Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Press Coverage of Weekend in Chicago

Inclusion and engagement as radical ideas: aChurch4me
by Peter Holderness Nov 13, 2007
Related Links
Metropolitan Community Churches
Sankofa Way home page

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God's undeserved kindness expressed in various ways. – Peter 4:9-10

MCC Factsheet
Founded in Los Angeles, Calif., in October 1968, one year prior to 1969's Stonewall Riots.
Includes more than 43,000 members and adherents in 22 countries from Canada to Argentina, South Africa to the Netherlands.

Churches in 48 states. The largest MCC church is Resurrection MCC (Houston, TX), with a membership exceeding 600. Belongs to the National Council of Churches and holds observer status in the World Council of Churches. Headquartered in West Hollywood, Calif.
Clergy are trained by 20 seminaries of mainline Christian denominations that accept MCC students.

Each year MCC clergy bless more than 6,000 same-sex couples with marriage and holy union ceremonies. Founder, the Rev. Troy D. Perry, has honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School, Samaritan College and Sierra University, and awards from various human rights groups. He attended the first White House meeting of gay and lesbian leaders during the Carter presidency, was the first openly gay member of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission and was appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference On Hate Crimes by President Bill Clinton. 21 different MCC congregations have been victimized by antigay hate crimes of arson or fire-bombing.

Twelve men and women gathered for communion and prayer behind closed doors in a small shotgun-style house in Huntington Park, Calif. one Autumn Sunday in 1968. A year before the Stonewall Riots in New York City inaugurated the modern gay rights movement, the Rev. Troy Perry planted the seeds for a radically inclusive Christian denomination.
Nearly 40 years later, 300 Metropolitan Community Churches serve more than 40,000 members in 22 countries.

Chicago’s aChurch4me is the latest to join the fellowship, rising from the ashes of Good Shepherd MCC, which closed in July, and joining other MCC churches in suburban Elgin and Brookfield. Just two months into its ministry, the church seems poised to unite faithful Chicagoans across lines of race, class, gender and sexuality.

“This church has more than a commitment, it has an aura of social justice to it,” explained Eugene Thomas, a retired Loyola University professor who has been involved in aChurch4me since its inception. “For us, church is not just about worship but also about service and ministry to those in need,” he said. During Sunday’s service, church members shared personal struggles and concerns with the congregation and their pastor.

Pastor Kevin Downer earned his master of divinity degree at Austin Presbyterian Seminary and returned to Chicago to found a new inclusive church. “The mission of aChurch4me is to reach out to people who usually don’t find churches welcoming,” he said.

Between 2005 and 2007 Downer undertook a feasibility study to understand how an MCC congregation could reach an underserved community in Chicago, attending scores of community gatherings to meet people and hear local concerns. In July 2007 Downer started offering interfaith service at The Center on Halsted, in the heart of Chicago’s Boystown. On Sept. 9, 2007, aChurch4me held its first service.

“I’ve been in intolerant churches and in the army … and from the first service I knew this church would be my new home,” Eugene Thomas said. “I’ll be 74 in January, and now I’m not afraid to meet anybody or do anything.”

Downer says that his MCC church is dedicated not only to nourishing the spirituality of the congregation, but also to engaging social justice struggles in its midst.

“We share a passion to engage our city and ourselves,” the church’s mission statement declares. “We dare to imagine becoming a people … who thrive in the exuberant celebration of God’s abundant love and grace found in the diversity of our relationships, our loves, and the whole of our lives.”

Perry remembers telling his first 12 congregants “We are not a gay church – We are a Christian church,” a refrain common at aChurch4me. Nevertheless, aChurch4me actively serves Chicago’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex populations.
On Saturday, the church partnered with Sankofa Way Spiritual Services, Inc. to present Black Sexuality in the 21st Century, a conference.

Sankofa’s executive director, the Rev. Deborah Lake, excoriated Christian leaders who she said have “broken from the religion of Christ” to teach exclusion of homosexuals. “Jesus loves us and wants us to feel safe,” she said, challenging Christians to stop sitting quietly in pews across the city allowing other pastors to “misinterpret the Bible and teach us to hate.”

