The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

A member of Cathedral of Hope recently re-engaged with the congregation and spoke to the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, senior pastor of the church, about what his dreams for the church are.

Cazares-Thomas shared his vision of the church as a vibrant and inclusive community engaging with city and making faith relevant.

That member came back two weeks later with a check for $1 million.

Church staff met recently to discuss the best use for the money and will establish an endowment to ensure the long-term stability of the cathedral as well as complete unfinished projects and perform long-delayed maintenance.

Half of the donation will be set aside to establish an endowment for the church. Cazares-Thomas said he hopes to see that endowment grow quickly.

Bob Shea has been appointed interim advancement director in charge of the new Five Million in Five Years campaign with half a million dollars seeding the fund. The fund will be used to underwrite operating expenses and to endow programming.

The rest of the donation will fund three projects.

Repairs that have been delayed because of a shortage of funds over the last few years will begin soon.

Acoustics in the Interfaith Peace Chapel will be fixed. When the chapel was built, sound was not addressed, because money ran out during construction.

The finished building, while beautiful, has an echo so severe it’s difficult to use for many events. Someone speaking from the stage is told to speak slowly and not too loudly to try and minimize the echo. Wiring for a sound system is also incomplete in the chapel’s main room. A sound engineer has already been engaged and has recommended solutions to the problem.

Finally, Cazares-Thomas said a new entrance to the Cathedral of Hope campus will be constructed from Cedar Springs Road, including proper signage.

Currently, the entrance from Cedar Springs Road is through a doggie daycare parking lot. Two other entrances to the campus are off Inwood Road. One is down Nash Street, a road that was once residential. Those houses were converted to offices before being torn down. Now, two fast food restaurants form the gateway to the church through that entrance.

The second Inwood Road entry winds through a car dealership.

Referring to the lack of a formal entrance, Cazares-Thomas called Cathedral of Hope “the best kept secret in Dallas.”

He said the new entrance will include proper signage to get people onto the campus without thinking they’ve made a wrong turn into an unrelated business.

Since Cazares-Thomas’ arrival, attendance has grown and with it donations.

“There’s a great spirit of energy around this place,” Cazares-Thomas said.

He said he’s positioning the church as a vibrant, inclusive community.

“In an era when people are tired of religious extremism, we’re reclaiming hope and faith,” he said. “We’re reclaiming the values of Jesus.”

Cazares-Thomas said his goal is to make faith relevant. He cited the  Transgender Day of Remembrance service held at the cathedral on Nov. 15 and upcoming World AIDS Day commemorations as examples.

Resource Center is building its new home on land adjoining Cathedral of Hope and Cazares-Thomas said he’s looking forward to it opening, giving the church new opportunities to engage in programming with other sectors of the LGBT community.

“Church is not just a Sunday experience,” Cazares-Thomas said.

To participate in the Five Million in Five Years campaign, contact Bob Shea at Cathedral of Hope, 214-351-1901.