MCCR HistoryRenovation 7

The Metropolitan Community Church of the Rockies was founded in September 1973. From the beginning, our mission was to provide worship and community to people who had been left out of other churches, those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and our friends and family.

We are part of a denomination called the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, founded in 1968 and currently claiming around 200 congregations in over a dozen countries. When the original MCC congregation in Denver became independent, a new church was started in a living room, with an original membership of four.

IMG_2682Within four months, the new church called its first pastor, the Rev. Charlie Arehart of Kansas City. As the church grew, it kept changing location. The first rented church space was in an African-American Methodist congregation; almost no other church at that time would allow a glbt group to use their space. Later MCCR moved to a Unitarian church on Capitol Hill, and in 1979 bought a small building of our own at Evans and Bannock (which is now a boxing gym.)

In 1986, a larger church building was found in Capitol Hill, the area considered to be the center of the gay community. Built in 1907, the former First Congregational Church was in very bad repair, but its potential was apparent. We were able to purchase the church building and a four bedroom house next door for $225,000.

Membership grew, but the worst of the AIDS years had begun. Some people say that one third of the congregation died during this period. MCCR’s mission had shifted; we were the center of a grieving population, and multiple memorial services were held each week. During this time we were also instrumental in the forming of Chesney-Kleinjohn Housing for people with AIDS.

Rev. Arehart resigned in 1995, needing a respite from such a demanding ministry. His twenty-two year pastorate Cross Draped Unlightedwas both lengthy and productive. An interim pastor, Rev. Tony Freeman, helped to prepare the congregation for change. He served for nine months. A pastoral search team was formed, led by David Sorey.

In August of 1996, we elected our second pastor, the Rev. Jim Burns. Jim had been pastor of MCC New Haven for ten years, and interim pastor of Resurrection MCC in Houston. Within a few months John Allison was added to the staff and a productive ministry team began. Other long-term staff arrived in the next few years.

There have been many other changes in MCCR since 1996. The church has doubled in size, and has greatly increased its diversity, welcoming many more women, people of color and younger people. We have worked hard to become a truly warm and welcoming congregation, and now serve our wider community primarily through our Food Pantry. Our worship style has evolved into something unique; a cutting edge blend of popular and praise music, screen images, and inspiring, down-to-earth messages. Most importantly, we are discovering a new take on Christian faith — one where no one will tell you what you have to believe; one where we assume you have a special purpose and calling, and one where our differences are celebrated; and one where we believe in a God of unconditional acceptance.