MCC Manchester - The Church For Everyone
The Metropolitan Community Church was founded in America in 1968 in order to provide a church home for those excluded from other churches - a trans person was one of the twelve people who attended the very first MCC meeting in 1968. In particular we provide a spiritual home for those who were rejected due to gender identification or sexual orientation. We have had congregations in the UK since 1972 and have always included trans people in our life and ministry.
The Church For The Trans Community
In MCC we welcome everyone with open arms and seek to provide an affirming and non-judgmental atmosphere. Our trans members play a full and active part in our ministry, leading worship, celebrating Holy Communion, welcoming others, preaching, and taking part in the government of church. People may dress as they please and we provide care and support for people at all stages in their journey. Our trans members are particularly skilled at helping and encouraging other trans people as they explore their identities. Our whole church welcomes everyone who comes without bias or prejudice. Many of our members are lesbian, bisexual or gay and know from their own experience about the pain of coming to terms with who they really are.
A Place To Be Yourself
Each Sunday we celebrate together, providing Spirit-filled uplifting worship, and offering Holy Communion to all who wish to receive. Our services are both joyful and structured, last just over an hour and are followed with time to share simple refreshments. The choir, which enhances our worship, is second to none and is always looking out for new members.
On alternate Tuesday evenings we hold a simple service called Sacred Space . This service is for healing of mind, body and spirit. This is often set in the context of Holy Communion and occasionally we offer the traditional rite of prayer accompanied with laying on of hands and anointing with oil. For details go to Spirituality > Mid-week Worship.
A Place of Acceptance
In MCC we accept people just as they are - in the same way that we believe God accepts us just as we are. Our trans members say that the most valuable thing they appreciate in our church is the opportunity to be accepted, without anyone batting an eyelid. The chance to make friends and to be accepted in all our diversity is the most valuable gift we can offer - as we believe this acceptance and diversity are two of the most wonderful attributes of God.
A Place of Diversity
Our church is made up of heterosexuals, gay men, lesbian women, bisexuals, and trans people, as well as those who don't wish to define. People come to us from many different Christian traditions - but we particularly attract people from Roman Catholic and Evangelical backgrounds. We also have people who come from no particular faith background and who have embraced the Christian faith through our life and ministry.
What About the Bible?
The Bible is one of the main cornerstones of our faith and is important as it tells us of the sovereign works of God with the Jewish people, in the life of Jesus, and in the life of the earliest Christian churches. As we study the Bible we seek to use the best insights of modern Biblical scholars and we seek to use the Bible as a tool to interpret the Bible. Therefore, we use Jesus's example of love and acceptance as the lens through which we interpret the Bible so that it makes sense for us in our own age and culture.
What about THAT Text?
"A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this." (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Anyone in the trans community who is a Christian or Jew needs to come to terms with this verse. It is a verse used to condemn trans people - indeed the footnote in the New International Version Bible Commentary explicitly makes reference to transvestites.
In all probability the text was condemning people who cross-dressed so they could gain access into spaces reserved for the other sex for the purpose of illicit sexual intercourse. Hence a man might dress as a woman in order to gain unlawful access into women's areas of the Jewish village. The law was concerned with keeping men and women separate so they would not fornicate. Incidentally a 16th Century Jewish commentary on the Law, the Shulhan Arukh, states that during the festival of Purim people may cross-dress for the purpose of "gaiety" not adultery. This would lend support to the idea that the intention of the law was to prevent sexual sin.
To view a Microsoft Word document offering a thorough and detailed analysis of this text by the Reverend David Horton, an Anglican priest in the Rochester diocese, click here.
Are We a "Real" Church?
Jesus said that wherever "two or three" are gathered in His name he would be there with them. There are significantly more than this number worshipping with us each week!
We believe that a "real" church is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus.
- We are One in that our unity is in Jesus. This is best summed up in the liturgical verse from the Anglican Church: "though we are many, we are one body because we each share the one bread".
- We are Holy in that our holiness is in Jesus our head who sanctifies his church.
- We are Catholic in that we are open to all people without distinction and without prejudice. This is the real meaning of Catholic. Indeed many churches which describe themselves as being "catholic" are not really universal as they don't welcome all types of people.
- We are Apostolic in that we follow the teachings of the apostles as laid out in the New Testament.
Our professional clergy are as highly trained as in other denominations - they need a degree and at least two years of postgraduate training - and we enjoy warm relationships with many other congregations in Manchester.
To read more about this, go to Spirituality > Are we really a church?
Links to trans support/discussion groups
MCC Manchester is proud to have been the founding body behind the (now independent) TransForum Manchester - one of the North West's major transgender support, discussion, consultation and advocacy groups. We have included links to other trans-related organisations on our Links page which you can find at General > Links.
"Nature delights in diversity.
Why can't human beings delight in their diversity too?"
God, You are the Creator and Lover of us all.
You wish us to live in solidarity with each other
and to rejoice in our diversity.
We pray that all Your transgender, lesbian, gay,
bisexual and straight children may experience justice,
enjoy peace and spread Your love throughout the world.
We pray in the name of God,
who welcomes all to his holy circle of friendship.
Lord, when you created us,
you saw that what you created was good.
