In what legislators are calling a first, one-fifth of the Oklahoma House voted Feb. 11 to strike from the record a prayer offered on the chamber floor by the Rev. Scott H. Jones, pastor of Cathedral of Hope UCC-Oklahoma City. Jones had been invited to deliver the prayer and serve as chaplain for the day by Rep. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City.If, like me, you were a member of the South Central Conference of the UCC, the name "Cathedral of Hope" would be the tip-off to what is to come, or at least make you wonder: "Is there a connection...?"
And it turns out, there is:
Cathedral of Hope UCC-Oklahoma City began in 2000 as a church plant of Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas. In January 2007, they became a fully autonomous congregation within the United Church of Christ.Cathedral of Hope in Dallas is actively seeking to start new congregations wherever it can. As an "Open and Affirming" Church (i.e., one that doesn't just passively tolerate gays and lesbians, but openly accepts and embraces them in all areas of church life), that's the kind of church they want to establish.
Now, the funny part is, the first "Cathedral of Hope" is in Dallas. Not only is it liturgical in practice (a great plus in the eyes of yours truly), it's thriving in one of the most conservative Christian towns in Texas. Dallas was home to the church of W.A. Criswell, the man who inspired Rick Warren to enter the ministry. It was home to Robert Tilton when he was still shilling for the Lord. It was as conservative and anti-gay as any town could publicly be.
And now it is home to one of the healthiest and most openly-gay, and most liberal, churches in Texas. And that church has "planted" a church in Oklahoma. Now, OKCity ain't exactly Tulsa (home to Oral Roberts University), and I imagine, being the capitol city, it's probably regarded by some Oklahoma legislators the way Austin is by some Texas legislators: as a hotbed of pointy-heads and dreaded "libruls." So this legislative vote is neither here nor there to me; it's simply to be expected.
What's wonderful is that, in places where you'd least expect it, among people where you'd least expect it, you see glimpses of the basileia tou theou, of the open table where all are welcome to eat and drink and enjoy the bread and wine. Komm, Schopfer Geist!
Dance ye all.