Originally published on Advocate.com July 30 2003 12:00 AM ET
The head of the world's largest gay and lesbian church has submitted a letter saying he will resign if conflicts within the church are not lessened in the next few months. Michael Piazza, the leader of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, is taking a three- to six-month sabbatical because of accusations concerning management of the church's health insurance, the capital campaign fund, and Piazza's personal expense account. Piazza was not accused of stealing money and has said he is innocent. The letter allows the Reverend Mona West, the church's pastor, to remove him "for the good of the church."
The church was under investigation by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches until the congregation overwhelmingly voted to disaffiliate from the organization Sunday. That day Piazza E-mailed church dissidents announcing his letter of resignation. "You have publicly humiliated me and my family.... How much more do you need of me?" he wrote.
Piazza has been with the church for 16 years. Earlier this month he gave up his ministry credentials but continued his role as dean and copastor of the church, which has more than 3,000 members.