Sanctuary of Love marks 6th anniversary

Posted on 20 Jan 2006 at 12:36pm
By David Webb – Staff Writer

Evangelist Wakeford participates in ceremony installing pastor, officers



Tonda Phillips, left, deaconess, Don Kennedy, spiritual singer, the Rev. Joan Wakeford, center, and the Rev. Linda Harris, right, pastor of Sanctuary of Love, celebrate at an anniversary party for the six-year-old church.

The Sanctuary of Love’s sixth anniversary celebration on Jan. 15 filled the small Oak Lawn church with worshipers.

The Rev. Linda Harris said some of the faces she recognized from years ago. About 50 people attended the services.

“People come, they leave, and then they come back again,” Harris said. “That’s a good trait for any church.”

Harris said she had expected the guest preacher, the Rev. Joan Wakeford, would attract some old friends, as well as new people. She called Wakeford’s visit to the anniversary celebration, which included a Saturday night party at a member’s home, a blessing for the church.

Wakeford has been a minister for 50 years. She recently returned from her native South Africa where she preached in several cities. She was an evangelist in Japan for several years, and she was an associate pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas for 14 years.

“The most special thing has been having Joan Wakeford to be a part of the first installation in our church,” Harris said.

The church installed Alex Voss as minister, Carol Bailey as elder and Tonda Phillips as deaconess.

Wakeford said she was honored to be a part of the services and to bless the three individuals.

“I feel so welcome here,” Wakeford said. “I feel like I’m back home.”
Wakeford’s sermon focused on her spiritual transformation when she was 18. The pastor said she was the product of a home headed by an alcoholic mother and absent father.

A stranger visited the shop where she worked one day and asked her to attend church with her, she said.

“I had no intention of going, but I thought if I smiled and said yes she would go away,” Wakeford said. “Then she told me she planned to pick me up.”
Wakeford said she underwent a spiritual transformation after attending church that left her mother thinking she had gone crazy.

“I knew God knew who I was when I gave my heart to him,” Wakeford said. “The woman who walked into church that day was one person. The woman who walked out was a completely different person.”

Wakeford said she never again saw the woman who had invited her to church.
“She was just a messenger who came to give me the message,” Wakeford said. “Then she disappeared off of the face of earth.”

Wakeford warned the congregation that some forces are attempting to destroy the Christian movement within the GLBT community, and she encouraged them to hold tight to their faith.

“God heals the broken-hearted,” Wakeford said.

Wakeford’s sermon left several members of the congregation emotional, and services ran about 30 minutes longer than usual to accommodate people who wanted to be blessed by her.

Robb Conover, a founding member of the church, said Wakeford had inspired him. Her message left him feeling good to be gay and Christian, he said.
“She is such a remarkable woman, being a Christian and going out all over the world,” Conover said. “She makes it so easy.”

Spiritual singer Don Kennedy, who produced the CD, “Come Home,” sang at the celebration. One-third of the proceeds of sales of his CD after the services went to Joan Wakeford Ministries.

Sanctuary of Love purchased a lot in Oak Lawn last year where it plans to build a new church. It now meets in rented space at the rear of 3917 N. Hall.
For more information about Sanctuary of Love call 214-520-2260.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 20, 2006.

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