But if intolerance and violence is a real danger for Chicago’s LGBT community, members of aChurch4me were especially impressed by the words of the Rev. Rowland Jide Macauley, the openly-gay pastor of House of Rainbow MCC church in Lagos, Nigeria.

Macauley said his church regularly convenes 60 to 90 people for worship, and that more than 1,500 have attended services so far. In a country where homosexuality and same-sex unions are still actively persecuted by the government, Macauley said his best defense is that he is a Christian, serving all the people of Christ. “We’re open to everybody, and I really mean that,” he told the audience.

Macauley’s sermon the following day had many in the congregation on the edges of their seats. “Coming out is a revolution,” Macauley said. “God wants us to be whole to be holy.”
Riffing on his favorite passage from Psalms, Macauley told the 50 conference participants that “The Lord is my shepherd, and he knows I’m a happy, holy homosexual.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Challenges That African LGBTI People Face

The Challenges That African LGBTI People Face And How They Differ From The Challenges In America.

By Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, November 2007

Black Sexuality In The 21st Century: Change.

Hoover-Leppen Theatre
Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted,
Chicago Illinois USA

Date & Time:
November 10, 2007, 12:30 to 3:30pm.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights...Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.

There is a pervasive view that homosexuality is a sign of western sexual corruption and immorality. Some African families even believe that homosexuality is a result of occult activities. Leading Africans and politicians have claimed that homosexuality is un-African and that the Western world is spreading a concept of immorality amongst her citizens.

“If it were possible to determine the homosexuality of a child before birth many African parents would repudiate their homosexual child before they have the chance to live”.

Same sex relationships are totally frowned upon and are not accepted within the general African cultures. This attitude is reinforced by the use of legislation. The majority of African countries still legislate against homosexual activities and those found guilty can expect a long prison sentence, with the exception of South Africa.

Over the years LGBTI people in Nigeria, Somalia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Cameroon and elsewhere in Africa have come under attack because of their sexual orientation and sexual identity.

In Nigeria, Sharia law is applicable in any Islamic ruling states, if a person is convicted of sodomy and any sexual practice they can be sentenced to death.

In January 2006, the government of Nigeria announced the proposal of a new law to ban homosexual relations and same sex marriage. The bill would make engaging in homosexual relations and entering into same sex marriage offences punishable by five years imprisonment. Priests or other cleric or anyone helping to arrange such a union would also be subjected to a five-year jail sentence. The law would also ban movements, associations or organisations that campaign for lesbians and gays rights.

The legislation goes further to make it a criminal offence to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays and other sexual minority group.

The Anglican Bishops in Africa held a meeting in 2005, determined that they would break away from the parent Church of England unless the denunciation of the ordination of gay bishops such as in the case of Bishop Gene Robinson here in the USA and marriage for gays and lesbians are rejected.

The Ugandan government’s latest call for arrests based on sexual orientation is a grave threat to basic freedom, this call is supported by the president.

Church leaders of the Uganda House of Bishops called on the government not to register any gay and lesbian group. A church statement accused the gay organization of serving as a front for U.S. gays and lesbians to set up a base in Uganda.

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe claimed homosexuals were "worse than pigs and dogs." He has compared homosexuality to bestiality, police persistently raided the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ).

Members of Parliament in Rwanda want a law against homosexuality enacted.

In Nigeria 18 men are waiting to stand trial for offences of sodomy, attempted gay wedding, impersonating women and cross dressing.

Two women in Somalia were sentenced to death for "unnatural behavior."

In Egypt, three men accused of setting up a gay web site were charged with violating the Egyptian legal code.

President Sam Nujoma announced "the Republic of Namibia does not allow homosexuality or lesbianism”. Police were ordered to arrest and imprison" Nujoma described homosexuality as "against God's will" and called it "the devil at work."

In Tunisia homosexuality is presented as a myths, an undesirable behavior described as “perverted, abnormal and tragic”.

In Cameroon, fifteen gay men, and two lesbians were in jail for over one month, after being arrested in a bar known to be frequented by homosexuals. Cameroon's Roman Catholic Bishop Victor Tonye Bakot also criticised European countries for legitimizing homosexuality.

