As always, all are welcome at Spirit of Hope MCC. But during five days in late August, that permanent invitation is extended with special significance, as the church celebrates its ruby anniversary.

Many readers know Kansas City’s local Metropolitan Community Church simply as Spirit of Hope or MCCKC. Some may have attended a community event there. Still others have been to the church’s services or are members.

Using the MCCKC abbreviation can lead to people confusing the church with our local community college system, Metropolitan Community College (MCC-KC). No degrees are conferred and no tuition is assessed at Spirit of Hope, but this congregation is all about community.
The Celebration
As part of its enduring embrace of community, Spirit of Hope invites all who are able to attend one or more of its 40th anniversary events Aug. 22-26.
Wednesday, Aug. 22
7 p.m. -- Interfaith Service
Speakers: The Rev. John Barbone, pastor emeritus; Sly James, mayor of Kansas City, Mo.; U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II; and the Rev. Kurt Krieger, senior pastor.
Entertainment: Heartland Men’s Chorus and Kansas City Women’s Chorus
Reception follows.
Thursday, Aug. 23
7 p.m. -- “The History of Spirit of Hope” in music, reading, slides and video.
Friday, Aug. 24
6 p.m. -- Congregational Potluck: Bring a side dish. Spirit of Hope will provide meat.
7:30 p.m. -- Musical celebration with soloists, choirs and praise band.
Saturday, Aug. 25
6 p.m. -- $100/person semiformal dinner, entertainment and awards. Madrid Theatre, 3810 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.
Dinner by Brancato’s Catering. Entertainment by Sweet Harmony, et al.
Sunday, Aug. 26
10:15 a.m. -- Extended Morning Worship
The Rev. Troy Perry will deliver the main sermon, the Rev. John Barbone will offer a ministry moment, and the Rev. Kurt Krieger will administer communion.
Worship music by praise band and choirs. Special music by Jason & deMarco. Cake and ice cream served after worship.
7:30 p.m. -- Jason & deMarco in concert. Reception afterward.
The denomination’s founder, the Rev. Troy Perry, will be present Friday through Sunday. All events will take place at the church, 3801 Wyandotte St., with the exception of the Saturday dinner.
Denomination History
In Los Angeles, in 1968, the Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry founded what has come to be called the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Perry felt called to preach at a young age. Finding that impossible within existing mainline Christian denominational structures, he withdrew. His disgust with societal and religious treatment of LGBT people finally pulled him back into the ministry.

Perry placed an ad in The Advocate announcing a worship service for gay people in Los Angeles. Initially, a very small number responded. But by 1971, the welcoming church had dedicated its own building in Los Angeles, the first in the nation owned by an LGBT organization. The 2007 documentary film Call Me Troy tells the story of Perry and of MCC’s founding.

Metropolitan Community Church theology is based upon the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds. Every affiliated church must celebrate the Eucharist at least once a week and practice open communion when doing so. Otherwise, MCC churches have broad latitude in doctrine and worship style.
Local History
In Kansas City, you’ll find the Spirit of Hope house of worship tucked between Main and Broadway Streets, just north of 39th in Midtown. The first congregants, however, met in 1972 in a park amid the trees.

From the park, they moved to The Asylum, Reggie Greene’s coffee shop on Broadway, then to Conover Hall at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church on Walnut. After that, the church convened at 4000 Harrison, before finally moving to its current address.

Around the time of its 20th anniversary, church members voted to adopt a specific name in addition to Metropolitan Community Church of Kansas City. Spirit of Hope was added to the name in 1993.

Through its community forums on HIV, Spirit of Hope helped to form both the Good Samaritan Project and SAVE Inc. The Lesbian Cancer Project and food assistance programs have been and continue to be integral parts of Spirit of Hope’s community outreach. The church has allowed innumerable nonprofit groups to hold events and fundraisers at its facility.

Through its new Spirit and Hope Foundation, the church plans to help build a local chapter of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders).
Current and Upcoming
During August, the Spirit of Hope pulpit will be opened to special guest speakers.

The lead organizer of the 40th anniversary celebration, church member Eddy Potter, is also the eponym behind Spirit of Hope’s Potter’s House, which brings outside performers into the church to bolster its community connection.

The next Potter’s House event will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, when gospel recording artist Justin Ryan will perform a free concert. A love offering will be taken during the show.

The July Potter’s House event will feature the church’s pastor, the Rev. Kurt Krieger, cooking hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill.

To those who question the continued relevance of an LGBT-focused church, Spirit of Hope members affirm, “We’re not done yet. We are ‘Uniquely Us.’” More and more religious denominations are welcoming LGBT members on some level, but there are often limits to this acceptance involving ordination, sacraments, families and children. At Spirit of Hope, there are no barriers. “Uniquely Us” seems quite appropriate.

Go, check out Spirit of Hope on a Sunday or a Wednesday. Or help celebrate its big 4-0 in August.
Spirit of Hope MCC
3801 Wyandotte St.
Kansas City, Mo.
10:15 a.m. Sunday worship with children’s church and youth ministry; potluck meal on first Sundays
6:30 p.m. Wednesday Refresh! prayer service

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