UCC's North Texas Association Grants Standing to 4,300-member Cathedral of Hope
- UCC's North Texas Association grants standing to 4,300-member
Cathedral of Hope
Written by J. Bennett Guess
United Church of Christ News
Sunday, 29 October 2006
Nearly a year to the day after members of Cathedral of Hope in Dallas
voted to request affiliation with the UCC, the denomination's North
Texas Association of the South Central Conference voted to grant
congregational standing at its fall meeting on Oct. 28. The
affirmative vote was by an "overwhelming majority," one observer
With 4,300 members, Cathedral of Hope becomes the UCC's fourth largest
congregation. The good news of the Association's vote was shared with
Cathedral of Hope members on Oct. 29 during the congregation's annual
"This is an historic day in the life of the Cathedral of Hope," said
the Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor and rector. "We are blessed to be a
full partner in ministry with the North Texas Association and the
United Church of Christ. We celebrate that our values of compassion,
inclusion, tolerance and hope in service to the world by following
Jesus are consistent with those of the United Church of Christ. We are
proud to be a part of such a diverse body of churches and people."
The Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, said he
welcomed the decision of the North Texas Association.
"We will be enriched by the vitality of Cathedral of Hope's ministry
even as we hope that incorporation into our 50 year history will be a
gift to them," Thomas said.
In accordance with the denomination's grassroots governance style,
issues related to congregational standing and ministerial authority
are dealt with at the Association level, meaning that Associations act
on behalf of the UCC nationally when it makes decisions, such as
receiving churches or ordaining ministers. Decisions by Associations
cannot be overruled by the denomination's Conference or National settings.
The Cathedral of Hope touts itself as "the world's largest liberal
Christian church with a primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender people." Its local and national ministries, outreach
programs, pastoral counseling, and web-based and TV media touch
thousands each day.
The Cathedral of Hope began exploring UCC affiliation many years ago
when, in 1997, a congregational vote authorized consideration of the
move. Over the years, various lay leaders gathered information on the
UCC and completed preliminary evaluations.
In 2003, consideration of the UCC was again discussed by the
congregation when the church voted to disaffiliate from the Universal
Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. In January 2005, the
church's board of directors instructed its affiliation and expansion
committee to resume exploration of affiliation in earnest. A
congregational vote to request UCC affiliation was overwhelmingly
approved on Oct. 30, 2005.
Earlier this year, Cathedral of Hope's leadership voted to participate
in the UCC's Stillspeaking Initiative and church leaders received
training related to the denomination-wide media and hospitality campaign.
In joining the UCC, Cathedral of Hope becomes another in a series of
sizeable southern churches to join the UCC in recent years. Four years
ago, the 5,500-member Victory Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., became
the UCC's second largest church when it was received into the UCC's
On Sept. 30, the Missouri/Mid-South Conference received the 300-member
Holy Trinity Church in Memphis. And, earlier this year, the 300-member
Garden of Grace Church in Columbia, S.C., the 250-member Holy Trinity
Church in Nashville, Tenn., and a new African-American church start,
Unity Worship Center, in Montgomery, Ala., also became part of the