Two area Metropolitan Community Churches, MCC Detroit and Divine Peace MCC, will be moving into new homes. The first service for each at their new location will be Sunday, Dec. 3.
MCC Detroit was forced to look for a new location when Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church in Ferndale, from which MCC Detroit rents space, announced they were going to the put the church on the market. The idea of purchasing the church outright was brought up but gathered little steam.
“The building is in such disrepair that it would not be financially feasible for us,” said Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow, senior minister and teacher for MCC Detroit.
In finding new space, church members felt it was important to stay relatively close to the Ferndale area. “We did an exhaustive search based upon our membership and basically looked within a 10-mile radius of where we’re currently located,” Stringfellow said.
The idea of the church buying a space of its own was also considered.
“We tried to see if we could purchase property on our own and that proved to be quite costly with the time frame that we were given,” said Stringfellow. “We were basically given till the end of this year to find a new space.”
When it became clear that purchasing a church was not feasible, the search team began to look for churches to share space with.
“The criteria we used is, is the church welcoming of LGBT individuals,” Stringfellow said. “Was it accessible to all of our members, and would we have space to relocate our offices.”
Using that criteria, MCC Detroit found one potential site. It was Clawson United Methodist Church, located nearly nine miles away.
“We ran into a snag because United Methodists are not affirming at this point,” Stringfellow explained. “However, this particular congregation is a reconciling United Methodist church. A reconciling community means that the local congregation has voted to welcome LGBT individuals. And this church, prior to the previous pastor, had an out lesbian pastor.”
One downside to the move is the United Methodist policy that no same sex marriages can take place on their property.
“We as a congregation voted to simply hold our marriage ceremonies in alternative locations,” said Stringfellow, who admitted that MCC Detroit might not enjoy a lengthy stay in their new space. “We are looking at Clawson being a temporary space until we can find a more permanent space.
“This is a great temporary solution,” Stringfellow continued. “It’s the best that we had. Other affirming churches didn’t have the space or other churches that were great were not affirming.”
Divine Peace MCC Moves into a ‘Real Church’
Meanwhile in Waterford, Divine Peace MCC is planning to move from their current location in a strip mall in the city to a real church, namely Bethel United Church of Christ.
“It’s a beautiful space,” said Rev. Carolyn Mobley-Bowie, interim minister for Divine Peace. “It’s a beautiful building. It looks like a little country church set off from the road up the hill. It has a rainbow flag because it’s an open and affirming church.”
But sharing space, Mobley-Bowie said, will take getting used to.
“Our service will be at 9:30 on Sundays and their service will be at 11 a.m.,” she said. “The down side of sharing space is that we’ll only have an hour for worship unless we want to bump our worship time to 9 o’clock, which I’m considering already but it probably won’t be changed until later.”
Mobley-Bowie, who just came on as interim minister in September, said a hefty rent increase at the church’s current location, in a strip mall in the city, caused them to look for a new church home.
“We couldn’t afford to stay in the space and we got a really good deal with the new one,” she said. “And sharing space is not a new idea for MCC. A lot of MCC churches start out sharing a church. Most of them love the idea of being in a sanctuary that was built as a sanctuary; a church space that was built as a church space.
“Still, what goes along with that is that it’s not ours by ourselves,” Mobley-Bowie continued. “We have to get on their calendar, they don’t get on ours. So that will be some adjustment.”
Such was the case for Divine Peace’s Christmas Variety Show, which will take place Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
“Making sure the space is available when we want to do something is going to be different and a bit of a challenge,” said Mobley-Bowie.
In addition to use of the sanctuary, Divine Peace will have a designated office within the space.
“Our board room and office will be the same room,” Mobley-Bowie said. “But it will be separate from their office.”
In the end, Mobley-Bowie said she’s sure things will work out.
“We’re excited about the move and we’re glad to be moving,” she said. “It’s going to save us money. We just did our budget and it looks better now.”