Fairness Fort Worth Legacy Project honors community leaders

Fairness Fort Worth honored five community leaders for their activism for the acceptance and rights of LGBT people in the community last night, Friday, Oct. 25 at a private home in Fort Worth.

Todd Camp, a founder of both Fairness Fort Worth and QCinema, was emcee.

The five honorees were: Kelly Smith, immediate past president of and long-time volunteer with the AIDS Outreach Center; Xavier Khan, a OD Wyatt High School sophomore who founded the school’s gay-straight alliance; DeeJay Johnannessen, executive director of HELP in Fort Worth; Jean Wallace, vice president for human relations at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; and Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead. Wallace and Halstead were unable to attend.

Rev. Carol West received the inaugural Tom Anable Recognition of Excellence Award.

 

 

 

 

 

—  James Russell

1 killed, 1 injured in break-in in Fort Worth

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 4.47.40 PM

Miguel Angel Hernandez

Dallas Voice has learned that a member of Celebration Community Church was killed and another was severely injured by a man who broke into their home on Fort Worth’s west side early Sunday morning.

According to reports in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, James Bowling, 56, was killed when he and Don Keaton, 82, confronted the intruder, identified by police as Miguel Angel Hernandez, 29.

According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s website, Bowling was strangled to death. The Medical Examiner places his time of death at 3:06 a.m.

Police said Keaton suffered multiple blunt force injuries and that both men suffered chemical burns that could have resulted from Hernandez throwing drain cleaner on him. They said Keaton may have suffered permanent damage to his eyes from the cleaner.

Celebration Community Church Pastor Carol West said that Keaton and Bowling had been members of her church for “at least 15 or 16 years” and were both active in “quite a few aspects of our church’s ministry.”

“They were both wonderful, loving men. Just good, good men, very good-hearted,” West said Tuesday. “This attack was just so random. It is really scary for a lot of people in our congregation that it was so random and so violent.”

Police believe Hernandez chose Keaton and Bowling’s home at random. Patrol officers found him sitting in his own truck, naked, two houses down, according to Star-Telegram reports. Police said he took off his bloody clothes and left them in the yard of Keaton and Bowling’s home, but left the keys to his vehicle in he pocket of his pants in the yard.

Hernandez was treated for multiple cuts, apparently incurred when he jumped through a window to escape the house, and booked into the Mansfield Jail. He was already wanted on outstanding warrants, including one for a parole violation on a sexual assault charge from 2010 for failing to register as a sex offender, and on a warrant for insufficient bail on a pending DWI charge. He has been convicted in Tarrant County on charges of assault with bodily injury and failure to identify, as well as DWI and sexual assault.

—  Tammye Nash

2014 Pride parade grand marshals named

grand marshals

The 2014 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade grand marshals are Rafael McDonnell, left, and the Rev. Carol West

With nearly 1,600 votes cast by the community, the Rev. Carol West and Rafael McDaniel have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2014 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

West is the pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth. She was called in 1998 by the then 35-member congregation to lead the church which now has grown to more than 500 members. In 2010, West was named winner of the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

McDonnell is communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center. He worked 16 years in broadcast news, including seven years as an assignment editor for Fox 4 News in Dallas. In May 2008, became the first person to hold the job of communications manager for the center.

Watch for more about this year’s grand marshals in the Friday, Aug. 1 issue of Dallas Voice.

—  Tammye Nash

Celebration Community Church announces plans for new center

Members of Celebration Community Church’s Capital Campaign Committee and Building Committee gather around a sign announcing The Rev. Carol A. West Community Center. The church held a steak cookout on Sunday, Aug. 19, to view the footprint for the planned expansion.

The congregation at Celebration Community Church celebrated the church’s upcoming expansion Sunday when details of the new community center were announced.

A capital campaign kicked off last year for the $1.3 million building and is expected to be complete by the end of 2013. Construction will take about a year.

More plans of the building were released Sunday. The building will serve as a meeting place for about 400 people and will be built north of the church with a covered walkway linking it to the current sanctuary. It will be named The Rev. Carol A. West Community Center in honor of West, who marked her 14th year at the church Sunday.

