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A Church that Cares and Accepts

Metropolitan Community Church

by Sharon Stolzenberg
Article appeared in Polare magazine: March 2004 Last Update: October 2013 Last Reviewed: September 2015

Metropolitan Community Church: 96 Crystal Street Petersham.

... it doesn't matter if one is straight, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual ... trying to help people who have been hurt by hate speeches by some denominations in the past.

I am a member of Metropolitan Community Church, Sydney (96 Crystal Street Petersham). I am in the process of developing a special ministry with a church in-service and outreach focus for transgender people who may be in search of a Christian Church that affirms transgender people whilst at the same time being inclusive of other marginalised people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual and their families and friends.

This is a church where one doesn't have to subscribe to any labels, where if you wish to be part of a wonderful group of loving Christians who affirm their L.G.B.T.I. experience then you can be. It is a church where we can celebrate God's love for us without the need to hide who we are or our experiences.

I know from my own experience that I can go along to some Catholic churches, and while none may pick up or guess that I am a woman of transsexual background, I feel that I can't 'just hide' whenever I witness or hear homophobic, transphobic and other hate speech against transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people, as often it is used and preached in such churches.

I am not one who is going to hang around with such a church, if I cannot be who I am first and foremost, as created by God, and to be in communion with God and the faithful, if I just hide and silently bear witness to preaching that I find to be against the spirit of Christianity.

While I am a female, girl and woman, and regard myself as always having been so, even when I had a different body - I am the sort of woman who will bear witness to the truth that God's children do include transsexed, intersexed, gays, lesbian and bisexual people.

Jesus Christ, whilst not being a self-righteous moralist and do-gooder preacher, never denied who he was, that is the child of humanity and the child of God, even when persecuted by the religious authorities and by other status quo stakeholders with threats of stoning to death and the imminent threat of a horrible death; and further even unto the actual arrest, trial and crucifixion. So if Jesus, who is much greater that I or any other human, calls me into being a sister, a child of God, then it would be a greater sin for me to a deny that I am a child of God and a woman of transsexed background. God called and continues to call me into a loving relationship. The God that made me, who and what I am and loves be because what God made is good, As stated in Genesis, "God saw what God had made, and behold it was good". [Gen. 1: 1-31]

I am also a human with human frailties and weaknesses and therefore I have the potential to do virtuous things and also to sin, or miss the mark in many ways in my actions and thoughts at times, but God's promise to forgive me and to help me to be a more Christ-like person is what is important.

This brings to heart and mind a powerful Gospel story. When asked by a 'teacher of the law' one day what was the greatest commandment of God for humans to follow, Jeshua (Jesus) replied "The first is: Yisham Yisrael, the Sovereign, our God is one Sovereign; and you shall love the Sovereign, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength". And after this comes another one: "You shall love your neighbour (fellow person) as you love yourself. There is no greater commandment than these two". [Mark 12: 28-31].

Now if I or any other person is to even begin to try and follow these commandments we need first to believe in a god that is worthy of the sort of devotion that Jesus is telling us to do. A God who so loves us even when we sinners, and who always calls us to repent (change our ways that are not leading to good and to life). When we have faith that is both mysterious and based on reflection of how God has worked in our lives, then the first commandment holds for us a sense of belonging and purpose. God wants us to love God (her or him). That says a lot to me about how much God cares for me.

The second part of the commandment would be impossible to fulfil if I, or any other person could not love themselves so much that they couldn't love another person as they love themselves. If I, now that I can love myself, taking into account all my humanity the 'saint and sinner' (self-acceptance and peace within), then I am well on my way to being able to love another (forgiving others and being in right relationship or justice with them).

So if I were to hate myself for being transsexed or listened to the half-truths and lies told by fundamentalist preachers and told myself that I am unworthy or unlovable even to myself, let alone to God, then I would cease to be a person who could love anyone else).

That is why, after reflecting on the truth of the Gospels, I am convinced that I was not only created by God as a person belonging to God's diverse creation, being born transsexed and being guided to pursue in life the goals that would make me a wholesome, peaceful and loving person by being the woman I am; but that God loves me and cherishes me as who I am. "God loves me, absolutely". "God loves trannies absolutely", "God loves all God's creation, absolutely".

So then, I have found a church where it doesn't matter if one is straight, transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual, but at the same time being positively affirming, in the sense of trying to help people who have been hurt by hate speech by some denominations in the past. That is a wonderful life­-giving and spiritually enriching experience to hear that God loves us as transgender women and men, and so it is for our gay, lesbian and bisexual brothers and sisters.

The pastor, Reverend Greg Smith, is a wonderful caring person. So too is the youth pastor, Reverend Johnathan Jones. They, as well as other certain key members of M.C.C. Sydney have given much encouragement for a ministry that has a focus for transsexual and transgender people.

Metropolitan Community Church

Metropolitan Community Church, Sydney is a progressive Christian church, open to all people who want to learn more about God. We give thanks to God for people of all genders, sexualities, ages and cultural backgrounds. M.C.C. is an inclusive place of worship. We invite you to come as you are, whether you identify as Christian, come from another faith background or are of no prior faith tradition.

Visit the Metropolitan Community Church website for more information External Link

Polare Magazine is published quarterly in Australia by The Gender Centre Inc. which is funded by the Department of Family & Community Services under the S.A.A.P. program and supported by the N.S.W. Health Department through the AIDS and Infectious Diseases Branch. Polare provides a forum for discussion and debate on gender issues. Unsolicited contributions are welcome, the editor reserves the right to edit such contributions without notification. Any submission which appears in Polare may be published on our internet site. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor, The Gender Centre Inc., the Department of Family & Community Services or the N.S.W. Department of Health.

The Gender Centre is committed to developing and providing services and activities, which enhance the ability of people with gender issues to make informed choices. We offer a wide range of services to people with gender issues, their partners, family members and friends in New South Wales. We are an accommodation service and also act as an education, support, training and referral resource centre to other organisations and service providers. The Gender Centre is committed to educating the public and service providers about the needs of people with gender issues. We specifically aim to provide a high quality service, which acknowledges human rights and ensures respect and confidentiality.

Queer Agenda

genderqueer /'dʒɛndəkwɪə/:

A person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

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