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In THI/IIIUE: mEETTHEELDERI ATLAnTA'73 ABOUT THOlE COFFERI
ELDERS AT WORK by Tom Taylor
Last September we elected us "through the wilderness". expanded ship.
six men and a woman to guide These seven were named to an
of Elders as leaders of the Universal
They come to us from different geographical areas, denominational traditions, theological beliefs and social environments. They come to us with all these differences, and yet have a oneness which transcends all these other differences: a dedication to jesus Christ and His ministry. We elected the seven, but we had help. God was certainly with us, guiding our decision. I was called to meet with the Elders December 15 to discuss my proposal for In Unity. Through a fortunate circumstance, I had no transportation, I was able to spend the day with them, observing them at work. And believe me, that's all they had time for. The meeting began at 9:30 a.m. and continued non-stop until 5 p.m. Someone was sent out to [acques, a famous French restaurant down the street, to pick up some hamburgers at about 3 p.m. and the meeting continued. The more common name for that famous restaurant is jack-in-the-Box. All this, after meeting for three hours the night before. This, my friends, takes dedication. What impressed me most was the way they managed to handle the many and varied problems facing the Fellowship. Some problems were very simple and could be dispatched quickly. Others required more time and study. On several
sets of opposing views surfaced before making a decision.
both were careful!
There is certainly not unanimity on the Board. During several discussions, the various religious, social and theological backgrounds came to the surface. None allowed themselves to be intimidated by the other, each seeing that his or her point of view was discussed. Several items were continued to another meeting time limitations or the need for more information.
Through all the deliberation, none of the Elders lost their keen sense of humor, their respect for each other, their dedication to God, and to their responsibility as leaders of the Fellowship. The problems included developing plans and assignments for the two ministerial conferences scheduled this month and March, publications, foreign missions, guidance requested by local congregations, lack of funds, seminary, prison ministry, licensing,
rights and many more.
These six men and one woman are dedicated to making the Fellowship, truly a church without discrimination, where anyone seeking the love of God through worship in peace.
His Son, can come
I can say again, I was impressed. As long as the Fellowship has Christ at its center and can attract leaders like these (and there are many others in the Fellowship equally as talented and dedicated), it will prosper, grow and continue to be a force to be reckoned with in both the Gay and straight communities. Praise God!
InUnlTY The Magazine of the Universal Fellowship Metropolitan Community Churches Volume
THE EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK
IN THIS ISSUE ELDERS AT WORK
THINGS TO COME
I'M NOT AFRAID
CALLED TO SERVE
GOD'S LOVE IS UNIVERSAL
GOD'S WOMAN COFFERS
THE EDUCATOR Photo Credit:
Cover, Pp. 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,
11 & 1 L Page 2,Tom
THINGS TO COME ... There are some exciting things in store for us in future issues of IN UNITY. Coming up in April will be a special issue on the ministry. Tentatively scheduled is photo coverage of both the western and eastern ministers' conferences, an article on the women in the ministry, a discussion of call and qualifications, the story of the Good Samaritan Bible Seminary and a report on the prison ministry. In July, IN flNITY will have a preview of San Francisco: 1974. This will be the official program for this year's General Conference. A full report of what takes place in San Francisco in August is planned for the October issue. Things are happening in the Fellowship and IN UNITY will be there!
IN UNITY is published each [anuary, April, July and October by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, 373 North Western Avenue, Suite 211, Los Angeles, California @ Copyright 1974 by the Universal Fellowship. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole' or in part without permission is prohibited. Editorial offices, 240 North Lassen Street, Willows, Calif. 95988. Advertising and Circulation offices, Post Office Box 99369, Station 0, San Francisco, Calif. 94109. Please address all subscription correspondence and change of address inforrnation to Post Office Box 99369, Station 0, San Francisco, Calif. 94109.
