But two of the immigrant families journeyed to Spring Branch, a flyspeck settlement of five other German-speaking families already busy turning forest into dairy farms.“The seven families,” as Spring Branch history buffs call the city’s founders, met to give thanks for the newcomers’ survival.
Underscoring stressed syllables, his arms slashed the air like a symphony conductor’s.
But Jackson is both African-American gay which is rare in church hierarchy.
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.
In 1948, the growing church built a fellowship hall. Americans in general stopped going to church in the numbers they once did, and the immigrants’ great-great-grandchildren moved away from Spring Branch. The first time she walked into that old building, she said, the presence of God overwhelmed her.
And in 1961, it built a big brick sanctuary, attached to the little white church by an umbilical-cord breezeway. As far back as 1993, the Houston Chronicle reported that St. On Sundays, it rented out the big sanctuary to other congregations, and it moved its own services back into the little white chapel. The intimate space, with its hard pews and pump organ, whispered of a history stretching far beyond her own life. Carly liked singing, but she couldn’t stand the church’s tiny old-school choir and its starchy quiet hymns.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?Peter might have to merge with another congregation or close. After her sermon, when it came time to say the Lord’s Prayer, one of the congregants said it in German. She loved the church, and she stayed, becoming its lead minister. By 2018, only about a dozen people attended each Sunday. A couple of younger families did join the church, but even then, their children didn’t seem likely to stick. Even descendents of the seven families recognized that their church couldn’t go on that way. Jackson, the preacher, is 41 with two masters’ degrees.“We prayed for new people to come,” said Kingsbury. One is in management, and in 2017, he had a good job overseeing the Houston Food Bank’s employee training.It wasn’t easy, starting a church in the immigrants’ new land. Wet weather brought mosquitoes and malaria, leaving people too sick to care for their cattle. Twice — once in 1859, once in 1867 — yellow fever struck Spring Branch, wiping out so many people that they were buried in mass graves in the church’s cemetery. The prim white clapboard building looks a lot like the churches that similar German settlers built in small towns across Hill Country.