Gay-affirming Christian church opening in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City’s lesbian, gay and transgender community will have a new place to worship this summer. The Cathedral of Hope, the largest Christian congregation that has a primary outreach to the LGBT community in the world, will soon be opening a church in Salt Lake City.

Soon-to-be graduates from the Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., will be moving to Salt Lake City in May to help start the new the church. The Cathedral of Hope is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is one of the most progressive Christian congregations in the world.

The LGBT community is always welcome and no one will pressure gay people to change who they are, said Pastor Julie Watson, who along with her life and business partner, Marian Edmonds, will be heading out the church organization.

“We take the Bible very seriously, but we don’t take it literally,” Watson said.

Watson lived in Utah for more than 10 years and said she is very familiar with the communities here and the Cathedral of Hope is precisely what people in Utah need.

“So many of the LGBTQ folks I talked to believe the lie that God doesn’t love them,” Watson said. “Some don’t believe they could ever be good enough for God no matter how hard they try. And we want to show them that’s simply not true.”

God loves his children for who they are; gay, straight, bi, or transgender, said Edmonds.

“There are so many people that need to hear the message that god loves them for who they are. They need to experience the love of god,” Edmonds said.

The congregation was one of the first to allow different races and genders to be ordained as pastors, Watson said. The church leadership have been vocal supporters of same-sex marriage for years and people of all backgrounds can feel comfortable with the community, Watson said.

The pair spent last summer in Fort Worth, Texas, helping start a church. Nearly a year later the community has more than 100 people in regular attendance.

The meetings are not uniform and attendees can expect to have discussions, listen to sermons and sing old and new hymns. People of all ages are invited and there will be separate classes for children.

“Church shouldn’t be something you have to endure,” Edmonds said. “We want to make it enjoyable, spiritual and helpful for all who attend.”

While the church has not started meeting in Salt Lake yet, there is a Facebook page and a website at COHSLC.org. Watson and Edmonds will also have a booth at Utah Pride this summer and the pair hope to receive feedback from the community so they can help tailor the meetings and locations to fit specific needs. They will also host a booth at the Farmer’s Market in Pioneer Park.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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