WINDSOR, ONTARIO –
Nestled in the heart of Windsor, in space rented from the Westminster United Church, 1680 Dougall Ave., Metropolitan Community Church is celebrating 25 years as a congregation.
Rev. Martha Daniels has been with MCC Windsor since November 2004. Though the clergywoman was not there at the time, she is familiar with the church’s history, stating that they started as an outreach of MCC Toronto in 1988.
In the 1990s they were one of the main supporters of the Pride Festival and the Windsor Pride Community Center which grew out of it.
With a typical crowd of about 30, Daniels said “it’s a family atmosphere. There are several families with small children. It’s a huge, beautiful space with a nice organ that we use. But it’s not too formal. There’s a lot of laughter and its warm and welcoming.”
Her favorite task as Reverend is the officiating at weddings. “Same-sex marriages have been legal since 2003 here in Ontario and 2005 for the whole country. I love that I get to do nationally, federally recognized marriages.”
Daniels grew up in Michigan and lived on the east coast of the U.S. for several years. When the opening became available in Windsor, she jumped at the chance to be part of a welcoming and affirming congregation, especially so close to her home state.
MCC, founded on the principle of equality and affirmation for LGBT individuals and families, has been performing same gender ceremonies from its beginnings as a church in 1968. Prior to joining MCC, Daniels served in the United Methodist Church. When she came out as bisexual she gave up her Methodist stole and sought a more inclusive way to worship.
The most surprising thing in the past few years has been that the number of weddings performed at MCC Windsor has gone down. “I was doing 2-3 a month, but now it’s not so much. More of the other churches do them now. It’s more accepted. I miss doing them, but I’m glad to see there are more of them. It means that more congregations are welcoming.”
Though the number of weddings has declined, Daniels said there are still a good number of couples that come from Michigan to exchange vows. “Even though they don’t live here, and it’s not recognized in their home state, people just want to know that somewhere in the world their relationship is validated and that they are married,” Daniels said.
MCC Windsor’s inclusivity statement shares the core value of their faith, quoting Romans 2:10, 11, which states”… but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good… For God shows no partiality”
Their inclusivity statement says, “We are a very distinctive community and we seek to be a truly inclusive church. We pride ourselves on being a bit different, on taking risks and pushing back the walls of discrimination. If God shows no partiality, why should we?”
Beyond her work at MCC, Daniels is President of the Windsor Pride Community Center Board, which she says “is the Windsor equivalent of Affirmations.” It’s a place where LGBT adults and youth can access services, hold meetings, enjoy social and activism-related events and just be themselves in a safe environment.
Windsor’s annual Pride celebration, which takes place this year on Aug. 9, 10, and 11.