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Source: (consider it) Thread: Eccles: Metropolitan Community Church Worship
Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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I hardly think you can draw any sort of comparison between the MCC and the Agapemonites! I doubt the MCC is going anywhere anytime soon in the USA at least. I could imagine that at some point toward the end of the present century they might merge with the United Church of Christ, which by then may have also been merged with the Disciples of Christ. Or perhaps as United Methodists continue to evolve, the MCC will merge with the UMs (though I doubt it because of their quite different polities; a merger with the UCC would be far more likely). However, until all institutional discrimination against GLBT persons in the USA substantially ends, I think you'll see a continuing MCC presence.

Eddy, I can't get over a sense that you look at the MCC as some sort of freak phenomenon to be studied as a curiosity, rather than as a legitimate Christian church. I'm an Anglican, but I find your tone regarding the MCC offensive.

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Eddy
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Thats not fair LSK and I'm sorry you think that. As a gay man I wouldnt want MCC church'[s mission to ber devalued. I am interested in them and what Gay christians bring to worship.

I don't patronise them.

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Bishops Finger
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It was I who compared the MCC with the Agapemonites, though I did so with my tongue firmly in my cheek!

Personally, I can see that the MCC (however it organises itself and its liturgy) will probably have a part to play in the life of the Church at large for many years to come......

Ian J.

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Eddy
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I think thats true BF and thats why I wish they had a bit more liturgy to offer the church and some more distinctiveness. This would help show LGBT have something to give the church. As it is they seem to draw on other folk, and be stuck in a protestant style rut.
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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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I'm no lover of the protestant hymn sandwich. Yet I would repudiate the idea that ecclesial communities like the MCC are "stuck in a protestant style rut". It's not a rut for them; it's the way they do church. They didn't develop from a liturgical church tradition but from a very non-liturgical one.
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Eddy
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LSK you do seem to jump on my posts on this topic.

I admire many protestant style worship - like some of the Iona stuff, or some Reformed stuff in a modern vein. But some, and not all, I reckon is stuck in a rut, just like some Anglican stuff is, just like some RC or Anglo C stuff is.

I ain't read anything here that suggests MCC church have special offering to make in the field of liturgy. They draw on others it seems. Thats OK but it does ometimes I get stuck in a rut.

LGBT folk often have something to contribute to art, literature etc... what to liturgy I ask. MCC church does not provide the answer.

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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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One problem,I think, is that in most larger cities the more liturgically and artistically oriented gay folk would go to an Anglican church (or in the USA also to a parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). I'm afraid the cream has already been skimmed off the top by the time the MCC gets its constituency.
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Mamacita

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OK, folks, there has been an unpleasant undertone in the last few posts that bears pointing out. This would be a good time to remind everyone that Commandment 5 says "Don't easily offend, don't be easily offended." Mark and inwardly digest that, please.


Eddy, I've reread all 156 posts on this thread and can safely say that at least half a dozen different people have asked you the same question: If you are curious about the MCC church, why don't you pay them a visit? I would have hoped that by now it would be clear to you that this thread is not going to satisfy your curiosity about the MCC. A few people with actual experience of that denomination have helpfully passed through this conversation over the last few months, but they have moved on, and at any rate, even their expertise can't take the place of the direct experience of worship.

And while civil debate is expected in Eccles, I can honestly understand how others can become a bit exasperated at the seeming fruitlessness of this thread.

Finally, your question about whether LGBT folk have a particular contribution to make to liturgy may be one that's worthy of its own thread. Feel free to start one.

Mamacita, Eccles Host

[ 15. December 2009, 05:39: Message edited by: Mamacita ]

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Eddy
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Thats a really helpful comment Mamacita, thanks. It has made me think about my posts here on the MCC church. I take the point about going along and I am hoping to go to there East London branch sometime over the holiday season. I'll find out worship times and directions and try to get a mate or two to go with me.

But I still am not sure why its necessary to visit a church before you can talk about it and its ways and outlook. There seem plenty of folk her who give opinions but dont go to the churches they go on about. In fact some of the comments are really strong.

