Over the past few weeks we have asked some deep theological and spiritual questions. Using both our sacred text within the pages of the Holy Bible and Amena Brown’s book, “Breaking Rhythms” we have explored how Go breaks through the rhythms of our lives to, calling us back to align our purpose with God’s purpose. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the ways of the world, and the rhythm of life, that we forget that God’s purpose for us and our world is one based in the values of Jesus.
This Sunday we will move from the theme of “breaking rhythms” to “finding”, or “learning” new ones. It is often true that you have to stop doing something, before you can begin doing something new!
Fall brings new opportunities for us at Cathedral of Hope and, after nearly 2 years of keeping most things virtual, beyond our Sunday worship experiences, I am excited to welcome back to the parking lot our annual Trunk-or-Treat community event for kids and families. It will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 4pm to 6pm. We are already busy inviting local neighborhood families to the event and are using the opportunity to distribute 150 Family Relief Food Boxes that we were able to purchase from funds raised during the North Texas Giving Day. These food boxes will reach families in need and, again, impact our community.
October is Stewardship Month and we are now receiving pledges for 2022. If you have not already received your information pack, please let me know. This year I am asking you to consider how God is blessing you. I am writing my list of gratitude moments and then responding as I make my pledge to the work, the impact that we collectively have in “making this earth more like God’s heaven.” If you do not know what impact your “sustaining discipleship” giving makes in our community and in our world, please reach out to me as I will be delighted to share some of the stories that I hear every day. Or click here to see learn more.
The last three months of this calendar year are very busy in the life our church community and I invite you to remain engaged and connected as we come toward the end of another year together. We have faced many losses, we have persevered through many challenges and obstacles. We have pivoted and moved forward. But we could not do all of this with every single one of you and a committed staff that work tirelessly every day with our best intent at heart.
It is true, “with God, all things are possible” and we are proving it day in, and day out. Yes, we are better together.
In Christ and look forward to seeing you online or in person, this weekend.
|As I sit in my office during the day, I get to witness the many “comings and goings” that happen daily. I get to hear the children of Hope Day School playing underneath my office, as well as on the grounds of the Cathedral. I get to see the busy staff in their offices, collaborating on the many projects that help us achieve our mission and vision. I get to smell the cooking in the kitchen for the many feeding programs that we fund and operate every week. I get to see the many who come by to meet, seek counsel, rehearse, volunteer – and I get to walk the campus daily and experience the beauty of the many additions that have been made over the year.|
Today we made an addition to the Campus through the generous donation of a sculpture entitled, “Deconstructing Gutenberg.” It has been donated by local artist Melissa Drumm. “Deconstructing Gutenberg” was originally shown in the outdoor sculpture gallery at Kirk Hopper Fine Art Gallery on Commerce Street in Dallas. Welded from Iron, Aluminum and Copper to represent a Deconstructed Book folding off a printing press, as seen in the obsoletion or diminished study of reading in our culture. Gutenberg printed the first Bible which changed study and religion in the way it was taught and practiced.
I do hope that you will stop by and look at it next time you are on campus.
Improvements to the campus are always being made and we continue to negotiate and navigate city council departments and policies that will hopefully allow us to extend our driveway across the back of the IPC to link up the driveway off Cedar Springs. These conversations and plans continue but, it has not been an easy process. Much of this has to do with the way that we originally purchased the many lots that make up the Cathedral Campus – but we persevere.
It is all a part of the Rhythm of Life – the theme of the current sermon series that is contained in two parts: Breaking Old Rhythms and moving toward creating new ones. This Sunday we think about “Life Breaking Rhythms” and God’s presence in them. Amena Brown in her book, Breaking Old Rhythms asks us this question, “What do you do when things you can’t control change around you, leave you broken, wounded and shaken?” This is an important question and such circumstances can often challenge us in our spirit and in our faith, and it is a question we might ponder in our worship and in our small groups.
As we prepare to worship again this weekend, either in person or online, I want you to know that wherever you are on life’s journey, whatever rhythm your life is in right now, there is a place for you here and, exploring the campus at COH is a great way to break a rhythm, pause and find answers to some of life’s difficult questions.
See you Sunday, I hope!
We are officially in fall!!
As I write this (Wednesday) the weather is a little cooler but, as I am often reminded here in Dallas, tomorrow might be a whole different story.
COVID-19 has certainly changed our lives and, just like Cathedral of Hope, the many organizations that we partner with throughout the year have also had to reimagine the ways they continue to serve and support the community. One of our partner organizations is Prism Health of North Texas. Every year they hold “LifeWalk,” an annual event that benefits people living with HIV/AIDS in our community.
