About SunCoast MCC...
When was SunCoast MCC Founded?
SunCoast MCC was founded in mid-February of 1995 when 78 persons gathered at the Days Inn in Venice, FL to lay plans for a new church in the greater Venice/Port Charlotte area of Florida. From its inception, this church has experienced growth due to its unique qualities, including but not limited to inspirational worship services, congregational care, the variety of ministries, joyful choir, open-hearted culture and a congregation that is committed to making SunCoast MCC a place where everyone is welcome. Rev. Dr. Sherry L. Kennedy served as senior pastor until her death in 2014. Beginning in 2017, Reverends Vickie Miller and Dr. Nancy Wilson serve SunCoast MCC as Co-Pastors.
Is SunCoast MCC a “Gay” Church?
Sometimes MCC has been referred to as a “gay church” – as a kind of shorthand. Some have referred to us that way as a way to imply that our ministry is only about being LGBTQ. Nothing could be further from the truth – our church and ministries are open to everyone, and we care about our community and our world, in all its diversity. In the early days, the “gay church” label was also meant to communicate that MCC was a profoundly safe space for LGBTQ people, where LGBTQ people were not just tolerated or welcomed, but were in leadership and helping to shape the community. In that sense, yes, we are a “gay church.”
There are many places in the world today where, just like in the US many decades ago, there is a need for a “gay church” that is out of the closet about radical inclusion, without discriminating against anyone.
What Happens During a Worship Service?
If you grew up going to church, many things about MCC’s worship service will seem familiar – ushers and our welcome team will greet you, we sing hymns and contemporary Christian music, read scripture, hear a sermon, take an offering, pray and celebrate Communion. MCC worship includes elements of worship that would be present in many Sunday worship services.
But, our message is always focused on God’s unconditional love for us, and the ways in which God calls us to do justice, and to be an active, welcoming community. We celebrate Communion weekly, and offer what we call “an open Communion,” meaning that all are welcome, whether or not you are a member of our church, or any church. At Communion, people often come forward with family or friends, and are offered the elements by clergy and lay people who are trained to serve you.
After service, refreshments are offered, so that we might have time to catch up with one another and greet newcomers.
What Does It Mean to be Congregationally Governed?
Decisions regarding the operations of the church are made by the congregation, operating under guidelines established by MCC Churches and guided and led by the Pastors and Board of Directors.
Spiritual direction at SunCoast MCC is provided by two pastors who share responsibilities for all worship and are the visionary leaders for the church. Pastors are called and chosen by the congregation for a length of time negotiated by the congregation.
Spiritual leadership and support is provided by the Pastors and a Congregational Care Team. .
A seven-member Board of Directors (Board) manages both the strategic plan as well as the day-to-day affairs of the Church on behalf of the Congregation which ultimately is in charge of financial and proprietary matters. The Board members with the exception of the Senior Pastor(s), are elected by the Congregation for up to three-year terms. The Senior Pastor(s) serves as the Moderator of the Board. Other responsibilities are assigned to Board members based on their abilities and calling. Qualifications to serve as a member of the Board are set forth in detail in the By-Laws of SunCoast MCC.
Congregational Forums are held at least twice each year but as often as needed to keep the members informed on matters pertaining to the life of the church. A meeting of the entire congregation is held annually for the purpose of reviewing and approving proposed By-Laws, the annual budget, electing Board members and Lay Delegates, and other matters of business that impact the church as a whole. Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings but only active members have a vote on business items. In order to make decisions, a quorum of 20% of the active membership is required. Virtual participation is allowed via electronic media.
SunCoast MCC has several programs and committees which are established to meet particular needs within the congregation. All committee chairs and program/ministry coordinators report to the congregation via the Pastor(s) and the Board of Directors.
How is SunCoast MCC Financially Supported?
SunCoast MCC is self-supported by regular tithes, donations, and special gifts from the congregation and friends of the church. In addition, a portion of tithes and offerings are sent monthly to Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) to meet the needs of the denomination, support our members worldwide, and provide a retirement fund for MCC pastors.
The congregation is provided with expenditure and income reports on a monthly basis and at the Annual Meeting.
The elected Board of Directors of SunCoast MCC is responsible for collecting and managing all the funds donated to our church and is accountable for the finances to the congregation.
How Does One Become a Member of SunCoast MCC?