NEW LOOK IN UNITY has a new editor, a new look and new publishing offices. It is our fervent prayer that it will also strike a responsive chord with you, the reader. The phenomenal growth of the Fellowship has made it vitally important to have a strong communication link between its many congregations. There is strength "in unity" for without it, we stand the chance of becoming despondent believing "we're going it alone." All of us are or have faced similar problems. Those who have been there can help those who are just arriving, and those just arriving can help those who have been there with fresh in路 sight and vitality. IN UNITY will be published four times a year as directed by the 1972 General Conference. With your prayers, support and assistance it can truly become a vital tool in the life of our church. In the coming year, I hope to build both a regional editorial and advertising staff to insure the magazine reflects the whole church and not just my ideas or those of one area. ' I hope to have feature articles on various congregations and their programs and accomplishments, personality profiles con active lay persons and ministers, discussions on religion, the Bible, the Sacraments, liturgy, vestments, and other' churchrelated subjects. I'm hoping several regular features will also develop, such as a report from the Elders, an on-going column for the deacons and exhorters, a column for the seminary and a section em the various congregations and possibly the Gay community, in general. These are the plans and the dreams I shared with the Elders on December 15. These are the plans 'and the dreams they envisioned with me when they gave me the green light. .r.', I'm asking for your prayers, and support to make th9se dreams a reality. If IN UNITY is to succeed and become a magazine we can all use and be proud of, it won't be because of me or anyone person. Success will be ours because we pitched in together, "in unity" with each other and God, to forge ahead under His directi on. In Unity He will lead us out of the wilderness. His name be praised!
The publication of any name or advertisement in no way is meant to convey sexual orientation. Opinions expressed by the writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the Universal Fellowship.
Afraid Troy D. Perry, the founding minister of our Fellowsh ip and the moderator of its Board of Elders, was born July 27, 1940 in Tallahassee, Florida. He was the first of five sons born to Troy P. and Edith Allen Perry. Perry attended grammar and junior high school in Tallahassee. The family moved to Daytona Beach soon after his father was killed in an automobile accident in 1952 and then migrated to Mobile, Alabama where Perry attended Murphy High School. The call to the ministry came to Perry at a young age. He started to preach at the age of 13 and was licensed as a Baptist minister at 15. He joined a Pentecostal Church close to his home in Mobile. He began to realize, as most gays do, that he was different. Like most gays in rural areas, Perry thought he was the only gay person in the world, so ... in 1959 he married the daughter of his pastor. Perry and his wife moved to Chicago, where he attended Midwest Bible College. From there, they returned to Florida where he was a pastor and where their first son, Troy D. Perry, III, was born. The next year found the Perrys back in Illinois so he could attend Moody Bible Institute. A second son, James Michael was born there. The plastics company Perry worked for while attending school, organized a branch in Southern California and asked him if he would like to help open the plant. Perry consented and moved his family to California in 1962. In California, Perry was assigned to pastor the Church of God of Prophecy in Santa Ana. It was here Perry came to terms with being gay. As is typical with most gay people, it wasn't easy "coming out," Perry said. However, once he came to terms with his sexuality, Perry knew this would be his way of life. Perry and his' wife separated, and eventually divorced. After being drafted into the Ll.S, Army, and, following his two-year tour of duty, Perry returned to Los Angeles. The rest is history. "The Lord was dealing with me," Perry said. "I had been taught by my previous church that you couldn't be a Christian and a gay person too. I kept this up until one day God got a word in edgewise and spoke to me in my heart and said, "Don't tell Me what I can do. I love you Troy, and I don't have any stepsons or stepdaughters. Reread My Word.' (continued
on page ,70)
Some came by car,.some by bus, still others came by train and plane. Some even used "thumb power." They came from the East, the West, North and South. From all over this great land, they came. From foreign soil.i.they came. Their destination was Atlanta, deep in the heart of the Southland. They were gathering for the fourth General Conference of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the church the world said wouldn't, couldn't last. Some came with questions and doubts. "Can MCC really put it all together? After all, wasn't there some strife? Hadn't one congregation pulled out?" Some came with fear in their hearts, expecting some kind of "confrontation". Four churches had burned during the year and 10 people had lost their lives. All the questions weren't answered. All the doubts didn't disappear and certainly all the fear didn't evaporate. But those of us who were at Atlanta knew we had tapped the Source of Knowledge; that we had tapped the Source of Power; and the work started that October 1968 would continue because it was God's will. Our differences became our strengths as we hammered out the new rules which would govern us. And as the work of the first day merged into the second and then into the third, it became apparent the Spirit was moving and MCC would stand: A "new" church anchored solid on the only true cornerstone, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. A set of by-laws wh ich had sufficed for three years, held together by a bond of love, was altered, strengthened and fused into a workable document. The new by-laws reaffirmed the church's faith in God, His Son and His Holy Spirit. They created strong and meaningful qualifications for church leaders and