TROY PERRY, Metropolitan Community Church founder born; Happy Birthday Troy! The Reverend Elder Troy Deroy Perry is the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Protestant denomination devoted to ministering to the spiritual needs of GLBTQ people.

A charismatic preacher and leader, Perry has built the religious organization into one of the fastest growing denominations in the world, with over 300 churches in some 18 countries. Perry obtained a GED and enrolled at a Bible college in Illinois, at the same time serving as pastor of a congregation of the Church of God.Perry was excommunicated from the Church of God after church officials learned that he had had a consensual sexual relationship with a man.

After reading Donald Webster Cory’s The Homosexual in America (1951), Perry decided that he could no longer live as a “pseudo-heterosexual.” He revealed his sexual orientation to a church official. Shortly thereafter he was dismissed by his bishop. Perry’s wife left him, taking their sons with her. She eventually divorced Perry and remarried. She kept the boys from having any contact with Perry until 1985, when the younger son, James Michael Perry, sought out his father and was happily reunited with that side of his family. Perry soon began to discover the Gay community in Los Angeles and to become acquainted with other Gay men, whom he viewed “as part of [his] extended family.”

When Perry was drafted into the United States Army in 1965, he acknowledged that he was Gay, but the Army inducted him anyway. He was stationed in Germany, where he worked as a cryptographer, a job requiring a high-level security clearance. Eventually, Perry felt called to start a new church. He spoke to members of the Gay community and took out an advertisement in a newspaper announcing a worship service.

Twelve people attended the first meeting of the Metropolitan Community Church, which was held in Perry’s living room. Perry preached a sermon entitled “Be True to You,” enunciating three important tenets of his faith: 1) salvation–which comes through Jesus Christ and is unconditional; 2) community–which the church should provide, especially to those without caring family and friends; and 3) Christian social action–a commitment to fight oppression at all levels. These principles have guided the Church as it has matured from an evangelical, Pentecostal organization into a more liturgical and ecumenical denomination that welcomes heterosexuals as well as homosexuals and that empowers women and minority groups.