Metropolitan Community Church
Founded by Reverend Troy Perry in 1968, the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is the oldest continuously operating LGBTQ ministry in the world. The MCC has had numerous homes throughout the years and is currently based in this 1920 Romanesque Revival-style building in Los Feliz.
Trained as a Pentecostal minister, Reverend Perry left the church in the early 1960s after parish leadership learned he was gay and excommunicated him. Events in his personal life moved him to return to the ministry in 1968 with the goal of providing a place for LGBTQ individuals to worship freely.
Reverend Perry first announced the formation of a new church in an advertisement in The Advocate. On October 6, 1968, he held the first service of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in the living room of his Huntington Park home with twelve people in attendance.
Reverend Perry conducted services in his living room for the first six weeks. The size of the congregation steadily grew each week, and by 1969 the church had 150 congregants.
As the ministry grew, the congregation turned to other meeting spaces, including a nearby women's club, theatres, and other churches. In 1971, the MCC dedicated its own church at 2201 South Union Avenue. Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world's first LGBTQ synagogue, also held services in the building.
As the MCC expanded its outreach across the country, it became a target for arson. Fires were first reported in 1972 and 1973 at churches in San Francisco. In 1973, the MCC headquarters at South Union Avenue and West 22nd Street was destroyed by two separate instances of arson.
In addition to his ministry, Reverend Perry was an influential figure in the broader LGBTQ civil rights movement. He was a member of the Gay Liberation Front and helped spearhead the world's first pride parade in 1970.
He was also an early proponent of same-sex marriage and performed civil unions for LGBTQ couples beginning in the early 1970s.
Today, the MCC is the largest LGBTQ ministry in the world, with over 172 churches in 37 countries. Founders MCC, which grew out of the original congregation, is now located in the building at 4607 Prospect Avenue.
Born in Florida in 1940, Reverend Perry became a licensed preacher in the Southern Pentecostal tradition at the age of 15.
From a young age, he pursued sexual relationships with other men, although he married the daughter of another preacher in 1959. The couple had two children, and by 1963 the family had relocated to Tennessee.
That same year, administrators at the Church of God learned of Reverend Perry's encounters with other men and forced him to leave the congregation. Along with his family, Perry moved to Los Angeles, where he briefly served as the pastor at a Pentecostal church.
His explorations of his sexuality continued, however, and his marriage soon dissolved. He resigned from the ministry and took a job in a Sears department store before joining the army in 1965. He served overseas for two years.
In 1968, Perry, who had returned to Los Angeles, was a patron at the popular Wilmington gay bar The Patch on the night of an infamous police raid. The LAPD arrested numerous people, including Perry's date, a man named Tony Valdez.
Following Valdez's release, Perry attempted to comfort him by speaking about God. Valdez, however, reportedly responded, "We're just a bunch of dirty queers. God doesn't care." In this moment, Reverend Perry realized that his calling was to create an LGBTQ ministry.
While sexual orientation and gender identity have been controversial topics within religious communities for centuries, Los Angeles has been at the forefront of changing attitudes and is home to some of the oldest LGBTQ-friendly ministries in the United States.
Upon founding the Metropolitan Community Church, Reverend Perry was clear that the congregation should reflect the true diversity of the LGBTQ community. He was particularly committed to welcoming women and people of color into the church. As early as 1972, the MCC ordained women as pastors.
Over the years, Reverend Perry helped establish many minority group spaces within the church, including an all-lesbian group and spaces for non-Christian ministries such as Beth Chayim Chadashim.