those called into its ministry; giving more power to the laity, creating a bicameral legislature to govern the church. The Board of Elders was expanded from four to seven members to provide a more diversified leadership. And those by-laws set up procedures to discipline leaders who fail to live up to their calling. The by-laws adopted in Atlanta are not perfect. They include statements some persons didn't want. There are statements wanted by some, that are not there. What is there, is a compromise of love, hammered out with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The church recognized the place of women in the church by electing Rev. Freda Smith of Sacramento to the Board of Elders. The election of Rev. Smith created an unusual first for MCC. She received consecration as the church's first woman elder before she 'became the church's first ordained woman minister. Rev. Smith was one of four to be elected to the church's highest office. Rev. Richard Vincent of Dallas, Texas, Rev. James Sandmire of San Francisco, and Rev. John Gill of
BEGINNING ... Atlanta were also named as Elders. They joined Troy D. Perry, founder of the church and moderator of its Board of Elders, Rev. John Hose of San Diego, and Rev. Richard Ploen, dean of the Good Samaritan Bible Seminary. Rev. Louis Loynes, Fellowship treasurer and Elder for the first four years, was not returned to his post on the board. He thanked the delegates for the opportunity to serve, prayed for the church's success and offered his support. Seven persons were ordained and 36 were licensed as ministers in the Fellowship. The work of the Church has been established in 26 states and three countries. Both Canada and Great Britain were represented in Atlanta, making MCC truly an international Fellowship. "The strength we have in this Fellowship is communication," Rev. Gill preached Friday, August 31. "The communication that flows from God to us - to one another." God will never cut that line of communication, Rev. Gill assured. "The only one so foolish to do so is you and me." Communication love - can exist as long as we remember it's a two-party system, he stressed. "We are here because the Lord has made the church His table," Rev. Smith told us the next day. "We're here building a table upon which we will set out the feast of the Lord to our brothers and sisters who have been denied that feast by the world we live in." We are not preparing the food or setting up a menu, she continued. "We are building a structure where people can come and eat. We have to do this because we have been denied in the traditional churches a chance at the banqueting table of the Lord. Just because we're gay, doesn't mean we have to live on crumbs. "Jesus Christ has sent us food to feed our spirit," she told the delegates. "The gift of the Holy Spirit is nourishing; it is the living bread of life, the wine of joy." We are building a table not only for our gay brothers and sisters, but for everyone, "because we're going to have such a lavish banquet set that the whole world will be able to feed." Reverend Arthur Green of Chicago, preaching on Sunday, said, "We are members of the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem, and no power on earth can destroy us." It takes more than an assertion of courage and faith in Christ Jesus, he continued. "It takes a commitment to a life of morality, to the life of holiness, to the life of righteousness, to the life of the Spirit." He charged the clergy to Iive a moral life in Jesus Christ. Turning to the laity, Rev. Green said, "Your lives are to be lives of sanctity as well as the clergy, and you are to lead us, and to show us, and to reflect back to us and to witness to Almighty God that you have a commitment in Him, no less than anyciergyman here." "It is that life in Christ, our personal witness, that distinguishes us from the men and women in the world around us," he said.
"It is our prophetic mission as a church to follow in the footsteps of Christ," Rev. Green continued. "To not only bring into the arms of love, into the fellowship and family of the church, those who are wanting, those who are wasting, those who are dying, those who are crying out for the better; but when we bring them in to raise them up as children of God and make them strong and true in His faith." He stressed the importance of the local church. "Local churches are the strength of this denomination; this Fellowship. "The work must be done 'at the local level because people don't live at general conference," he said. "There is nothing wrong with the Spirit of God moving in our services," Rev. Perry said, Sunday evening. "There is nothing wrong as long as we yield to Him. He will direct and guide MCC as we struggle forward as one. "God is working in MCC," Rev. Perry continued. "Bur I want to tell you something MCC! The day we become so concerned by the way our members dress or how we sing, or how we preach, or what we wear, God will walk off and leave us." The church of the Living God, he continued, "has to be alive, and well, and existing. In order to do that we have to reach out. "In MCC we know who the King of Glory is," Rev. Perry shouted. "We worship Him. I say it every time I preach. We are not a gay church, we're a church of the Lord Jesus Christ. " Our strength lies in our unity, he stressed. MC.c is a family. "In the family there will be times when we disagree with each other ... but you know someth ing? We're not going to settle it out in the streets. We're going to settle it in the family. "And when we get through with it and finally get it together and our problems out of the way, we're going to hug each other to our bosoms - truly knowing you are my brother; you are my sister and we are one in the Lord Jesus Christ." We came to Atlanta with questions, fears and doubts. We left singing his praises. We rejoice as Rev. Lee Carlton of Los Angeles did, "that we have so many members; but there are millions more waiting to hear. "We rejoice that we have educated a few, but there are tens of thousands waiting to instruct. "Give us grace, Father, that we may teach. "Let not the Universal Fellowship simply be the largest organization on earth, but let it, Lord, be the one that best represents You on earth." AMEN!
