Leader of largest MCC church steps down

BY admin

July 15 2003 11:00 PM ET

The dean of the world's largest gay and lesbian church, the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, stepped down two days before the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches announced it would complete an investigation of him, The Dallas Morning News reports. The Reverend Michael Piazza surrendered his ministry credentials to his denomination during services Sunday, saying he would remain in his role as dean and copastor.

The cathedral board has called a July 27 meeting to ask the congregation to vote to sever ties with MCC. The move, however, is not an attempt to dodge the investigation, Piazza asserted. He said his church had cooperated fully but that the denomination had unfairly extended the query and asked for irrelevant documentation, such as bylaws dating to before he began serving the church 16 years ago. "It would take us another month to dig up this stuff," he said in an interview with the Morning News. "It's just the most ridiculous thing. There isn't anything that I'm guilty of in the complaint. Most of the charges have nothing to do with me."

MCC launched an investigation in April after Terri Frey of Carrollton, a former cathedral board member, filed a complaint. She and 24 supporters, who call themselves Cathedral of Hope Reform, said they've had nothing but the church's best interest at heart despite being branded as malcontents by cathedral leaders. "Our only goal was to bring forward the truth," Frey said Sunday after the announcement was made. "This seems like a drastic action to take in order to prevent the truth from being brought forward."

According to church officials, the as-yet-unpublished complaint involves accusations concerning management of the church's health insurance, the capital campaign fund, and the pastor's personal expense account. Denominational leaders said Sunday they had no reason to continue investigating because Piazza was no longer on the clergy roster.

Under Piazza's leadership, the cathedral became the 35-year-old MCC's crown jewel. With more than 3,000 members, the cathedral is the 46,000-member denomination's largest church and contributor.

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