Callers to the California headquarters of an odds-defying denomination—one that worldwide has 300 churches made up largely of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons—are greeted by the recorded voice of the founder and chief executive: “This is Reverend Troy Perry. Thank you for calling the offices of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.” An anonymous female voice then recites the conventional options: “If you know your party’s extension . . .”
The steadily growing UFMCC is still small enough to reflect its active, affable founder. Yet a closer look at the denomination that dared to declare it was Christian—with alternative interpretations of traditional biblical injunctions against homosexuality—reveals, for all practical purposes, a mainline-style church body.