Today, by God’s grace, I complete my service as Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches.
I am writing these words to you today from my almost empty offices in the MCC World Centre in West Hollywood, California. The mementos of 37 years of ministry and memories — photographs, plaques, awards, and correspondence — have all been packed and moved to my home office. This office is now almost empty. But my heart is full.
What am I feeling on this day as I prepare to close one chapter of my life — and prepare to open a new one? More than anything else today, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. I am so thankful for the calling God placed upon my heart 37 years ago, and I am thankful for God’s guidance, grace and strength that have sustained me along every step of the way.
And I want you to know that I am thankful to God for you: I am so thankful for your commitment to this ministry, and thankful that we have made this journey of faith together. I know better than anyone that this ministry of founding and leading Metropolitan Community Churches would not have been possible without the love and prayers and faithfulness of friends such as you. My testimony is that there has been great joy in this journey because we have traveled it together.
Today, I also want to express my deepest appreciation to Frank Zerilli, who has faithfully served our Fellowship as the Confidential Assistant to the Moderator during the past 30 years. I am thankful for his faithful commitment to our Fellowship — and thankful that he will continue to provide support to me and our denomination over the coming Iwo years. This is a time of reflection in my own life.
Even as a child growing up in Georgia and Florida and Alabama, I sensed God’s presence and guidance on my life. But I scarcely even dreamed of the journey my own life would take, or the doors God would open to me.
So I am filled with gratitude that God would use this ministry to create places of worship and hope for LGBT people — and break down the barriers that have existed for thousands of years between too many faith communities and God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children. Together, we have forever changed the face of the Christian Church.
And I never imagined then that I would one day speak in person to one million people, as I did at the LGBT Marches on Washington. Or be invited to the White House by U.S. Presidents. Or meet with the members of parliaments and legislatures around the world, or with Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
But I want you to know that, today, those are not the experiences that are most deeply on my heart and mind. More than anything else as I prepare to complete my duties as Moderator of our Fellowship, I am thinking of the literally thousands and thousands of individuals from every walk of life and from cultures around the globe who have come up to me at churches, or universities, or public events and said:
“MCC’s ministry saved my life.”
“It was through MCC that I rediscovered my faith in God.”
“I came into MCC and felt I had come home.”
“This church saved my ministry.”
“MCC helped me believe again.”
There is no greater joy in my life than knowing that on this journey over the past 37 years, we’ve — together — touched lives, inspired hope, and helped people discover their value and meaning through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
And I’m not only reflecting on God’s blessings of the past. Today, I’m doing what we’ve always done in Metropolitan Community Churches: I’m looking with faith and anticipation to the future. I believe the words of the Hebrew prophet that God is blessing us with “a future and a hope.”
That’s why I hope you will join me in Washington, DC during October 28-30 for the Installation Service of MCC’s new Moderator, the Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson. It is so important that we celebrate this transitional moment in the life of our movement as a community.
And I ask now that you do for Nancy what so many of you have done for me: Surround your new Moderator with your love, and your support, and hold her in your prayers as she leads us into new places of ministry to our world.
So many of you have written to ask, “What will you be doing next?” Let me be very clear: While I am retiring as Moderator of our Fellowship, I will continue to preach God’s message of inclusive love both inside and outside of MCC. I strongly believe the words of Scripture which say, “The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance” — that is, God’s call to ministry is a lifetime call.
So long as God gives me breath and strength, I will continue the struggle for justice and equality. I will accept speaking and preaching engagements as I am invited, in churches and faith communities, at colleges and universities, and at public events. I hope to continue to write and to share the insights I’ve learned over these past 37 years of ministry and service.
In closing, I only wish I could speak to each of you in person. If I could do so, I’d thank you. I’d express my love for you. I’d thank you for the love you have shown to Phillip and me over the years. I’d encourage you to continue your faithful service to Metropolitan Community Churches. And I’d challenge you to remain faithful to God and to the teachings of Jesus Christ, upon which this church is founded.
On this final day as your Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, I leave you with these words from I Peter 2:9 that remind you of who you are in God’s sight: “You are a chosen generation. A holy nation. A royal priesthood.”
And because life has a way of coming full circle, I leave you today with these words from the very first sermon I preached at the first service of Metropolitan Community Churches on October 6, 1968: “Be true to you. Be true to yourself, just as God created you. And be true to God, who loves you just as you are.”
“Now unto the One who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of God’s glory with exceeding joy: To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24)
The Reverend Dr. Troy D. Perry
Moderator Emeritus of Metropolitan Community Churches
An American religious leader and gay and human rights activist, Rev. Troy Deroy Perry Jr. is founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. On June 28, 1970, with two friends, Morris Kight and Bob Humphries, he founded Christopher Street West to hold an annual Pride parade that is now the world’s oldest. His books include the autobiography The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay and a sequel titled Don’t Be Afraid Anymore, plus Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage and 10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians* (*and everyone else!). He was a contributing editor for the book Is Gay Good?