Larry Jo Uhrig was born on April 18, 1945 in Reading, Pennsylvania, to Joe and Arlene Uhrig. His identical twin brother, Ronald, later became a police officer in Arlington, Virginia. He also had a sister Bonnie. His father was a nondenominational minister who remarried after later divorcing Larry's mother.
Larry earned a B.A. degree from Michigan State University in 1967. Although raised a fundamentalist, he enrolled in the Methodist Theological Seminary in Ohio where he received an M.Div. degree in 1970 and was ordained a United Methodist clergy. He served two years as an assistant pastor at a church in Alma, Michigan. He then came out and affiliated with the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). He was licensed as a pastor at the MCC General Conference in Atlanta in 1973--where he and Jack Isbell, his partner at the time, had a Holy Union. He was ordained as an MCC clergy at the General Conference in Washington, D.C. in August 1976 and the following year was elected Pastor of MCC Washington, D.C. MCC DC had been founded in 1970 in a modest Capitol Hill townhouse. In 1977, the congregation was holding its services in the main sanctuary of the First Congregational Church in downtown D.C.
The congregation grew under Larry's leadership and sought to increase its diversity through outreach to lesbians and people of color. As the membership increased, MCC DC hired an organist and a music minister. With the coming of the AIDS crisis, Larry led the congregation in establishing a partnership with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, MCC Baltimore, and Georgetown University Hospital to host one of the first AIDS forums in the nation at the church.
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 DC 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 the congregation had increased to some 500 people. Larry died of complications from AIDS on December 28, 1993, shortly after the opening of the new Ministry Center.
During his sixteen years as MCC DC’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.
(This biographical statement written from information provided by Jack Isbell and by the Rainbow History Project in Washington, D.C.)