Monday, 19 December 2011


Community is a group of people living (existing) in a common bond with each other - more or less.

Community can be the neighborhood where we live, it can be a common ethnicity, it can be a commonly held belief system - there are many factors which describe a community. Thanks to the 'AIDS Crisis' a 'community' was formed - and it consisted of a number of other communities (Drag, Leather/Levi, Lesbian, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning and others}. Also, I should mentioned 'Allies' as well for, without their support, would we have come through those years as well as we did?

The Metropolitan Community Churches did become a focus for the care, the support and the funerals that we did face - and are facing. In that - at least in Vancouver - we had strong allies. There was Integrity (LGBT Anglicans), Affirm (LGBT United Church folk) and Dignity (LGBT Roman Catholics) and each of these groups had/have strong non-LGBT supporters.

While the Roman Catholic Archbishop was not supportive, there was a strong Dignity chapter which met at St Paul's Roman Catholic Church - a small house of worship located in Gastown and pastored by a priest of the Franciscan Order. Attached to that church were a group of nuns who were Franciscans as well. The priest who gave his blessing to the Dignity Chapter was Father Celestine. Every so often I was invited to attend one of their meetings and to partake in the Mass. If I shied away from accepting the host and the cup, Father Cel would chide me.

Unfortunately, Father Cel's health was not the best so he retired to the 'Mother House' in Upper New York State. A younger priest was appointed to that parish and, while he was a nice man, he did not approve of me - nor any other non-Catholic - receiving the sacraments. It is sad how old customs/bigotry can get in the way.

The MCC Pastor at the church in San Diego, California organized an AIDS Vigil on one weekend and the idea caught on.

By that time the location used by MCC Vancouver for Sunday worship had changed to St Paul's Anglican in the West End. The Rector was the Rev David Crawley and he and I became firm friends (later he was appointed 'Bishop of Kootenai' and moved to Kelowna).

Once again the generosity of Michael W. in Vancouver has provided me with another appropriate photo. This is St Paul's Anglican/Episcopal Church in the West End and where MCCVancouver rented worship space.

Under his leadership the governing body of St Paul's offered us the use of their Chapel for the Vigil Weekend. The Chapel was in the basement and had a separate entrance directly from the street. The weekend was successful and I was very moved when I saw a group of the 'Franciscan Sisters' coming to pray and to pay their respects.

While on the subject of 'Communities' I will share about my involvement with The Zodiacs - a leather/Levi fellowship. We were a small group but we had an association 'In Brotherhood' with groups in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

                            Welcome to the Pemberton Valley where the campsite is situated

One activity which each group organized was a 'weekend camp' at which men from the other groups would attend as well. One of those was very memorable.

Somebody discovered a small campground nestled between the highway that began in North Vancouver and continued through Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and went on to Lillooet and joined the Cariboo Highway near Cache Creek - and the railway tracks. A few miles north of Pemberton was a small pass through a mountain range. In that pass was a small meadow beside a mountain tarn and the Pacific Great Eastern (PGE) Railway. The traffic was light - both on the highway and along the railway - so we were undisturbed. We were up there from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon and we were celebrating some event when a southbound train passed through. To say that consternation was exhibited by the railway crew would be an understatement! We were just horsing around - there was nothing crude.

                                    A field with bales of hay waiting to be moved to storage

When I was offered the position of Pastor of the MCCVancouver congregation I asked if I could plan the Service of Installation? My request was granted so I invited my brother Zodiacs to be ushers, two people from the gay First Nations group to read the opening prayer in English and in Cree, the Scripture lessons were read by representatives of the court (and 'in costume'), while the sermon was preached by a dear friend and supporter of the Gay Community. This was the Rev. Sylvia Pennington who wrote two books: "But, Lord, They're Gay", "Ex-Gays There Are None" plus a third one the title of which I cannot remember.

Different threads inter-weaving at the same time but, in my books, all valid.

1 comment:

  1. Michael has driven up to Pemberton with his camera and has sent me some photos two of which I have added here.