In August 1998 Rev. Elder Arlene Ackerman and Rev. Karla Fleshman, (a 3rd year seminary student at the time), met during a Leadership Conference to discuss starting a new MCC in the Philadelphia area.
In October 1999 Rev. Karla began a feasibility study to determine the viability and interest of a new MCC church in the area. Later that year, Rev. Karla met Judy and Diane – the first couple to express interest in helping to start an MCC in Delaware County, PA.
On Saturday, January 8, 2000 Rev. Karla was ordained as a clergy person within the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches; and the next day she conducted out- reach at a Philadelphia Pride event to recruit people interest- ed in a new MCC.
In February 2000, Rev. Karla’s feasibility study was approved and she began developing and equipping a core team who would help start a new church.
The first organizational meeting for persons interested in starting a new MCC in Delaware County was held at the end of March, 2000. The group met weekly, for twelve months, holding Bible studies, educational sessions, outreach events, and much more to strengthen relationships and equip the people of the group to launch a new church.
Imago Dei MCC begins with Many Ministries
On March 25, 2001 Imago Dei MCC held its first worship service with over 100 people in attendance. A reporter and photographer from the Philadelphia In- quirer also attended. News coverage in the Inquirer and other regional media helped bring people to the church, while the church web page became and re- mains the church’s most important form of communication and outreach to our suburban community spanning the Tri-State area.
By the close of 2001 the church had a strong, developing worship service, several small group Bible studies and a good outreach program.
Long before we ever held a worship service, our members were providing support to men and women with HIV in Delaware County. Imago Dei MCC’s HIV Ministry continues to be an integral ministry of this church, as we seek social justice and compassionate care for people with HIV, as well as other disabilities. Imago Dei MCC, along with the Fellowship, is committed to focusing upon the needs of the human family, particularly family members, which are at risk of exclusion from God’s Church!
By our first anniversary in March, 2002, Imago Dei MCC began to talk and pray about relocating from its current home at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County in Media, PA. We did not have dedicated space at this location, and had to work around the UUCDC’s schedule including conducting our weekly worship service at 1:00 Sunday afternoons.
Later that year, we participated in a Strategic Growth Initiative Weekend, identi- fying our core values, mission, and vision statement. We also identified three strategic growth issues: 1) equipping leaders, 2) improving finances, and 3) relo- cating our church.
Growing to Gradyville: A New Home for Imago Dei MCC
By the end of 2002, the church identified of a new location in Gradyville, PA. The new space would allow us to have our own sanctuary, offices and meeting rooms. We would also be able to move to a morning worship service.
By our third anniversary, March 2003, we voted to move and began renovations on what would be our second church home. After 2.5 months of major renova- tions, we held an Open House in May and moved into our new space June, 2003.
Our church celebrated five years of worship in March 2006. It is amazing that one small group has done so much to change the world, but it has. Imago Dei MCC has influenced countless thousands directly and indirectly through our many and varied ministries that have taken place wherever we worshiped and wherever we have gathered as an intentional group or small gathering of friends.
It is not the size of church attendance or bank account that matters most, but the attitude of our members and friends that create the greatest opportunities to Grow With Christ! Lift Up Community! Spread God’s Love!