If you feel strongly about something it can be difficult to put it in the right words. If I offend on this MCC church discussion sorry.

What intrigues me is that worship forms a church doesnt it - like the Mass or the style is how some people identify a church, but that does not seem to be true for the MCC church. That has made me you see wonder and ask what forms and identifies this church then. I wondered about sexuality, and whether the LGBT make up gives it a special and distinctive feel which shows something to the bigger church.

I do think you see that 'Queer lifestyle' may have something to give to the church, and challenge too, and maybe one area is in liturgy and worship. I need to think more on this one.

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Eddy
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I was wondering on the Church Calendar thread about MCC and Harvey Milk.

Does anyone know which Calendar the MCC church keeps? I guess its just a simple western one. and does it have its own heroes that it remembers collectively? Or maybe, being a protestant church it doesnt bother with saints.

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RevAndy
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Hi folks,

I haven't been following this discussion - life is too short - but we had an email from someone who asked us to contribute again so here goes.

I think the basic inability to comprehend MCC comes from a broadly Anglican background. I've experienced this again and again over my 20 years as an MCC minister and have never quite understood why. Roman Catholics and Protestants generally seem to find it easier to understand us than Anglicans. Maybe there is a PhD thesis there. It's something to do with an attitude about "proper churches" and, presumably "improper" ones.

As I believe I have already said, MCC worship style varies from congregation to congregation and, within our larger churches, from service to service (with a variety of styles offered on a Sunday). We are by no means unique in this; look at the URC. In Manchester we meet in one URC church with a distinctive style best described as "thoughtful Presbyterian" the neighbouring URC - less than a mile away - has a totally different style which I can't quite define but is less structured. Yet they are served by the same minister and are part of the same denomination.

So, to the questions which seem to be exercising some of your minds....

What's distinctive about MCC's worship.

I'm not sure. I'm not sure what's distinctive about Baptist worship (it varies from charismatic evangelical to minister led liberal lectures). I'm not that sure what is distinctive about Anglican worship as in Manchester one can attend "catholic" style CofE which doesn't allow women priests, "catholic" style which does, "pentecostal" style and "liberal" style. (all within a few square miles) They are all Anglican but certainly all don't use the same liturgical resources; indeed the catholic style congregations seem to borrow material from another Communion.

Hallmarks of our worship would be around the shared ministry of clergy and laity, the Eucharist being the main Sunday service, and all being welcomed to receive Holy Communion. I am sure, however, that these hallmarks are common to many denominations.

Many, but not all, MCCs light a candle as an aid to prayer and reflection for people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, many use gender balanced language about humanity and God (but not all do this about God), many, but not all, offer a personal prayer of blessing at Holy Communion.

There is a "family resemblance" around MCC worship but it's difficult to define and, ultimately, doesn't matter. Unlike other churches we don't really worry too much if we worship in different ways. My own congregation has been described as a blend of "evangelical exuberance" and "catholic order". The describer was an Anglican priest so I am not totally sure what he meant!

Breakaway Church....

Fr Cuthbert is concerned about "breakaway" churches, their long term future and assumes that MCC actively poaches people. He also assumes we don't have biological growth.

There is a point about breakaway churches and I presume that one day the Methodists will return to the Anglicans, and the Anglicans to the Catholics who will, of course, reunite with the Orthodox:)

MCC didn't really break away from anything else. Wesley founded an Anglican society but the "break" happened when he ordained ministers because the bishops wouldn't ordain his people. The CofE doesn't see itself as a "breakaway" church but, being raised as a Catholic, I was taught a different history.......

MCC was founded to offer a church home to all who felt excluded and to reach those the other churches weren't interested in. Our founder, Troy, had been ordained as a Pentecostal minister but had been out of ministry for several years prior to founding the first MCC congregation in LA in 1968. He simply put an advert in a paper and waited to see who showed up - 12 did. Most had church backgrounds but didn't attend their churches anymore because of their sexuality, others were seekers and had not made a Christian commitment.