West said the name was announced again Sunday with the new expansion details after the church’s Board of Directors voted to name it for her after last year.

“I was very honored,” West told Instant Tea. “It was a very sweet surprise.”

West has seen the church grow from 35 members when she started more than a decade ago to the roughly 600 members now. She said the expansion will help the church, which is the largest Tarrant County church with a primary LGBT outreach, offer more groups and organizations to use the church as a meeting place.

“We’ve forged ahead in the community and this expansion is part of reaching out to the community,” she said.

Tom Guerin of Jepsen Guerin Architects in Dallas will be the architect on the project. Nan Faith Arnold of Nan Faith Arnold Co. in Dallas will serve as project manager.

To learn how you can support the capital campaign, call 817-335-3222.

Read the press release below.

—  Dallasvoice

BREAKING: Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable has died

Anable.Tom

Thomas Anable, the president of Fairness Fort Worth who became an LGBT activist after witnessing the Rainbow Lounge raid, died unexpectedly late Friday or early Saturday. He was 58.

According to a press release from the Benbrook Police Department, officers discovered Anable’s body after responding to a call in the 400 block of Lakeview Drive in Benbrook at 8:26 a.m. Saturday. Anable’s body was found in Dutch Branch Park on Benbrook Lake, and he appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the press release states.

The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church and vice president of Fairness Fort Worth, called Anable’s death “a horrible tragedy.”

“Thomas did so much for this community, and he leaves a wonderful legacy,” West said. “Thomas was Fairness Fort Worth, and he did so much, and he’s going to be horribly missed.”

Anable was the accountant for the Rainbow Lounge and was in the bar checking receipts in the early morning hours of June 28, 2009, when the establishment was raided by police.

In the wake of the raid, Anable helped form Fairness Fort Worth, the city’s LGBT advocacy group. He became president of Fairness Fort Worth in June 2010. Later that year Anable decided to sell his accounting practice so he could devote himself to activism full time.

“He lived it, he drank it, he slept it,” West said. “It was everything to him. Advocacy was what he breathed. He was a big believer in making a difference.”

Jon Nelson, another founding member of Fairness Fort Worth, said he’s amazed by what Anable accomplished in just a few years.

“Once he started to take action, and once he saw that what he was doing was actually making a difference, I think he was just totally energized,” Nelson said. “I’ve never seen anybody work as hard, as effectively, in such short periods of time as he did.”

Nelson said Fairness Fort Worth has a decision to make about whether to continue Anable’s legacy.

“We will move forward,” Nelson said, “and I think that one of the reasons we’ll do it is out of a sense that that’s what Tom would want. It’s very sobering, and I think that out of a respect and admiration for him, and an acknowledgment of how much he cared, I think this will further solidify our desire to continue what he started.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more on Anable’s death.

—  John Wright

Celebration Church kicks off capital campaign

Church campus will add space for meetings, dinners, recreational facilities, gardens, columbarium

Carol West

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth kicked off a $1.3 million campaign this week to build a community center that will be named for the Rev. Carol West.

West said that the church needs the additional space because the current facility is too small.

“When we get together for a dinner, we can’t all be seated,” she said.

The current fellowship hall seats about 130.

When West was hired 13 years ago, the church had a membership of 37. But that soon changed.

“We hit the ground running with programming,” West said, and the church grew rapidly.

Celebration bought the current church building, at 908 Pennsylvania Ave., from St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed Church in 2001, after St. John’s merged into a nearby United Church of Christ.

Today, more than 550 people belong to the nondenominational Celebration Church.

Pam Ibbotson, a church board member working on the capital campaign, said that $100,000 is already in the building fund and that another $250,000 needs to be raised before construction starts. She said the church members are hoping that will be within the next year.

“It’s hard to predict how long it will take,” Ibbotson said.

The balance of the construction budget will be funded through pledges.

Tom Guerin, of Jepsen Guerin Architects of Dallas, drew plans for the new building that will be attached to the fellowship hall.

