Council of Elders

Headshots of the council of elders and MCC logo

Points of Connection

All are warmly invited to join the MCC Council of Elders on Facebook and Zoom.

Access the Facebook group here.

    Elder Services

    • Is your congregation in need of an Elder’s presence at an upcoming church anniversary or pastor’s anniversary? 
    • Does your regular preacher need a break from the pulpit? 
    • Is your community in need of a special teaching series on queering the Bible, conflict resolution or inclusive language? 

    The MCC Elders are delighted to serve in these and other capacities.

    Contact coe@MCCchurch.net to connect.

    Need Care?

    Are you in need of care? MCC’s Elders are available to respond to care needs and give prayer support.

    Contact: coepastoralcare@MCCchurch.net

    Elders may offer care via telephone chat, email, text or personal visitation (depending on location).

    Praise God for the provision of care for one another.

    “The Council of Elders of the UFMCC is that body authorized by the General Conference to serve in a pastoral role and direct the spiritual life of the Fellowship.”

    -MCC Bylaws, Article V.E.3, lines 445-446

    View Elder Bios

    How are Elders in MCC authorized?

    The first MCC Board of Elders was the board of directors of MCC Los Angeles and was all volunteers.  After the first General Conference, Elders were elected by the lay and clergy delegates, with an appointment process for vacancies in between conferences.  Eventually, some Elders were full-time on staff.  They served on a General Council, which was the fiduciary body of MCC at that time.  About 10 years ago, we created a system where Elders were nominated and elected by Regions.  Then, in 2010, we simplified our structure, creating an elected Governing Board and a Council of Elders.  Elders are no longer elected but are appointed by the Moderator, approved by the Governing Board, and affirmed by the General Conference. (Article V.E.3 of the MCC By-laws)

    Who can be an Elder? 

    An Elder can be any member in good standing of MCC, who meets the qualifications, and is appointed by the Moderator.  Those qualifications are:

    “Elders must be those individuals of obvious spiritual quality and leadership who are mature, have sound judgment, have a proven record of accomplishment as lay or clergy members within the Fellowship, and have successful experience in envisioning and strategic planning for the future.  Elders must be excellent communicators, skilled motivators and teachers, self-motivated and devoted to continuous learning.  Further, Elders must be capable of understanding and working within sound fiscal guidelines, be sensitive to cultural differences, and be able and willing to embrace diversity.  It is desirable that the Council of Elders reflect the diversity of the Fellowship.”  Article V.E.3.a of the MCC By-laws

    What do Elders do today in MCC?

    “The primary responsibility of Elders shall be to give pastoral leadership and care to enable the Fellowship in our spiritual journey.  The Elders shall exercise spiritual and pastoral authority to build a shared vision for the UFMCC, prepare UFMCC for the future, and support UFMCC’s strategic direction.  The Elders serve as official representatives of the Fellowship in the areas of public and community relations; provide oversight of and support to congregations; consult with churches on issues related to church development; and fulfill other ecclesial and ceremonial duties.”  Article V.E.3.b. of the MCC By-laws

    Elders have two primary roles:

    1) As members of the Council of Elders, Elders have an ecclesial role: they oversee the affiliation of churches; and they have authority over the Clergy Manual and protocols for authorizing MCC clergy.  Elders then are key to setting standards and boundaries, based on the by-laws, by which churches and clergy are represented at General Conference.  Elders also oversee the appointment of Network leaders and relate to churches through the Network system.

    2) Elders have a spiritual/pastoral and teaching role in the Church: Elders are called upon to develop leadership programs, teach at summits, preach at MCC conferences, church anniversaries, and support MCC in terms of increasing church strength and health; and in strategically supporting new church starts and emerging ministries.  They are looked to as spiritual and pastoral leaders by the pastors, lay leaders and people of MCC.  They may also be asked by the Moderator to represent and to speak for the denomination publicly.

    What do Elders “mean” to the people of MCC?  

