At its 46th anniversary service on Sunday, Sept. 16, Metropolitan Community Church – Detroit debuted its new publication called “Ignite.” The 24-page glossy magazine features information on all the events and new programing happening at the church through the end of the year, as well as some spiritually enlightening information and lessons. The publication was a dream 10 years in the making for assistant pastor Rev. Deb Cox.
“I was first introduced to the idea of doing programming differently about 10 years ago,” Cox said. “We had several of the elders from our denomination come to Detroit for a small conference. They did a lot of teaching about the importance of understanding the characteristics of church size and how the size of a church, which identifies the stage of development with very specific characteristics identifying each of the four stages, impacts the ways that you can best grow each size church.”
At the time, MCC-D was what the elders called a “pastor-size” church.
“That’s where most everything revolves around the pastor, and the congregants are hesitant to step into leadership. And where the activities offered are minimal,” Cox said. “They identified that as the most difficult stage to transition from. The next size up is called ‘program-size.’ In a program-size church people learn to get their spiritual guidance and direction by knowing where they are on their spiritual journey, and then choosing programs and activities offered that will help them grow in the direction they are needing at the time. It shifts the focus off the pastor and allows congregants to grow in learning and service and through the programs offered.”
Cox hoped to be a part of growing MCC-D into a program-size church when she was first introduced to the concept, but the timing was not right. The church, then under the leadership of Rev. Mark Bidwell, suffered hard times when he was forced to step down. Then there was an interim pastor for some time and the rebuilding of the church, that had to be done when Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow came on board, that took much of the church’s focus for a time. But finally, Rev. Cox, who had remained steadfast and patient, saw that the time was right.
In June, the church created a programming committee and she was installed as its director.
“I began meeting with the team every Sunday after church for sometimes up to two hours as we planned and prepared for all this program and process,” said Cox. “Over these months I have watched each sub-team step up and grow into different people than they were when we started.”
The completion of their task, the debut issue of “Ignite” and a full season’s worth of new programming, is now the first step in taking the church to the next level. This fall, the church will offer a variety of seminars, workshops, discussions and study sessions such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Spiritual Care for the Crying and Dying by Rev. Dr. Samuel White, Finding Your Voice by MCC Musical Minister Brian Londrow, Transgender and Thriving with Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis and much, much more.
“I am thrilled about the product because it really looks professional and I am so anxious to see how the congregation and the community responds to it,” Cox said. “However, even more than the magazine, I am thrilled at the work I have been blessed to lead with a God-picked team of people. … I looked at them yesterday and realized I was a part of growing the next generation of leaders at MCC-D and wow, was that a powerful thought. I said in a sermon last week that we are not just bringing a magazine, we are helping our church shift from Church 101 to becoming Church 201.”
Celebrating 46 years
The original MCC 101 was first started in Los Angeles by the Rev. Troy Perry in 1968. He was a Pentecostal preacher who got put out of his church for being gay. But Perry didn’t stop preaching God’s word. Instead, he started his own church for the LGBTQ community.
“They called him a preacher and a prophet,” said Stringfellow in his anniversary sermon. “He saw something way back when that said, ‘I know my redeemer liveth and I know my redeemer has called me to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and I am a same-gender-loving man and the two can be compatible.’”
Offering an anniversary reflection at the service was Between The Lines columnist and longtime MCC-D member Charles Alexander.
“At 82, I am alive today for two spiritually born-again reasons,” Alexander said. “Because I stopped drinking 36 years ago, and I cautiously — and somewhat shyly — began attending MCC-D one or two years later.”
To find out more about the MCC-D’s new Ignite magazine and its fall programming, visit mccdetroit.org.