Gay-Led Church to Install Leader

Metropolitan Community Churches, a Christian denomination that claims to be the world's largest predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender denomination, will install its new leader at a ceremony today in the Episcopal Church's Washington National Cathedral.

The Rev. Nancy L. Wilson of Sarasota, Fla., will be confirmed as MCC moderator at the 2 p.m. event, which is open to the public. Moderator is equivalent to presiding bishop, said Jim Birkitt, communications director for the MCC, which is headquartered in West Hollywood, Calif.

The installation comes amid continuing tensions in the Episcopal Church after the 2003 consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the denomination' s first openly gay bishop.

Jim Naughton, spokesman for Washington's Episcopal bishop, the Rev. John B. Chane, said that the diocese is happy to have the MCC use the cathedral but that there is no formal Episcopal participation in the ceremony.

"This is not a shared ceremonial thing. We're not laying hands on their moderator," Naughton said. "We're proud to give them space, but that's what our hospitality consists of."

Naughton said the cathedral is often used by other denominations: Lutherans will hold an event there tomorrow, and the Salvation Army has used it in the past. "We do recognize the Metropolitan Community Churches as a valid expression of the Christian faith," said Naughton.

MCC was founded 37 years ago by the Rev. Troy D. Perry, who began with 12 people, Birkitt said. Today, the denomination has more than 250 congregations in 23 countries, and its services are attended by more than 225,000 people a year. Birkitt recalled that about 30 years ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington refused to allow the MCC to hold services on any of its premises.

-- Caryle Murphy

Archdiocese Vows Fiscal Disclosure

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has pledged to disclose all of its finances to the public next year, even if the state legislature doesn't require it.

"During the first quarter of 2006, we will release consolidated audited reports for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 with full disclosure and explanation of the archdiocese's organizational structure," Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley wrote in the Oct. 21 edition of the church newspaper, the Pilot.

Critics of the church have intensified calls for greater financial transparency as laypeople worried how the church would fund an $85 million clergy sexual abuse settlement. Despite opposition from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, state lawmakers have been considering a proposal to require all Massachusetts religious organizations to file financial reports with the state attorney general.

-- Religion News Service

English Translation of Koran Planned

An American publisher has signed a deal with a top Islamic scholar to publish a rare English translation of the Koran, complete with the most extensive commentary ever published on the Muslim holy book.

Harper San Francisco expects the project to take three years, according to Religion BookLine, an electronic newsletter from Publisher's Weekly magazine.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a professor at George Washington University, will head up the editing team.

The matter is sensitive because Muslims hold that the Koran's text was given directly in Arabic from Allah to the prophet Muhammad. The pure revelation, therefore, cannot be translated without ceasing to be the actual Koran. Only the meaning can be translated.

-- Religion News Service

Nancy L. Wilson

of Metropolitan Community Churches.