MCC of Harrisburg was founded in 1980 as a ministry extension of
Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia. Rev. Bruce
Hughes from Philsdelphia and Gary Norton from Williamsport were the leaders active
in planting our church.
1983 under the leadership of Rev. Pat Lichty our community
engaged important spiritual work to widen the circle of our
diversity and inclusion. Rev. Lichty taught us about
inclusive language to be sensitized culturally, racially, and
aware of people with disabilities. Today inclusive language and
worship is an important way we live out the value of diversity.
The founding years from 1983-1986 were a time of deep challenge
for our small congregation. If it had not been for a strong
leadership team of David Leach, Tom Prokob and Shari Gackstatter,
the church would not be what it is today. It was during this
difficult time that MCC of Harrisburg changed its name, to
reflect how the Holy Spirit was moving in our midst, becoming
MCC of the Spirit.
For 16 years, MCC of the Spirit met in the Quaker Meeting House
at the corner of 6th and Herr Streets. The church’s
office was originally on Front Street, and then in 2 different
locations on Green Street. In 1996, MCC of the Spirit became
the first LGBT non-profit organization in Harrisburg to purchase
their own building at 2973 Jefferson Street.
1986 Rev. Karon VanGelder received a call to ministry and a
vision for MCC of the Spirit. During her tenure the church grew
to about 40 active members and began reaching needs in our
community. She began a ministry called “Eagles Perch” which was
an outreach to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered youth.
the fall of 1991, the District appointed Rev. Eva O’Diam to
begin as interim pastor for 6 months. During that time, much
attention was given to healing conflict and learning how to
better communicate with one another. Later that same year Rev.
O’Diam was voted as Pastor and served our community faithfully
for 17 years. Under Rev. O’Diam’s leadership the church
purchased its current facility, expanded its worship life and
music ministry, and grew to over 120 members.
the spring of 2009, Rev. Charles Tigard was appointed and
unanimously called by the Board of Directors to serve as our
intentional interim pastor. Rev. Tigard led us through a
journey of growth, healing, and visioning as we prepare for our
future. Rev. Tigard finished his interim work with us
through August of 2010.
In February 2011, Rev. Lori Rivera began her tenure as pastor.
Rev. Lori's ministry will lead us into the future God has
prepared for us as we reach out into the community.
Community Church of the Spirit has been a leading voice in
Central Pennsylvania for LGBT rights and spirituality.
We assisted Dignity (LGBT Catholics) as they formed the
local Gay and Lesbian Switchboard. We began the Silent Witness
program to profess the love God has for all of us. We have performed countless same-sex unions. We have
raised funds for Equity for Gays and Lesbians, AIDS education,
Common Roads, and Help Ministries.
the Quaker Community opened their doors to us, we open our doors
freely to the community. Our church hosts the TransCentral
Alliance, an advocacy group for the transgendered community, and
Food Not Bombs, a group which provides vegetarian meals for the
homeless of our area.
The doors of our church are open every Sunday for
transformational worship. Our kitchen and fellowship hall hosts
a community meal for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS
through the Sharing Our Caring program. Metropolitan Community
Church is a place of abundance and diversity ministry.
Whoever you are and wherever you come from on your life’s
there is a place for you at MCC of the Spirit.