Membership is open to anyone who wishes to affiliate with SunCoast. Each potential member is required to attend a membership class which provides a brief history about MCC and SunCoast MCC. It is an opportunity to meet the pastors, learn about the history of SunCoast MCC and what it hopes to achieve in the future. It is a time to meet other congregation members and learn about all the SunCoast MCC events and activities.
Individuals may maintain membership in another denomination if they wish but membership is not allowed in more than one MCC church.
What are the Benefits and Responsibilities of Being a Member of SunCoast MCC?
To become a member is to spiritually align with the mission and vision of SunCoast MCC, and to take the step of becoming involved and responsible for the life of this community. It is to publicly acknowledge one’s faith journey and to commit to helping to make SunCoast MCC a wonderful expression of God’s love in community. Our members make us stronger and better, more able to reflect the diversity of God’s people. To move from being a visitor, or guest, or even regular attender is to say that I am willing to offer more of myself to this community, and am invested in its future and success.
In What ways can I Participate in the Life of the Church Without Becoming a Member?
Anyone and everyone is welcome to take part in the life of the Church, which includes serving on ministry teams and other volunteer activities. Our social events are open to the public. We have many worship and social activities that offer opportunities to network and get connected with other people. MCC recognizes “friends” of the church as those who are not able or ready to become a member. Although friends of the church have a voice, they cannot vote at business meetings or be on the Board of Directors until becoming a member of SunCoast MCC. There are many opportunities to be paired up with a mentor to learn more about SunCoast MCC and to be as involved as you are able or interested.
Does SunCoast MCC Have a Youth Program?
Children and youth are welcome at MCC! Currently we do not have a special children’s program during worship, but children are welcome in our worship services and events.
About Metropolitan Community Churches...
Can you be gay (LGBTQ) and Christian?
Yes! This is the reason MCC started in the first place – to provide a safe, open-hearted church in which all people, including LGBTQ people, could participate, lead and grow in their faith.
We believe that the reasons LGBTQ people have been rejected by the church have to do with prejudice and harmful misunderstandings of the Bible. Our church seeks to overcome those prejudices and misunderstandings, and to provide a place where all people can thrive and meet their full, spiritual potential.
We believe that the message of Jesus was God’s unconditional love for all. The gospels are full of stories in which he reached out to people that other people labeled “sinners,” with love, acceptance and grace. We believe that God does not discriminate, and that what needs to be changed is not our sexuality, but our hearts. Learning to love and accept ourselves and each other, speaking out for those who do not have justice or hope, this is our mission.
Doesn’t the Bible condemn homosexuality?
We believe that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, or LGBTQ people and our loving, mutual relationships.
Rev. Nancy Wilson, has written a book about it, called Outing the Bible: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Christian Scriptures and is available for sale through bookstores or order through Amazon.
There are many excellent books and resources on the critique of the traditional, negative view of homosexuality and the Bible. Reach out to email@example.com for a listing.
We believe that sexual relationships between persons of the same sex, or opposite sex, should be governed by consent, mutuality, love, respect and honesty. These are Biblical values.
There are six passages in the Bible that have been misused to condemn same-sex relationship. For sixty years, scholars have been revisiting those passages, and coming to the same conclusion: that those scriptures have been misinterpreted because of cultural prejudice against homosexuality.
Meanwhile, the Bible has plenty to say about loving your neighbor, reaching out to the outcasts, promoting peace and reconciliation, forgiveness, God’s healing love for all and the importance of speaking up for justice. These are the values that we preach and teach at SunCoast MCC.
What is the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)?
Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) is a Christian denomination with churches worldwide. There are 18 congregations in Florida. MCC has congregations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. There are 160 Affiliated Churches, 45 Emerging Ministries, and 7 Oasis Communities in 33 countries worldwide. For more information, click here: MCC Global Presence
MCC was founded in 1968 by Rev. Troy Perry, a former Assembly of God minister who was forced out of his church when he came out as a gay man. Since that time, MCC has been a leader in civil and human rights, addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economic, climate change, aging and inclusion on a local and a global basis. MCC has led the struggle towards marriage equality in the USA and other countries worldwide, performing the first same-gender marriages in the United States. MCC recognizes a state of need around the world in the areas of human rights and justice and has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging and global human rights.
As people of faith, MCC endeavors to build bridges that liberate and unite voices of sacred defiance and transformation for all people who are marginalized or excluded, including but not limited to those who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, or queer.
