a.m. Celebration. The 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Liturgies WILL NOT be held that day.
(Photos by Dallas Phelps)
The Query Quarterly/Winter 2012
446 West 36th Street New York, NY 10018 Phone: (212) 629-7440 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mccny.org
Metropolitan Community Church of New York 446 West 36th Street New York, NY 10018
MCCNY is a member of Metropolitan Community Churches, a global movement of faith with congregations in 28 nations. The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Letter from the Editor:
Dear Friends, As we celebrated Gaudete Sunday and the Blessing of Children and Young People this past Sunday, Reverend Edgard preached on the Joy available to each of us as God’s Beloveds. Sometimes, I think we need to stop. We need to stop and really, really reflect on and then really, really live into this Joy that God wants for us. This Joy that is found in the faces of Alexandre’s and Sebastian’s and Noble’s and Kai’s and Eli’s and Lucas’s and Joshua’s and Jimmaeya’s parents when they sing. This Joy that is found in the community of Ed and Ivy and Tyler and Jaymes and Micah and James and Marcus and Nina
and James and so many others when it gathers to serve a meal. This Joy that is found in the family and in the friends of Montel and Yolanda and Jen and Myrleen and Suni and Aleysia and Jaymes when they gather to worship. This Joy that is found in a spiritual center, a faith community, a chosen family these past 40 years.
Editor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mel Bryant Graphic Design and Layout Editor . . . . . Les LaRue Staff Photographer . . . . . . . . . . . . . Montel Cherry Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Collazo, Mike Easterling, Jaymes Grace, Dallas Phelps, Frances Wood Metropolitan Community Church of New York 446 W. 36th St., New York, NY 10018 (212) 629-7440 • www.mccny.org Sunday Worship Services at 9am (traditional) 11am (celebration), and 7pm (praise & worship) Available on iTunes. On TV in Manhattan: Sundays 1:30pm, Time Warner channel 57, RCN channel 85
MCC New Yorkers Making News
In its October 20, 2011 issue, The Huffington Post named its 15 top inspiring LGBTQ leaders. Four of the original 15 hold credentials from the Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches: The Reverend Troy D. Perry, (1) Founder and Moderator Emeritus, Metropolitan Community Churches The Reverend Pat Bumgardner, (2) Senior Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Executive Director, the Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches The Reverend Boon Lin Ngo, (3) Staff Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of New York Bishop Yvette Flunder, (4) Founder of the United Church of Christ Church, City of Refuge, Presiding Bishop, the Fellowship
by Mel Bryant
MCC Clergy Named in The Huffington Post’s 15 Top Inspiring LGBTQ Leaders
In that original story, the Huffington Post invited its readers to add the names of their own inspiring religious leaders to the list. Since then, the list has grown to include other leaders from the denomination: The Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson, (5) Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches The Reverend Elder Jim Mitulski (6) The Reverend Michael Hydes, (7) Senior Pastor, New Light Metropolitan Community Church, Hagerstown, MD The Reverend Dr. Neil Thomas, (8) Senior Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles The Huffington Post wrote: Reflecting and shaping the culture in which it is embedded, religion has historically been hostile to LGBT-identified people and communities. However, over the last three decades more denominations, congregations and individuals have come out in support of honoring the full humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people. Today, hundreds, if not thousands, of religious communities are truly places of celebration, healing and hope for all people. Thanks to the leadership of the clergy of Metropolitan Community Churches, this rings very true for the tens of thousands of LGBTQ individuals who call MCC their spiritual home.