    Elders are gifted individuals who are highly esteemed, respected and who are looked to for wisdom, for embodying and articulating with passion the values, vision, mission, and faith that MCC holds dear.  We expect Elders to challenge us, to offer spiritual, pastoral and organizational leadership.  They are also a symbol of the unity-in-diversity of MCC.  As the Council of Elders, they form a kind of “collegium” of support for the Moderator.  Elders also embody the continuity of the founding narrative of MCC connecting generations of servant leadership.

    Council of Elders Bios

    Hattie Alexander-Key

    Hattie Alexander-Key

    Email: HattieAlexander-Key@MCCchurch.net

    Hattie Alexander-Key (She/Her/Hers) studied Education at the Ohio State University and Urban Ministry at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit). In addition to being an educator, Hattie’s worked as a nurse over 30 years in the Detroit area. 

    Most of her adult life, Hattie has served in ministerial leadership. Her faith tradition began with the Church of God in Christ but left after acknowledging her same-gender attraction and decision to live openly as a Queer woman.

    Hattie was introduced to the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit in 1989 serving in a variety of positions: Children’s Church Coordinator, Prayer Ministry Leader, Christian/Spiritual Education Lead, Altar Guild and Deacon. Currently she is the Administrative Pastor at MCC Detroit.

    Hattie has occupied the role of friend, mentor, spiritual leader and community organizer for the Detroit African American and LGBTQIA community during the HIV/AIDS crisis and coordinated MCCD’s response and pastoral care during the COVID pandemic.

    Rev. Mark Byrd

    Rev. Mark Byrd

    Email: RevMarkByrd@MCCchurch.net

    Reverend Mark R. Byrd (He/Him/His) is the Senior Pastor of New Life Metropolitan Community Church of Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. He has 34 years of pastoral ministry experience – the last 19 of those years in MCC serving 5 MCC churches in associate, interim and senior pastor roles (the last 13 years at NLMCC). He currently serves as the Coordinator for the Hampton Roads LGBTQAI+ Interfaith Group and is a vocal passionate leader both in the church and community for human rights and justice issues. 

    Mark grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, USA. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, USA. 

    Mark currently lives in Virgina Beach, Virginia, USA, with his husband of 13 years, Rev. Alberto Najera, and their yellow lab Nica. He enjoys snow skiing, spending time on the beach and in the mountains, and most of all – time spent with their two-year-old grandson, Miles. 

    Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla

    Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla

    Email: RevNokuthulaDhladhla@MCCchurch.net

    Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla (She/Her/Hers) works as a Regional Manager for Global Interfaith Network (GIN) on the Religious Dialogue Partner Project. She was ordained as MCC clergy in 1998 and serves as Pastor of Hope and Unity MCC, which has recently reopened. She was the first openly lesbian, black clergy to engage in religious work in South Africa.

    Rev. Nokuthula is also a Spiritual Coach helping people to find their own journey of faith and how to integrate sexuality and spirituality. She has made a very important contribution to a process convened jointly by the Norway LGBTI organization, GIN, and the Fellowship of Christian Councils of Southern Africa (FOCCISA) to create greater understanding and tolerance for LGBTIQ+ people through the RDP project in Southern Africa.

    Rev. Nokuthula’s life experiences have been documented in several book chapters, documentaries, magazines and even an exhibition held at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. She is a powerful, funny, deeply human speaker whose life’s work has been to make a difference for others.

    Velma Garcia

    Velma Garcia

    Email: VelmaGarcia@MCCchurch.net

    Velma Garcia (She/Her/Hers) , has recently retired from her secular job and moved from Manor, TX to San Antonio, TX where she and her spouse, Darlene S. Hernandez attend. Together we raised two children, and have the great pleasure of being “Mamies” to our 6 grandchildren. 

    Velma served on the previous Council of Elders and is grateful for an another opportunity to serve the wonderful saints of our beloved global denomination. Velma is a Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship (L.E.A.D.) 2 graduate and serves as a faculty member for L.E.A.D.

    Velma loves bike riding, canoeing, snorkeling, American college football, and has a passion for prayer and spreading the “Good News” of God’s all-inclusive love to and for all of God’s creation! 

