Skip to main content

Phoenix Community Church Collection

Identifier: RH-A-4300

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of three boxes of documents, media, and other items from the Phoenix Community Church in Kalamazoo, MI. The documents include of personal documents and sermons from Melanie Morrison, newspaper articles, cassettes tape recordings of sermons, DVDs, VCRs, a flash drive, and a polo shirt with the Phoenix Community Church logo.


  • Creation: 1988-2008


Biographical / Historical

The Phoenix Community Church had its first meeting February 17, 1988. Their formal open and affirming statement took affect November 24, 1991. It was later updated and affirmed June 16, 2013. The Phoenix Community Church is a progressive church with LGBT affirming values and one of the first of its kind. Rev. Melanie Morrison and Rev. Cyril Colonius were some of the first service leaders of the Phoenix Community Church. Morrison’s final sermon was in 1993.

Melanie S. Morrison Biography

Melanie S. Morrison is founder and executive director of Allies for Change, a national network of social justice educators. She is a seasoned educator, pastor, author, and lesbian feminist anti-racist activist with 30 years experience designing and facilitating transformational group process.

Melanie was born on April 3, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Truman A. Morrison, Jr. and Eleanor Shelton Morrison. Her father served as founding pastor of Edgewood United Church of Christ, UCC and provided leadership in the campaign to abolish the restrictive real estate covenants that barred people of color from obtaining mortgages or purchasing homes in East Lansing. Melanie’s mother taught the first human sexuality courses ever offered at Michigan State University, wrote books about teaching sexuality to undergraduates, and became an advocate for lesbian and gay civil liberties, serving on a legislative task force in the early 1970s that re-examined the definition of family.

After graduating from Yale Divinity School in 1978, Melanie was ordained to ministry in the United Church of Christ. She served three churches, two in Michigan and one in the Netherlands. In 1988, she and Cyril Colonius founded Phoenix Community Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan – the first congregation in Southwest Michigan to be explicitly welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. That same year, Melanie and her mother, Eleanor, started Leaven, a non-profit organization that provided education, training, and resources in the areas of feminism, spiritual development, and sexual justice. One of their first major projects was to write Created in God’s Image for the United Church of Christ, an adult sexuality curriculum published in 1993 and used in local congregations throughout the country.

This summary was taken from Melanie Morrison's profile available at


1.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection is a deposited collection; for further instructions on use reference deposit agreement.

Physical Description

The collection amounts to 1.25 cubic feet. All of the items within the collection are in good condition.

Phoenix Community Church Collection
Sophia Cunningham; Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490