After the plans for the project were drawn, the church hired Nan Faith Arnold as project manager. They met Arnold, who is co-chair of the Black Tie Dinner board of directors, through the annual fundraising event.

Arnold worked with them on another project: Members purchased a building in the same block as the church and donated it to the church. The building was renovated into Barron House, a full-time counseling center that now employs eight counselors.

Arnold served as project manager for that construction as well.

Arnold said that the new building will add 7,200 square feet of space and will be attached to the fellowship hall.

“It blends in with the existing structure and makes it more aesthetically pleasing,” Arnold said of the design for the expansion.

The main church building, built in 1950, has historic landmark status and will not be touched.

Meeting rooms, restrooms, storage and food pantry space will be added.

“There will be a wonderful lobby and a place for people who need to be dropped off,” West said.

The church has been collecting canned goods and distributing them mostly to other organizations that either have meals programs or their own pantries. Ibbotson said that often when a pallet of cans had been delivered in the past, the problem has been where to store them. The new building will solve that problem.

Another feature that will be added is a columbarium, a storage space for cremated remains. Arnold said that because those remains must be permanently stored, the church came up with a good master plan for the entire property.

She said that construction plans are still in the preliminary stage, but she expects the columbarium to begin with 40 to 80 niches for cremated remains.

Ibbotson said that they didn’t want to lose part of the community lawn, which the church uses for a number of outdoor events throughout the year. Garden and lawn space are provided in the master plan as well as additional parking.

Celebration Church has become a popular meeting place for the Fort Worth LGBT community, and Ibbotson said that several things prompted the LGBT community to meet at the church.

“When we became affiliated with Black Tie Dinner, we gained visibility in Fort Worth,” she said.

She said that West’s involvement in city matters, especially after the 2009 Rainbow Lounge raid, and her participation in police diversity training brought new recognition to the church.

The church has gained such attention in Fort Worth that Mayor Betsy Price spent the last Sunday before the election at Celebration Church, West said.

West doesn’t take personal credit for the  church’s growth and prominence.

Instead, she said, “We have a very generous congregation.”

The church has awarded 30 scholarships to area students who are not Celebration Church members. They have donated tons of food to about 50 different Fort Worth organizations that distribute food and serve meals. And they offer meeting space at no charge to LGBT groups like Fairness Fort Worth and other community organizations like Tarrant Dialysis.

And when the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Fort Worth Police Department needed a safe place to meet with the LGBT community after the Rainbow Lounge raid, the church was the meeting place, with West on hand to offer a calming voice.

West said that when the Barron House property became available, a group of members pledged $100 a month to buy the building and paid it off in five years. She sees similar generosity from the congregation in making the current plan possible.

The church has purchased most of the property in the block. West said that when they demolished one building she described as “the crack house,” they set up bleachers for the congregation to watch. The bulldozer driver said it was the first time his work had ever received a standing ovation.

West said that the church has an active group for younger adults in their 20s and 30s. She would like to see a Fort Worth branch of Youth First Texas, and she would like to offer rehearsal space to QCinema’s live performance group.

With additional space, the church can grow to become an even stronger hub of the community, West said.

Ibbotson said it was time for the congregation to move forward with its expansion plans — “not just for the congregation, but for the community,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Clawson in concert at Celebration on the Lake

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Celebration on the Lake Church presents a free, live concert by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Cynthia Clawson on Saturday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the church’s chapel at 9120 Highway 198 in Payne Springs, near Cedar Creek Lake.

The concert celebrates the church’s sixth anniversary. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP on the church’s website, COTLChurch.org, or by calling the church at 903-451-2302.

Clawson has received a Grammy and five Dove awards for her work as songwriter, vocal artist and musician during a career spanning more than four decades and 22 recordings. She began singing at age 3 when her father, a pastor, asked her to sing in church. She graduated from Howard Payne University with a major in vocal performance, and is perhaps best known for her performance of “Softly and Tenderly” in the soundtrack for the Academy Award-winning movie, Trip to Bountiful.

