History of MCC Rehoboth

Metropolitan Community Church of Rehoboth Beach (also known as MCC Rehoboth and MCCR) was founded in May 1991 by David Patterson and Michael Schilling, who had moved here from Washington DC. After searching without success for gay-friendly churches in the area, they asked their pastor, Rev. Larry Uhrig at MCC of Washington DC (MCCDC), for permission to conduct Sunday worship in Rehoboth Beach as an adjunct of that church. Their initial plan was to offer services during the summer season, but they quickly learned that there was interest in having MCC worship year-round.

The fledgling congregation met initially under an awning at a hotel, then moved to the common room of a bed-and-breakfast inn.  As attendance increased, the group moved to a larger meeting room in a hotel. Yet more attendance led to renting space on Sunday mornings at the Odd Fellows Hall on Holland Glade Road near Route 1. By that time, “church in a box” began to describe this nomadic group.

Mr. Patterson was named Worship Coordinator, and then Pastoral Leader, as MCCR was considered a Parish Extension of MCCDC.  Rev. Elder Arlene Ackerman had become Coordinator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) Mid-Atlantic District, and worked to establish a relationship between MCC Rehoboth and the District, in which MCCR became recognized as a Mission Church.

Rev. Thomas Bohache was called as the first official pastor of MCC Rehoboth, and began his duties in July 1998. One immediate goal was to bring MCCR into compliance with UFMCC Bylaws and the procedures of the Mid-Atlantic District. Services became so well attended that, beginning in May 1999, two Sunday services were held.

For several years MCC Rehoboth grew in membership, finances, and reputation.  Rev. Bohache led the congregation to Commissioned Church status, a significant Building Fund had begun to accumulate, and the search for suitable property was underway. With help from MCCR member Evie Simmons, the present land was purchased and a sign was installed saying “Future Home of MCC   Rehoboth.”

Even with two Sunday services, the Odd Fellows Hall became too small and MCCR moved to rented space in Midway Shopping Center.  Small difficulties over finances and other aspects of management grew larger, division increased within the congregation, and a number of people left the church. The rent was too much for those who re­mained, so a move was made to the clubhouse at Plantations where a room was rented for three hours each Sunday.  “Church in a box” was becoming the norm. A high point during that difficult period was the celebration in 2006 of MCC Rehoboth’s fifteenth anniversary, attended by UFMCC’s founder Rev. Elder Troy Perry.

Increasing pressures on the church led to a new Board of Directors being elected in April 2008. A series of consultations with members and evaluations of MCCR’s status was undertaken with Regional Elder Rev. Arlene Ackerman. It was determined that a change would be best for both the church and the pastor, and Rev. Dr. Bohache resigned in July after ten years of service.

Coinciding with that, the owner of Plantations clubhouse notified MCCR that the building would be remodeled and no longer available to us, effective in one week. Fortunately, Seaside Jewish Community was on summer break from their Sunday school and offered to rent us their space at what had been the Odd Fellows Hall. MCC Reho­both was able to worship there through August 2008, and in a to­tally unexpected gesture of kind­ness, the Seaside Jewish Communi­ty returned our rental check.

That September, MCCR began what turned into four years of renting space on Sunday mornings at Cape Henlopen Senior Center in Rehoboth Beach.  With no pastor and depleted resources, the Board of Directors maintained a worship schedule of guest clergy from MCC churches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as pastors from United Church of Christ and Unity Fellowship. Lay speakers were invited as well, and every one of them brought us messages of hope and encouragement.

Attendance and finances began increasing gradually, and UFMCC appointed Rev. Dr. Dusty Pruitt to serve as our Interim Pastor starting in February 2009. She brought to us fresh gifts of experience, encouragement, practical skills, and a contagiously warm presence. The Building Fund began to grow, and our “future home” sign, now eight years old and weathered, began to look new and possible.

At a Congregational Meeting, member Shila Hayden offered to serve as MCCR’s “contractor” so that we could begin construction with Morton Builders. She was experienced from the construction of her own home, and knew how to lead the project as well as how to save on costs. Further encouragement at that time came with a visit by UFMCC Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, who met informally with the congregation and walked the property to consecrate it.

Meanwhile, Rev. Pruitt’s assignment as Interim Pastor was drawing to a close, and a pastoral search committee had been actively at work. Rev. K’Lynne McKinley was selected in 2011 to be our half-time pastor, and we assisted her in completing a doctoral degree as well as the requirements for UFMCC ordination.  Under her youthful energy the congregation continued to grow, especially in younger people with children, and the Building Fund steadily increased. Rev. Dr. McKinley joined Evie Simmons and Shila Hayden in leading our groundbreaking ceremony on March 25, 2012, and construction was soon under way.  Our movement forward was interrupted once again when Rev. Dr. McKinley realized that she would be better suited to the ministry of hospital chaplain. She arranged a course of study toward that goal in York PA, and attempted to commute to and from MCC Rehoboth on Sundays. That arrangement soon proved too challenging, and she reluctantly resigned.  The first service in our new building took place March 10, 2013 and was led by guest pastor Rev. Dr. Dusty Pruitt.  We continued to invite guest pastors as we had before, until May 2013 when UFMCC designated Rev. Dr. Pruitt our Interim Pastor once again. In late August 2013 the UFMCC Office of Church Life and Health proposed that she become our Settled Pastor for the next three years.  At a special congregational meeting on September 15, 2013, the proposal was approved by the members of MCCR.

At the end of 2016, Rev. Dr. Pruitt retired, and Rev. Elder Diane Fisher was called as the new pastor.

We invite you to be part of our future as our journey continues at our new home.  Thanks be to God!

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