Growth

We don't poach people, or preach about the unfriendliness of other churches (we don't really need to even if we wanted to!).

We open our doors, advertise through the web, gay press, and pride festivals as well as invite people through personal contact. We welcome those who come along and seek to integrate them into our life and ministry as they return and become regulars.

Some have backgrounds in other Christian churches; many have no real church involvement before MCC, a significant minority in my own congregation have come to faith in the Lord through our ministry either from no faith background or from Islam.

The truth is that often the other Christian churches really help us grow. We saw a lot of people last year come along to us, all over the UK, exasperated by the debate in the Anglican Communion. They may not have been regular worshippers at Anglican churches but were increasingly fed up with the debate about our right to be Christian within that church. Benedict only has to say something silly about us for more people to find us, or other accepting churches, and conclude that working for change in the established churches is not a battle they want to fight.

We do have a small amount of biological growth through same sex parenting, adoption, children from previous relationships and from our heterosexual members. It would be fair to say, however, that we have significantly less children than most other denominations.

To Stay or Go

There has been a little undercurrent about whether it is "right" to found a church around an issue of human sexuality. Leaving aside whether the CofE was founded on issues of Henry VIII's marital difficulties, I don't think it any more odd than founding a church on the basis of a particular view of baptism, of the connection between Church and State or on race. It's a fact of life and whether it's right or wrong is, ultimately, a fruitless question.

There is a debate within the Christian lgbt community about whether we should stay within traditional churches to work for change or whether such work is so difficult, painful and debilitating that it's not worth the struggle (and really why should "we" work to change "your" mind?). Interestingly the current CEO of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is an MCC pastor.

The debate mirrors that of black people and the foundation of black-led churches. I wonder if those who wonder about the contribution of MCC to the wider Church's liturgical life are also interested in the contribution of the Black Led churches in the UK.

Baptism

Someone asked about our baptismal practice. Like the URC it's varied from congregation to congregation. Many pastors will baptise infants, a few prefer to offer a dedication service. Some MCC pastors will re-baptise a person who requests it; I won't. Increasingly adult baptism (either by pouring or immersion) is offered to those who have come to faith in Christ through our ministry.

Fish and Ponds and Bullying Pastors

MCC attracts all sort of people; occasionally they offer us their, no doubt well thought out, views on our worship. Often they want us to become a mirror of where they have been (but left).

We find it rather rude for a visitor to comment about what they think we do wrong; if I went to a Catholic church and said to the priest that I didn't like those prayers to Our Lady, or went to a Baptist church and said I disagreed with the concept of adult baptism or non-liturgical worship I'd be very politely told to find somewhere else to worship!

It's not happened to us in Manchester for a long time (that isn't an invitation!) but when it happened it always puzzled us that a visitor (invariably one who *knew* what the "right" way to do church was) felt they were entitled to comment and then felt annoyed if we didn't then march to their beat. No doubt that lays us open to accusations of being, as Longmire noted, as being bullies, but we will work hard not to sink under the weight of the disappointment.

Those who offer themselves for training for ordained ministry in MCC have to go through a rigorous selection and training process and we are very wary of those who have been rejected by other communions. The system isn't perfect and we make mistakes.

I hope this, over-long, post helps with some of your questions and perceptions, but I am tempted to think that for some the joy is the questioning not the answers.

Andy Braunston
MCC Manchester
www.mccmanchester.co.uk

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leo
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Your post may be long but it is very informative and echoes my experience as an occasional visitor to MCC.

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Long Mire
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Yes, a long and rather verbose post, yet very informative, but not, for me, in the way intended.

Some curious phrases:

"a broadly Anglican background" meaning?

"The describer was an Anglican priest so I am not totally sure what he meant" Because Anglican priests are always incomprehensible?

One suspects that the MCC minister has problems with Anglicans - me thinks he protesteth too much about Anglicans.

"MCC didn't really break away from anything else." Really - they broke away from mainstream churches and their founder broke away from his Pentecostal church.

"interested in the contribution of the Black Led churches in the UK. " There is far more interest in black led churches and their contribution than there is in churches like MCC. This area has been, and continues to be, well researched. (To name Hollenweger as just one researcher in this area).

