#37 Metro Richmond Community Church

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Metropolitan Community Church

Metropolitan Community Church

For prayer #37, I attended Metro Richmond Community Church’s 10:45am Sunday service located on 2501 Park Avenue in Richmond.  Before moving into the suburbs I lived only a block away from this large historic church and because of the huge slogan that draped across the front, I’d always felt compelled to attend.  It read, “MCC….for ALL God’s People.” 

At the time, I wasn’t frequenting church at all but there was something about that welcoming sign that intrigued me.  Every time I’d pass it I’d think to myself, “I feel like God would like it if I checked that out” but instead of listening to that spiritual prompting in my heart, I’d just smile as I drove by on my way to work and thank God for having such a welcoming church home in the midst of a bustling city that needed His presence so greatly.

When I walked up the monstrous cement steps, I was greeted by two people at the door who I assumed were homosexual.  I don’t know if it’s wrong to just automatically assume someone is homosexual by the way they hold themselves, talk and dress, but I did make the assumption so I’ll admit it.  When I entered the rather large sanctuary holding an estimated 400 or so people, I slid into the very last pew and started skimming through the bulletin.

I had just been to the not-so-welcoming Universalist Unitarian church earlier that morning so it was like a breath of fresh air having such a light-hearted and upbeat congregation proclaiming the love of Jesus.  There’s just something about the mention of that Name that brings peace to my heart so the MCC church already got two thumbs up.

If I were to take a wild guess, I’d bet that of the 400 folks in attendance, 2 of them were heterosexual (including myself) but unlike the UU, I didn’t get the feeling at all that I was in any way judged for being in the minority.  They didn’t stand up and say, “Hey, we accept all people! Accept for those straight folk!”  Sorry….I digress.  If you can’t tell, I’m still a bit bitter about the UU experience. 

A rather large, yet simple wooden cross was displayed directly in the center of the stage area.  It was draped with a bright rainbow colored flag which signifies diversity and inclusiveness, hope and yearning.  The flag’s placement really got me thinking. I don’t mean to be a sensationalist, but I couldn’t help but wonder what God was feeling when He looked down on this?  Sure, I mean, diversity, love, and acceptance is something we should most certainly encourage, but the flag also symbolizes gay pride, which is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people should be proud of their sexual orientation and that diversity is a gift. 

Christians and non-Christians could debate for hours about the nature/cause of homosexuality.  I am continually ashamed of my professed Christian friends who put such emphasis on the sinful nature of homosexuality, but meanwhile, have no problem with getting drunk, having pre-marital sex, and telling the occasional white lie.  Too often we judged other Christians more harshly for the sins we ourselves don’t commit but rationalize our own.  However, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus would be proud to have the cross which reminds us of the sacrifice He so loving made to eradicate sin, draped with a flag that symbolizes pride for something His own Father considered one?

The dress was fairly casual; I didn’t see any ties, just some collared shirts, maybe a skirt or two but mostly jeans.  The music was upbeat and lively.  It included lots of clapping, dancing, and contemporary style worshipping.  One thing I can say these folks did incredibly well was center their entire service around Jesus Christ, which surprisingly, many local church's just don't do.  Every song revered His name, and the pastor, Dr. Robin Gorslin, did a tremendous job discussing biblical truths found in God’s Word while encouraging his congregation to apply those truths to their lives today. I left there knowing I received a special blessing out of church, which I believe is the whole point of gathering together!

I left feeling happy and whole. I was glad to have the opportunity to fellowship with the folks at Metro Community Church and I'll continue to pray for the success of their ministry. 

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28 Comments

  • JamesBrett

    JamesBrett October 28, 2010

    i don’t really have a whole lot to say.  i just feel so behind the times that i never knew—or even dreamed—there were (mostly exclusive) homosexual churches.  it’s just so very different from here.  it makes me wonder how much will change before i live in the states again…

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT October 28, 2010

    OK, here goes my statement that will one day get me in trouble if I ever make the foolish decision to run for office.

    People who don’t accept the Christian / Biblical teaching on homosexuality generally fail to understand that the Christian faith / Bible are not singling out homosexuality exclusively as uniquely sinful.  ALL PEOPLE, heterosexual or homosexual, are called to be chaste.  Young, unmarried, heterosexual people are called to be celibate.  Married couples are called to be chaste within the confines of their marriage (and therefore adultery is a sin).  Jesus taught that even thinking of a woman outside your marriage is a sin.  Older, single (perhaps widowed) heterosexuals are again called to be celibate.  And yes, homosexual people are called to be celibate as well.