IN UNITYj5 1
A Southern Yankee You must be born in the South to qualify as a "true Southerner." Rev. John W. Gillof Atlanta, the youngest member of the Board of Elders, will have to be labelled a "Yankee." Born in 1945, Gill's home town was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the steel city, known as the Birmingham of the North. Both his parents were native western Pennsylvanians, and for the first eight years of Gill's life they lived in Mt, Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The youngest of three children, he has a sister four years older and a brother eight years his senior. His father was a school administrator in Mt. Lebanon, and in 1953 was called as superintendent of the Plainfield, New Jersey schools. The five years spent in Plainfield were far from the happiest in his life. "It was a city of 50,000 people divided into two basic categories - rich and poor," Gill said. "Often I found myself caught in the middle, not being accepted by either group." Strong Presbyterians in Pittsburgh, the Gills, after searching for a church home in Plainfield, decided the First Methodist Church had the most to offer. The whole family was involved in church life and young Gill was no exception - choir, Sunday school, and treasurer of the youth group. God was already beginning to move in his life. In 1958, the family moved to Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia. The town, he said, had a large Jewish population. "These out-going, superfriendly people taught me what it was like to live and love." The Lord continued to speak to Gill during his six years in Cheltenham. This time in the form of Rev. D. Reginald Thomas, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Germantown. Gill entered Franklin and Marshall College, a small liberal arts school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. After a year and a half as a pre-med biology major, a course in organic chemistry changed his mind. Switching to a major in English not only improved the grades but the lagging spirits of the young collegian. During the summer of 1966, working at Silver Bay on the shores of Lake George in upstate New York, Gill committed his life to Almighty God. He applied and was accepted at Princeton Theological Seminary. In September, 1967, after graduation from Franklin and Marshall and another summer at Lake George, Gill entered the Seminary. It was during his second year there, that he began to doubt his calling. He realized it
The 'Word' Spreads
(continued on page 11)
We Are Called
The Elder ~ Statesman". ,~
Rev. John Hose is well qualified in both experience and training as a member of the Board of Elders and pastor of MCC San Diego. Papa John, along with the Revs. Troy Perry, Richard Ploen and Louis Loynes, was one of the founding Elders of the Universal Fellowship and the Samaritan Bible Seminary. Born in Massillon, Ohio and a graduate of Washington High School there, he graduated from ElmhurstCollege in Elmhurst, Illinois with a Bachelor's Degree cum laude in 1937. He received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Eden Technological Seminary, Webster Grove, Missouri, in 1940 and was ordained into the Evangelical and Reformed Church (now the I United Church of Christ) in that same year. He received a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern Cal ifornia in 1971, graduating with honors. He also has certification in courses from Wayne University and the University of Michigan. Papa John was married and is the father of two daughters, Martha and Mary. His former wife is the director of food services for the city schools in Jacksonville, Florida. Hose has served churches for the E & R Church in Southern Illinois. Hose is also an ordained Elder in the United Presbyterian Church. After leaving the ministry in 1947 he worked for the Storer Broadcasting Co. as an announcer, producer and program director; for Brown and Biegolw, as sales rep, district sales manager, and director of sales training; for Frederick Chusid and Co. as sales and marketing manager and in their corporate division, opening their offices in Los Angeles in 1968. He also served as director of personnel relations for A. E. Parker and Sons, Co. in Howell, Michigan. Papa John and h is late partner of 20 years, Ray O. Street, attended MCC services for the first time in Los Angeles on February 6, 1969, four months after the church was organized. They joined the church one month later. He was elected to the first nine-man board of that church and in July, 1969, became the assistant pastor. As chairman of the church's building committee, Papa John was responsible for locating and negotiating for the purchase of the property on Union Avenue which was destroyed by fire last year. He joined the staff permanently as assistant pastor in October,1970, (continued on page 8)
... And We Answer
