There is a Greek term for the moment that took place Sunday morning as the Rev. Elder Darlene Garner extended the hand of blessing installing Rev. Brian Hutchison as the new pastor for New Haven’s LGBT-focused Metropolitan Community Church.
Garner (at right in photo, with Hutchison) invoked the term during a stem-winder of a sermon. She spoke of how regular clock-watching tick-tock time is known as chronos in Greek. Then there are those interludes for a person or institution pregnant with meaning and change. Those are called kairos.
Then she stepped right into one of those moments, Hutchison’s installation.
The moving event, full of singing, praise, and hugging, drew 40 parishoners to MCC’s regular service site, the parish house of the United Church on the Green on Temple Street.
Hutchison replaces Marilyn Bowens, who served as pastor for three years.
Hutchison, who is 29, said one of New Haven’s draws for him is the range of colleges here. He sees himself as a teacher, he said. He considers the time right for an MCC outreach to younger adults; MCC’s current congregation tends to fall more into the middle-age category.
“If you look at the recognized chaplaincies at Yale, a few are ‘open and affirming,’ but they don’t have specific outreach to LGBT. Not that non-LGBT are not welcome, but the intersection of faith and sexuality for MCC has been the focus,” he said. “That’s what we do well, and will [continue to] do.”
In a brief interview before his installation he added that while many New Haven churches as well as organizations at Yale and surrounding colleges are “open and affirming,” only MCC and the West Haven-based New Haven Pride Center take the next step and have active outreach to LGBT people.
“There’s a rich [collegiate] heritage in this town that is just waiting for an MCC presence,” he said.
The post has been empty for about a year, with volunteer leaders and occasional students from the Yale Divinity School leading the services, according to Tom O’Loughlin, a board member who has been with New Haven’s MCC for most of its 36 years.
O’Loughlin, an engineer from Milford, coordinated MCC’s move from its previous digs in Westville because the Methodist church where it was housed in Westville prohibited MCC from performing same-sex unions. Read that story here.
A Marylander, with previous positions in Florida, Hutchison has been in town since only December. He said he likes the quaintness of New England as well as the focus on scholarship.
MCC is a national denomination that developed in the late 1960s in Los Angeles with a specific aim to focus on spiritual well-being of along with social justice for gay people. It has hundreds of congregations across the country. The national denomination has listings of open pulpits and refers its clergy to apply.
It is up to the individual church to accept the pastor. Sunday’s service was an “installation,” said O’Loughlin.
Rev. Darlene Garner, from the church’s Council of Elders, conducted the service. Both Hutchison and the congregants pledged to work together to make the relationship successful.
The installation serves as a kind of trial marriage. If both partners agree, Hutchison will be formally “called” to be pastor permanently after a year.