A predominantly gay church congregation in Dallas has stepped in to help a largely African-American Minnesota church that lost most of its members due to its pastor’s support for marriage equality.
Representatives from Dallas’s Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, often cited as the world’s biggest predominantly LGBT congregation, delivered a check for $15,000 February 26 to the Grace Community United Church in St. Paul, Religion News Service reports.
Grace Church, also a UCC affiliate, lost more than 70% of its members after its pastor, the Reverend Oliver White, voted in favor of the denomination’s endorsement of marriage equality in 2005. “About 25% of the congregation did not come back the following Sunday, and it gradually went down from there,” White told Religion News Service. He blamed the decline on members’ homophobia.
The church, which now has only about 50 members, has had difficulty meeting its mortgage payments and other expenses, so early in February, White sent a funding appeal letter to 40 UCC congregations around the nation. Only three responded — one with $500, one with $600, and the Cathedral of Hope with its $15,000 gift.
The Reverend Jo Hudson, the Dallas church’s senior pastor, made an appeal in her sermon after reading White’s letter. In response, congregants donated $14,000 in a single Sunday, and the church itself added $1,000.
White said the donation will keep his church going until June, but it still needs to address the long-term picture. He expressed a measure of confidence, however, saying, “My friends in Dallas won’t let us fail.”