The congregation of the world's largest gay and lesbian church voted Sunday to disaffiliate from the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches denomination to refocus on ministry and outreach, according to officials at Dallas's Cathedral of Hope. Preliminary results show that 89% of the church's voting members cast a yes vote to disaffiliate from the UFMCC, thus becoming an independent church.
The board of directors of the Cathedral of Hope announced preliminary voting results to an estimated 500 people assembled at the culmination of the church's 33rd anniversary weekend celebration. Preliminary voting results show that 977 members voted to leave the denomination in support of the Cathedral of Hope's board, clergy, and staff leadership. Certified results will be available within the next week.
Earlier this month the Reverend Michael Piazza gave up his ministry credentials to the denomination just two days before the body said it would complete an investigation concerning church finances. That complaint hadn't been made public, but officials said the accusations concerned management of the church's health insurance, the capital campaign fund, and the pastor's personal expense account. Piazza was not accused of stealing money. Piazza maintains his innocence and said he would continue his role as dean and copastor of the church.
The cathedral, with more than 3,000 members, has been the 46,000-member UFMCC's largest church and contributor.