A Pastoral Message On The Occasion of the 30th Anniversary of UFMCC
This has been a powerful week in my personal life.
On October 6th, we observed the 30th anniversary of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.
I’ve replayed the events of the past 30 years over and over in my mind. What a jumble of emotions and thoughts and feelings! I’ve felt a deep sense of spiritual peace. I’ve felt a healthy sense of accomplishment. I’ve recalled the lives we’ve touched and helped. I’ve thought about the ministries we’ve reclaimed and — literally! — the lives we’ve helped to save.
More than anything today, I am feeling joy at God’s blessing upon the Universal Fellowship. Yes, out of my own meditation this week, I’m feeling a keen sense of joy at what God has accomplished through us over these past 30 years:
- By our faithfulness, we’ve caused the debate over gay spirituality to be raised in every denomination and sect of Christianity. We’ve helped put the debate on the table and taken a bold stand for social and spiritual justice for all God’s people.
- By God’s grace, we’ve experienced 30 years of unbroken growth, an amazing accomplishment. At a time when many mainline denominations have experienced significantly declining growth, UFMCC continues to grow every year, and has averaged 6% growth per year over the past decade.
- One of the greatest joys of my life has been to see the international growth into 15 countries of the world. And in our offices today are letters from 32 countries asking for an MCC presence for their people.
- When those first twelve worshipers met in the living room of my tiny rented house in Huntington Park on October 6, 1968, I never dreamed that someday UFMCC would become the oldest and largest gay spirituality organization touching the lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons.
- Every day I thank God for the blessing of new technologies. Thousands of people are finding spiritual hope through the UFMCC website. 180 local churches now host websites to share their ministries. More than 4000 subscribers around the world receive regular information through the UFMCC E-Mail News Service. And the UFMCC Intranet is placing resources in the hands of local churches and pastors around the world.
In my private time this week, God has deeply impressed these powerful words — this powerful promise — from Isaiah 61:7:
“Instead of your shame, you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion, they shall rejoice.
In your land, you shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.”
This month we launch a 10-month 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Universal Fellowship “A Jubilee of Joy!” which will culminate with the UFMCC General Conference and World Jubilee in Los Angeles July 11-18, 1999. I want to invite you to join us for this joyful celebration, including the dedication of the UFMCC World Center in West Hollywood.
The first sermon I preached at the very first MCC service in 1968 was entitled, “Be True To You.” And, you know, I believe we’ve lived that message. Together, we’ve stood true to our calling. We’ve not wavered in the face of threats of attacks. We’ve not watered down our message to gain approval or acceptance. We held fast to our prophetic voice.
There’s one other thought — one final thought — I’d like to share with you today…
I am absolutely, totally convinced that UFMCC’s best days of service, ministry and growth are yet ahead of us. Everything I have learned from 30 years of ministry in the GLBT communities causes me to feel this. We’ve really just begun. I know this by the growing number of letters I receive from hurting, lonely people. I know this from the numbers of people still finding rejection and pain in other churches. I know this by the tidal wave of response we’re receiving through the Internet, from websites and by e-mail. I know this by the number of people who stop me on the street to talk with me in every city I visit. I know this by the number of countries that have no affirming GLBT spiritual presence. I know this by the unfinished work yet to be done on behalf of social and spiritual justice for all people.
Saints, our best days of service and ministry are yet ahead of us!
So I invite you this week to set aside some time to thank God for the blessings which have been poured out upon the Universal Fellowship… to offer praises for lives healed and saved and restored through our churches — and then to look boldly to the future, believing that UFMCC’s best days are yet to come.
This, indeed, makes for A Jubilee of Joy!
Troy D. Perry
Founder and Moderator
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?