The founding mission of the Cathedral of Hope is to reclaim Christianity as a faith of extravagant grace, radical inclusion, and relentless compassion. As such, we seek ways to honor those who embody and live out this mission through lives that are transforming our society at every level. The Hero of Hope is someone who works to:
- Change how the world thinks about LGBTQ people;
- Change how LGBTQ people think about God;
- Reach marginalized people, especially teens living in isolation in small towns; and
- Redefine Christianity as an including faith rather than an excluding religion.
The Hero of Hope Award originated in the early 1990s as a way for the Cathedral of Hope to single out and honor people who have courageously taken a stand for LGBTQ rights. The Hero of Hope Award is presented in recognition of those who have taken courageous stands for the rights of all people without regard to gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Paula Sophia Schonauer is a twenty year veteran with the Oklahoma City Police Department and was the agency’s first openly transgender officer. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2011. Her published works include the short story “Hystericus” with Etopia Press and her first novel “Shadowboxer,” which explores closeted identities, the consequences of bullying, and the explosive release of a suppressed personal truth. Paula has been an Adjunct Professor at Rose State College and Oklahoma City Community College, a columnist with The Gayly regional newspaper, a contributor to Our Big Gayborhood, and a slam poet competing on the national stage at the National Poetry Slam. Paula ran for office to be a state representative in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2014 and continues to use her voice to stand up for those ostracized in our society. As an ordained minister, she recently shared her gifts of word and spirituality as a guest preacher at both Cathedral of Hope and Church of the Open Arms. Paula is currently finishing up her Masters of Social Work degree at the University of Oklahoma, and will be graduating in May.
Cathedral of Hope presents the Hero of Hope award to Paula Sophia Schonauer to reflect the community’s gratitude for her service as an activist seeking justice and equality for the LGBTQ community, which embodies our founding principals of “Extravagant Grace, Radical Inclusion, and Relentless Compassion.” Her work and accomplishments serve as a beacon of hope to a community that regularly endures injustice brought on by prejudice and intolerance.
Past Hero of Hope honorees include retired Southern Baptist minister and author of “Letter to Louise,” Rev. Bruce Lowe (2006); former Corporation Commissioner and County Commissioner, Jim Roth (2007); co-founder of PFLAG-Norman, Kay Holladay (2009); equal rights advocate, Bob Lemon (2011); Oklahoma City Councilman, Dr. Ed Shadid (2012); community activist and entertainer, Mr. Ginger Lamar (2013); LGBTQ advocate and minister, Scott J. Hamilton (2014); and Executive Director of Other Options, Mary Arbuckle (2016).
All are invited to attend this service at Cathedral of Hope on Sunday, February 5, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., in the sanctuary of Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City, and to attend the reception to follow.
We honor our previous Hero of Hope winners who have made a lasting impact for justice and peace in our community.
Executive Director of Other Options, Inc
2016 Hero of Hope
Scott J Hamilton
Former Executive Director of the Cimarron Alliance Equality Center
2014 Hero of Hope
Mr. Ginger Lamar
Community Activist & Entertainer
2013 Hero of Hope
Dr. Ed Shadid
Oklahoma City Councilman & Doctor
2012 Hero of Hope
Equal Rights Advocate
2011 Hero of Hope
2009 Hero of Hope
Former Corporation Commissioner & County Commissioner
2007 Hero of Hope
Rev. Bruce Lowe
Retired Southern Baptist Pastor
2006 Hero of Hope