This Joy that is William’s granddaughter, Joy Marie. This Holiday Season, come share in this Joy. It is available and it is abundant. It is inclusive and it is eternal. Happy Holidays. Enjoy the issue. Mel Bryant/Editor
A Christmas Message from Rev. Pat Bumgardner (cont.)
saw was what I am beginning to see again, through all the shadows of this world: that strength and courage belong to those who focus on the possibility in every moment; that peace and hope, comfort and joy come to those who trust in the mercy of God and that alone. I caught a glimpse of joy on Sunday, and made a sighting of people finding a reason to celebrate under trying circumstances, and for me that was one of the best gifts I ever received. God is with us in this place — I can feel God’s mighty power and see God’s glory on each face — and I hope you will join me in celebrating the comfort and joy, the peace and promise that belongs to those who walk in the light of God’s presence. I hope to see you on Christmas Eve at 7pm as we sing “Silent Night” by candlelight, followed by our annual gala holiday party, open to all — and again on Christmas Day at 11am for a wonderful celebration liturgy followed by our annual holiday brunch, again open to all. With love,
Reverend Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz Featured in India Today
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The Reverend Steve Parelli, Executive Director, Other Sheep, and his partner Jose Ortiz, were featured in the September 26 issue of India Today for their work to open a dialogue on homosexuality within the very conversative churches of Kerala. In the article, Reverend Steve says, “On issues of sexuality, Indian churches are as conservative as the most conservative evangelical groups of the U.S. The curriculum of Bible colleges here is the same as is followed by the most fundamentalist groups in the West. Hence, the dialogue we begin here is no mean achievement. There are priests and nuns of same-sex orientation here, too, as anywhere else in the world.” Jose, who serves as the Coordinator for Asia for Other Sheep, adds that it was actually the colonization by the West that “suppressed the Indian tradition of openmindedness towards sexuality,” citing George Nalunnakkal of the Malankara Jacobite Orthodox Church who had said, “India’s traditional silence on sexuality is a celebrated myth. In fact, the Indian mind has always engaged sexuality in a very open and radical manner. It was the colonisers who brought to India their values, suppressing Indian tradition.” Reverend Steve and Jose were invited to Kerala by the Trivandrum Theological Forum, an ecumenical Christian organization working for the rights of Dalit Christians, women and sexual minorities.
AA Bronson in W Magazine
AA Bronson, Mark Krayenhoff's partner of 15 years, was profiled in W Magazine following his solo exhibition at the Esther Schipper Gallery in Berlin. A central piece in the exhibition is AA’s Invocation of the Queer Spirits, a performance piece where the performance itself is secretive, where a “group of gay men gather, draw a circle, and invoke the queer spirits of that location . . . This is a solemn occasion where we declare ourselves to be a community of the living and the dead.” In W, AA says, “For people of my generation who saw so many people die from AIDS, I think it’s of particular significance. We’re extremely aware of the community we lost but they’re still part of our essence and being. The piece is about that continuity.” Community, Connection, Healing and Sexuality are important dimensions of AA’s work and life. AA, who is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary, says, “Being a healer, being a priest, being a queer man, is not a choice for me, but a condition.”
‘Tis the Season of Gratitude and Giving!
Every year at this time, MCC New York launches our “Stuff the Stocking” campaign to raise the money necessary to fund our ministries and our mission that proclaim the radically inclusive message of God's Love for ALL God's creation. This year, MCC New York needs to raise $30,000 in end-of-year gifts over and above our regular Sunday offerings to make ends meet. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, we have been distributing adorable little “mini-stockings” as a physical symbol of our holiday gifts. A fireplace and mantle have been constructed in our sanctuary to give the stockings a home and act as a manifestation of our generosity to our spiritual home, our family of faith. Stockings represent MCC -2New Yorkers both near and far, members and non-members, those who attend weekly and those who cannot and those who are still with us and those who have passed on. For every donation made, a stocking will be placed on the fireplace in the donor’s honor. If you would like to make a donation to “Stuff the Stocking,” you can send a check or make a donation online. Please designate your gift for “Stuff the Stocking.” If you have questions on how you can make a donation, please contact Mike Easterling in the church office at 212629-7440 or via email at Mike@mccny.org. Please give as generously as you can to the Church that always gives generously to all God’s people.