    People who reject the teaching on homosexuality tend to think that a different standard is being applied to homosexuals than to heterosexuals.  That is not the case; in Christian theology it is the SAME standard of chastity being applied to all people.  We have simply become so accustomed to the fact that “dating” now includes pre-marital sex that we no longer consider the implications a lack of chastity has on our society.  For example, of the approximate 1.5 million abortions conducted in the United States each year approximately 82% of them are obtained by unmarried women.  We think that b/c sex is normal, natural, and is “going to go on anyway” that celibacy and chastity are impossible.  As Jess correctly points out, we (being society in general but particularly Christians) don’t hold ourselves to a high standard, so naturally homosexuals assume that we are trying to hold them to a different and higher standard.

    Too often, Christian teaching on homosexuality is simply summed up as, “homosexuality is a sin b/c the bible says so”.  People like the Unitarian minister understandably reject that.  Or, perhaps more correctly, they accept the true premise that Jesus loves us all despite our sins and therefore reject the conclusion that he stops loving someone that engages in homosexual activity.  Invariably, people like the Unitarian minister take the next step of rejecting the people and institutions that teach this contradictory and un-Christian way of analyzing this issue.  Of course, Jesus does not stop loving a homosexual person anymore that he would stop loving an adulterous / promiscuous heterosexual.  In fact, we saw him forgive such a woman in the gospel of John.  That forgiveness is available to someone who acts on their homosexuality just as it is available to someone who acts on lustful promiscuity.

    In our over-sexualized, morally-relevant, under-catechized society it is easy to fall into these traps and to think the task of changing our culture to be an impossible one.  Our job as Christians is to begin to articulate these truths is a new, clearer and more articulate way.

  • Jessica

    Jessica October 29, 2010

    Hey Dave,

    It’s an interesting perspective that God is calling us to be celibate pre-marriage for both homosexual and heterosexual relationships which is what makes the act sinful in and of itself.  It is certainly a softer way to tackle the issue, but let’s say that homosexual marriages get legalized in this country, does that no longer make it sinful?  Or in the countries where it’s already legal, are those in monogamous marriages no longer sinning against God?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT October 29, 2010

    The laws of men have little to do w/ God’s law.  We could legalize murder and it would still be a sin.  Adultery is not a crime but it is unquestionably a sin.

    However, I think another important aspect to keep in mind is that generally speaking, sin is relative.  Just as abortion is vastly different than a wife killing her abusive spouse or a soldier killing an enemy on a battlefield, so is there a difference between two young teenagers who are driven to passion by raging hormones, v. two adults living in a committed but unmarried relationship v. a guy hooking up with as many girls as possible to “get back at women for what his ex did to him”.  If we take Christian teaching at face value then it may be that all these acts are sinful.  However, we also know that God does not apply the death penalty for “misdemeanor” offenses.  But there does come a point when the conscience of each person is well enough formed to appreciate that their conduct is objectively in defiance of God’s revealed teaching and therefore would become objectively sinful.  What the current culture does is continually try to obscure that revelation.  Unfortunately, such obfuscation works to society’s own obvious detriment.

    Finally, it is not lost on me that these realizations often come to people like me – married with kids – and that it is awful easy for me to talk about celibacy from my nice safe perch.  On the other hand, I also realize that it is b/c people like me don’t talk about it enough that it not only perpetuates but becomes invasive.

  • Scott

    Scott October 29, 2010

    Amos 5:20-26 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?  (21)  I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  (22)  Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.  (23)  Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.  (24)  But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.  (25)  Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?  (26)  But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

  • Scott

    Scott October 29, 2010

    “The flag’s placement really got me thinking. I don’t mean to be a sensationalist, but I couldn’t help but wonder what God was feeling when He looked down on this?”

    “However, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus would be proud to have the cross which reminds us of the sacrifice He so loving made to eradicate sin, draped with a flag that symbolizes pride for something His own Father considered one?”

    Knowing what you know of what the Bible teaches, Jessica, what do you think the answer would be?

    If the foundation is wrong, then the rest will sit crooked.

  • David VT

    David VT October 29, 2010

    We know that Jesus often answered such questions in was that were unexpected by his listeners.

    Perhaps he would say somthing like “judge not lest ye be judged”.

    In discussing this issue we must always remember that this is a cross given these people to bear. Our place is not to judge them.

