Top stories of 2015 — A religious revival for North Texas LGBTs

Posted on 01 Jan 2016 at 8:00am

The year 2015 may go down as a year of religious revival for the LGBT community in Dallas.

Cathedral of Hope hired Neil Cazares-Thomas as its new senior pastor after a two-year period of healing and an extended national search. Upon Cazares-Thomas’ arrival, attendance began to climb.

Within Cazares-Thomas’ first six months as pastor, one member made a $1 million donation. Half of that money will be used for long-deferred maintenance projects and for building a formal entrance from Cedar Springs Road, so members don’t have to enter through a dog groomer’s or fast food restaurant’s parking lot. The Interfaith Peace Chapel will get the acoustic work and wiring that were cut from the original plans as a cost-cutting measure.

The rest of the donation will be used to establish an endowment for the church that Cazares-Thomas hopes to grow to $5 million in five years.

Congregation Beth El Binah and Northaven United Methodist Church joined forces last summer.
The synagogue, which met at Resource Center for more than 20 years, was bursting at the seams. So for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Northaven offered Beth El Binah its main sanctuary. Since then, the synagogue has moved into one of the church’s meeting rooms.

The collaboration has been good for both the church and the temple. Attendance at services for both has increased. Members are attending each other’s classes and programs, and both said they’re stronger together.

Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth broke ground on a new community center and named the new building after its long-time pastor, the Rev. Carol West.

“This church has grown because of her ability to make everyone feel comfortable,” Ron Hill, a board member said.

When completed, Celebration will have more gathering spaces for congregants after worship services, additional parking spaces and a columbarium for members who wish to be buried on the church’s property.

The congregation can feel comfortable, too, knowing that their pastor won’t leave them in a lurch. Noting that she is 66, West said she will be retiring someday — but not during a capital campaign.

Celebration Church on the Lake on Cedar Creek Lake hired Mary Clair Lowrance as its new pastor. Former pastor Kathy Bowser retired earlier this year after a decade of service. During her tenure, the congregation bought land in Payne Springs and built its current home. The current facility opened in 2009.

Cathedral of Hope Mid-Cities became become Embrace United Church of Christ, an indication of the congregation’s strength and ability to stand on its own.

A new Episcopal group, Unity, formed after the election of a new bishop in the Dallas diocese.

While the Episcopal Church recognizes marriage between couples of the same sex, newly-elected Bishop George Sumner doesn’t, so Dallas becomes one of seven diocese in North America where same-sex marriages won’t be performed in the Episcopal Church.

Sumner suggested Dallas couples marry in Fort Worth. Unity suggested Sumner take a hike.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 1, 2016.

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