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A few weeks ago, deep in a sermon and full of Jesus, the Rev. Houston has lots of black preachers, and a fair number of openly LGBT ministers. At the sermon’s climax — as the congregation clapped approval, as amens and yeses poured in — Jackson’s preaching bordered on aerobic. Jackson’s style is riveting, but given that he’s a black preacher in the South, it’s not surprising. Peter United Church of Christ is this: When Jackson turns to make eye contact with the choir, the eyes he meets belong to his husband, Marcus Carter.
Peter, after the apostle who carried the gospel into new lands. It’s the rebuilt church, the one from 1864, that still stands today.
The church he was envisioning built on no one’s tradition. He knew what a big change he was asking for, and from his management studies, he knew how hard change comes for any organization. As the two churches discussed the details, the idea began to seem almost inevitable.
But in the first months, when membership dropped from 23 to 15, he and his husband worried they’d made the wrong bet. And at last, the people they’d imagined began to show up: people of all ages, different races and ethnicities, straight and gay and transgender. By the end of 2018, Cathedral of Hope Houston had 85 members — a long way from a megachurch, maybe, but growing. Peter’s sanctuary, and last year, as his church began taking off, Jackson was considering yet another a move. Peter, as a landlord, would or could make the physical upgrades that his growing congregation needed. Peter’s counterpart with a list of fixes they’d need if they were going to renew their lease. Jackson would be head minister and would continue to command the big brick sanctuary on Sundays, but Sheil-Hopper would stay on, and would continue leading the restrained traditional services in the chapel.
The other — a divinity degree from Columbia’s Union seminary — wasn’t quite lying dormant, but close. But he and his husband agreed that he should follow his calling, and should go all in, give it everything he had. Most of Cathedral of Hope’s congregation, like its retiring minister, were white lesbians.
He’d once dreamed of leading a major church, but with his “progressive evangelical” beliefs, his full-body preaching style, and his proud gay relationship, he didn’t fit into the big ones that he tried. He became minister of education for Cathedral of Hope Houston, a satellite church launched in 2009 by Dallas’ 4,000-member Cathedral of Hope, the largest LGBT church in the U. Cathedral of Hope Houston, though, had stayed tiny, with only 23 members — in part because the church had had three rented homes, and lost members with each move. Peter’s, where it rented the sanctuary, when the minister told Jackson she planned to retire and wanted him to take her place. But Jackson wanted the church to be insistently welcoming to Even in diverse Houston, he knew, that kind of church wouldn’t be easy to create. Sunday is the most segregated hour in Christian America, and that’s still largely true today. The elderly, white, traditional congregation would intentionally meld with the wildly diverse one?
Evelyn Kingsbury — “Miss Evelyn,” they call her at St.