Former Cathedral of Hope pastor denies rumor she’s starting a new church

The Rev. Jo Hudson

The Rev. Jo Hudson

The Rev. Jo Hudson, who recently resigned as pastor of the Cathedral of Hope, responded to rumors that she and the Rev. Alejandro De La Torre — who led COH’s Hispanic ministry — are opening a new church this summer.

“My family and I gather with a few close friends about twice a month at our home for prayer, study and fellowship,” Hudson said in an email. “Rev. De La Torre is part of our gathering. I hope this clears up any confusion.”

Hudson and De La Torre resigned from their positions at Cathedral of Hope on April 21 effective May 19. At an April 29 congregational meeting, the church’s board said it hoped to have an interim pastor in place by May 19.

But finding an interim pastor to replace the Rev. Jo Hudson at Cathedral of Hope is taking longer than the board originally hoped. According to search committee member Johnny Humphrey, they are reviewing candidates and actively pursuing leads.

Although he could not put a deadline on when the interim pastor would be named, he said the committee hoped to find the right person soon.

He said Executive Minister Dawson Taylor and Executive Director Dan Dubree have have stepped up, fulfilling the needs of the congregation.

“They’ve kept us from having to make a hasty decision,” Humphrey said.

He described interim pastor as a special calling because that person deals with congregational healing in addition to other roles a senior pastor plays in a congregation’s life. Sometimes the position is filled by retired clergy but others specialize in that function and make a career of working with congregations in transition.

“We’re hoping to find the perfect candidate as soon as possible,” Humphrey said.

Once an interim is in place, a new search and call committee will be named to look for a permanent replacement. That process could take more than a year.

—  David Taffet

The Rev. Jo Hudson sends message to CoH members about staff cuts

The Rev. Jo Hudson

On Monday, Cathedral of Hope laid off 10 staff members, the equivalent of six full-time positions because of lower than expected income. Yesterday, the Rev. Jo Hudson sent members a letter explaining the reduction in force, which include voluntary pay cuts by senior staff.

A more detailed story will appear in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

Read the full letter below.

—  David Taffet

Hudson and Voskuhl named parade Grand Marshals

Dr. Gene Voskuhl and the Rev. Jo Hudson

Dr. Gene Voskuhl and the Rev. Jo Hudson

The Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope and Dr. Gene Voskuhl of AIDS Arms were chosen as Grand Marshals of the 2012 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

Voskuhl just returned from the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. He said that recent studies show that being disenfranchised and stigmatized leads to greater incidents of HIV infection.

That’s why this year’s parade theme, “Pride Links Us Together” is meaningful to him.

“Be proud,” he said. “You’ll be happier and healthier.”

Voskuhl, who moved to Dallas five years ago, became the medical director of AIDS Arms last August. Gilead transferred him to Dallas from Oklahoma City. Before taking the position at AIDS Arms, he was in private practice with Uptown Physicians.

What he likes best about the Dallas LGBT community is how diverse and integrated it is throughout the DFW area. He said the community reaches into all professions and businesses and the variety of LGBT organizations that cover everything from social to health to religious activities.

Voskuhl is proud of the growth AIDS Arms has seen since he came on board a year ago. The agency’s two clinics now see 1,300 people and the goal is 2,500 by 2015.

“We’re looking to grow,” he said. “We’re only using half of our exam space.”

He said Trinity Clinic was expanding its labs and adding new equipment to provide results quicker and even offer services to other local medical offices. In addition, Metro Care has begun providing on-site mental health and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.

—  David Taffet

Cathedral of Hope marks 5 years with UCC

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Cathedral of Hope as a United Church of Christ congregation, UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black will come to Dallas to preach on Sunday, Feb. 5 at the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Hope, the fourth-largest congregation of the UCC, officially became a member of the denomination on Feb. 4, 2007.

The Rev. Jo Hudson

Jo Hudson, senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope, recalled the day, saying: “When all the i’s had been dotted and all the t’s crossed, after the official words of welcome had been spoken, and we all felt good about the service we had just shared, the Voices of Hope choir and our orchestra led us in the anthem How Great is Our God. I thought the roof was going to come off the church.”

The relationship between Cathedral of Hope and the UCC has been great for both the congregation and the larger church, the Rev. Hudson said.

“What has stayed the same are our shared core values of compassion, inclusion and liberation, our hope and our faith in Jesus,” she said. ”What changed was that the UCC welcomed all at once the largest influx of LGBTQ members in the history of a mainline U.S. church. And, in the ensuing months, Cathedral of Hope saw a double-digit percentage increase in the number of heterosexual worshipers on Sunday morning. Our God is a great God, indeed!”

As part of the fifth Anniversary festivities, Cathedral of Hope announced that in July it will present the Rev. William R. (Bill) Johnson, vice president for Member Relations with the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries, with its annual Hero of Hope Award. In 1972, the Rev. Johnson became the first openly gay minister to be ordained by a mainline U.S. church. During that weekend, July 20–22, CoH will also host the “Hope Initiative Weekend,” a conference on church leadership and effectiveness. Details on registration will be announced soon.

—  David Taffet

Jo Hudson invites Robert Jeffress to COH

The Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor at the Cathedral of Hope, has written a response to D magazine’s January cover story, How First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress Ordained Himself to Lead America. In the story, writer Michael Mooney claims he was prepared to hate Jeffress.

The Rev. Jo Hudson

“It would be easy to dislike him if he were a hypocrite or a bigot, if he were an insufferable megalomaniac or the kind of man who preaches out of hate and anger,” Mooney wrote. Funny he doesn’t see the bile Jeffress spews at the LGBT community as anything other than pure hatred.

In her response, Hudson points out that “the writer quotes the words of Dr. Jeffress from a sermon he delivered in 2008 called ‘Gay is not OK.’”

“Unlike your writer, I don’t want to hate Robert Jeffress,” Hudson writes. Her rebuttal is on target. I’ve heard her speak and read her writing a number of times, but she’s never been better than in this response.

Rather than spreading more hatred, Hudson compliments Jeffress. She says his arrival at First Baptist “ushered in a revival” and that “anyone who leads a church like that can’t be all bad.”

But she takes him to task for his disgusting description of the LGBT community: “What they (homosexuals) do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description,” Jeffress said in the “Gay is not OK” sermon.

And she ends brilliantly — she invites him to come and visit the Cathedral as her guest. And I have a funny feeling that what would surprise him most is just how warmly he’d be welcomed. He’d expect protests. He’d expect shouting and depravity. What he’d find are families and friends attending a church service.

A warm welcome — a true show of Christianity — would be the most disconcerting thing that could happen to him. I suspect Jeffress will never take Hudson up on her invitation. Why ruin his good myth with a few facts?

—  David Taffet

Topping off ceremony at Cathedral of Hope for new chapel

On Wednesday, April 14, Cathedral of Hope celebrated the topping off of the new Interfaith Peace Chapel designed by Philip Johnson. A full story appears in this Friday’s Dallas Voice. Here’s video if the event.

Part 1:

Part 2:

—  David Taffet