Clawson and her husband, author and playwright Ragan Courtney, live in Houston. Samples of her music are available online at the Celebration on the Lake Church’s website, COTLChurch.org, and on YouTube.

Celebration on the Lake Church was established eight years ago as a satellite church under the direction of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, led by the Rev. Carol West. The Celebration on the Lake became independent of the Fort Worth church six years ago and is now led by Pastor Kathy Bowser. The church, which holds services each Sunday at 10 a.m., contributes to a number of programs in the community, including Toys for Tots, Mabank Nursing Home, Meals on Wheels, Family Resource Center, the Library at Cedar Creek Lake, Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake and others.

Although the church began as a primarily LGBT congregation, all people are welcome, Bowser said.

—  John Wright

West goes rappelling for dollars, raises ‘about $10,000′ for Celebration Community Church

The Rev. Carol West swings near an arch of the 26-story-tall XTO Building in downtown Fort Worth after rappelling down from the roof of the historic edifice. At this point, she had only about four stories left to go to reach the sidewalk.

“My knees are knocking!”

Those were the Rev. Carol West‘s first words to me this morning after she rappelled down the side of the 26-story XTO Building in downtown Fort Worth.

But the adventure was worth it. Celebration Community Church‘s senior pastor told me she wasn’t sure of the exact total she raised for the church with her trip from the roof of the 1920s-era building to the Main Street sidewalk via rope, but that it was “about $10,00o.”

West’s daredevil adventure was part of a day-long fundraising event presented by Downtown Fort Worth Inc., and produced by Over The Edge USA, a nonprofit that does rappelling events like this one all over the country. Participants paid $1,000 to rappel down the building, and then raised funds for their chosen organizations by getting people to sponsor them in the event. At least I think that’s how it worked. I haven’t found exact details anywhere and I didn’t have a chance to ask West.

West was one of several local dignitaries and celebrities who participated in the event. Mayor Mike Moncrief took the leap, too, as did the TCU Horned Frog mascot. West told me this morning that she did it because “the church’s board thought it was a good idea.” By the look on her face, I’m not sure she was thinking it was a good idea at all!

(Just as a side note, while I was waiting for Carol to take her turn rappelling down the building, I sent a text to gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, asking him why he wasn’t down there jumping off that building with Carol. He told me he was in New York where he spent last night at an LGBT fundraiser where he got to introduce President Obama. I guess that’s a pretty good excuse!)

Anyway, you can see more photos after the jump. And next time you see Carol West, be sure to give her a big high five — 26 stories is WAY high, and I am not sure I would have had the guts to step out over that edge.

—  admin

Carol ‘Daredevil’ West set to rappel down XTO Building in downtown Fort Worth Friday morning

The Rev. Carol West, senior pastor for Fort Worth’s Celebration Community Church, is going “Over The Edge” Friday morning, June 24, right about 11:20 a.m. — and she’s raising money for the church in the process.

The Rev. Carol West

West will be joining a host of other Cowtown dignitaries and celebs — including Mayor Mike Moncrief, the TCU mascot and Hot Dog Man (yes, in full hot dog costume — who will all  be taking turns rappelling down the side of the 26-story XTO Building, 714 Main St.

I am not sure of all the details, but from what I can gather — from this story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Celebration Community Church website, and the Downtown Fort Worth Inc. website — Over The Edge is a special events company that offers “signature rappelling events for nonprofit organizations.” Those who participate pay $1,000 for the honor of risking their necks, and I believe folks can donate money to their favorite daredevil to raise money for their cause.

I believe the rappelling starts around 7 a.m. West’s time slot, as I said, is about 11:20 a.m.

You know, I have known Carol West for at least 20 years or so (and have been dying for her to show me the best bass fishing spots on Cedar Creek Lake for at least half that long), and I can’t say I’m surprised she’s doing this. I mean, after all, she has great faith and a great love for her church and her community. She’s bound to be the best one out there.

And I will be there with camera in hand, so watch for photos of the Rev’s spectacular feat tomorrow on Instant Tea.

