Cathedral of Hope, regarded as the world's largest
predominantly LGBT church, was voted Saturday into the
mainstream United Church of Christ in a historic
milestone for gay and lesbian people of faith.
denomination's North Texas Association voted by an
overwhelming majority to grant Cathedral of Hope
With more than
3,500 members, Cathedral of Hope becomes the
fourth-largest congregation in the United Church of Christ,
which in July 2005 became the first mainstream
Protestant denomination to endorse same-sex marriage.
It made headlines this spring when its "ejector-seat"
TV ad, spotlighting its welcome of gays and others,
was rejected as too radical by most U.S. networks.
Joining the UCC
affords the Dallas church greater resources in ministry
and training, potential health and pension benefits and the
"great affirmation" of being welcomed into a
mainstream denomination "that has long been on the
cutting edge of human rights," the Rev. Jo Hudson,
Cathedral of Hope's senior pastor, told Gay.com.
"It's an amazing
thing to be welcomed into a church founded by people
who helped settle the eastern United States," Hudson said.
The UCC was
formed in 1957 by the union of two denominations with roots
deep in American history, the Congregational Christian
Churches in America and the Evangelical and Reformed
The Reverend John
H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, said he
too welcomed the decision.
"We will be
enriched by the vitality of Cathedral of Hope's ministry
even as we hope that incorporation into our 50-year history
will be a gift to them," Thomas said in a written
With a satellite
church in Oklahoma City, outreach programs, pastoral
counseling, and online and TV ministries in more than two
dozen U.S. cities, Cathedral of Hope bills itself as
"the world's largest liberal Christian church with a
primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
It was founded 36
years ago by 12 gay and lesbian Christians and until
2003 was a member of the predominantly gay Metropolitan
Community Churches. It grew rapidly, fueled partly by
the crisis of AIDS and partly by the dynamism of
then-senior pastor Michael Piazza.
personal spiritual idea that was given to Mike Piazza was
that we are not going to be ashamed of who we are...and
that we are going to aspire to be great disciples of
Christ," said Hudson, who took over the top post in
culminates a year-long process. But Cathedral of Hope
began exploring UCC affiliation many years ago, in 1997,
when a congregational vote authorized consideration of
the move. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)