Tuesday, November 22, 2011
In my Dallas revisit: I see that: both the Cathedral of Hope and First ("Southern") Baptist Church expand
Monday, while driving in downtown Dallas, I happened by the First Baptist Church of Dallas, originally established in 1890. It may be one of the largest in the SBC, with over 4000 members. Gay rights activists have derided it as the “First Southern Baptist Church”. In more than one sermon at MCC Dallas in the 1980s, Rev. Don Eastman explained how the Baptist denomination had split over slavery and segregation.
In fact, I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988. When my parents visited in 1979, my father wanted to attend a service there, so we did. Pastor W. A. Criswell gave one of his 40 minute sermons.
One Sunday night in late 1980, Criswell gave a radio sermon on homosexuality. As one can imagine, it was not very nice listening, given the values of the time. I remember his saying that he was befuddled by how it had become acceptable, and that it should fade into insignificance. That’s a clue to how some people feel: that the freedom of others to live by very different psychological norms can deep-six their own ability to make and stay interested in lifelong marital sexual commitments. “I can only do the right thing if you have to play by my rules.” To an individualist, such an admission sounds like a character weakness.
The FBC in downtown Dallas is undergoing enormous expansion. The building dwarfs what dazzled me at Sunday’s visit to the Cathedral of Hope, which long since left MCC and since 2007 has been a congregation of the United Church of Christ. While I was at COH Sunday, I saw some pictures of the history. I hadn’t realized that the old MCC Dallas had left the property (with Butler building) in Oak Lawn on Reagan St (ironic) in 1989, shortly after I left Dallas.
Just above, MCC Dallas when I lived there; below, a modern picture of the Cathedral of Hope.
and, below, the new Chapel of Peace: