The Metropolitan Community Church is certainly one that superficially seems to be different from most other churches, yet at the same time I realized that these differences were only skin deep. MCC is a UK wide group of churches that are specifically intended for LGBT people. If you’re not down with your politically correct lingo, that means Lesbian, Bi, Gay and Trans people. This rather unique selling point intrigued me; a lot of Churches are accepting of gay people, but this is the only one which is “LGBT focussed.” That of course doesn’t mean that straight people aren’t welcome there. As soon as I walked in I was welcomed with a “nice to see you again,” which rather bemused me as I had never been there before. Maybe I have an evangelical doppelgänger, going round all the churches in Manchester and giving them bad reviews. A quick google for “evil churchshopper” reveals nothing. But I digress.
- Such a warm, welcoming building.
Despite the building looking more like a fortress than a house of worship, inclusion was definitely something I noticed when I sat down. Draped over the lectern was a white cloth with the message: “Faith Without Fear – Passion Without Prejudice – Holiness Without Hatred – You are welcome here.” I don’t think I’m saying anything radical here when I say that Christianity hasn’t always treated LGBT people particularly well. Churches in Africa are supporting anti-gay legislation, and closer to home the celibate theologian Jeffrey John was blocked from becoming Bishop of Southwark by his friend the Archbishop of Canterbury because of his sexual orientation. It is for these reasons it is warming to see there being a safe space for LGBT Christians. It would have been easy for a persecution complex to have developed at the MCC and for gay rights to have been all they are interested in, but this also was not the case. I found a rather traditional church in rather non-traditional garb.
The sermon, ably delivered, was about the importance of faith, and there was reference to the faith of the community members in still wanting to worship God, even though many of them had been rejected by traditional churches and stigmatised by anti-Christian members of the LGBT community. There were a number of readings, all read by different people, but the thing that grabbed my attention was the singing. The congregation was about 40 strong, but it was louder than if there were 100! It felt like everyone really was belting out the hymns, although it might also have been related to the higher proportion of men than in most churches. The communion wine was non-alcoholic and the bread was gluten-free “so that everyone can be included” which was considerate, although the wine tasted rather nasty in my opinion. For after service coffee they provided really creamy cappuccinos as well as the more common tea-and-biscuits combo. I spoke a number of the elders, one of whom showed me around the school hall like predecessor of St Ninian’s.
I would recommend MCC if you are one of my LGBT readers (I know there are a few of you) or if you simply are looking for somewhere inclusive, vibrant yet deeply liturgical to worship on Sunday afternoons in Chorlton.