Called To Serve Three years after helping to start the Dallas MCC, Rev. Richard C. Vincent was elected to the Universal Fellowship Board of Elders. Church members were quick to recognize his leadership and spirituality, and called him to serve. He, like the other six board members, answered the call without hesitation. Vincent was born January 29, 1924 in Kirksville, Missouri. Growing up, and going to school there, he later moved to Los Angeles for a year and then joined the Marine Corps during World War II, serving in the tank corps. Commissioned a 2nd Lt. at the end of the war, having attended officer's trai ning school at Purdue University, he was placed in the inactive reserve and returned to Purdue to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1947. It was during this period that Vincent was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. He worked as a research scientist at Pennsylvania State University following his graduation from Purdue and moved to Key West to work as a project engineer on a special program. Here in Key West, at 25, Vincent first encountered the gay scene and saw a need for a·ministry to the gay community. In 1950 Vincent moved to North Hollywood to continue his research work. Three years later, after six years of scientific work he received an indisputable call to the ministry - the irresistable call of Christ to follow Him - and he entered the Santa Barbara Province of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscan Order) to study for the priesthood. When his superiors indicated he would be a teacher rather than a parish priest, he became discouraged and returned to lay life in 1956. After receiving dispensation from his religious vows, he returned to Los Angeles and his engineering work in missile systems and computers. Vincent, between 1960 arid 1968, sponsored Mexican immigrants to give them a start in this country, even paying all expenses for one through high school and the University of Maryland. Moving to Texas in 1968 after receiving an unsolicited job offer from LTV in Grand Prairie, Texas, he later started to mix in the gay community. Having read about MCC, Vincent became interested, and in 1970, while on a business trip to Los Angeles, visited Rev. Troy Perry. (continued on back page)
The Elder Statesman
(continued from page 7)
and in that same year became pastor in San Diego. A member of the original Board of Elders, Papa John was re-affirmed for a second term in 1972. He has served continuously as Fellowship's vice-moderator, statistician, and administrative officer for its entire history. A well-grounded theologian, Papa John has travelled into all parts of the country, visiting and encouraging our churches, and doing his utmost to assure all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ that they are indeed "children of God." As Elder statesman of the Fellowship, he is recognized not only as shepherd of his particular flock, but as the pastor's pastor. He became the full-time pastor of San Diego in June, 1972, when he and Ray moved to La Mesa, a San Diego suburb. He serves on the Board of Directors of the A.C. L. U., and was recently nominated to a blue ribbon commission of 22 San Diego citizens to serve in an advisory capacity to the county's Board of Supervisors in a study for alternatives to incarceration. He will also chair a criminal justice series for San Diego State University in April on Homosexuality - An Emerging Life Style.
Gods Love Is Universal
"Sing Unto The Lord"
Mrs. (" Ma") Perry
, Rev. James Sandmire, pastor of the San Francisco church and newly elected member of the Board of Elders, first heard about MCC and Troy Perry over three-and-a-half years ago. Formallya devout Mormon, Sandmire dropped out of the church because of his homosexuality. Not coming from a PenTecostal background, and having considerable doubt about the validity of a ministry to gay people, he tended to discount and ignore MCC. God cannot be ignored and finally in 1970, Sandmire and his spouse, Jack, attended a special service in San Francisco out of curiosity. Rev. Perry was preaching and both Sandmire and Jack were amazed at seeing hundreds of their gay sisters and brothers at worship. The universality of God's love,' preached by Rev. Perry, touched both of them. Sandmire joined imr rediately, while Jack first became a friend and then a member. He is now an Ordained Deacon and is active on several church committees. Sandmire was raised in northeastern Oklahoma. His family, descended from Mormon pioneers, and most of his relatives are still devout, active Mormons. His family has always been a close and loving one, and during his early years he was active in church affairs, school government, music, drama, and swimming in both high school and college. He won a scholarship to Howard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received a Bachelor's degree with honors there in 1952. Following the accepted practice of thousands of young Mormons, Sandmire gave two years of his life to fulltime ministry. When he completed his two-year term, Sandmire returned to school, first briefly at Harvard Business School, and then the University of California at Berkeley where he received a graduate degree in behavioral sciences. Sand mire continued to give most of his free time to the church, holding many positions in his local parish. Throughout this period he found it difficult to come to terms with his homosexuality within the context of the church. Finally he married a young woman, thinking he had overcome homosexuality. The marriage lasted nine years before ending in divorce. Sandmire remains very close to his 15 yearold daughter and 12 year-old son. During this time, Sandmire helped found two successful businesses in the educational and management consulting fields. Today he remains on the board of directors of an educational foundation and three com-
on back page)
COFFERS [@I, Gods
