The Congregationalist were originally members of the Church of England. There were the Puritans and the Separatists. The Separatists were discovered in 1607 and the members were imprisoned, placed under surveillance, or forced to flee. They went first to Holland, but due to economic issues and threat of war, boarded the Mayflower and arrived in the New World in 1620. Over the next 20 years, over 20,000 Separatists and Puritans migrated to the New World.
The German Evangelical tradition entered New England between 1830 and 1845. Over 40,000 Germans annually left their Prussian homeland. This totaled 600,000 Germans migrating in just ten years. They were migrating to escape authoritarian politics, poverty and military conscription.
The German Reformed tradition entered the scene when a stream of German and German-Swiss farmers, laborers, trade and craftpersons flowed into Pennsylvania and the Middle Atlantic region to escape the waste of European wars.
The Christian Churches were uniquely American. In Virginia, Vermont, and Kentucky, the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s gave birth to groups of people that wanted to return to the simplicity of early Christianity.
So how does this all fit together? Glad you asked! In 1931, the Congregationalist and Christian Churches merged to form the Congregational Christian Churches. In 1934 the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Church joined together to form the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1957 the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church joined together to form the United Church of Christ.
The United Church of Christ and it’s preceding denominations have helped change the face our country in many ways.
- 1806 – It was decided at the Haystack Meeting that the Congregationalist would start evangelizing.
- 1808 – Began printing the Herald Gospel Liberty, a paper served to draw separate Christian movements together.
- 1811 – Missions to India began.
- 1818 – Attempt to halt the relocation of Cherokee Indians.
- 1830 – Spoke out against slavery.
- 1839 – Connecticut Congregationalists formed the Amistad Committee, which organized a legal defense, eased the captives’ confinement during the lengthy court case, and eventually funded their return to Africa after winning a favorable decision from the US Supreme Court.
- 1852 – Isaac Scott was first African-American ordained minister.
- 1853 – First theologically educated woman ordained.
- 1867 – Melissa Terrell first formally ordained woman.
- 1870 – The Social Gospel began in response to the hardships of workers in the Industrial Revolution.
- 1962 – The UCC was a founding member of the National and World Council of Churches.
- 1962 – Andrew Young works for the UCC with Martin Luther King, Jr.
- 1963 – Committee for Racial Justice Now is formed.
- 1965 – General Synod calls for the US to support UN economic sanctions against S Africa pending charges of apartheid and that US corporations make their opposition to apartheid know as well.
- 1966 – Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice is formed.
- 1967 – General Synod passes a resolution calling for Justice and Peace in Vietnam.
- 1967 – Joseph Evans becomes the first African-American to serve as an officer in the UCC.
- 1971 – General Synod affirms freedom of choice concerning abortion.
- 1971 – Task Force for Women in Church and Society is created.
- 1971 – Council for American Indian Ministry is created.
- 1972 – William R Johnson becomes the firstly openly gay person to be ordained.
- 1973 – General Synod raises more than $1 million to pay for the bail for the Wilmington Ten.
- 1973 – General Synod delegates fly to California to support beleaguered farm workers.
- 1973 – UCC Gay Caucus forms.
- 1974 – Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries is formed.
- 1975 – General Synod urges the church to work for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
- 1975 – General Synod calls upon all levels of government to recognize Native American treaty rights.
- 1976 – Carol Joyce Brun becomes first female officer.
- 1977 – General Synod Adopts a Human Sexuality Report and the Unite Church People for Biblical Witness is organized.
- 1982 – Anne Holmes becomes first openly lesbian woman ordained.
- 1983 – General Synod declares compassionate concern for support of all victims of AIDS and calls on the US to expand victim assistance and appropriations for research.
- 1985 – General Synod calls on churches to become accessible to all with disabilities.
- 1985 – General Synod votes to adopt the Open & Affirming Church Program.
- 1987 – General Synod creates Hispanic Ministries Implementation Team.
- 1993 – UCC apologizes on behalf of the church for the complicity of missionaries in the 1893 overthrow of Hawaii’s sovereign government.
- 2003 – The God is Still Speaking initiative is launched.
- 2004 – The UCC airs the “Bouncer” TV ad and the UCC website received over 7 million hits.
- 2005 – General Synod votes overwhelmingly to affirm marriage equality.
Let’s jump into Dallas in the 1960s. Homosexuality is in the DSM-I & DSM-II as a psychiatric disorder. When going to the bars in Dallas, patrons had to park blocks away from them as the police would take down license plate numbers and publish the plate and owner’s name in the newspaper. When the police would come to the gay bars, there was a person at the front door who would start rapidly flipping a switch so the lights would start flashing, signaling everyone to quit dancing or change to an opposite-sex partner. It was illegal for two people of the same sex to dance together.
On July 30, 1970, a group of twelve people gathered at 4612 Victor Street in Dallas to discuss establishing a Metropolitan Community Church. In May 1971, Rev. Richard Vincent was elected the first pastor of MCC-Dallas. In late 1990, MCC-Dallas became the Cathedral of Hope to reflect a new and broader mission to reach lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in small towns everywhere with a message of hope. Cathedral of Hope conducted its first worship service in its current home in December 1992. The Christmas Eve service was broadcast around the world on CNN and the congregation approached 1,000 members. By 1998 the membership grows to more than 2,300 and the Cathedral serves a rapidly-growing congregation of more than 3,000.
There were people in Oklahoma City who wanted a church different from the others they had experienced in the past. For years, some of them had occasionally attended the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas when they were in Dallas for business or pleasure. CoH-Dallas met this need for a new congregation in Oklahoma City. It all began with a small group bible study and a few big services at Christmas and Easter. Nearly 100 people attend the inaugural worship service at Cathedral of Hope Oklahoma City on August 6, 2000. Since then we have had ups and downs, but God has been with us through it all. On March 14, 2010, we relocated from the Unitarian Church to Mayflower Congregational. A few months after that we started the search for a new pastor. On November 20, 2011, our congregation unanimously voted for Rev. Matthew Perkins to be our new pastor. We are a strong congregation in the midst of our rebirth and we are awaiting God’s next chapter for us. We are here to share with Oklahoma City the Good News that we are reclaiming a Christianity of extravagant grace, radical inclusion, and relentless compassion. We proudly and loudly say, “Jesus didn’t reject people. Neither do we. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”
As you can see, the United Church of Christ has a rich and deep-rooted history that stretches all the way back to the reformation of the church. Cathedral of Hope also has a deep history into a time that saw great liberation across this entire country. Our church family includes Cathedral of Hope churches in Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, Bedford, TX and Oklahoma City, OK. As we celebrate our anniversary each year, we are not just celebrating our founding. We are celebrating a birth that resonates all the way from 17th century Europe. We are celebrating freedom from religious and social oppression. We are celebrating that we are a LGBTQIA congregation that is a beacon of hope to the entire Oklahoma City community and to the entire state of Oklahoma. We are celebrating that we are the Cathedral of Hope in Oklahoma City, with a deeply rich past, a wonderful present and a very bright future.
Click here to view a detailed timeline of our history.