Liturgy of the Eucharist

MCC clergy consecrate communion, February 21, 1988. Photo by Audrey Lockwood. Courtesy of the Kittredge Cherry and Audrey Lockwood Collection.

The core ritual at MCCSF Sunday services was communion. A sacrament in almost all Christian traditions, communion is the sharing of bread and wine (or grape juice) in remembrance of Jesus, his community of followers, his death on the cross, and his resurrection. According to Christian scripture, the night before Jesus was killed, he shared a meal with his followers and asked them to continue sharing bread and wine to remember him. Christians re-enact this meal regularly – sometimes every week, sometimes a few times a year – as an act of physical and symbolic memory.

Christians of all stripes have long fought over who is eligible to participate in this most formative of rituals. Most require that participants be baptized, or ritually recognized as members of the Christian community, in order to receive communion. Some require theological or political conformity. Others use communion as a way to mark the status of a person’s soul – freely shared with those deemed sinless or adequately repentant, denied to those considered sinful or beyond the bounds of communal norms.

24th Anniversary Communion, Part 1. April 24, 1994. MCCSF Archive.

Liturgy of the Eucharist


Communion was part of the very first MCC worship service in Troy Perry’s home in 1968. Perry believed this church of social and religious outcasts could demonstrate the genuineness of their faith by making communion available to anyone who wanted to receive it. Some MCC participants had not received communion for years before attending an MCC service. MCC also marked communion by inviting people to receive communion by themselves or with any configuration of families or friends that was meaningful to them. Same-sex couples who could not be married received communion together in church, holding hands publicly and having their relationships recognized and sacralized.

24th Anniversary Communion, Part 2. April 24, 1994. MCCSF Archive.

Communion is about remembering Jesus but it is also about remembering the community – living and dead – that formed around him. For MCCSF, remembering community and connecting the living with the dead were important elements of the ritual. This was especially important because the LGBTQ community and its social worlds were so often written out of formal histories and collective memories. In this clip of Rev. Jim Mitulski consecrating communion on the church’s 24th anniversary, he uses communion as a sacred time for remembering the queer past and connecting it to the queer present and future. His narration puts LGBTQ people into the long arc of Christian history and highlights the sacred themes in LGBTQ political and social struggles. And it makes those who were lost present again in a ritual believed to transcend time, history, and the separation between the living and the dead.

Rev. Jane Spahr, Garson Wheatley Thomas (d. 1985), and two unknown men at an MCCSF neighborhood leadership retreat. September 1981. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Jane Adams Spahr Collection, Graduate Theological Union.

Skip to content