  • Scott

    Scott October 29, 2010

    What cross was “given to them to bear”, Dave? What do you mean by “given”—what was “given”?

  • Scott

    Scott October 29, 2010

    Though the believer is forbidden to judge hypocritically (Mat. 7:1-5) and forbidden to judge in matters in which the Bible is silent in this New Testament dispensation (Rom. 14:1-5; Col. 2:16), such as in diet and holy days, he is most definitely taught to judge many things by testing it with the Word of God and condemning it if it is in error.

    The believer is to judge sin in the church (1 Cor. 5:12).
    He is to judge preaching and teaching (1 Cor. 14:29; Acts 17:11).

    He is to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).

    As a matter of fact the Bible says that “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Cor. 2:15).

    That is a very far-reaching statement. The spiritual man knows that he lives in a world of sin and spiritual darkness and error and he is warned repeatedly in the Bible about false teaching and apostasy and spiritual deception.

    Thus he carefully tests everything by the light of God’s Word. The spiritual man does not judge by his own thinking and opinion, but by the holy Word of God, which he has in the Scriptures.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT October 30, 2010

    Always nice to hear from you Scott.

    “Though the believer is forbidden to judge hypocritically (Mat. 7:1-5)”

    This is exactly the point Jess was eluding to and I was making.  I don’t think I need a big scientific study to guess that sins of the flesh are the sins most of us fall into most easily and most often. Thus, when we discuss this issue, we should acknowledge our own (and society’s in general) failings in this area.

  • Scott

    Scott October 30, 2010

    Thank you, Dave, but you did not answer my two questions:

    What cross was “given to them to bear”

    What do you mean by “given”—what was “given”?

  • Scott

    Scott October 30, 2010

    JamesBrett,
    The Metropolitan Community Churches are a group of churches across this country and reaching out internationally.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Community_Church

  • Scott

    Scott October 30, 2010

    For example:
    If a person is a habitual liar, should someone take a Bible and show them that this behavior is against God’s Word?

    If a person is a heavy drinker of alcohol, should someone take a Bible and show them that this behavior is against God’s Word?

    If a person is a thief, should someone take a Bible and show them that this behavior is against God’s Word?

    I am not suggesting that one would hit them over the head with a Bible (like Bob Larson does), but that they need to hear in a loving manner that their actions are wrong and they need to repent.

    A child is playing on railroad tracks—is it more loving to allow them to play there even when a train is coming? Or is it more loving to warn them of the oncoming train?

    Is it more loving to warn someone of the impending wrath of God or stand by and say nothing?

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT October 30, 2010

    Isn’t that what I said?

    Is citing old testemant ‘judgement and wrath’ verses “lovingly” telling them their actions are wrong and they need to repent or is it hitting them over the head with the bible?

    As for your questions I think the plain meaning of what I wrote is clear in context and does not require further explanation. If you have some substantive comments I welcome them.

  • Scott

    Scott October 30, 2010

    Actually, the New Testament covers God’s judgment and wrath as well as the Old Testament. In both cases, the people are urged to repent and turn to God. The Apostle Paul pointed out the actions of people quite clearly in Romans chapter one and encouraged them throughout the rest of the epistle to repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Was Paul judging the people or their actions? Paul understood his sinful condition far better than I understand my own, but he still spoke out as God directed him.

    Sadly, I am of very little brain, but if I understand the context of your post, you seem to imply that those that choose the homosexual lifestyle were actually made by God to be homosexuals. If this is true, then there would be a contradiction in God’s Word because He would not create someone that would automatically be an abomination to Him and would have no hope.

    People are born as sinners (Psalm 51:5) but they do not have to continue to choose to sin. God did not create anyone as having lying being in their genes. A liar chooses to lie. A thief chooses to steal.

    I could be wrong about what you said, Dave.

  • David VT

    David VT October 30, 2010

    The New Testemant talks about sin and judgement?  Thanks for letting me know.

    But you did’t use the New Testement in your first choice of passages did you?

    There is a difference between what God creates and what God ALLOWS. It is the difference between is active v. His permissive will. God could cure every sin and desire to sin w/ just a thought. But by his permissive will he allows us to sin so we can have free will. The desire to sin despite God’s active will to create only good is called concuipisence. The CCC has an excellent treatment of it. I suggest you start there.  Have a good weekend.

  • Jessica

    Jessica November 08, 2010

    Dave, I just realized what you meant the other day about you resembling the pope.  This is hilarious.

