BREAKING: David Mack Henderson has died

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Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson has died

The Rev. Carol West has announced the death of David Mack Henderson, longtime activist and president of Fairness Fort Worth.

Henderson, who helped found Fairness Fort Worth in 2009 in the wake of the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, and had been president since August 2013, was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. He announced the diagnosis publicly in October.

West said a memorial service will be held at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania St., Fort Worth, at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15.

Henderson’s career as an activist began in the late 1970s when, as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington, he was the school’s mascot. When school officials found out he was gay, they asked him to resign. But spurred on by the experience of friends who were harassed for being gay, Henderson refused. Instead of resigning, he founded the first LGBT student group on the UTA campus. He also served on the board of the Dallas Gay Alliance board before moving back to his hometown of Fort Worth. This past spring, Henderson led the effort to stave off right-wing forces, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, to interfere with Fort Worth Independent School District’s guidelines for interacting with transgender students.

Henderson is survived by his mother, Dr. Janet Henderson, and four young gay men for whom he was a mentor.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Grief, anger, vows to overcome at Fort Worth vigil for Orlando

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A standing-room-only crowd of 500-plus people packed into the sanctuary of Fort Worth’s Celebration Community Church Monday evening, June 13, for a vigil in memory of the victims killed and injured in the Sunday morning shooting at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

After the church’s choir opened the evening with the song “Orphans of God” — There are no strangers; there are no outcasts, there are no orphans of God. So many fallen, but hallelujah, there are no orphans of God — city leaders and pastors and leaders from LGBT and mainstream churches around Fort Worth offered comfort, encouragement and hope.

Mayor Betsy Price spoke of overcoming the kind of evil that lies at the root of the Orlando massacre, and Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald pledged that his department would make every effort to keep similar attacks from happening here. The chief asked the community to always contact his department with any concerns, and he introduced a member of FWPD’s Code Blue Training program who then spoke of her nephew who was killed in the Orlando shooting.

One pastor spoke of gay bars as being sacred places of refuge for LGBT people when there were no churches or other places that offered shelter and comfort. Another recalled the 1973 arson fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans in which 32 people were killed. Even as the community grieves for the victims of Orlando, he said, we must realize how far we have come since 1973, as the world grieves with us this time.

Another speaker described his anger, but pledged to put aside anger and instead respond with love. And one woman from a mainstream church apologized that she and many mainstream churches have not stepped up sooner to treat the LGBT community with love and respect.

Ministers read the names of the Orlando dead as a candle was lit for each one. Then Fort Worth District 9 Councilwoman Ann Zadeh lit one candle in honor of all victims of violence, Fitzgerald lit one candle in honor of the first responders, and Price lit one candle in honor of the wounded in Orlando. The service ended with the “passing of the light,” as people moved through the building, using their candles to lit candles held by those standing near them.

—  Tammye Nash

Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth breaks ground on expansion

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Members of the Celebration Community Church Board of Directors join Rev. Carol A. West to turn the first shovelful of dirt to commence construction on a new community center in Fort Worth. (Photo courtesy of Celebration Community Church.)

The largest nondenominational church catering to the LGBT community in Tarrant County broke ground on a new facility for the LGBT community yesterday (Sunday, Aug. 23).

Once completed, leaders with Celebration Community Church say the Rev. Carol A. West Community Center will create a safe and inclusive space for the LGBT community.

New features will include more meeting space, enhanced recreational facilities and community gardens and a columbarium where church members can be laid to rest.

The church’s board voted to name the new building in honor West, who celebrates her 17th anniversary at the church this month.

“Quite often Rev. West speaks to us about stepping out on groundless ground,” said Ron Hill, chair of the board of directors. “It’s appropriate for us to remember that message as we step out in faith to build a church facility that will accommodate not only our growing congregation, but also the increasing number of GLBT community groups that rely on Celebration for meeting space.”

The new addition will include a formal entry lobby on the northwest corner of the property that will lead visitors to two large meeting rooms that, when combined, will accommodate 400 people.

The new structure will be tied to the existing sanctuary via a covered walkway.

Fundraising for the facility has been underway for the past few years.

Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2016.

—  James Russell

Jack and George in the news

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Jack Evans and George Harris were the first couple to receive a marriage license in Dallas County on Friday, June 26, the day that marriage equality became the law of the land in the U.S., and the first same-sex couple legally wed in Dallas County. They were not, of course, the only same-sex couple legally married yesterday in Dallas County. Nor in North Texas. Nor in Texas overall. And certainly not the only ones in the U.S.

But Jack and George are special. We in the LGBT community have known that for years. But news coverage yesterday and today proved that the mainstreamers know it, too.

Above, see the today’s cover of The New York Times. Yep, that’s Jack and George, sharing their first kiss as a married couple, in the upper right hand cover. There’s a close up below.

Also below, The front page of Dallas Morning News, also featuring Jack and George and here is a link to WFAA’s coverage, which includes lots of Jack and George. Here is Fox 4’s coverage.

(This is a link to WFAA’s coverage of the Decision Day party at Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, featuring another DFW national treasure, the Rev. Carol West, performing a wedding ceremony for a Tarrant County couple. And by the way, congrats to Carol and her partner, Angela, who were officially engaged last night.)

There is so much more. Everywhere you look. Despite the haters, the world celebrates with us this weekend.

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—  Tammye Nash

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

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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

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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

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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