The history of Joy MCC is similar to many Metropolitan Community Churches formed in the early years of the denomination. Joy MCC was begun in the living room of a home with interested people. At the Fall District Conference in November 1978, the Southeast District Committee of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches approved sending Rev. Arthur Fleschner to Orlando. By mid-January 1979, he had persuaded 22 people to take part in forming a new MCC. The group first met on January 14, 1979 in the house Rev. Fleschner was renting. Under his leadership, Joy MCC achieved “New Work” status as a beginning church body on March 18, 1979; this was followed by “Commissioned Church” status on June 9, 1981.
Joy continued to grow at a rapid rate. This was a good sign that the Orlando area was the right place for a MCC church. Joy MCC worked hard to prepare all the documents for gaining “Chartered Church” status. The District Committee recommended that the UFMCC Board of Elders grant “Chartered Church” status to Joy MCC and approval was given on December 13, 1982. Joy MCC selected March 13, 1983 as its chartering date. A celebratory weekend included the Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry, founder and moderator of UFMCC, as the featured guest. His mother, the late Edith “Mom” Perry was also present.
From the very beginning, Joy MCC has actively supported and been supported by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. In June 1980, Joy MCC participated in its first Gay Pride Celebration, sponsored by Gay Social Services, with a worship service.
On Labor Day weekend, September 1986, Joy MCC sponsored the first AIDS vigil in Orlando. Clergy and congregants from First United Methodist Church and First Unitarian Church participated in a candlelight prayer service at the band shell in
Lake Eola Park.
Joy MCC has expanded its community outreach beyond the GLBT community to include serving a Thanksgiving Day Dinner to those in its local community who would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving meal. The outreach program continues. Joy also actively distributes food to families in the area through the Winnie Toal Food Bank. In 2011, over 7000 people were fed by our Food Bank. Joy MCC also provides spiritual support for those living with AIDS/HIV and a wide variety of ministries through our Pastors, Deacons, Board of Directors and members and friends.
The church met that first week in Rev. Fleschner’s home and subsequently moved to a temporary location until a church could be found. The First Unitarian Church in Orlando assisted Joy MCC by providing their unused library as space for worship. By October 1982, Joy MCC had to move from the space at First Unitarian Church on Robinson Street to the New Age Center on Curry Ford Road. This move enabled the church to have its Sunday worship service and Thursday night program at the same location. Joy’s church office continued to be in the pastor’s home, but the Board of Directors and the church members soon realized the need for the church office to be elsewhere.
By 1989 the church had 201 members and Sunday worship service attendance was averaging 135. Moving to a large space became an urgent priority. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church was across from Page House and it was for sale. The property including worship space, offices, a fellowship hall and a small house was purchased by Joy MCC for $300,000.
On January 18, 1990, Joy MCC became the first GLBT organization in Central Florida to own property. The commitment was started in 1997 by Rev. Brock as the Capital Funds Campaign with a series of dessert parties in his home. The parties raised $200,000. Additional funding was accomplished through members and friends pledging “Gold Bricks” for the mortgage payment.
Over the latter part of the 1990s, several properties at the Ferncreek site were either sold or torn down to make room for the present building structure.A building search committee looked at several pieces of property, but was unable to find the right one. When average Sunday attendance reached 91 in 1987, Rev. Jimmy Brock and the Board of Directors realized that to continue to grow the church would require an even larger space. In mid-1988, the church purchased a vacant lot and house at Ferncreek Avenue and Page Street. The house was used for the church office, Bible study and small group meetings while worship services continued to take place at the New Age Center.
The congregation continues to examine the need for additional space as the church membership grows. Attendance fluctuates and Joy MCC is one of the largest churches in the United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church denomination.
After three years of hard work, Rev. Arthur Fleschner realized he had brought the church as far as he could. In late spring 1982 he resigned as pastor. Joy MCC turned to a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, the Rev. Nancy L. Radclyffe, as the next Pastor. Although she was just finishing her theological studies in 1982, she had already served as pastor of several MCC congregations. Rev. Radclyffe blessed Joy MCC with her words, presence and service until 1983.
In the fall of 1983, the Rev. James T. (Jimmy) Brock, former Pastor of Blessed Redeemer MCC Atlanta, was called as Pastor of Joy MCC. Although relatively new to the Fellowship, he had more than 30 years of pastoral experience in Southern Baptist churches. Rev. Brock was able to articulate the church’s vision and oversaw a time of growth at Joy MCC. On May 20, 1998 Rev. Brock died of a heart attack.
In August 1995, Carol A. Trissell was hired as Assistant to the Pastor. She was ordained as UFMCC clergy on November 3, 1997 and was promoted to Associate Pastor after her ordination. Upon the death of Rev. Brock, Rev. Trissell took over all of the preaching duties at Joy MCC. On July 26, 1998, Reverend Trissell was called as Senior Pastor. She was installed as Joy MCC’s fourth Senior Pastor on September 13, 1998. Rev. Trissell resigned as Senior Pastor in December 2003 to accept the pastorate in St. Louis.
Rev. James E. (Jim) Merritt, Director of Pastoral Care and Worship and Rev. John Middleton, Director of Faith Enrichment, took over the preaching responsibilities when Rev. Trissell moved. In addition to the preaching responsibilities, the Board of Directors authorized Rev. Middleton and Rev. Merritt to assume many of the day to day operations of the church. Rev. Middleton and Rev. Merritt were called as Interim Co-Pastors by the church in December 2004. Rev. Merritt left Joy in 2005. Rev John Middleton was named Senior Pastor and continued in that role until 2010.
In 2010, Joy asked Rev. Lisa Heilig to serve as Intentional Interim Pastor. Under Rev. Heilig’s leadership, Joy has positioned itself for the future.
God has greatly blessed Joy MCC with strong pastoral leadership. The Shepherds who have led the flock at Joy MCC, have all left a great legacy and a church poised for a great future. The story of Joy MCC – that began almost 35 years ago – continues today.
In 2012, Joy called a new Senior Pastor to guide us into the future God has in store for us. On Sunday September 9th, Reverend Terri Steed was called to be the new Senior Pastor at Joy Metropolitan Community Church.