OLUMC hosts concert benefitting Survivors Offering Support


The Rev. Ben A. David Hensley, left, the church’s music director, and John Horany planned the March 6 event. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Oak Lawn United Methodist Church presents the “You’ll Never Walk Alone” concert on Sunday, March 6, to benefit SOS–Survivors Offering Support. SOS was formed by hate crime survivor Burke Burnett to help victims of last fall’s series of attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn.

“We wanted this to be something for the community,” said concert organizer John Horany. “We’re trying to participate in the life of the community in a big way.”

Oak Lawn United Methodist Church recently voted unanimously to become a Reconciling Ministry church, welcoming the LGBT community to join in all aspects of congregational life.

The Rev. Ben A. David Hensley, the church’s music director and an event organizer, said this concert isn’t a church event: “We’re hosting as part of Oak Lawn. We’re invested in neighborhood safety.”
Hensley said a member named Lillian Lawson, who recently passed away, had the original idea for a candlelight concert. “When she died, we began talking about it again,” he said. “One of us said, ‘Why don’t we make this concert in response to these attacks. Make it more of a community event than a church service.’”

Among those performing will be the Oak Lawn Band, the Dallas Police Choir, Resounding Harmony, the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and the Turtle Creek Chorale Chamber Chorus.

East Dallas Christian Church organist and accompanist Jonathan K. Merritt will be featured, playing OLUMC’s magnificent pipe organ.

OLUMC senior pastor the Rev. Anna Hosemann-Butler will speak, along with Cathedral of Hope senior pastor the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas.

Dallas Northwest Deputy Chief Catrina Shead will speak on behalf of the Dallas Police Department, and hate crime survivor Michael Dominguez will represent Take Back Oak Lawn and SOS. Take Back Oak Lawn also formed in response to the attacks and is raising money to increase security and promote safety in the neighborhood.

The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the 1945 musical Carousel, will conclude the concert.

Hensley said it was important for a church located on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue to make a statement with a program like this. He called violent attacks on members of the LGBT community immoral, and said he wants it clearly understood that’s the church’s position.
Horany said he hoped other attack survivors would attend.
“We’re a community who cares,” he said.

Following the program, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Dick Richardson sponsor a reception.

You’ll Never Walk alone at 6 p.m. on March 6 at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, 3014 Oak Lawn Ave. Park in the Centrum. Free but accepting donations for the S.O.S. Survivor’s Fund. 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2016.