UCC signs agreement with Boy Scouts

890px-Boy_Scouts_of_America_corporate_trademark.svgThe United Church of Christ is scheduled to sign an agreement with the Boy Scouts of America to affirm the right of UCC congregations to charter Boy Scout troops that are in line with its religious principle of inclusion without discrimination.

The memorandum of understanding will be signed this afternoon during a BSA board meeting says that UCC’s position is consistent with BSA values and polices.

Cathedral of Hope, one of UCC’s largest churches, has tried to charter Boy Scout troops in the past and has been turned down by the Irving-based organization.

Earlier this year, Boy Scouts changed its policy to allow LGBT Scout leaders. A year earlier, the organization began allowing gay Scouts, but those Scouts were kicked out of the organization when they turned 18.

The Memorandum of Understanding will by signed at the DFW Marriott in Irving by Michael B. Surbaugh, the BSA’s chief scout executive. The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, executive for the UCC’s Health and Wholeness Advocacy Ministries, will represent the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, the UCC’s general minister and president.


—  David Taffet

Joint statement from CoH and BEB on UCC divestment resolution

Fisch Cazares

Rabbi Steve Fisch, left, and the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

Joint Statement from Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas of Cathedral of Hope (United Church of Christ) and Rabbi Steve Fisch of Congregation Beth El Binah (Union For Reform Judaism):

We are proud of the important and caring alliance that we at Congregation Beth El Binah and the Cathedral of Hope have on behalf of the LGBT and larger community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Our respective congregations — one Protestant, one Jewish — agree completely on our philosophies and actions on behalf of all those who suffer from injustice.

However, we have deep concerns about the vote by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ on June 30 to approve Resolution No. 4 to divest from companies with business and to boycott products made in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. We believe the resolution failed to take into account the fullness of the complexity of the situation.

While we are in agreement that not all steps taken by the current Israeli government regarding the difficulties in dealing with their Palestinian neighbors have been the best decisions, the resolution appears to place the blame for problems in the region solely on Israel. Too many people continue to ignore Israel’s need to defend herself against governments united in their desire for the destruction of the Jewish State.

The United Church of Christ is progressive, open and affirming. However, from the LGBT perspective the resolution neglected to consider the treatment of LGBT folks in Palestinian-controlled territories who are refugees now in other countries because of the way the LGBT persons have been treated in Palestinian-controlled territories.

We believe these concerns make Resolution No. 4 shortsighted.

Our hope and prayers regarding the current conflict in the Middle East involve deep concern for both Israelis and Palestinians who are affected by the difficulties in this region.

While our two congregations cannot immediately create change in the Middle East, we pledge our respective efforts to help bring about peace and greater equality for all peoples, beginning here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

—  David Taffet

Cathedral of Hope names new senior pastor

Cazares-Thomas,NeilCathedral of Hope announced its new senior pastor at services on Sunday, April 12.

The Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas is ordained with Metropolitan Community Churches and currently serves Founders MCC in Los Angeles. His Facebook page says he has been part of MCC for 33 years.

As a native of Bournemouth, England, Dr. Thomas grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Cathedral of Hope was a member of MCC until about 10 years ago when it affiliated with United Church of Christ.

The church has been without a permanent senior pastor since the Rev. Jo Hudson resigned almost two years ago. The Rev. Jim Mitulski, who served as interim pastor for about a year-and-a-half, left in December and is now serving as an interim pastor at a church in Denver.

Cazares-Thomas will begin at Cathedral of Hope in June.

More on this in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Cathedral of Hope names interim pastor

The Rev. James Mitulski

The Rev. James Mitulski

The Rev. James J. Mitulski will become interim pastor of Cathedral of Hope on Aug. 1. He has been a guest speaker at the church in the past.

Mitulski has 30 years of pastoral experience and has served churches in Berkeley, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

He was a Merrill Fellow of the Harvard Divinity School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia university, a master’s from Pacific School of Religion and an honorary doctorate from the Starr King School for Ministry.

Mitulski has dual standing with the United Church of Christ, and is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Metropolitan Community Churches.

