Written by Daniel Hazard
The 4,300-member Cathedral of Hope in Dallas became the UCC's largest church in the South Central Conference and the fourth largest in the denomination when it was granted congregational standing on Oct. 28 by the North Texas Association. The vote was an "overwhelming majority," an observer said.
"This is an historic day in the life of the Cathedral of Hope," said the Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor and rector. "We are blessed to be a full partner in ministry with the North Texas Association and the UCC. We celebrate that our values of compassion, inclusion, tolerance and hope in service to the world by following Jesus are consistent with those of the UCC. We are proud to be a part of such a diverse body of churches and people."
The Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, 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.
Cathedral of Hope touts itself as "the world's largest liberal Christian church with a primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." Its local and national ministries, outreach programs, pastoral counseling, and web-based and TV media touch thousands each day.
Cathedral of Hope requested congregational standing one year ago, after church members voted overwhelmingly to pursue UCC affiliation.
Cathedral of Hope becomes another in a series of sizeable southern churches to join the UCC in recent years.
Four years ago, the 5,500-member Victory Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., became the UCC's second largest church when it was received into the UCC's Southeast Conference. At the same time, the inclusive Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta joined the UCC, after being "dis-fellowshipped" by the Georgia Baptist Convention.
On Sept. 30, the Missouri/Mid-South Conference received the 300-member Holy Trinity Church in Memphis. And, earlier this year, the 300-member Garden of Grace Church in Columbia, S.C., the 250-member Holy Trinity Church in Nashville, Tenn., and a new African-American church start, Unity Worship Center, in Montgomery, Ala., became part of the Southeast Conference.
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