Running past the lovely Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond the other day, a question occurred to me: Now that the Presbyterians have joined the Lutherans, Episcopalians and UCCs in ordaining gay and lesbian people, is there any need for the MCC anymore?
Andrew Sullivan has been documenting the death of gay culture for years now, beginning with this 2005 piece in The New Republic. Is the MCC, like the music of Queen or the flamboyance of Elton John, an artifact of a time in which gays and lesbians had to form a subculture of resistance?
If so, we Presbyterians need to jump on this opportunity. I'm talking mergers and acquisitions, baby! A friendly takeover of one irrelevant denomination by another irrelevant denomination.
You're dubious; I can tell. But isn't this how other institutions grow? Two guys cook up some cool new software in their garage. They start making a little money. And then the Redmond mafia show up with an offer they can't refuse. Next thing you know, that hot little app or innovation is folded seamlessly into the latest version of Windows, and one of those two guys is on Househunters International, trying to decide which condo in Dubai to purchase.
The question is, What's the offer that the MCC can't refuse? Well, there's Montreat, of course. And we have lay elders in the PC(USA) and no high and mighty bishops. That's gotta give us a leg up over the Episcopalians.
But I think that our best selling point is the Board of Pensions. A beyond fully-funded, defined benefit plan and medical coverage that's second to none. We have hit them up hard over the years--two open heart surgeries, a renal surgery, and God-awful expensive ABA therapy--and they pay out, right as rain. If you want to know what the Presbyterian bureaucracy does really well, it's taking care of the clergy.
So we pitch the BOP to the MCC clergy, and get them to bring along their laity with the awesome accessory of Ruling Elder.
Now the MCC only has 44,000 members, and we lose that many members each year. But you gotta start small. This is how pidly a Charlotte-based bank named NCNB became Bank of America. They gobbled up all the little fish in the Old North State; then they swallowed C&S/Sovran, and then unhinged their jaws to consume BankAmerica.
If the MCC acquisition goes well, we can set our sights on the Reformed Church of America, and then the Disciples of Christ. After that, we can either acquire the UCC or bypass them, letting them die on the vine while we land the Big Kahuna: the Southern Baptist Convention. And I know we can offer them: guilt free trips to the liquor store!
You may point out that conservatives will object to a transfusion of tens of thousands of homosexuals and their straight allies into the PC(USA). But here's the thing: the MCC is a theologically traditional denomination. Read their statement of faith. It's as clear and lucid a description of Bible-believing Nicene-Chalcedonian orthodoxy as you'll find out there.
Not only that, it's easy to find! All you have to do is click on the "Who We Are" tab on their home page, and a link to "Our beliefs" pops up. I can't find anything like that on the PCUSA homepage. Either because Presbyterians don't know what they think, or because the PC(USA) website is created by bureaucrats for bureaucrats. But the home page link to the Board of Pensions is nice!
Conservatives in the PC(USA) often conflate theological and social radicalism. But the MCC is living proof that the two don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. So here's an opportunity for a grand bargain: buy out the MCC, and move the denomination to the right theologically and to the left socially. It's like revenues and spending cuts! Two great tastes that taste great together!
I anticipate one last objection: Marvin, you're talking about sheep-stealing here! This isn't evangelism! This isn't legitimate church growth.
Look. Conversion is off the table for now. The public face of Christianity these days is Fred Phelps and Michelle Bachmann. When the unchurched think "Christianity," they think that's the North American branch of the Taliban. Who wants to convert to that?
So, until we rebrand the Christian label, let's concentrate on increasing our share of the shrinking slice of the U.S. pie that self-identifies as Christian.
Plus, I'd just love to get my hands on that church in the Fan! What a handsome building!