Admiral of Morality: Megachurch Joins UCC

Friday, December 01, 2006

Megachurch Joins UCC

Cathedral of Hope in Dallas has 4,300 members

The latest addition to the liberal United Church of Christ is a gay-friendly megachurch: the Cathedral of Hope. It's the most recent major move for the mainline Protestant denomination in declaring its full acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships.

''The UCC is clearly going after a certain niche in American society who are very liberal and have a particular religious vision that includes inclusiveness,'' said John Evans, a sociology professor. ''They are becoming the religious brand that is known for this.''

The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, which claims 4,300 members, was admitted to the Protestant group Oct. 28 on a 32-9 vote of the United Church's North Texas Association. The megachurch is now the fourth-largest congregation in the 1.3 million-member denomination.

The cathedral describes itself as ''the world's largest liberal Christian church with a primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.''

That outlook fits with the beliefs of the UCC, which last year endorsed gay marriage -- becoming the largest Christian denomination to do so.

''They are a progressive denomination, and they have taken progressive stands all along,'' said the Rev. Michael S. Piazza, the cathedral's national pastor and dean. ''When they took that vote, it really made it clear that was our home.''

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