What does MCC believe?
MCC believes in a God of unconditional love, in a Jesus who is our compassionate, divine friend and in a Holy Spirit who empowers us to be God’s holy presence in a hurting world. Our core values are:
Love is our greatest moral value and resisting exclusion is a primary focus of our ministry. We want to continue to be conduits of faith where everyone is included in the family of God and where all parts of our being are welcomed at God’s table.
Offering a safe and open community for people to worship, learn, and grow in their faith is our deep desire. We are committed to equipping ourselves and each other to do the work that God has called us to do in the world.
Providing a message of liberation from the oppressive religious environment of our day or to those experiencing God for the first time is what guides our ministry. We believe that when people are invited to experience God through the life and ministry of Christ, lives will be transformed.
Working to talk less and do more, we are committed to resisting the structures that oppress people and standing with those who suffer under the weight of oppressive systems, being guided always by our commitment to Global Human Rights.
How is MCC Governed?
Each MCC church is governed locally by a Board of Directors and a congregation that elects its pastor(s).
MCC as a denomination is governed by the churches and members of the denomination through elected representatives and appointed Elders.
- Moderator – serves as the public spokesperson and visionary leader of the denomination. The moderator is elected by the members of the denomination for up to two 6-year terms.
- Council of Elders – serves as the spiritual leaders of the denomination, providing guidance according to their personal gifts and calling.
- Governing Board – provides for the day-to-day business of the denomination.
The Moderator and Governing Board are elected at a General Conference held every three years. At this conference, each church has a voice and vote on the representatives as well as by-laws and other business matters. Every licensed clergy person has a vote at the General Conference. Churches are also represented by Lay Delegates who have a vote. The number of Lay Delegates is determined by the size of the church. A lay delegate is elected by the congregation and is responsible to the local congregation to represent them at all General Conferences and Network meetings. Delegates are responsible for keeping the congregations informed on concerns and policies of MCC.
When Will the Next MCC General Conference Be Held?
The next General Conference will be held in July 2022, in Austin, Texas. It will be a combination of virtual and in-person. The General Conference will bring together MCC’ers from around the globe to worship and learn. All are welcome to this gathering of Christians who celebrate God’s, All-Inclusive Love.
Come, taste, and experience all that MCC is and is becoming.
We use this time together to conduct our denominational business and provide educational opportunities through workshops, day-long institutes, and plenaries. If it is a spiritual connection you are seeking, we also provide social opportunities, affinity groups, and diverse and uplifting worship experiences.
If you have any questions or like additional information, please use the link to learn more. MCC General Conference
Does MCC Endorse Particular Candidates for Political Office?
MCC abides by US laws, and, as a church does not endorse candidates for public office. However, we can and do speak out on issues of justice, which is not only legal but, we believe, is a part of our calling. Like all churches, we can speak to issues that are on a ballot and being voted on. We encourage our members to exercise our rights as citizens and vote.
How Does MCC Support Social Justice Issues?
MCC has been active in social justice issues since our founding. Racial justice, justice for women, for immigrants, for LGBTQ people, environmental justice, gun violence, peace, advocacy for those who are discriminated against – these issues are important to us.
If I am Catholic or was raised Catholic, will I feel at home or welcome in MCC?
Many MCCers grew up Catholic, may consider themselves culturally Catholic or still have a connection to Catholic liturgy.
When MCC was founded, it was intended to be inclusive of many Christian traditions. MCC celebrates Communion every Sunday, and at special holy days, which will be very familiar to those from a Catholic background.
Our liturgy at SunCoast MCC resembles a contemporary Catholic eucharistic liturgy. Many of the responses and language will be very familiar.
We also invite people to come forward to receive, as in the Catholic church, only with a difference: you are invited to come forward by yourself, or with a spouse, partner, friends or family. Our MCC theology, developed over 50 years, takes its cue from several strands of contemporary Catholic thought: Liberation Theology, and also the ecumenical theology of Vatican II. In MCC overall, about 40% of people come from a Catholic background. At SunCoast MCC, that number is probably a little higher. Pope Francis told a young man in Chile, who came out to him as gay, that “God made you the way you are . . .” and let him know that God, and he, the Pope, had no problem with that. We are bold enough to think that the work of MCC has even had an impact on the Pope. . . and that is a good thing for the church and for the world.