COH gains worldwide attention from Reuters news service story

Posted on 19 Apr 2007 at 6:38pm
By John Wright Staff Writer

The Rev. Jo Hudson participates in extensive media interviews after story notes “‘Bushland’ is the home of the world’s largest LGBT church



The Rev. Jo Hudson

As the world’s biggest gay church, Dallas’ Cathedral of Hope is no stranger to media attention.

But a recent profile of the church by Reuters news service has taken things a notch further.

In the wake of the story, COH’s senior pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson, has appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ and done radio interviews for stations in New Zealand and Ireland, according to church spokesman David Plunkett. And a member of the church’s Hispanic congregation has done two interviews with media outlets in Colombia and one with the internationally syndicated Univision in Los Angeles.

“It has been more widely picked up than any story since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here five years now,” Plunkett said. “It has actually generated a lot of interest in the church. It’s really been a blessing for us to participate in these things.”

The correspondent who wrote the story, Ed Stoddard, said he came upon the topic when his editor pointed out a piece about COH in Texas Monthly magazine. Stoddard, who covers religious and social issues in North Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, said he could not comment further due to a strict Reuters policy prohibiting reporters from expressing opinions publicly.

The story focused on the irony of the church’s location in a conservative, Bible Belt state. It linked the phenomenon to a combination of Texas’ overwhelmingly religious atmosphere and conservative Christian denominations’ alienation of gay people, who still seek refuge to worship.

The story also detailed COH’s efforts to help the poor and the church’s liberal politics and theology.

Plunkett said the church has not experienced any negative backlash from the international exposure, outside the typical hate mail it receives on a daily basis anyway.

He also credited COH’s recent decision to join the United Church of Christ for raising its profile.

“People have often turned to us nationally on issues of sexuality and faith,” he said. “We continue to position ourselves as a resource church.”

A copy of the story can be viewed at www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2036481820070320. For more information about COH, visit www.cathedralofhope.com.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 20, 2007.

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