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20-year journey for St. Jude's: from LGBT haven to thriving community church

St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church was born 20 years ago out of one basic need:  to find an accepting place to bury the dead from Wilmington’s gay and lesbian community.  Amanda Greene of Wilmington Faith and Values reports how the church has grown and increased its focus on human rights issues.

After the murder of Wilmington resident Talana Kreeger in 1990, her friends struggled to find a church willing to host her funeral because she was a lesbian.  So Wilmington’s LGBT community united to form St. Jude’s MCC.

Since then, St. Jude’s pastor John McLaughlin says the church of about 200 members is growing, moving to a larger building on Market Street. 

This weekend, the founder of the MCC, the Rev. Troy Perry, will travel from California to speak at the church’s anniversary.  He says St. Jude’s played a vital role during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

“We lost over 5,000 members to AIDS, and Wilmington was one of those places where we lost members but we gave members hope, too.”

Now with its new food pantry as well as its involvement in the fight for marriage equality in North Carolina, McLaughlin says St. Jude’s will continue its focus on human rights for the next 20 years.

Amanda Greene posts for Wilmington Faith and Values.