It is Sunday morning at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. Cars by the hundreds begin filing past Ruth’s Chris Steak House and the local Taco Bell. The parking lot fills, the cars empty and a stream of people—Bibles in hand—make their way into the church. The meeting opens with the congregation vigorously singing the latest Hillsong and Vineyard music. Some raise their hands to God, while others openly weep, caught up in the emotion of the moment. Eventually, Pastor Jo Hudson makes her way to the podium, opens her Bible and brings her Sunday morning sermon. The congregation listens attentively—nearly four thousand openly, avowed homosexuals who sincerely believe they have an intimate relationship with God.
Cathedral of Hope (1) is just one of many homosexual churches representing an increasingly visible cultural phenomenon. With over 43,000 members meeting in 300 congregations around the world, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is now a well-established denomination growing at an alarming rate.
A Young Preacher
MCC was officially founded in Los Angeles in 1968, but its roots actually go back to a tiny, snake-handling Pentecostal church in rural Georgia. For it was there in the early 50’s that a young teenager named Troy Perry received a call from God to preach the gospel. It was also about this same time that he began experimenting with homosexuality. In Troy’s case, it didn’t end there, but instead his secret encounters increased over the next four years.
Believing he needed to be married to fulfill his dream of being a minister, Perry wedded a young church pianist named Gloria, neglecting to inform her about his homosexuality. He also didn’t tell the Bible college he soon enrolled in, nor the small, local congregation who unwittingly hired him as their pastor. Before long the truth came out when it was discovered that he’d had a fling with one of Gloria’s male friends. Church officials put the young couple on a bus and politely asked them to leave town.
Over the ensuing seven years, Perry continued his deceptive practice of ingratiating himself into the hearts of congregations, while continuing his secret sexual liaisons. Inevitably, people would find out and he and Gloria would once again have to pack up—now also with their two sons—and leave town.
Eventually, he landed in Southern California where he deceived his way into yet another pastorate. One day he happened across a book describing homosexuality; he read it cover to cover three times. Immediately upon setting it down, Troy made the decision in his heart that he was a homosexual and there was nothing he could do to change that fact. To her credit, Gloria had sincerely tried to help her troubled young husband. But the struggle—such as it was—had come to an end and there was no longer any reason to continue the charade. Feeling that he had to be true to his feelings, he put his wife and two boys on a bus back to her hometown, where she would be forced to raise their sons by herself.
A Near-Death Experience
During the next five years, Perry worked in retail and threw himself headlong into the gay lifestyle of Southern California. He frequented gay hangouts and multiplied his same-sex encounters. What a relief it must have been to indulge himself in his beloved sin without fear of repercussions.
One night he met a young man named Ben who made him forget all the others: he was in love! They lived together for awhile, but eventually his lover tired of the relationship and broke it off. “In my despair, I felt that I had no choices open to me. There was no tomorrow. There was not even the present. I got up and tried to pull myself together. I opened the medicine cabinet. The first thing I saw was the razor blade. I took it in my hands. I stared at it. This was the instrument of the Angel of Death. I staggered. I managed to get into the tub; I felt totally numb.
Somehow I managed to slowly and deliberately press the blade through the skin and into the flesh of my wrists. The veins popped and yielded up their dark fluid. It was thicker than I expected, and darker. I had physical sensations of numbness growing upon me. I drifted off to sleep, even though I was not at all aware of it.” (2)
The next thing Perry knew he was lying in a hospital bed. However, consciousness and a second chance at life failed to bring relief from his overwhelming sense of despair. He had been crying for three hours when a kindhearted Christian woman pressed a tract into his hand and told him that she cared. Undoubtedly, this was God reaching out to him, which he interpreted as the Lord accepting his homosexuality. Not long after this, another woman “prophetically” informed him that he would be returning to the ministry. This idea haunted him—even excited him.
In the days ahead, a vision formed in his mind of a church—just for homosexuals! By chance, he met Dick Michaels one evening, the man who had recently birthed The Advocate, the nation’s first gay newspaper. He excitedly told the editor about his idea, and Michaels agreed to run an ad for him.
A New Church
Thus it happened on October 6, 1968 that a dozen people met in Perry’s home for the first service of the Metropolitan Community Church. As word got out, his congregation doubled in size within the first month.
The next two years were a blur of activity for Perry. The demands of his burgeoning congregation increasingly consumed his time until finally he was forced to give up his secular job. The recurring ad coupled with occasional write-ups in The Advocate ensured that a steady stream of curious and searching souls would visit the church. Most had had encounters with Christianity at some point in their lives, but had left the Church disillusioned when it became clear they would have to forego their same-sex attractions. Now there was a man claiming that they could reconcile what they had previously considered an unresolvable conflict: they could be gay and Christian!
As this novel concept gained momentum, other gay Christian leaders emerged. Within two years, new MCC congregations formed in San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, Honolulu and in Dallas (the Cathedral of Hope).
While Perry continued his ministerial efforts, a sense of outrage began growing within him over what he considered to be society’s injustice toward gays. He became increasingly involved in homosexual activism, fighting for their rights in every arena open to him. In the ensuing years, he led protest marches in Los Angeles and Sacramento, petitioned the National Council of Churches to receive MCC as a denominational member, fought pro-family leaders such as Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell, and wrote two books: The Lord is My Shepherd and Knows I’m Gay and Don’t Be Afraid Anymore.
A Leader and Influencer
Troy Perry has received numerous awards including the Humanitarian Award from the ACLU and an honorary doctorate degree from Sierra University in Santa Monica. However, his crowning achievement came in 1997 during his fourth visit to the White House, when he was included in a select group of religious leaders honored by the Clinton administration.
Perhaps greater than his direct contributions to the “cause celebre,” are those carried out by others who followed in his footsteps. Yes, MCC has grown dramatically since those early days, but more significantly, the idea of homosexual Christianity has gained credibility and legitimacy by making inroads into mainline denominations. Just four years after Perry founded MCC, William Johnson became the first openly gay man to be ordained by a major denomination—the United Church of Christ. Since that time, one social barrier after another has fallen by the wayside as homosexuality, through the new “religion of tolerance,” has continued to gain widespread acceptance within our nation.
A few months ago, the old champion of Christian homosexuality retired from the active leadership of MCC. For 37 years, he worked tirelessly to ease the aching consciences and soothe away the fears of eternally-minded gays.
Unquestionably, Rev. Perry has taken a huge gamble in life. If he is right in what he has advocated over the years, then he is certainly in line to receive a hearty welcome one day when he stands before the Lord. However, if his assumptions have been wrong, he faces the unthinkable eternal consequences of having led thousands of souls astray. He seems quite confident as he bounds toward his appearance before that divine tribunal, assured that a hero’s welcome awaits him… We have our doubts.
(1) Cathedral of Hope began as a MCC church, but later became independent.
(2) Troy Perry, www.mccchurch.org.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
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