Larry J. Uhrig

Larry J. Uhrig Pioneers Portrait

Larry J. Uhrig arrived in Washington in 1975.

Larry Uhrig graduated from Michigan State University and from the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, earning a Master’s Degree in Theology. Although he was raised a fundamentalist, he was ordained as a Methodist minister. Larry subsequently changed his affiliation to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

In 1977, Larry was elected Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC Washington). Founded in 1970 in a modest Capital Hill townhouse, MCC by 1977 was holding its services in the main sanctuary of the First Congregational Church on 10th Street, NW.

Larry was aware of the difficulties that Christian gays and lesbians were having throughout the country. They were regularly refused communion and thrown out of other churches.  They were not able to have their unions blessed. They were not even able to hold the hand of the person they loved. Some clergy misused Scripture to denigrate them.  Larry believed that the Bible and homosexuality could exist in harmony. He understood the need for a place like MCC where gays and lesbians could thrive.

Under his leadership, the congregation expanded. MCC Washington sought to increase the diversity of its congregation by outreach to lesbians and people of color. As the membership increased, MCC Washington hired an organist and a music minister.

With the coming of the AIDS crisis, Larry had MCC Washington partner with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, MCC Baltimore, and Georgetown University Hospital to host at the church one of the first AIDS forums in the nation.

Larry wrote two important books about gay and lesbian life: The Two of Us: Affirming, Celebrating and Symbolizing Gay and Lesbian Relationships (1984) and Sex Positive: A Gay Contribution to Sexual and Spiritual Union (1986).

In the late 1980s, Larry urged his congregation to start a “vision fund” to fulfill his dream of enabling MCC Washington to secure a permanent location for its ministry. As a result of the diligent efforts of Larry and his congregation, construction of a new church building – the “Ministry Center” – began in 1991 at 5th and Ridge Streets, NW. He regarded the glass-walled church, which was completed in 1993, as symbolic of openness and growth. By that time, the size of MCC Washington’s congregation had increased to some 500 people.

During his sixteen years as MCC’s pastor, Larry’s actions had enormous influence in enhancing the lives of Christian gays and lesbians throughout the DC area by giving them hope and faith in their destiny as valuable and accepted members of society.

Larry Uhrig passed away in 1993, shortly after the opening of the new Ministry Center. Death came from complications associated with AIDS. He was 48.