Woman Out ofthe closet into the Women's Movement, into the Gay Liberation Movement, and into the one movement which guarantees liberation to all, is the pathway followed by Rev. Freda Smith. She views her present position as a fulltime minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a culmination of all that has gone before. -" I was born to be who I am, where I am," she said, with the soul-satisfaction of a person in harmony with all facets of her bei ng. "As all of us have done, I lived a life fashioned from the word: 'why?' Praise God, everything works together; I now know why?" Ms. Smith was born November 22, 1935, in Pocatello, Idaho.- The oldest of four children born to a teacher-turned-railroad-mechanic father and a mathematician-turned-housewife mother. An early spark to her later commitment to the role of women in society and rei igion was her great-grandmother, Rev. Lydia Smith, a Nazarene preacher who lived with the family. "'Grandma Smith' preached over us, sang over us, and prayed over us, day and night, from the time I was born until the day she died suddenly, eleven years later," Rev. Smith recalls. "She never lost her-vigor nor her faith, but was indomitable in ~II things. My early experience gave me no doubt but that God called women into the ministry, and that they were able ... " A vocation for the ministry was a driving force in her development. Leaving the Nazarene Church she became committed to the Salvation Army, a group forged of religious ideals, social concern and equality in the ministry for both men and women. In the Corp., Rev. Smith was active in Youth for Christ, a teacher of the Sunday School, a Corps Cadet, leader of the youth group and was active in preaching the youth services. She was also a favorite preacher at youth conferences and conventions. Becoming aware of her gay nature, a temptation she felt could be overcome through prayer and effort, she threw herself into renewed activity. She traveled to Houston, Texas to live with an aunt and uncle, away from anyone near or dear who might kindle this unwanted attraction. She expended all of her energy into work for the Salvation Army, speaking and preaching on street corners. She became an 'Officer's Candidate' (the Officers are the clergy of the 'Army'). "It took a while for me to admit defeat," she declares, "I shudder to remember that I used to pray to live a life without loving for what I considered to be His sake. Scriptures now convince me that the life (continued on back page)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report by Elder james Sandmire, Fellowship treasurer, was sent to 01/ church pastors. Believing 01/ church members would be interested in what was reported, we are publishing it here. -TET In the four months since becoming a member of the Board of Elders and Fellowship treasurer, I have spent many hours studying the report and the financial needs of the Fellowship. I have worked with a well-known accountant and a lawyer specializing in non-profit religious and charitable corporations. Conversations have been held with Board members of several of our churches, a number of our ministers and the other Elders to help define our financial and statistical requirements. A summary of the conclusions, actions and recommendations follows: The present needs of a dynamic, growing religious organization will require the gradual development of a more sophisticated system for keeping records. Accordingly, I have submitted to the Board of Elders and they have approved principles for a new statistical reporting system. The information requested will allow us to make more accurate forecasts for planning and budget purposes; will give us accurate information on the Fellowship and help us to accurately determine representation at General Conference. The treasurer will recommend that the General Conference refuse to certify any congregation for purposes of being represented at General Conference who has not completed their statistical reports or who has not paid in full their Fellowship assessments. The Fellowship must operate on a budget approved each year by the General Conference. To give the Elders time to prepare a tentative budget and to prepare a complete financial report for the General Conference, we shall begin operating on a fiscal year basis ending June 30, 1974.
I'm Not Afraid (continued from page 4) "And reread God's word I did!" Shortly after that a friend of Perry's was arrested for 'being gay.' The friend, taken home from jail by Perry, told him, 'Nobody cares about us.' "God cares," Perry answered. That spark started the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles and was fanned into a flame which became the Universal Fellowship. "I have seen the Universal Fellowship. grow from one small struggling group of 12 others and myself to 57 study groups, missions, and churches. I have seen a small group meeting in my home grow into a Fellowship meeting in 26 states and three countries. I have watched as gay people by the thousands have again come to a saving realization of the Lord Jesus Christ and have again been reclaimed to the Body of Christ," he said. "For all this I give God the glory." Perry has appeared on national radio and television. He has written his autobiography, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Know's I'm Gay, and has two other books in the works. He is also a contributing editor to the book Is Gay Good? If there is any statement that typifies Troy Perry's attitude in facing the oppression still before us, it is, "We're not afraid. any more!"