—  admin

Where to wed • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Many local gay-affirming churches are happy to help couples jump the broom

A NEW IDEA | The new Interfaith Peace Chapel at the Cathedral of Hope, designed by gay architect Phillip Johnson, performs same-sex ceremonies.

Some folks are happy with a private ceremony expressing their love, but others appreciate the sanctity of a officiant declaring their union in the eyes of God. Here are some churches that embrace same-sex couples.

………………………

AGAPE MCC — 4615 E. California Parkway (SE Loop 820), Fort Worth. 817-535-5002. Agapemcc.com. Revs. S. David Wynn, Sr., Teri Lubbers and Robert Myers. Require pre-service counseling.

Ascension Lutheran Church — 4230 Buckingham Road, Garland. 972-276-0023. Ascensiontexas.org. Pastor Kurt Friederich. Blessing service for church members; no weddings for non-members.

Bethany Presbyterian Church — 4523 Cedar Springs Road. 214-528-4084. Called “an open, caring, inclusive, multicultural ‘More Light’ congregation.”

Cathedral of Hope/Interfaith Peace Chapel — 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 214-351-1901, ext 109. Cathedralofhope.com. Senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson. Contact Brian Parman, director of the Interfaith Peace Chapel, for information. The Sanctuary of the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ features beautiful faceted glass windows and can accommodate up to 750 guests. Reception accommodations are also available.

Celebration Community Church — 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth, 817-335-3222. Celebration-community-church.com. Pastor Carol West; ask for wedding/holy union coordinator. Non-denominational Christian congregation.

Center for Spiritual Living — 4801 Spring Valley Road, Suite 115. 972-866-9988; CSLDallas.org. Senior minister Rev. Petra Weldes; Rev. Dr. Marsha Meghdadpour. Marriage or commitment ceremony. United Centers for Spiritual Living.

Community Unitarian Universalist Church — 2875 E. Parker Road, Plano, 972-424-8989. Communityuuchurch.org. Rev. Patrick D. Price. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Congregation Beth El Binah — Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. 214-521-5342, ext. 1784. Bethelbinah.org. Email Sandy Horwitz, shorwitz@bethelbinah.info or Diane Litke, dlitke@bethelbinah.info. Reform Jewish congregationReform Judaism recognizes marriage between two Jewish men or women; however the rabbi will perform an interfaith service.

First Unitarian Church of Dallas — 4015 Normandy Ave. 214-528-3990. Dallasuu.org. Rev. Dr. Daniel Chesney Kanter; Associate Minister, Rev. Aaron White. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Grace Fellowship in Christ Jesus — 411 S. Westmoreland Road. 214-333-9779. Pastor Tony Hoult. Perform holy unions.

Harvest MCC — 3916 E. McKinney St., Suite B, Denton. 940-484-6159. Harvestmcc.org. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas — 1840 Hutton, Suite 100, Carrollton. 972-243-0761. Mccgd.org. Revs. Colleen Darraugh, Steven Pace, Kay Seitz. Provides pre-marital counseling and performs weddings or holy unions. The church facility is available for non-members to rent.  The MCC can also connect couples with musicians, photographers and caterers.

Midway Hills Christian Church — 11001 Midway Road. 214-352-4841. Midwayhills.org. Rev. Terry L. Zimmerman. Performs union ceremonies.

Promise MCC — 2527 W. Colorado Blvd. 214-623-8400. Promisemcc.org. Senior pastor Rev. Jon Haack. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Trinity MCC — 1846 W. Division St. Suite 305, Arlington. 817-265-5454. Trinitymcc.org. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Unity Church of Christianity — 3425 Greenville Ave. 214-826-5683. Dallasunity.org.  Rev. Steve Colladay. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies. The minister is openly gay and supported by the congregation.

White Rock Community Church — 9353 Garland Road. 214-320-0043. Whiterockchurch.org. Pastor Douglas Shaffer. Contact wedding coordinator Mary Marshall for information. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies or weddings — “whichever the couple is comfortable with.” Activities center for receptions.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff — 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. 214-337-2429. Oakcliffuu.org. Rev. Mark Walz. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens