Credit: The LGBTQ History Project, 2020
Founded by Reverend Troy Perry in 1968, the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is the oldest continuously operating LGBTQ ministry in the world.
Trained as a Pentecostal minister, Reverend Perry left the church in the early 1960s after parish leadership learned he was gay and excommunicated him. Events in his personal life moved him to return to the ministry in 1968 with the goal of providing a place for LGBTQ individuals to worship freely.
Reverend Perry conducted services in his living room for the first six weeks. The size of the congregation steadily grew each week, and by 1969 the church had 150 congregants.
As the ministry grew, the congregation turned to other meeting spaces, including a nearby women's club, theatres, and other churches. In 1971, the MCC dedicated its own church at 2201 South Union Avenue. Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world's first LGBTQ synagogue, also held services in the building.
As the MCC expanded its outreach across the country, it became a target for arson. Fires were first reported in 1972 and 1973 at churches in San Francisco. In 1973, the MCC headquarters at South Union Avenue and West 22nd Street was destroyed by two separate instances of arson.
The LGBTQ History Project, 2020