A Brief History
We started as a gay and lesbian church, but we have become so much more – straight, bi, gay, trans, lesbian, queer, questioning, immigrant, Canadian-born, young and old – a diverse Christian community that includes all people. We are Vibrant, Inclusive and Progressive.
During the spring of 1973, a group of individuals wrote to the head office of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in Los Angeles requesting that they send a pastor to Toronto to start a new church. In July of 1973, Reverend Bob Wolfe arrived in the city and the first worship service was held with 12 people on July 17, 1973. In 1977 Rev. Brent Hawkes became the leader of MCC Toronto. Forty years later, Rev. Jeff Rock succeeded Rev. Hawkes as our Senior Pastor.
Over the years, our congregation has gathered in a variety of different buildings. We met in offices, backyards, church halls and church chapels. In 1985 we bought our first church building at 2029 Gerrard Street East and moved into it on December 8. We were the very first LGBTQ+ organization in Canada to own our own property!
In 1991 we moved into our present church home at 115 Simpson Avenue. In response to our growing numbers we added the 9 a.m. service in the Spring of 1994. So many people want to be part of our Christmas Eve and Pride Day services that we must move off site to Roy Thomson Hall and to Church Street for these special services.
Responding to the AIDS crisis, we hired a full-time person to co-ordinate our AIDSCARE program in 1990. Since then our dedicated volunteers have provided home hospice care for hundreds of individuals. We have facilitated many, many support groups for HIV, AIDS and other health issues. In 1997 we expanded the AIDSCARE program to CommunityCARE and now provide support for clients with a range of illnesses and requirements.
MCC Toronto is proud that we have assisted many other LGBTQ+ groups in getting started. We helped organize the first PFLAG meeting and we paid for the telephone line in their first year of operation. We have 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. We have transformed our own organization by increasing awareness for Trans communities and developing a progressive Healing Racism Initiative.
Our congregation has been at the centre of many key struggles for equality. In 1986 we supported Bill 7, adding sexual orientation to the Ontario Human Rights Code. In 1994 we supported Bill 167 in favour of equal rights. In 1996 we 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. 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, we made a decision that the time was right for our church to take the next step in our pursuit of equal marriage rights in Canada. Our lawyers developed a strategy that was built on a combination of The Ontario Marriage Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In January of 2001 we legally married two same-sex couples but the Registrar General of Ontario refused to register the marriage documents. We took the provincial government to court and our case was heard in November of 2001. The decision was ultimately in our favour.