To MCC San Jose,
It was deeply painful to hear that MCC San Jose is closing its doors after all these years. I, for one, accept some responsibility, even though my illness took me on a journey I never expected. Many of us have been going through so much… the times have been rough. I can’t help wanting to go through a check list of the “what ifs” or “if onlys”! But this is no help for me or any one of us at this time… we never know what God has prepared for us in the days ahead.
As we say good by to this part of our lives together, I’d like to ask each of us to remember all the wonderful things this little church has done for the community throughout the years. May they live in our memories always.
Remember how, in the early 70’s, a few people began to form what would become this church, believing in Troy’s words which called out to our community to remember and witness to others in the Gay community that God loves us and was calling us out of the dark closets we once lived in… calling us into the light. And slowly MCCSJ came into being.
Remember how we grew and loved and served so faithfully. Remember later, in the 70’s, during the John Brigg’s Initiative how we were the only church in San Jose to stand against the outcry of the Fundamentalist and Mormon churches who were fighting to deny our people their basic human rights in housing, jobs and, incredibly, even our right to love each other and to worship the God of our salvation. All this was happening here while Harvey Milk led the people in San Francisco. What a time… do you remember?
It was MCC San Jose who stood alone inside the County Chambers with all these people and the Board of supervisors for over 40 hours of hearings. Both the Chambers and the streets outside were flooded with those who stood against us. As I entered I remember how they spit on me calling me the “Pastor of Sodom”… the youth carrying signs of “Kill a Queer for Christ”… and more. I put this in that you might remember how vicious the things that were being done and said in the name of Christ! Yet our little church stood our ground together with our sister and brother activists who, along with our church members were not allowed inside. Our church prayed outside the doors and spoke with those who opposed us as they came out convincing many of them to walk away and stand for God’s truth along side of us… and they did. We received many calls form them after it was over asking for forgiveness.
Remember the time after this when we moved into the Dole Pineapple Building to create a safe place for many of our people, both in and outside the church, who were afraid or so turned off they wouldn’t ever enter a church building? We moved in and they began coming home! I hope this next bit doesn’t offend you… but to lighten up a bit… I remember the cry outside when they’d say… “let’s go and see MCC in the “fruit factory”! A joke at first, but in this house many came to know the God of love and compassion… and so it was.
Then there were those horrific years when the church struggled to care for our people during the AIDS crisis. So many in MCC San Jose and throughout the Fellowship died at that time… Rev. Stan Roberts was one of the first from our church… please take a moment to name the others you knew ____________. Karl and others live through this and have helped lead the fight to keep our church alive. We celebrate you and all those who have served here ever since.
Later MCCSJ opened it’s doors to the Transgender Community… Rev. Chad who is no longer with us, Rev. Vicky Kowlakowski, who is now a Superior Court Judge in CA., myself, Deacon Woody, Claudia. For several years we held a month long series on Transgender issues beginning with TDOR. No little thing to do when so many churches within our own Fellowship were not open at all to us. See the good things you have done, beloved…!
The whole community will grieve this closing… think of how in these past few years our little church, even in our struggle, identified from 40-60 youth living with HIV/ AIDS, in poverty and how the church solicited funds to buy wonderful gifts, clothing, games, and food for them and their families for Christmas. Thanks to Joe the Biology Department at Stanford who joined in to make it the best times ever for these kids… we praise our good God for using us in this way… You lit up their lives!!
Then we have the years of Thanksgiving Dinners at the Neil Christy Center for men and women living with HIV/AIDS. We began doing it for them, but later they were there to join in with us and to make this day a day of solidarity and hope we were so blessed!
We remember the hours of counseling so many people still so afraid to come out… some still afraid of church… the Holy Unions we’ve done… so many hours of service. The time given these past few years to the students of San Jose state. How one of the professors from the Psych. Dept. invited us in t prepare the student Mentors to work with students on campus with their Faith issues. We were asked to train them on the differences between Religion and faith so they could better serve those who came to them.
We remember our leadership on the Santa Clara County Council of Churches… myself in the 70’s and Michael in the years past. and others I’ve forgotten as well… the Interfaith council… most often in the hours between meetings. So much more and this is where you have to fill in the blanks … help each other to remember … OK? There is so much I have forgotten.
We remember : Rev. Stan Roberts, Rev. Dennis Moore, Rev. Mike, myself and others whom you called to lead at one time or another … Ruth whose music lifted our souls and voices to the heavens… all those who served with us and for us… and now Rev. Rebecca, Woody, Rev. Marjorie, the Boards, Group leaders, the faithful, faithful members. We offer great thanks to the Grace Baptist Church people who loved and served us so faithfully.
So, in ending this booklet, I pray you will look up the MCC’s in the Bay area and see if you can check them out. I know they will love you and welcome you with open arms. Why not name a meeting place for Sunday mornings where people can meet and car pool t o one of the services. Keep this love alive!! Check it out or at least present an option. Rev. Rebecca has planned this I believe. And please don’t forget us who are still dragging behind, but some of your faithful prayer partners… too bad we weren’t stronger. And Mary Jo and others in the community who are fighting for their lives and/or preparing for the long journey home.
We are still the church alive… not in a building right now… but full of the Spirit that has given us the life and courage to always go on in the face of many big and heart breaking obstacles. We are like Eagles
Remember our blessing: Those who wait upon our God will renew their strength… we will mount up on wings as eagles… we will run and not get weary… we will walk and not faint… like the Phoenix… we will rise from the ashes… who knows what God has planned for San Jose… maybe one day people will stop hiding in San Francisco???? OK, I’ll be good.
Time to quit… I’m in one of those spaces I go to… (smile)… you all know what I am talking about!! I love you and I ask for your forgiveness for the many times I have let you down. Go in peace and be the people you have been called to be.
If possible and I am not able to be there for the meetings, Rev. Rebecca will you share this with the people who are not on this list? I pray that all may remember the gifts this little church has brought to San Jose and elsewhere.
In solidarity and love..
Rev. Sky Anderson