The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto is a congregation of the worldwide Metropolitan Community Church movement; it is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is a welcoming congregation openly affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. MCC Toronto was instrumental in changing the law on same sex marriage in Ontario.
MCC Toronto is now the largest Metropolitan Community Church congregation in terms of membership.
In 1973, a group of individuals wrote to the head office of the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles requesting that they send someone to Toronto to start a new church. In July of 1973, Rev Bob Wolfe arrived in the city and the first worship service was held with 12 people on July 17, 1973. Rev Wolfe, who died in July 2005, worked hard to plant the new congregation and famously talked a suicidal young gay man down from a city center roof and used the ceremony where he was honored by the City to lambast politicians for failing to reform anti-gay laws. In the early years, worship services were held at the Church of the Holy Trinity.
In 1977 Rev Brent Hawkes became Pastor.
In 1991 the church moved into its present church home at 115 Simpson Avenue, a building that previously occupied by Simpson Avenue United Church. So many people want to be part of its Christmas Eve and Pride Day services that the Church must move off site to Roy Thomson Hall and to Church Street for these special services.
Responding to the AIDS crisis, MCC Toronto hired a full-time person to co-ordinate its AIDSCARE program in 1990. Since then its volunteers have provided home hospice care for hundreds of individuals. MCC Toronto have facilitated many, many support groups for HIV, AIDS and other health issues. In 1997 the church expanded the AIDSCARE program to CommunityCARE and now provide support for clients with a range of illnesses and requirements.
MCC Toronto has assisted many other gay and lesbian groups in getting started. It helped organize the first PFLAG meeting and paid for the telephone line in their first year of operation. The church has provided office space for the Toronto Counselling Centre for Lesbians and Gays, for Lesbian & Gay Youth Toronto, Collation for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario to name a few.
The congregation has been at the center of many key struggles for equality. In 1986 MCC Toronto supported Bill 7, adding sexual orientation to the Ontario Human Rights Code. In 1994 they supported Bill 167 in favor of equal rights. In 1996 MCC Toronto went to the Supreme Court of Canada as interveners in support of Egan and Nesbit in the constitutional question of same sex spousal recognition under the Old Age Security Act. As a result of this case, the rights of gay and lesbian couples was recognized and sexual orientation was read into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1999 Rev Brent Hawkes testified in the M vs. H case on spousal support provisions in family law. The ruling in this case was the first to hold that same sex couples receive equitable treatment under the constitution.
In the fall of 2000, MCC Toronto took the decision that the time was right for the church to take the next step in the pursuit of equal marriage rights in Canada. The Church's lawyers developed a strategy that was built on a combination of The Ontario Marriage Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On January 14 2001 Rev. Brent Hawkes legally married two same-sex couples but the Registrar General of Ontario refused to register the marriage documents. The Church took the provincial government to court and the case was heard in November of 2001. The decision was ultimately in the church's favor, although not until the Netherlands and Belgium legalized same-sex marriage. The fact that the marriages were performed first, but only later ruled to be valid as of the day they were performed, complicates discussions of who was first.
Same sex couples may now be married throughout Canada on the same terms as mixed-sex couples.
See also Edit
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