For centuries, homosexuals have been ostracized, forced to hide their sexual orientation or face humiliation, even execution. However, as time has progressed and society has seemingly become more accepting, homosexuals have found ways to assimilate into “normal” society.
There are clubs, restaurants, and even pride weeks that are dedicated and catered to the LGBT community. It helps foster a sense of community, as well as a way to blur the ethical lines, society often tries to draw. A phenomenon that has developed in the last few decades is “gay churches.” Gay churches come on two scales according to Reverend Robert Coats of the Metropolitan Community Church. Coats explained the difference between a church catered to the LGBT community like the Metropolitan Community Church and churches that area accepting. Churches that are classified as accepting and affirming require a vote to be held to allow homosexuals to become members of the church. The MCC does not require such a vote and upholds the belief that it is welcoming and affirming to all people.
And by all people, Reverend Coats means all. He says, “I had a couple recently contact me because they were having problems finding a church home. They had been together a few years and were living together. But they weren’t married. They were turned around from a lot of churches because of that. So I was contacted for advice or suggestions on where they should look into for worship.”
Included in that all is the LGBT population. Reverend Coats is a gay man himself. After coming out, he searched for a place he could call home religiously. He recalls his first experience at the MCC. “I found the MCC. It was the only open and affirming church in the area of the country I lived in. I only found out about them through an Internet search. I had never heard of the MCC. Very first Sunday I went I was literally afraid. Because my friends had told me, it’s just a bunch of gay people that get together and pretend to have church. It’s not a real church.” Despite Coats’ hesitations he was impressed with the service and its normality.
He states, “Everyone looks like any other church I’ve been into. They have a pulpit, a cross, and hymnals, and pews. When it came time to pass the peace…there were people of the same gender kissing. But it wasn’t a sexual kiss it was literally the passing of the peace. Except this time two men could do it or two women could do it and it wasn’t any people in shock.”
The Metropolitan Community Church started in 1968 in Los Angeles. The formation of the church came during a time when tensions between Christians and homosexuals were hostile. The church has since expanded to 31 different countries and has over 200 churches. The MCC is of the Christian domination being Protestant oriented. It also performed the first gay marriage ceremony. The MCC has been active in the Boston area since 1972.
The church is both welcoming and makes the effort to eliminate pronouns from sermons as to not create any gender bias. The MCC observes every Christian holiday and holds Eucharist weekly. It is both a haven and outlet for many gays in the community to foster their spiritual connection. Like any other traditional church, service opens with a prayer and a warm welcome of all members and visitors in attendance. Standard hymns and congregational recites highlight the service.
However, due to the increase in numbers of accepting and affirming churches the MCC does not boast a high attendance rate. On an average Sunday there are usually between 30-40 people at service. Reverend Coats attributes low congregation numbers to the numerous religious options the LGBT community now has in the area. For more information concerning accepting and affirming churches, be sure to take a look at the map below.
For more information concerning the Metropolitan Community Church in Boston visit: http://mccboston.org