By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
The Reverend Elder Diane Fisher of Metropolitan Community Church’s Region Five, which includes Michigan, was in town on April 28 to discuss the selection of a new moderator with church members.
MCC’s founder and current moderator, Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry, will retire this summer. The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, a long-time church leader with ties to Michigan, has been nominated to replace him for a six-year term.
While in Michigan, Reverend Elder Fisher took a moment to discuss the election and other issues with BTL.
BTL: What is the role of the moderator in MCC, opposed to hierarchies in other churches?
Fisher: The first difference of course is that our moderator is elected. So it’s a person that has come up through the denomination and that has the support of the denomination across the board.
The moderator is one of the spiritual leaders of our denomination. We have a group of ten elders that are the spiritual leaders of the denomination, [and] the moderator is the Board of Elders’ spiritual leader as well. She is the public face of our denomination in the world.
[Wilson] was nominated and put forward as a candidate from all eight regions, so she’s very well supported by our denomination as a whole.
BTL: The Catholic pope is also elected. What’s the difference?
Fisher: The difference is who things change. With the pope, the pope would issue an edict or a letter and the letter would dictate what happens. We are governed from the grassroots – really the grassroots says that something needs to be dealt with and we take it up.
BTL: What political role does your faith community play?
Fisher: We are right there as individuals, certainly, and we have been very vocal about human rights and very vocal about rights for gays and lesbians, [the] right to full inclusion for bisexual and trans people … for equality in all things. It doesn’t just stop there – we don’t believe that oppression is ever a good thing. Our church has been involved in peace movements, feeding the hungry, working to alleviate oppression wherever we find it.
BTL: Given that MCC is primarily a church for LGBT Christians, do you have straight members as well?
Fisher I would think that our largest growing group would be affirming straight people – people who are looking for a church that really wants to make a difference. We’re getting more and more and more heterosexual people, [and] young people.
BTL: I understand that you’re originally from Canada. What differences do you see between the political role of churches in your home country and their role here in the U.S.?
Fisher: The churches play a role, of course, in Canadian politics, but much less of a role than they do in the U.S. We do have a right, a Christian right, that doesn’t want the marriage amendment in Canada [which would legally recognize gays’ and lesbians’ right to marry] to go through. The major way the churches have a role is they will they bond together as human rights organizations – that’s their predominate role.
BTL: So, rather than trying to restrict human rights like many U.S. churches, your churches in Canada are more interested in elevating human rights?
Fisher: I would say that that’s true, for the most part. We still do have a Christian right that isn’t, … and I can’t uniformly say that in the U.S. they don’t [work on behalf of human rights]. Certainly in Massachusetts, where I live now, … many of the churches have been very supportive [of the human rights of gays and lesbians].