    James, I had NO IDEA that the Metro church’s were a movement.  Wow.

  • Scott

    Scott November 08, 2010

    ...still notes that Jessica did not answer the questions…

  • Jessica

    Jessica November 08, 2010

    Sorry, Scott.  I thought your question was rhetorical.  I had actually intended my question to be as well.

    I asked:  “However, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus would be proud to have the cross which reminds us of the sacrifice He so loving made to eradicate sin, draped with a flag that symbolizes pride for something His own Father considered one?”

    You asked:

    “Knowing what you know of what the Bible teaches, Jessica, what do you think the answer would be?”

    I think the answer is Jesus is not proud to have the gay pride flag draped over the cross.

  • Scott

    Scott November 09, 2010

    Jessica,
    If that is what you believe about the rainbow flag, then how do the last two paragraphs of your report fit in? Especially the statement in bold in the second to last paragraph.

  • Jessica

    Jessica November 09, 2010

    If I went to a church where they all seemed to lift up Christ but found out that they struggled with drug abuse, I wouldn’t say they weren’t Christ-centered because of that.  Now, if that same church had, I don’t know, “Proud to be an alcoholic” draped across the cross I’d comment on it (and think it was really odd) but if everything else about the church was great, I wouldn’t not want to bless their ministry. 

    I guess I want to believe it wasn’t their intention to blaspheme our Lord in any way, but just a misguided attempt to glorify something they feel in their heart is forgiven by Him and they are thankful that’s the case. 

    I don’t know, it’s a hard subject, Scott.  I’m not gay so I don’t know how they feel being that I KNOW many believe they are born with it, so if they are born with it, they rationalize God gave it to them.  If I was in their shoes, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same.  I’m not denying that I felt it was the wrong thing to do, but I do pray that they continue to bring people to Jesus, even if I think they are misguided in some areas.

    Many homosexuals (because of the way Christians treat their sin as this horrible deed but rationalize their own short-comings) turn completely away from Christ because they look at Christians, instead of keeping their eyes on Jesus himself.  I’m just glad these people are keeping their eyes on Him, even in spite of us.

  • Scott

    Scott November 10, 2010

    Jessica,
    You have brought up hypocritical Christians a few times now. The problem is that nobody can rely on the “hypocrite” defense when they stand before Jesus Christ either at the Great White Throne judgment or the Judgment Seat of Christ.

    I am not going to be able to stand before Him and declare, “Yes, I am a sinner, but Ralph was a whole lot worse a sinner.” Each person is going to have to stand alone before Christ and account for their sin—not somebody else’s sin.

    God will chastise those that are His children who sin against Him. Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  (7)  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  (8)  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
    Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

    Sadly, not all professing Christians are truly believers. Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. 
    1John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    Each person is accountable for their own sin and God will hold each individual accountable. Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. See also Revelation 20 and 1 Corinthians 3.

    None of us can stand before God and shift blame onto someone else.

    You are absolutely right, Jessica, this is a very difficult subject. I have known and worked with many homosexuals. Other than that particular sin, they are no different than anyone else, and I have never treated them any differently because of their choice. I would love to see all of them get saved and repent and turn to a lifestyle that glorifies God.

    The question is: Can an unrepentant person glorify God? Does an unrepentant person have their eyes on Jesus Christ?  Remember that passage from Amos that I quoted earlier? Read the whole book and then think about my two questions.

  • Scott

    Scott November 11, 2010

    The Metropolitan Comm Church may be very sincere in their worship, but sincerity is not the only prerequisite for worship of God. Truth is necessary. Sincerity and truth are not identical. Sincerity without truth is sincerely wrong. Look at the passage where Jesus Christ speaks with the Samaritan woman.

    John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
    Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
    John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    He points out to her that they have been worshiping something, but they do not know what it is. She has been worshiping all along, and yet, she has had five husbands and is now with a sixth man. There has been no change in her life until now when she meets Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ wants us to come to Him as we are, but He does not expect us to remain the same—a blood-bought, born again person becomes a new creation and should not continue to dwell or revel in their sin.

    Look at the Book of Amos: the Israelites were worshiping God. They did all the right sacrifices, they sang the right songs, and they likely read from the Torah, but God was rejecting their worship because they just paying Him lip service. They worshiped God on one day, then worshiped Baal the next.

    Is an unrepentant person really glorifying God, even if they wear tall pointy hats and scarlet robes and sing songs of praise and read from the Bible? I would say no. However, God can use that situation for His glory, but in His own manner.

