Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose well.
The Rev. Catherine Houchins shared these thoughts Sept. 13, opening her arms once again to longstanding members of Metropolitan Community Church Charlotte and newcomers to MCC services.
“Join us in this journey,” Houchins said. “God is leading in amazing ways.”
Houchins and the MCC congregation are following God’s lead and, in fact, doing some amazing things of their own after selling the sanctuary on Eastway Dr. last month and relocating to a new location just four miles North on Orr Rd.
MCC still holds worship services at 10:45 a.m. every Sunday and Bible study at 7 p.m. every Wednesday.
The church food pantry remains well-stocked with offerings to those in need, courtesy of the Second Harvest food distribution center and congregation members.
The food pantry served more than 2,500 people last year alone.
“Anyone who calls can get food,” Houchins said.
Food pantry volunteers take calls at 9 a.m. every Thursday for same-day service.
Special events continue to be scheduled, most notably the presentation “Homosexuality and the Bible” (Oct. 3) and a pet blessing (Oct. 17).
Kristin Chesher and Brian Kepley want to grow the deaf ministry within MCC, offering to sign sermons for those who are hearing challenged.
Houchins, who pastored for 26 years at MCC sanctuaries in Virginia and California before arriving at MCC Charlotte more than seven years ago, spoke of God’s love and grace on this particular Sunday morning.
Although she was raised on the King James version of the Bible, Houchins has prepared sermons in the past using a variety of bibles she has lined up on bookshelves in her office.
She used The Message Bible to develop the sermon entitled “A God Who Listens” on Sept. 13.
She takes a passage or two from one of the bibles and runs with it.
“I can’t imagine reading a prepared sermon. That’s just not my style,” she said. “The Message Bible offers a translation in modern speech. It’s really cool.”
Worshippers, many of them same-sex couples listening to Houchins while seated arm-in-arm in the pews, rose to join church pianist Shawn Towne and choir member Felicia Pritchett in singing inspiring hymns.
“Morning Has Broken,” a well-known Christian hymn made popular by Cat Stevens in the 1970s, could also be heard as many members of the congregation took communion.
7121 Orr Rd., Charlotte, NC 28213
10:45 a.m. Sunday
7 p.m. Wednesday
9 a.m. Thursday
(call ahead for appointment)
Leonard Smith, who helped found MCC Charlotte more than 35 years ago, and his husband, Greg, were among those in attendance. Leonard and Greg, who were married in 1982, said they’re the first same-sex couple to wed in front of the MCC congregation.
“The church has grown and become so blessed,” Leonard said. “There are so many people who have found God and that we’re all children of God. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, you’re a child of God and God loves you.”
Linda Youngblood, who volunteers at the food pantry, helped carry offerings of canned and boxed goods from the worship hall to the storeroom following services.
“It takes a lot of people to run the food pantry, from taking appointments to organizing stock to picking up food,” she said. “Food only works when we give it out. We don’t stock it up to save it.”
Kenny Blevins and Brandon Ross, who were married in Rowan County in June and arrived in Charlotte only last month, helped organize the pantry following services.
Both young men, who were raised Southern Baptist, said they were eager to find a new “church home” once they got to Charlotte.
Towne, who was working the church booth at Charlotte Pride, invited Blevins and Ross to MCC services.
“We felt like we were being welcomed into a family,” Blevins said. “It’s a church I can feel safe and comfortable in.”
Blevins and Ross felt so welcome just days after the introduction, in fact, that they helped the congregation move from Eastway Dr. to Orr Rd. that weekend.
“They can’t get rid of us,” Blevins said. “We love it here.”
Aldersgate, the East Charlotte retirement community originally known as “The Methodist Home,” purchased the Eastway Dr. sanctuary, which had been MCC’s home since 2000.
“We were current on the mortgage when we sold,” Houchins said. “We did have some very large balloon payments coming up in a few years. The building also needed many repairs. The buyers were ready, so we sold. The Methodists were very fair with us and the negotiations were easy.”
Houchins said MCC will continue to rent the Orr Rd. location until the church builds up its savings to purchase a new sanctuary. : :