    Rev. Rich Hendricks

    Rev. Rich Hendricks

    Email: RevRichHendricks@MCCchurch.net

    Rev. Rich Hendricks (He/Him/His) (B.A. Drake University; JD University of Virginia School of Law; M.Div. Emory University) works for equality for all as pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities in Davenport, Iowa, a part of the Quad Cities along the Iowa-Illinois Mississippi River.

    He is in his 20th year as settled pastor at MCC QC with a deep love for all our local churches. Rich wears unmatched shoes to spark conversations around being different and has a passion for interfaith work and advocating for all of us to take care of planet earth. He is the co-founder of One Human Family QCA and of QC Pride, Inc. and a OneIowa 2023 LGBTQ Legacy Leader Awardee.

    Rich is married to his husband of 11 years, Jeff Transou.

    Rev. Aaron Miller

    Rev. Aaron Miller

    Email: RevAaronMiller@MCCchurch.net

    Rev. Aaron L. Miller (He/Him/His), after graduating from Yale Divinity School (MDiv), was ordained by MCC (2008) and began serving as the associate minister for Pastoral Care at MCC New Haven (New Haven, CT USA). Aaron became MCC Hartford’s Interim Pastor (2011) and then its Senior Pastor (2013). He is also serving as a trans/chaplain with the Yale Pediatric Gender Program supporting parents and their children on their gender journey. Aaron had a long and distinguished career in global logistics/transportation before ministry. 

    Aaron has served on the MCC Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, as a spiritual leader with MCC Oasis, and has partnered with emerging churches in Colombia and South Africa.

    Aaron is passionate about MCC’s unfinished calling of love, inclusion, and justice as well as MCC Hartford’s outreach ministry TV365 (Trans Voice and Visibility 365 days a year) that provides emergent support to the trans/nonbinary community. Rev. Aaron was honored in 2023 by GLAD for social justice advocacy and activism. 

    He resides in Middletown, Connecticut USA, with his cat Molly, and loves to take nature walks and spending time at the beach/pool with his sister.

    Rev. Elaine Saralegui Caraballo

    Rev. Elaine Saralegui Caraballo

    Email: RevElaineSaraleguiCaraballo@MCCchurch.net

    Rev. Elaine Saralegui Caraballo (She/Her/Hers) began pastoral work in 2012 when the Somos group emerged in the Baptist church with LGBTIQA+ people interested in a liberating perspective. In 2014 the group became Somos Iglesia de la Comunidad Metropolitana en Cuba, and Rev. Elder Troy Perry praised them with the Founders award, “For having been MCC before being MCC.” 

    She is a graduate in Theology from the Evangelical Seminary of Theology of Matanzas, and holds a Master’s degree in Critical Gender Studies and Theology from the Theological Community of Mexico.

    Elaine is a passionate promoter of spiritual growth, critical thinking, and the defense of the human rights of LGBTIQA+ people. As a founder and coordinator of the project Abriendo Brechas de Colores, she impulses Christian spaces free of spiritual violence, where people can freely express not only their gender identity and sexual orientation, but also their different faith experiences.

    She lives in Matanzas city, with her elderly parents, her wife, and 12 furry family members.

    Rev. Stuart Sutherland

    Rev. Stuart Sutherland

    Email: RevStuartSutherland@MCCchurch.net

    Rev. Stuart Sutherland (He/Him/His) comes from Sydney, Australia, and is the Pastor of MCC Good Shepherd Western Sydney Australia. He was a Committee Member on the MCC Good Shepherd Mardi Gras Organizing Committee and has worked for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as a volunteer during the parade and as an Honorary Solicitor to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Constitution Committee.

    He attended the Uniting Theological College, Charles Sturt University, Sydney Australia, and achieved the Academic Dean’s Award for outstanding academic performance. He enjoys practical theology and continues to attend the College.

    Stuart is the coordinator for the MCC Office of Vocational Leadership in Australia and New Zealand. Assisting churches in Sydney and Brisbane Australia and New Zealand. 

    He enjoys going to Bondi Beach and hiking in the many National Parks in Australia including Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. He has a keen interest in Australian Aboriginal Culture and Art and attends Broken Hill in the Australian outback regularly.

    He has been with his partner, Michael for 20 years, they have two children Lucy and Ruby.

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