OPEN ARMS MCC
Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church was established in June, 1981. The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches recruited Reverend Willie White (former pastor of St. John’s MCC in Raleigh, N.C.) to form an MCC Church in the Rochester area. After moving to Rochester, Reverend White placed an advertisement in the Empty Closet, Rochester’s gay newspaper. The first worship service of the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Rochester was held at the Gay Alliance on August 16, 1981, with an attendance of ten people. Later that month, at the fall conference of the Northeast District, the church was officially designated as a study group of UFMCC. In April, 1985, the congregation voted to change the name of the church to Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church.
Reverend Cathy Elliott was called to Open Arms M.C.C. in August, 1985. She served for 6 years, as the congregation
grew and moved to a new location at the Auditorium Center.
In November, 1995, Open Arms called its third pastor, Reverend Ron Helms. Church membership continued to grow
and was at 50 by the end of 1999. In 2001, Open Arms celebrated its 20th anniversary with the Rev. Elder Nancy
Wilson as our guest. Over the next few years, the Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson, Reverend Elder Arleen Ackerman,
Reverend Elder Diane Fisher, Reverend Dolores Berry, and Marsha Stevens came to visit Open Arms.
Reverend James Mulcahy, a member of Open Arms, was appointed interim pastoral leader in June, 2003. A former
Hospice chaplain, Reverend Mulcahy transferred his credentials to UFMCC, and was installed as pastor of Open Arms
MCC in August, 2004. A successful capital campaign was mounted in 2006, allowing for the purchase our first
building, located on Marshall Road, in the Town of Chili. Church membership was at 75. The Gay History
Fair was held at Open Arms in 2007. Reverend Mulcahy announced his retirement, effective the end
of April, 2012.
In 2001, Rev Mulcahy performed the first openly gay marriage in Rochester at Washington Square Park. This was the catalyst
for the drive to pass the Marriage Equality Act of New York State.
Our interim pastor arrived in June, 2012. In 2013, in order to relocate the church into the city, the
Marshall Road building was sold and Open Arms moved to Downtown Rochester. Nancy Wilson,
Moderator of the United Federation of Metropolitan Community Churches, attended the grand
opening of our remodeled building. Reverend Decker’s contract was completed as of June 30, 2014.
Brae Adams was installed as provisional pastor in March of 2015. We continued to reach out to people in need through our
food pantry, Giving Arms ministry, Transformative Ministry, and various coordinated efforts with other local
organizations. In the fall of 2018, we moved into the ROC SALT Center to take advantage of the many
opportunities for community partnerships. Pastor Brae continues to lead our 60 member congregation as we
strive to serve those in need and to stand for social justice.
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES
Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1968 by Reverend Troy Perry in an act of social justice. Embracing the principle of “radical inclusion” he determined that no one should be kept from the table of God. Then and now all are welcome regardless of sexual orientation, gender identification, relationship status, and spiritual / religious status.
As a Human Rights Church, MCC advocates locally, regionally and internationally for LGBTQ equality and for the broader spectrum of human rights owed every person. MCC has been “at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing important issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, and other forms of oppression”. Here is the MCC Human Rights Protocol.
Locally Open Arms MCC has been on the forefront in the struggle towards marriage equality in New York State and continues to be a powerful voice in the LGBTQ equality movement, now focusing on Trans Rights in our community. We believe that as Christians we are called to stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized and oppressed and be partners in working for change.
When we properly carry out justice, we are agents of divine will. (Isaiah 59:15-16)