By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
CALGARY, Ont. – On July 24, Reverend Nancy Wilson – who served as pastor of Detroit's Metropolitan Community Church from 1975-1979 – was elected to succeed Rev. Troy Perry as Moderator of the international Metropolitan Community Churches.
Wilson was the youngest person ever to be elected a member of the MCC Board of Elders; she has been serving on that board since her election to the position in 1976.
"Rev. Wilson's election to succeed me as Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches is a wonderful step for MCC," said Perry. "Rev. Wilson brings more than 30 years of ministry and service to the LGBT communities. Her passion for ecumenical and interfaith work is a sign that MCC will continue to be a prophetic voice to those faith communities that still prevent LGBT people from full participation and acceptance."
"It's thrilling, exciting, [and] sometimes a little overwhelming," said Wilson of her election, "but I've had so much support from people inside and outside MCC and we have wonderful people and leadership and they've been supportive, too. And Troy's been great about supporting me – I appreciate that a lot."
"I'm pleased that one of her first actions as MCC's new Moderator will be to lead an MCC delegation to the World Council of Churches gathering in Brazil in February 2006," Perry said. "She will carry MCC's message of inclusion to this international gathering."
"Rev. Wilson brings a passion for justice that extends beyond LGBT concerns – and includes a commitment to women's issues, international justice issues, and the needs of the poor," Perry added.
Wilson is the former senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, the Founding Church of the MCC movement. She currently serves as senior pastor of Church of the Trinity MCC in Sarasota, Florida. Wilson will begin her six-year term as Moderator on Oct. 29, when she will be installed at a formal ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Currently, MCC is in the process of setting up new offices in Sarasota for Wilson's use. Once that is complete, Wilson and her partner, Dr. Paula Schoenwether, will spend time in Australia and New Zealand, mostly on vacation but also to take part in the 30th anniversary of MCC in Sydney.
"Then it all starts, October first, big time," she said.
"Big time," indeed. Wilson will be in charge of implementing MCC's new strategic plan, which includes planting new churches, increasing resources to underserved churches, resolving leadership issues, and translating MCC materials into other languages.
"We've also been working the last several years on relationships with mainstream seminaries in the U.S. and outside the U.S. so we can have better training for our ministers and lay leaders," she said.
Wilson said that the Calgary conference at which she was elected, "really featured our youth and young adults – and that's another area we really need to focus on, leadership training for youth and young adults."
Getting the word out about MCC and increasing the church's effectiveness as a spiritual advocacy organization are also among Wilson's goals.
"I think in some places MCC is still one of the best kept secrets around in terms of the types of ministry our local churches do, our work around HIV and AIDS, [and] our acts of compassion and justice," she said.
In terms of global networking, Wilson said, "I think we're trying to fine tune ourselves as a global network that can respond to issues" from people in Romania trying to hold a gay Pride parade to equal marriage rights both globally and in the U.S.
"We live in very hopeful times as far as human rights and gay rights and marriage equality issues, but we also live in tremendously challenging times politically – of course in the U.S. and [with] the rise of fundamentalism worldwide," she said.
Wilson is the author of "Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus & the Bible (Millennium Edition)," co-editor of "Amazing Grace: Stories of Lesbian and Gay Faith," and a contributing author to "Poems and Prayers in Race and Prayer," edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester Talton.