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT November 11, 2010

    The “pointy hat” recalls the Tongues of Fire that descended on the Apostles.

    The Pope wears nice red robes b/c he is the Vicar of Christ on earth.  The robes are for Christ, who will return as a King.  The day he does, the Pope will take them off and hand them over.  More correctly, Christ actually returns physically to the earth every day.  The Pope and the Priests stand “in persona Christi” during the Mass (and other sacraments).  They confect the Eucharist by the power of and under the authority of Christ.  If Christ returned today and need a robe, would you not give him your best one?

    We also build great Cathedrals and big Churches b/c there are about 2 billion of us.  When we get together we tend to take up some space.  Please tell Joel Osteen to take down his stadium and we might consider taking down some of ours.

    We have great art b/c great artists are inspired by God to create beautiful things.  The Church holds these in trust for all God’s people.  Just as the United States preserves copies of the Constitution for all Americans.  Perhaps just like you preserve important things from your family history for your children and grandchildren.

    Poverty is virtue but we also know from the Bible that God blesses his faithful people with great abundance.  Just as God commanded a ark inlaid with gold be built for the 10 Commandments and as Jesus was anointed with precious (and we are told very expensive) oil, some or our abundance goes to create beautiful things to honor and to show our love for God but the vast majority of our abundance goes to schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and more charity they you can comprehend.  Attempts have been made to quantify it and it has proven impossible.

    Lastly, this man would like to point out (even though I don’t have my own pointy hat) that snarky insults aren’t very Christ like.  It certainly isn’t correcting with charity as the bible calls us to do.  But we forgive you. *

    *(which we can do b/c God has given the authority to bind and loose to the Church).

  • Jessica

    Jessica November 11, 2010

    “More correctly, Christ actually returns physically to the earth every day.  The Pope and the Priests stand “in persona Christi” during the Mass (and other sacraments)” 

    Dave, I don’t know how to read this comment and not say this: I believe this statement is outright blasphemous.  I really really do.  I appreciate Catholic people and their love for Jesus, but according to the Bible; claiming to forgive sins on behalf of Christ and claiming that you are God is the biblical definition of blasphemy. (Mark 2:5-7, John 10:33)

  • Dave VT

    Dave VT November 11, 2010

    The Church teaches that the priest ministers in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. In speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Lk 10:16). “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22–23).


    This does not mean the Priest IS Christ.  It means the Priest speaks with the authority of Christ when conducting the sacraments.


    And I apologize, this sentence, “More correctly, Christ actually returns physically to the earth every day” should read “… Christ actually returns physically to the earth every day IN THE EUCHARIST”.  Catholics to not believe Priests are some sort of copies of Christ. 

    As for the power to forgive sins I did not mean to suggest that all Catholics, least of all me, had the power to forgive sins.  I guess I was being a little snarky too, and for that I also apologize.

  • Jessica

    Jessica November 11, 2010

    “I guess I was being a bit snarky too and for that I apologize” 

    I forgive you, Dave.  And so does Jesus.  HAHAHAHAHH smile

  • Scott

    Scott November 12, 2010

    “We also build great Cathedrals and big Churches b/c there are about 2 billion of us.  When we get together we tend to take up some space.  Please tell Joel Osteen to take down his stadium and we might consider taking down some of ours.”

    If the Roman Catholics take up a lot of space then why have about 10 RC churches closed in this area in the last few years?

    “We have great art b/c great artists are inspired by God to create beautiful things.  The Church holds these in trust for all God’s people.”
     
    Great art such as the Bone Chapel in Rome, Italy.
    http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com/bigmap/outoftown/italy/lazio/rome/chiesadisantamariadellaconcezione/index.htm

    “Poverty is virtue but we also know from the Bible that God blesses his faithful people with great abundance.  Just as God commanded a ark inlaid with gold be built for the 10 Commandments and as Jesus was anointed with precious (and we are told very expensive) oil, some or our abundance goes to create beautiful things to honor and to show our love for God but the vast majority of our abundance goes to schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and more charity they you can comprehend.  Attempts have been made to quantify it and it has proven impossible.”

    And yet, dioceses have had to declare bankruptcy because of the lawsuits and scandals in the catholic church. Such abundance, but they cannot pay their bills.

    Did Jesus Christ drink from such a cup? Or dress as the pope does?
    http://www.therecord.com.au/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=762&Itemid=38

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