Two South African lesbians were killed in Soweto, some were raped for what is termed a corrective measure.

African homophobia are not much different from the homophobia in the United States, but what makes them noticeable is the assertion that homosexuality belongs solely to other cultures, it is said to be western sexual corruption infiltrated on the innocence of Africans by foreigners and also through the internet.

There have been limited voices and/or faces that represented the crisis of LGBTI people; those who dare to do so are either scared off or dispelled from the society. It is time that we all ask our governments to show more concerns and inclusion of LGBTI people.

The African Charter on Human and People Rights stipulates and makes provision for addressing many issues affected by LGBTI people in Africa, however African LGBTI are too afraid to bring any charges, allegations or complaint against their government or local authorities.

May 2007 more than 60 lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex activists from 15 African countries gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss ways they could consolidate their movement and further progress in self organizing on a regional level. This group is called the Pan Africa ILGA.

A new tool was developed November 2006, called the Yogyakarta Principle.

The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. These Principles promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright. Without the protection and fulfillment of these principles, it will be impossible for many people like myself to live a happy and healthy life in Nigeria.
The prevalent crime against LGBTI people and their family is blackmail. They are subjected to unnecessary exorcism by religious communities, ostracised from the society and family.
Aggravated rape and/or sexual abuses, crimes motivated by homophobia.
A major case of loneliness, rejection, isolation may often result or culminate into mental disorder or suicides. Death, Homophobic violence, Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, unfortunately, this is the sad case for homosexuals in Africa.

Why Should Americans Bother?
European-American Evangelistic Crusades said the appointment of Bishop Gene Robinson was encouraged by motivating power behind perversion, namely homosexuality. This has had a ripple effect on the nature and brand of Christianity in Africa and in the hands of Peter Akinola.

Barack Obama may choose to align with those who malign sexual minorities, this relationship seek to marginalise the already marginalised in the society, it would have been better if he speak with a new voice and represent a new dawn of inclusion and progress.

Decision to promote abstinence until marriage favored by George W. Bush, President of the United States, in 2003, when the US Congress authorized President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 countries, created a catastrophe. Abstinence programs convey a message that there is no safe way to have sex, it undermines same sex relationship and deny them information that could save their lives. Funds devoted to abstinence-only education are funds taken away from prevention programs that could address the health and sexualities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. .

Events and decisions made here in America and in Europe have in many cases affected outcomes in Africa, mostly positive. They differ because America has a solid back bone to support human rights and constitutional courts that addresses issues at a judiciary process.

Americans can work side by side with African activists, Americans can help Africans by supporting the implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles. Intensified campaigns against the breach of human rights and rule of law in Africa.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Coming Out To Intimacy

Title; “Coming Out To Intimacy”
© Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, 11th Nov 2007.
Pastor, House Of Rainbow MCC, Lagos Nigeria.

Preached at achurch4me MCC Chicago USA.

Hallelujah, Glory to God.
V I have had many moments of coming out.
V Most of them good, relieve, great, some are painful, shameful, stigmatised linked with denial, rejection, isolation etc
V But when we live in the hope of the almighty God, we are destined to know the truth, see the light, and breathe the air of freedom, liberation and validation.
V And the only way we can do that is to arrive at the truth, the inclusive gospel of Jesus Christ, which has no boundaries or restrictions or conditions.

We can boldly say “We fight the good fight of faith, laying hold of the eternal life to which we are summoned we confess the good confession before many witnesses” 1 Timothy 6v12.

The Title of my message this morning is Coming Out to Intimacy

Please, Bow your head and let us pray;
Loving God, the most excellent God, we are grateful for our gathering today, a day you have made, anointed and blessed, a day you have set aside for your name to be glorified, your name to be magnified, for us to fellowship and share in the inclusiveness of Jesus Christ and the love of our eternal God.

Someone say Amen, I invite you all friends, members and visitors of achurchforme and Sankofaway in Chicago to say Amen. It is good to be in Chicago again, last I was here in June, dancing on the Gay Pride. I want to acknowledge other ministry gifts, the music from Free Spirit, Drum DIVAS are Divinely inspired Victoriously Anointed. Amen.

