Cathedral of Hope-Houston (CoHH) started as a satellite congregation of one of the world's largest inclusive congregations.But in the nearly five years since it was planted by Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, CoHH has grown into its own, fueled by a passion for community and diversity. That is the reason the Houston Association of the UCC's South Central Conference is recommending full standing for Cathedral of Hope UCC-Houston. A decision is expected at the April meeting.
"Their pastor, Lynette Ross, is a good, strong and faithful pastor," said the Rev. Douglas Anders, South Central Conference Minister. "She is one of the reasons why this church is so ready to become UCC, because she has made UCC identity, awareness and connection a priority for this church.
"I am convinced with this confirmation that we in this Conference are headed in the right direction, even if it feels like at times small steps."
The Rev. Lynette Ross, a second-career pastor, spent more than 30 years in corporate management in the home health care, systems implementation, and training development industries. She has been a Houston resident for the last 20 years.
"I have been blessed to be a part of CoHH since its beginning; as a member of the congregation, seminarian, student intern, and now as pastor," Ross writes on the congregation's website. The first worship service was in January 2009.
The Rev. Jo Hudson, who has pastored Cathedral of Hope since 2004 and helped plant the new church start in Houston in 2008, said she felt like Houston was a city that was welcoming of LGBT people, and was ready for a space that embraced a wide welcome for all.
"Lots of churches welcomed LGBT people [in Houston], but there wasn't one that was predominantly gay and lesbian people," Hudson said.
Getting a foothold in Houston began when some members of Cathedral of Hope-Dallas relocated to the area. Hudson felt because of the large membership in Dallas, the congregation had an obligation to start a sister church in the Houston area.
"I wasn't surprised [by the news]. I have calls with the pastor there about every other week and we stay in constant contact," Hudson said. "I was a little surprised with how quickly the vote took place to receive them into standing, and I'm very pleased the Association saw the value of that congregation."