Every year, we sponsor a team that would participate in “LifeWalk” and raise money to benefits both Prism Health and Cathedral of Hope. Our participation in “LifeWalk” raises money to support the Evelyn Pruitt AIDS Financial Assistance Fund. This money is then distributed, through grants to people in our church and the wider community, to people who are living with HIV/AIDS and who need assistance with rent, utilities, or some other bill that they may be struggling to pay.
This year, “LifeWalk” is a virtual event. You can help us replenish our Evelyn Pruitt AIDS Financial Assistance Fund by purchasing raffle tickets this Sunday! Bill Martin, our Outreach Coordinator, will be in the narthex before and after services. Like most raffles, there are some great prizes to be had – it’s a win-win. Prism Health Care, Cathedral of Hope and YOU (if your ticket is drawn on October 3, 2021) are all winners, baby!!
Over the past few weeks Reverends Andria, Erin and Michael have all brought powerful words of hope and grace and I am looking forward to returning to the pulpit this Sunday as we continue speaking into our new sermon series, Breaking Rhythms. This Sunday I will explore “God’s purpose for Irritation!” In the book Breaking Old Rhythms (which our small groups are reading together), Amena Brown writes, “sometimes God is in the irritation, sometimes God likes to make us uncomfortable. God knows that irritation, frustration, even pain and discomfort make our lives and our prayers more honest.”
I do hope that you will join me as we explore where we are in our own rhythm. Together we can learn something from both ancient and modern writers who have come to know that God is present in our life of rhythm and discover where God might be using “irritation” to bring us to a place what God might want us to be: at the end of ourselves, and at the beginning of new life with Christ.
Can’t wait to worship with you all in person or online. See you Sunday!
Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work with an incredible organization who have made a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of lives. Their work centers around those who have been working through their theology, faith, and sexuality. It is similar work to ours and is in alignment with our mission and vision.
Throughout our discussions we explored ways in which we might work more closely, and I am delighted to let you know that, after many conversations and with the approval of the Board of Stewards, Believe Out Loud, a global, digital project providing resources and community for LGBTQIA people of faith and their allies, has become a program of COH that will expand the church’s community and increase tailored content.
A press release was issued on Tuesday of this week, and I wanted to share it with you today.
DALLAS, Texas (September 14, 2020) – Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, known as the largest predominantly LGBTQ+ church in the world, is pleased to announce the acquisition of, and partnership with, Believe Out Loud. Believe Out Loud will become a program of the Cathedral that will promote the message of God’s love for all, regardless of faith tradition.
As a new program of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud’s mission is to meet the needs for spiritual content tailored to the LGBTQIA community. These resources will go beyond tolerance and acceptance and use the LGBTQIA experience as a framework for understanding the divine.
“In the face of constant efforts to squeeze people who are different out of public space, it is critical to remain grounded in the deep faith that all people are worthy of God’s love,” said Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope. “We are excited to partner with Believe Out Loud to spread that message and be an affirming space for all people of faith and our allies.”
Started in 2007 as the Religious Voices Project, the original mission of Believe Out Loud was to determine where mainline Protestant clergy stand on gay and lesbian equality and assess methods to move more clergy toward LGBT acceptance. Believe Out Loud has since expanded its campaign from reaching exclusively mainline Protestant clergy to reaching Christians of all kinds, regardless of denomination, affiliation, or role.
Believe Out Loud now works internationally and digitally, having evolved to become an online community for LGBTQIA people of faith and allies. The organization provides access to affirming worship services and livestreams, LGBT and faith-related events, connections to justice and inclusion organizations, mental health resources, and original content.
Now operating under the leadership of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud aspires to be a more diverse space, specifically working to unite people of various faiths and religious experiences to find hope and reclaim their own experience of the Divine.
Victoria Anderson, former digital and creative content associate for Believe Out Loud, has now joined the staff of the Cathedral of Hope as Director of Content Development. “The Board and Staff of Believe Out Loud conducted a thorough and national search, including most major national LGBTQ nonprofits, to find the perfect home for our future. We are thrilled that the new home proved to be Cathedral of Hope, and I’m excited to join the Reverend Neil and the incredible staff of Cathedral.”
Believe Out Loud is a global digital community working to move all people toward an expansive, transformative understanding of divine love. We center and sanctify queer spirituality across our programs, from our online worship services led by LGBTQIA faith leaders to our grantmaking program supporting faith-driven LGBTQIA peacebuilders around the world. On our social media platforms, hundreds of thousands of queer people of faith and allies gather to experience affirmation of their divinity—and to heal from damaging societal messages that alienate the LGBTQIA community from spiritual resources.
One of our goals in our new mission and vision statement is to “connect the unconnected” and to increase our digital footprint locally, nationally, and internationally. Our alliance with Believe Out Loud will make this goal a reality and I am excited to watch and guide this new program as it integrates with the 51-year history of Cathedral of Hope.