I want to thank your Pastor Rev Kevin Downer a dear friend of mine and his partner Toby and the board members for the invitation to preach today, Also many thanks to Rev Deborah Lake and her partner Terri. I am a man under law and a mission, I know I have been given the privilege of a few minutes to talk to you. Just before I do that, I also bring you greetings all the way from House Of Rainbow MCC, Lagos Nigeria. Where I believe God is doing new and great things, someone say Amen.

The reading today is an interesting story for the lesbian and gay community Ruth 1v14-18.

A whole family moves from Bethlehem to Moab because of famine, the father dies, the sons marry Moabite wives, ten years later, the sons die and three women, Naomi, the mother in law and Ruth and Orpah are left widowed and childless.

There are only two ways a woman could be valued in this society, as an unmarried virgin in her father’s household or as a child-producing wife in her husbands, nothing has change with the expectation of society today. Naomi recognized that they have limited options for relationships and places of security in such a society, she tells her daughters in law to go back to their homeland and find new husbands. Just imagine the stigma, the shame, the rejection and isolation. Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye, but Ruth Clings to her. It was at this point that Ruth Comes Out and declares her true feelings for Naomi.

We must find a point to declare our true feelings for our relationships, to be honest and true.
We must find a point to declare our love for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
We must find a point to declare our love for each other and our neighbors
We must find a point to declare our coming to express and live the inclusive love and gospel of Jesus.

Ruth speaks to Naomi;

‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God my God. 17Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!’18When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

This is the great coming out to intimacy moment, I am sure many of us have had that experience or that journey, Coming out as who we are is revolution and a victory, coming at work and to our families are just important, but coming out to yourself first and reconciling spirituality and sexuality is paramount.
Ruth chooses against the odds to stay with Naomi, one worthless woman joining herself to another and in her choosing she refuses to accept the status quo of a society that limits and defines their existence as worthless, empty and marginal based on marital status or reproductive ability.

Ecclesiastics 4:9-12 says Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ruth is our queer ancestress, she has gone before us and so offers us an example. In her own way she knew that silence equals death. After all Orpah says nothing, she simply kissed Naomi and said goodbye.

Micah 6v8 “O ye mortal, what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and walk humbly with your God?”

Ruth courageously name and affirm our relationship in the face of insurmountable odds. This is doing justice and loving kindness. She provides us with an example of self determination, refusing to accept a marginalized status based on heterosexist patriarch definition of marriage, family and procreation.

After all the bible remind us in 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,* in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of God who called you out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Psalm 23 is my Coming Out passage and Rev Troy Perry the founder of MCC wrote a book titled The Lord Is My Shepherd And He Knows Am Gay. Here we need to learn to rewrite our history into the scriptures, here we are standing on the inclusive love, promise and gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ruth’s words to Naomi 1:16 are words for our community.

I am not sure how many people know about Nigeria or of Nigeria. Currently to be homosexual is a crime and there are laws to prosecute, imprison anyone convicted for up to 14 years. But we have a church. We speak the words of Ruth to Jesus. The church started in September 2006.

We have held regular worship in Nigeria in just over one year and there has been no disruptions of any kind by hoodlums or the authorities.

We have grown in numbers; over 1,500 people statistically have attended all our programmes.

We have exceeded 300 on our main contact database.

In the last six months we average minimum 60 to almost 90 people in attendance with about 20 to 25% new people in attendance.

I want to invite all of you into a Ruth Naomi relationship with the congregation in Nigeria.
Support our mission to help many Nigerian gays and lesbians reconcile sexuality with spirituality.
18 men stand trial in my country for charges ranging from sodomy to cross dressing and impersonating women. Last June on the pride march I wore a shirt with an inscription L.I.F.E, living in fear everyday, this is happening here in Chicago and in Nigeria right now.

Prophet Isaiah said in Chapter 41v10, “I fear not, for God is with me. I do not look around in terror and be dismayed, for God is my God. God will strengthen and harden me to difficulties, yes, God will help me, yes, God will hold me up and retain me with God’s right hand of rightness and justice”. Prophet Isaiah like many of us today had something to say, make a note of these proclamations, and have faith in God.