Now that an interim pastor is in place, the process of searching for a permanent senior pastor will begin. A new committee is forming and applications have already begun arriving.

The interim pastor may not apply for the permanent position. His job is to guide the church through its period of healing and leadership transition after the resignation of its senior pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson on April 21.

—  David Taffet

How the Cathedral of Hope saved a black church that nearly became a martyr for marriage equality

The Rev. Jo Hudson

In today’s Voice we have a column by local leatherman and regular contributor Hardy Haberman about the straight pastor of a predominantly African-American church in St. Paul, Minn., whose support for marriage equality cost him 72 percent of his flock and now poses a financial threat to the very survival of his congregation.

Haberman focuses on how the pastor, the Rev. Oliver White of Grace Community United Church, did the right thing regardless of the potential consequences when he voted in favor of a resolution supporting marriage equality at a United Church of Christ meeting in 2005.

Haberman reports that he got wind of White’s predicament when his own pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson at Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas, issued an appeal on behalf of Grace Community UCC during a recent service.

On Thursday, Religion News Service and the Washington Post picked up this same story, shedding some light on the ensuing response from Haberman’s fellow worshippers at the Cathedral.

Turns out, although White sent letters seeking financial assistance to 40 UCC congregations across the country, he got only three responses — one for $500, one for $600 and “a miracle donation from Dallas.” The donation from the Cathedral, raised during two services on the same Sunday, totaled $15,000 and has allowed Grace Community UCC to keep its doors open, at least for now.

The Cathedral, commonly referred to as the world’s largest gay church, also happens to be UCC’s fourth-largest congregation.

Below is a snippet from the WaPo piece, which you can and should read in its entirety by going here:

—  John Wright

Local briefs • 02.03.12

OUTreach Denton hosts  dinner

OUTreach Denton will hold a Valentine’s dinner and fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 14.

“We are excited about having an LGBTQA event in Denton for once,” said the Rev. Pam Wat of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

OUTreach Denton and Seven Mile Cafe are partnering to create a romantic, fun and philanthropic evening.

Wat promised “a delicious Italian meal, beautiful music and warm hospitality at one of Denton’s newest restaurants.”

Seven Mile Cafe is at 311 W. Congress St. Half of the proceeds will support LGBTQA programming and resources in Denton including the newly formed LGBTQA youth group. The cost is $30 per person and reservations are required. To RSVP, email OUTreachDenton@gmail.com. Seating is limited. Soft drinks are included. BYOB.


Cathedral 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.
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!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Members of FW church heading to Houston to protest outside Perry’s prayer meeting

Fort Worth First Congregational Church, UCC

Another North Texas group has announced plans to travel to Houston next month to protest outside Gov. Rick Perry’s day-long prayerfest, and this time it’s a (not gay) church.

Members of Fort Worth First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ held a congregational meeting Sunday, July 10, and voted unanimously to endorse congregants’ plans to travel to Houston on Aug. 6 to protest outside Reliant Stadium where Perry and company will be holding “The Response.” Some 15 to 20 people from FW First Congregational Church are expected to go to Houston to protest, according to a press release from the church, along with “others from Christian churches throughout Texas.”

The press release says protesters will gather outside the stadium gates while folks are arriving for the prayer meeting, expressing their feelings about the event through posters, fliers and “silent witness.”

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last two months or so, you already know that Texas’ governor is teaming up with the decidedly anti-gay American Family Association, a right-wing conservative Christian organization that has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to present “The Response.” The purpose, Perry says, is to pray for our nation in crisis. (Others have suggested that perhaps it’s just a play for publicity as Perry gets ready to kick off his 2012 presidential bid.)

The folks at FW First Congregational are like most people speaking out against the event: They have no issue with the idea of holding a prayer meeting. What bothers them is that the governor is teaming up with the American Family Association to do so, especially since AFA is footing the bill for the prayer party.

“We certainly respect the governor’s call to pray and fast for the welfare of our country, but we strongly object to doing that in collusion with a group that engages in hate speech and, therefore, misrepresents the gospel,” said FWCC deacon and protest organizer Marvin Vann.

—  admin