Written by Anthony Moujaes
Behind each date there is a story. Behind each face there is a life changed. Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas, has been helping people discover their own story and their own experience of God's amazing grace. That's the inspiration behind a video that the congregation is using to share testimonials of restoration and of second chances.
When the video, titled 'Dates of Change,' was shown for the first time to the congregation on Sunday, there weren't many dry eyes on those faces.
"It was very cool to see the congregation react to it. We have Kleenex boxes at every pew — people show up with their burdens," said Phoebe Sexton, the Cathedral's director of communication. "It was something to see people reach for a Kleenex. That told me it was powerful."
The Cathedral premiered the video on Dec. 9 to "keep the Advent experience different," Sexton said. "We played that, and there were a lot of tissues out. It seemed to be well received. I think Jerry (King) and David (Mehl) did an amazing job with it."
The idea for 'Dates of Change' came when King, the Cathedral's director of TV and media ministry, and Mehl, the assistant director, saw a video from a church in the United Kingdom showcasing the same thing, sharing people's stories and putting faces to the congregation.
The video shows 21 people who have been members of the congregation for various lengths of time – some for decades, some much newer – and a little of how each came to the Cathedral. King and Mehl used the church as the location for the video, the background image is the Cathedral's stained-glass 'Esperanza Window,' which illustrates its avenues of social ministry. King and Mehl recorded the footage in about two days, then spent weeks editing the video down for a rough cut and polishing it to a final version. The whole project took about three months.
The message the congregation hopes to convey each time someone sees Dates of Change is that Cathedral of Hope is available every day, and that is a day that can change someone's life. Outside the Cathedral's door, the message is that of the UCC's extravagant welcome — anyone is welcome, no matter where they are on life's journey. For church members, the video is a reminder that there are people in the world who aren't offered the same extravagant welcome or opportunities.
"If you're there every week, you may be used to having opportunity, but there are people still out there who are not used to it," Sexton said. "Don't take it for granted and don't forget the smallest gift can have a huge impact on someone s life. It might be five dollars that may help keep website online – and that may change someone's life."
The Cathedral of Hope joined the UCC in 2006, and is one of the largest congregations in the denomination with 4,200 members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Sexton said there are plans for one or two more videos in the beginning of 2013 for "a small video series to have some people more of their story told." The video will be posted to the Cathedral of Hope's Facebook Page and used in the the church's end of the year fundraising efforts. Future edits may also be shown in Sunday worship services and on the website.