God Bless You all. End

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Dear Reader;

I trust all is well and the name of our God is magnified and glorified in our lives, Amen.As I prayed and meditate in the past few months following the first anniversary of House Of Rainbow, I want you to understand the impact of the Holy Spirit over me.I follow the example of the Lord, who is merciful and gracious, slow in anger and plenteous in mercy and loving kindness. Psalm 103v8

Now I must get rid of all these things; anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from my lips. Colossians 3v8

I thank God who has made me equal to the task, Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank him for judging me worthy of this trust and appointing me to God's service. 1 Tim 1v12

When I think of many things in the past few months, I hear the Holy Spirit saying these verses to me and I recall the very principle adopted by House Of Rainbow (HOR), which is no fear in love.

Isaiah 55v 10-11, says "For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth. It shall not return to Me void but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose and it shall prosper in the things for which I sent it"HOR shall accomplish its mandate and shall prosper in all things for which God sent it. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we have been or where we are going. "but Christ died for us while we were yet sinners and that is God's own proof of God's love towards us" Roman 5v8.

I am sending this note to remind you and others of the love of God in our lives, our ministries and to end the needless bigotry and snide remarks that Satan has developed amongst us to fuel anger.I decided to be quiet, because I needed to find time to talk to God. And I always believe in God, in my call and the mission.

It is important to note that there is no fear in love 1 John 4v18, this passage has been the greatest insight of knowledge. The bible admonish us to Let brotherly love continue among us. God has not given us a spirit of fear, nor cowardice (timidity), but of power, love and sound mind (self discipline) [to inspire strength, love and self discipline].If surely there is anything that deeply trouble you of great concern you simply have to take this to God in prayers and ask (me) your leader. Some clarifying questions will be better off, this is far favorable than inviting a dividing spirit which allow Satan to rule and laugh over us.

I continue to pray and wish we are able to move to the next stage of ministry. I want you to know that unless we confess our sins and confess Jesus as a witness, our Lord and savior and love each other has Christ has loved us, we cannot move forward.I have made an administrative decision to hold services monthly until further notice. This is primarily due to lack of funds.

There are no givers in HOR. The next service therefore is scheduled and will be open to all on the 2nd December 2007, 10.30am. We are working on getting a venue. This service will determine whether or not we can hold services in the new year, it also depends on you too, where your heart is.If you believe it, you need to understand that we are God's representatives in the earth, God's mouthpiece to the LGBT and marginalized communities. This must reflect in our daily walk with God and our attitude towards all things, our natural being and of course towards each other.

The Holy Spirit has been faithful to HOR and let me remind you some of them;We have held regular worship including four special events in Nigeria for over one year and there has been no disruptions of any kind by hoodlums nor the authorities. - God is faithful.

We have grown in numbers, over 1,500 people statistically attended all our programmes, activities and worship. - God is faithful.

We have exceeded 300 on our main contact database. - God is faithful.

There are times that I get tired and weary but I continue to keep my eyes on the prize and the task not the attitude of selected few. I don’t believe I would be where I am today, without the trust and faith in God, had I not applied this powerful biblical principle in my life.

The leader, the great man or woman, does not say, The end justifies the means but the great person says, there is no end and even though it may cost me, I am not going to give them what they want, if all they want is a lie.We need to consider our positions and allow things to change.

Ezekiel 37, talked about breathing new life into dry bones, responding to healing through the power of God.

I want you to consider a few words of scriptures;Psalm 45v7 - " I love righteousness, uprightness and right standing with God and hate wickedness; therefore God, my God, has anointed me with the oil of gladness"

Acts 23v1 - We all should be able to boldly say "...up to this day (or from this day) I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God"

2 Chronicles 7v14 - "I am one of God's chosen people; I am called by God's name. If I humble myself, pray, seek, crave and require of necessity the face of God and turn from my wicked ways, then will God hear from heaven, forgive my sin and heal my land"

1 Peter 2v9 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of God who called you out of darkness into God's marvelous light"I close this reflection by expressing my undivided love to all and my commitment to the mission of HOR, Lagos Nigeria.

Your Pastor Rev Jide