The Rev. Michael Piazza, who since 1987 has been a force in the gay faith community in North Texas, has accepted a position as pastor of Virginia-Highland Church in Atlanta.
Accompanying Piazza will be his longtime executive assistant, David Plunkett.
“This all happened literally yesterday,” Plunkett said. “We got back from Atlanta at 2 this morning.”
Piazza stepped down as senior pastor at the Cathedral of Hope several years ago and transitioned into the role of dean of the church. That affiliation ended last March, although Plunkett said many people still do not realize it (in part because Piazza and Plunkett still office at the Cathedral COH, where they work with the Center for Progressive Renewal and Hope for Peace and Justice).
“Last year was the first year in Rev. Piazza’s adult life when he was not pastoring a church,” Plunkett said. “He is very, very good at what he does now [teaching other clergy], but at heart, as anyone who has heard him on a Sunday in the pulpit, he’s a prophetic preacher.”
Plunkett described the Virginia-Highland Church as “a once-vibrant church in desperate need of revitalization.” Although not currently a predominantly gay church, Plunkett said it has a history of inclusiveness.
“It was Southern Baptist, but [got] kicked out of the denomination because they refused to dismiss a gay pastor” some years back, Plunkett said. Virginia-Highland is currently dual-affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists and the United Church of Christ (the same denomination as COH).
At first, Piazza will not be full time, but will continue his work with the CPR, which is based in Atlanta. Plunkett will be largely full time at the church. He has worked with Piazza for the past nine years, and will aid in the transition. The start date for the team will be March 1.
Plunkett, who has been active in the theater community, said leaving will be bittersweet for him as well. He grew up in Plano.
Plunkett said Piazza likely would not have an opportunity to deliver a farewell sermon in Dallas, even if asked.
More to come ….