(Photo by Mike Easterling)
News from MCCNY/Charities
On November 5th, MCCNY Charities, Inc. executive director William Morán-Berberena received the PRIDE award from the Puerto Rican Initiative to Develop Empowerment (PRIDE) for his continuing work on behalf of the LGBTQI community. PRIDE’s missions are to promote Puerto Rican LGBT identities, both cultural and sexual; to advocate for issues fundamental to the LGBT community; to increase community visibility; and to provide a safe haven for discussion and expression. Congratulations to William for this recognition of his over six years of service with MCCNY Charities, Inc.
by Frances Wood
MCC New York Celebrates!
by Mel Bryant
Charities Executive Director Receives PRIDE Award
MCC New York Celebrated the Feast of St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday, October 9, 2011. Members and friends were invited to bring their pet companions, or a photo or a memory of a companion, to the altar to receive a blessing from Reverend Pat.
Charities Launches New Website!
Check out MCCNY Charities, Inc.’s new website: www.mccnycharities.org Designed by Les LaRue, with images by Dallas Phelps, the new website is your source for information about donating, volunteering and finding out more about the MCCNY Charities, Inc. community! Many thanks to Les and Dallas for the beautiful, interactive design of the new website. MCC New York Celebrated Trans Day of Remembrance and Leather Sunday on Sunday, November 20, 2011. As part of the Trans Day of Remembrance, MCC New York celebrated with Nina Schnell and her nephew, Shane Ivan Nash (above), at his Naming Ceremony during the 11 a.m. Celebration Liturgy. Nina and her family hosted a special Social Hour following the service in honor of Shane. MCC New York celebrated Leather Sunday with the return of our Leather Honor Guard featuring MCC New Yorkers Mark Nomadiou, Nelson GonzalezGonzalez, Rev. Pat and Danny Gonzalez (pictured left to right, below).
(Photos by Dallas Phelps)
HYS Partners with Center for Anti-Violence Education
Beginning in November, HYS began working with The Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE) to bring violence-prevention programming to youth and staff at MCCNY Homeless Youth Services. In the coming year, CAE teachers will provide training for staff around violence prevention, and will lead twenty workshops with the youth we serve. After many years of collaboration, MCCNY Homeless Youth Services is proud to start this new project, funded through CAE's Community Alliance Against Violence.
by Christopher Collazo
Thanksgiving at Sylvia’s Place
For so many of us, the holidays are a time of family, of merriment, of celebration. But for many of the LGBTQI youth who receive services at MCCNY/Homeless Youth Services, this isn’t the case. For them, the holidays bring feelings of abandonment and rejection; loss and despair. However, there’s a miracle on 36th Street every holiday season at MCC New York as the church and charities become a home for the holidays for these LGBTQI homeless young people. Every Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Valentines Day and the Fourth of July, MCCNY and MCCNY Charities host holiday parties specifically geared to create a home environment for LGBTQI homeless youth. While many agencies are closed for the holidays, MCCNY and MCCNY Charities goes out in full holiday force. This Thanksgiving was no exception to the MCC New York/Charities traditon of a Thanksgiving celebration! Every year, Client Service Assistant LaDedra Brown creates the most delicious Thanksgiving feast you’ll find in this city; the most delicious and the most abundant as she prepares a feast to feed a small army of hungry bellies! Beginning days before Thanksgiving, she travels to every supermarket in town to select
every ingredient known to humankind to create her memorable meal. With steadfast dedication, LaDedra cooks tirelessly for 48 hours straight, without rest or sleep. Her mantra: “They need a Thanksgiving!” Volunteer Ted Mcguire comes in extra early to make sure that every last detail is in order. KC Michelus makes sure that the space is well organized and that no detail, no matter how small, is overlooked. Client Service Assistant and Trans in Action Facilitator Kristen Lovell, with her eye for high design and higher fashion, transforms the space into a glittering winter wonderland, a place where we could create movies with old Hollywood glamour but instead create wonderful holiday memories. Volunteer Dustin McCormick and his colleagues at the Little Hair Shoppe make all this possible through their fundraising efforts. On the behalf of all the youth at MCCNY Homeless Youth Services, thank you everyone! You are an integral part of creating these wonderful holiday memories. If you would like to be part of creating our Christmas memories this year, please contact me at Chris@mccny.org or call the church office at 212-629-7440.