TITHING URGED The five percent assessment due the Fellowship, the two percent assessment for the Board of Evangelism and the one percent for the Seminary should be combined into one check. Please make this a matter of prayer within your congregation. Indeed, some of our churches now contribute a full ten percent tithe to the Fellowship. Each congregation now contributing a full eight or ten percent has found it to be no hardship as the Lord blesses all who give with a glad heart. Some churches are far behind in their assessments to the Fellowship. The receipts of the Fellowship are far from the amount needed to carryon the minimal, required business of the Fellowship, much less the many services some of you have requested. The only budget we presently have is the fixed expense of the Fellowship. They follow: Rev. Perry, salary $ 500 Secretary and typist 200 Rev. Hose 100 Phone 250 Office Rent 200 Printing expenses 100 Miscellaneous 50 Travel for Elders (minimum) 300 Equipment 200 Total Not included 'but needed immediately: Treasurer's expenses Accounting/legal fees Additional rent-new quarters Office supplies Additional secretarial Total Monthly
100 25 250 $ 2,450
The budget is minimal, but must be increased immediately. This crisis is so real that I believe the very existence of the Fellowship depends upon our churches responding. To preserve a national voice for the Fellowship, I appeal to you to pay a maximum assessment on time each month.
A Southern Yankee (continued from page 6) was just another part of a larger question concerning his sexual orientation. With an acceptance of his total being, and following graduation he began a post degree internship in the Westfield, New Jersey Presbyterian Church as director of youth activities."lt was a real time of testing and trial," he said. At a National Conference on the Homosexual and the Christian Church in April, 1971, in New York City, he found himself speaking out and declaring his sexual orientation, and the fact that he intended to dedicate his life to a Christian ministry in the homophile community. He was dismissed from his church post, told his parents of his calling, and moved to New York, all within two weeks. In July he met Rev. Troy Perry and in September he was licensed as a minister in MCC. On January 16, 1972, Gill organized the Atlanta church. He was ordained in September of that same year. He has since served on the National Board of Christian Education, served as Southeast District Coordinator, on the Fellowship By-Laws Committee and named to the Samaritan Bible Seminary Board of Trustees. He was elected Elder in September, 1973. A "Yankee" and a "Southern" church are in love and working together to further God's Kingdom.
The Educator Rev. Richard Ploen, active in MCC from its inception in 1968, led in expanding the Fellowship's educational offerings. Working to build a strong Christian education program at the Mother Church in Los Angeles, Ploen recognized early its vital need for the fledgling church. He was named Bible Seminary
the first dean of the Samaritan
when it was organized
continues to hold the title today. "The services of the church
in 1970 and expand
meet the needs of its people," Ploen stressed. Ploen, named to the fi rst Board of Elders in 1970, along with Troy Perry, John Hose and Louis Loynes, was elected to a second three-year term last year in Atlanta. He was the first minister to be attracted to the church, and contacted Perry three weeks after services began. A native Californian, Ploen was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. He began his preparation for Christian service at the San Francisco Theological Seminary and received a Master's of Divinity degree from the Pittsburg Theological Seminary. He was then called to the mission field, serving three years in Omdurman, Sudan, Africa, under the sponsorship ofthe United Presbyterian Church. Returning to the U.S., Ploen entered the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. Upon receiving a Master's degree in Christian
Ploen became minister
cation at a church in Pittsburg, where he remained for three years. He was then called to a church in Joliet, Illinois, and served there for three years. He returned to California where he was employed at a local Christian college. It was during this period he saw the MCC advertisement in The Advocate, and called Perry. Once joining the church, Ploen performed a number of tasks such as song leading, scripture reading and prayers. He was later named to the Board of Directors and subsequently elected chairman. Ploen also served as church clerk for three years. As chairman for the Christian Education responsible for establishing
committee, Ploen was a three-phase program, (continued on back page)
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I coveted was for the world's sake. What an inflexible, unloving zealot I would have been, had I been delivered on my own terms rather than on His." When Rev. Smith was ready to accept her own gayness, there was no church for her. "There are a few churches who will accept a woman as a whole human being rather than as the child-bearing, home-making, extension of a man, and those that do, have no use for a gay woman," she said. Giving up her vocation for the ministry, but constantly puzzled because the "call" would not leave, she went into the closet as so many gay people have done. She became heterosexual in the eyes of the world and developed the underground life made up of herself and her friends. This is where she lived until 1968. "Nothing can withstand the force of an idea whose time has come," she recalled, describing her escape from the closet. Turned-on by the women's movement, aware for the first time that the way things are are not necessarily the way things have to be, she left her position as production manager for ColorKing Photo and returned to college. She is expected to graduate this month with a Bachelor's degree in psychology. She will graduate with honors because she feels out-front gay people have to give their best to serve as role-models for sisters and brothers still in the closet. During her college years, besides being the pastor of Sacramento MCC, she has been student coordinator of the Cultural Programs Committee, member of the Woman's Studies' Board, member of the Woman's Advocate Selection and Advisory Committee, president of California Committee for Sexual Law Reform, chair of Whitman-Radclyffe Foundation, as well as a member of the National Board of Evangelism and Home Missions, MCC's first ordained woman minister, and now the Fellowship's first woman Elder.