"We find it rather rude for a visitor to comment about what they think we do wrong" We the royal (Queen's) we...or is the post the product of more than one person?

Why is it rude for a visitor to comment on what they found uncomfortable or 'wrong'? The Mystery Worshipper project gives positives and negatives about visits. I'd have thought such comments were helpful.

It is sad that MCC seem to base so much on what they are not, rather than a more positive approach. Having said which, the MCC minister does helpfully show the doctrinal and liturgical variety of MCC churches, and shows clearly that MCC liturgy is derivative rather than creative.

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Mamacita

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I also appreciated RevAndy's return to the conversation. A few reactions to LongMire's post, off the top of my head:

quote:
Originally posted by Long Mire:
One suspects that the MCC minister has problems with Anglicans - me thinks he protesteth too much about Anglicans.

I think it's more the situation that RevAndy was responding to questions posed (for the most part) by Anglicans, in an Anglican context.

quote:
"MCC didn't really break away from anything else." Really - they broke away from mainstream churches and their founder broke away from his Pentecostal church.
If I understand it correctly, the distinction is that MCC did not have its roots in a wholesale break (with entire congregations or groups of people who were already associated) from a previous denomination. Myriad people coming together from different backgrounds is quite a different phenomenon from, say, Wesley's followers moving from the C of E to Methodism, or (in a more modern context) a diocese deciding to realign itself with the Southern Cone. Those would be more accurately described as breakaways.

quote:
Why is it rude for a visitor to comment on what they found uncomfortable or 'wrong'?
I suppose this depends entirely on the visitor and the tone and nature of the comment. Personally, I would find a comment like "I couldn't hear the lectors" or "no one greeted me" to be constructive feedback; "I don't like the liturgy" -- not so much. It seemed to me that RevAndy had a particular experience or experiences in mind when writing the post above.

quote:
It is sad that MCC seem to base so much on what they are not, rather than a more positive approach.
Again, the poster was writing specifically in response to several questions and statements from members of this community (not all of which were especially friendly).

quote:
Having said which, the MCC minister does helpfully show the doctrinal and liturgical variety of MCC churches...
Yes, which I think we agree was very helpful.

quote:
... and shows clearly that MCC liturgy is derivative rather than creative.
Well, I think one could make a case that most liturgy is derivative, but that's probably a topic for another thread.

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Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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Long Mire
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I've been thinking further on this interesting topic and the discussion so far.

From what is being said MCC is not particularly a liturgical church. By this I mean it has no fixed liturgy and local congregations can do as they please.

Nor, would it seem to be a church united in its doctrines. There is no unifying oversight doctrinally it would seem. By this I mean in methodism or Anglicanism or even in Orthodoxy or catholicism there is an overseeing body which guards doctrines. (And I know, of course, that local churches do all sorts of things!)

Yes, MCC lies in its teaching within Protestantism, but actually its teachings also appear to vary from congregation to congregation. Some churches will re-baptise. Others will not. Some perform blessings of three-somes, others do not. Many have new age style teachings, some move towards a more traditional protestant doctrinal position. Some profess the uniqueness of Christ, others do not.

This leads me to think that the uniting factor is gay or lesbian people wanting to meet in a relaxed religious or quasi religious setting, where a variety of beliefs and practices can be held together. I can see the merit in this. Whether or not it is 'church' as that term has been traditionally know is, perhaps, open to question. I would see it more as a movement. This explains the 'clubby' nature of MCC as I experienced it.

Given this fringe nature of MCC the question of liturgy is especially interesting, if one pursues it from the line - What have mainstream churches to learn from fringe liturgies or gatherings of christians and others on the boundaries. Or to be more specific, what have mainstream churches to learn, in terms of liturgy, from MCC? It would be interesting to have comment on this question from MCC memebrs.

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leo
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It's not so much that MCC 'broke away' from any church. More that people were 'kicked out' or, at least, made to feel uncomfortable in 'mainline' denominations.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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