Gay Metropolitan Community Church faces shrinking parish

Sun. January 2, 2011 8:41 AM by News Staff

Orlando, Fla. - Gays and lesbians are now accepted at many churches, and while that's progress, it means that the pews are growing empty at the Metropolitan Community Church.

The MCC was founded in 1968 by Rev. Troy Perry in Los Angeles and now has 300 churches in dozens of countries around the world, with 43,000 members.

Perry created the MCC to give LGBT Christians a safe place. Now, many mainstream American Christian churches welcome LGBT parishoners.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that at a recent service at the Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Florida, "just about everybody in the sanctuary was male and most were middle-aged."

The problem goes beyond the greater acceptance of gays in other Christian denominations; there's also the fact that gay men are less likely to have kids, so they're not passing membership in MCC down to the next generation.

"The truth of the matter is the church is either going to stretch and grow — or die," MCC Rev. Lisa Heilig told the Sentinel.

"What I'm finding is they don't want to go to a church where they are segregated by their sexuality," said the Rev. Jenn Stiles Williams, who told the paper she has 50 LGBT parishoners at her local church.