Called To Serve (continued) On July 30, 1970, Vincent was one of those present at a meeting in a private home which marked the birth of the Dallas MCC. The Dallas church attained mission status in November 1970 and Vincent was named Moderator of the Board of Overseers. The church was chartered May 23, 1971 and Vincent was ordained at Deacon by Elder Lou Loynes. He was elected Pastor of the first congregational meeting immediately following the chartering. Vincent was licensed as a minister upon his election as Pastor. The license was renewed that September in Los Angeles. He was consecrated as an Ordained Minister at General Conference in 1972, again in Los Angeles. He was elected to a three-year term as Elder at the 1973 General Conference in Atlanta. Vincent started a jail ministry at the Dallas County Jail in September 1971, where he is now the only minister allowed to enter a tank in the jail to conduct worship services. He served as a member of the Jail Advisory Committee of the Greater Dallas Council of Churches and is a member of the Dallas Pastors' Association. Vincent is very active in telling the story of the gay lifestyle, speaking at most of the major colleges, the university, and other organizations in the north-central Texas area. He feels he set some sort of record when he traveled six hours by auto to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to appear on a television interview show for five minutes.
God's Love Is Universal
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panies. He still lectures to industry and government on management problems. During the last years of his marriage, Sandmire met and fell in love with Jack, with whom he has maintained a relationship for 15 years. They were joined in Holy Union in the East Bay church several years ago. After meeting Jack, Sandmire knew he had to come to terms with his homosexuality. He gradually learned to accept himself, but felt he could never participate in church life again. This, together with growing theological differences with the Mormon Church resulted in his dropping into inactivity. He prayed God would show him His will and continued to casually attend various churches. After hearing Perry in 1970, this changed drastically. Because of his past experience, Sandmire was named to San Francisco's first deaconate. He and another deacon, were assigned to develop a rap session for an East Bay congregation. The church grew rapidly and Sandmire was called as its first pastor. Upon the resignation of San Francisco pastor, Rev. Howard Wells, in 1971, Sandmire was called there to pastor. Sandmire chaired the committee which chose the MCC emblem, became the first Northwest District Coordinator, and is currently president of the Samaritan Bible Seminary, and chairperson for both the Commission to study Holy Orders, and Fellowship, Faith, and Order. In September he was elected to a three-year term as Fellowship Elder and was named Fellowship treasurer by the Board. IN UNITY / JANUARY
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which included housing, food, and crisis intervention. The program was innovative and has served as a model for others established throughout the Fellowship. Success of the program led to the creation of the office of deacon. Each deacon was assigned responsibility over a given area within each congregation. These small groups soon developed into parishes, providing small-group intimacy within the larger, growing congregation. The church continued to grow and expand during that first year. Ploen said, "It became increasingly apparent that the church needed a central headquarters from which it could administer its growing programs." A 17-room house was acquired as a parsonage, Ploen recalled, indicating that both he and Perry moved in. "The building became the hub of the church" Ploen said adding, "It was the birthplace of many programs 'which remai~ vital parts of the church today." It was here in the Fall of 1970 that the Seminary was founded and the Fellowship was organized. It was here the first four-man Board of Elders were assigned the gargantuan task of forging a new church for Christ. In addition to his duties as seminary dean, Ploen is also secretary of the Board of Elders. He, like the other Elders, has traveled throughout the Fellowship, visiting churches and ministering to their needs." "As I think back at the many miracles that the Lord has provided MCC during its infancy, I pray that we may become once again as children and let Him work His perfect will in the Fellowship and in each of our personal lives," Ploen said. "I also pray that we fulfill the spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters in the gay community," he concluded.