You made us what we are in the womb
before our mothers knew us,
and like all of your creation
you saw that we too are good.
Forgive us when we hurt in a world turned from your love
because we feel unloved, forgetting how near you are.
Help us in our Gender Dysphoria and how we deal with it.
Be with those we love
and those we have hurt by our Gender actions.
Be with those we love
and those who have hurt us.
You promise a new creation to those who are in Christ.
Help us to work with you to bring this about:
in our own lives, amongst our loved ones,
our friends and neighbours, and in the wider world.
God grant us the courage to change the things we can change,
The serenity to accept those we cannot change,
And the wisdom to know the difference -
But God grant us the courage not to give up on what is right
Even though It may seem hopeless at the time.
(Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz - CinC US Pacific Fleet in WW2)
All who seek to do what is right in our world
suffer in one way or another.
Help us to remember that to be transgendered
is just one gift and just one problem
among so many in our world.
Remind us that there are other groups
that are just as isolated, hurt and persecuted.
Help us to honour all who work with hope
for justice and reconciliation.
Help us to support all who give themselves
to bring love and peace.
Help us to remember most of all that, as Christ,
you were despised and rejected,
a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief;
and that at the very moment you were redeeming us,
we rejected you,
and condemned you to a criminal's death on the Cross.
As we change our own situation
and the face we present to the world,
help us to trust in your love.
We ask this in the name of the man of sorrows, Jesus Christ,
our Lord, our brother, our friend and our redeemer.
God, whose love and compassion extends to all
without distinction of sex or sexuality,
We offer you our lives and experiences
as transgendered people, gay men, bisexuals and lesbian women.
Help us to play our special part
in your work of redeeming love for all people.
Give us strength to carry your love
into a world that may reject or ignore us.
May we journey with Christ in faith and truth and justice,
trusting in your eternal love.
Because of what I am, it's strange, Lord,
but I never thought that I should finish up
being thankful for what I am.
I am thankful, Lord,
because I realize that,
rather than not being able to serve you because of what I am,
it is because of what I am
that I can serve you in a unique way.
(Jan Goddard 'Prayers from the both of me')
Some book recommendations from our trans members
At the March 2005 meeting of a trans discussion group, the following books were put forward as having been of particular interest in the areas of gender, identity, sexuality and transition.
Many of these titles are still in print and available for purchase via online booksellers such as Amazon.co.uk or its American partner Amazon.com. In some cases, used copies of out-of-print titles can be obtained from re-sellers through your Amazon account.
Copies of these titles should also be available through the public library service for those who would prefer to borrow rather than buy. Remember, by placing requests for these books and encouraging libraries to stock them, you are helping to put these titles within reach of other readers who may themselves be dealing with trans issues and are seeking good material.
- April Ashley's Odyssey (Duncan Fallowell and April Ashley) Jonathan Cape 1982
- Brainsex (Anne Moir and David Jessel) Michael Joseph 1989 / Mandarin 1991
- Dress Codes: of three girlhood's - my mother's, my father's, and mine (Noelle Howey) Picador USA 2002 / Virago 2003
- No Nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity (Vanessa Baird) Verso 2001
- Feminizing hormonal therapy for the transgendered (Sheila Kirk) Together Lifeworks 1999
- Body Shock: Truth about changing sex (Liz Hodgkinson) Virgin Books 1987
- Gender Outlaw: on men, women, and the rest of us (Kate Bornstein) Vintage Books USA 1995
- The Woman I was not Born to Be: a transsexual journey (Aleshia Brevard) Temple University Press 2001
- Geraldine: for the love of a transvestite (Monica Jay) Caliban Books 1985 / Mandarin 1992
- Gender Play: girls and boys in school (Barry Thorne) Rutgers University Press 1993 / Open University Press 1993
- Conundrum (Jan Morris) Penguin 1997 / Faber and Faber 2002
- Gina: The Woman Within (Gina Large) Interactive Promotions and Publishing 2003
- Pomosexuals: challenging assumptions about gender and sexuality (Carol Queen and Lawrence Schimel [eds.]) Cleis Press 1997
- Finding the real me: true tales of sex and gender diversity (Tracie O'Keefe and Katrina Fox [eds]) Jossey Bass Wiley 2003
- Stephanie: a girl in a million (Stephanie Anne Lloyd and Sandra Sedgbeer) Ebury Press 1991
- I want what I want (Geoff Brown) Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1966
- Man into woman: the first sex change: a portrait of Lili Elbe (Niels Hoyer [ed.]) Blue Boat Books 2004
- Journal article: What is gender and who is transsexual/transgendered (Carl W.Bushong) - available online at http://www.docbushong.com/pubs/what_is_gender.asp
- Web page: Roberta Cowell: the first British transsexual - available online at http://www.transgenderzone.com/features/roberta_cowell.htm
- Roberta Cowell's story, by herself (Roberta Cowell) Heinemann 1954
- Unashamedly Me: the story of a transsexual woman's struggle to become herself (Teraina E. Hird) Fast Print Publishing 2012.
Some video/YouTube recommendations:
- Voices of Witness: Out of the Box - A moving, sincere and affirming documentary about the experiences of trans people within their church communities.