When she arrived at church in her leathers on a motorbike, Rev Joy Etwell knew she was a little different from the parishioners lining the pews on Sunday.
Acceptance of her sexuality brought Etwell to the open arms of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Melbourne, one of the few places of worship gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are not only accepted, but routinely celebrated.
MCC Melbourne will welcome Etwell as its new leader, after she is ordained on September 12. The next day, she will be inducted as the MCC’s new pastor, taking over from Rev Heather Creighton who was with the church for over nine years.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Etwell told Southern Star.
“MCC’s got a lot going for it and a lot of potential. There’s also a huge sense of responsibility you’re taking on. That’s my role so I’m feeling a bit between excited and nervous.”
Having studied for eight years, Etwell will join the Burnley-based church with a priority to build stronger partnerships with outside community groups — including GLBTI groups — for outreach and development programs.
“I’d like to sit down with community leaders and see what we can do and what we as a church can offer in terms of pastoral care or chaplaincy to complement the work they’re already doing, then work within the congregation to train people up,” she said.
Etwell works with the State Emergency Service, and was able to put her chaplaincy to the test by providing support for SES workers in the harrowing days following the Black Saturday bushfires.
Although no newcomer to MCC, Etwell recently moved back to Melbourne after five years in Port Fairy with her partner Gwen, a Uniting Church minister. The pair had a holy union in 2001.
Etwell has been involved with MCC on-and-off for around ten years.
“I wanted to incorporate my sexuality and Christianity…I just wanted the freedom to be who I was,” she said.
info: Visit www.mccmelbourne.com

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