(Photo by Jaymes Grace)
MCC New York Celebrated Friends and Family Day on Sunday, November 13, 2011 during the 11 a.m. Celebration Liturgy. This, our first Friends and Family Day, was hosted by Christians of African Descent. Visiting friends and family members (at left) were recognized during Welcome and Announcements and celebrated during a special gala Social Hour following the service.
MCC New York Celebrates Grandparents!
William Morán-Berberena welcomed his granddaughter (at left), Joy Marie MedinaMorán into the world on Wedneday, December 7, 2011. According to William’s husband, The Reverend Edgard Franciso Danielsen-Morales, William has adjusted to “ridiculous grandparenting” quite nicely. Joy Marie is the daughter of William’s daughter, Hilcia, who has volunteered at MCC New York. Congratulations to the family of Joy Marie! In other grandparenting news, The Reverend Pat Bumgardner and her spouse, Mary Jane Gibney, celebrated Halloween with their grandson, Joshua Leland Cherry Holmes by taking him Trick-or-Treating. According to his grandparents, Joshua, pictured in his Halloween costume (at right), did quite well at choosing his own candy. Joshua is the son of Montel and Yolanda Cherry Holmes.
Philip Reed Way
by Mel Bryant
The City of New York honored the life and legacy of Philip Reed on Saturday, September 10, 2011 with the naming of Philip Reed Way in Harlem. Philip, the first openly gay, HIV + African-American to sit on the Council of the City of New York, served MCC New York on its Board of Directors from 2005 until he died on November 6, 2008 after battling a lengthy and complicated series of illnesses for fifteen years. He is credited with securing city and state funding for the charitable work of MCCNY, connecting MCCNY leadership with elected officials and his pet project: bathroom renovation. City officials, family members and friends remembered Philip as the City of New York marked the legacy of this man known for his honesty, his steadfast belief in justice and his determination to get things done. He is missed.
(Photo by Dallas Phelps)
VolunQueering at MCC New York by Mel Bryant
Jaymes Grace first appeared on the scene at MCC New York at the annual Service of Gratitude, Thanksgiving, 2010. Quite simply, he showed up as the guest of his friend Stephanie and offered to help. He is still helping. Whether he is organizing the ever-in-needof-organizing “behind the wall,” serving during Social Hour or at one of MCC New York’s major celebrations or creating a new pamphlet for Christians of African Descent, Jaymes approaches every task with the same diligence, the same intention, the same intensity and the same love. One quick look at Jaymes’ Facebook pages makes it very, very clear that he has found a spiritual home and a family of faith at MCC New York. What his Facebook page may not make clear, however, is how blessed his family of faith is that he found us and claims us and takes care of us in such a beautiful and loving way. Jaymes, thank you for your service to MCC New York. You are a gift.
(Photo by Jaymes Grace)
Thanks(Photos by Dallas Phelps)
Ellie Reed, Phil's twin sister, surrounded by city officials, family and friends, holding the street sign honoring the legacy of her brother, Philip Reed.
Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project Celebrates Urban Harvest by Mel Bryant
The Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project celebrated its first growing season with a gala fundraiser on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at Metro Baptist Church. Revelers enjoyed delicious appetizers prepared by members of HKFP’s Core Group, live enterainment from Casey Dinkin and John Templeton and tours of the farm. A PowerPoint presentation, prepared by Betty Macklin of the Core Group chronicled the farm’s first year. A copy of the presentation is available on YouTube. Ticket sales and a silent auction that included tickets to the Blue Man Group and a gift set from the Brooklyn Brewery, raised more than $2,000 to continue the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project's work for a greener, more food-secure Hell's Kitchen. For more information on the Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project, a collaboration of MCCNY, Metro Baptist Church, Rauschenbush Metro Ministries (RMM) and the Clinton Housing Development Company, check out their website at www.hellskitchenfarmproject.org.