DALLAS -- As Senior Pastor Dr. Neil Cazares-Thomas shouted, “What a joy to be in our building this morning!” Sunday at Dallas’ Cathedral of Hope, it wasn’t an empty gesture.
The church, one of the largest religious beacons of the LGBT community, is joyous most Sundays, but on this one the church was turned into a potential cathedral of chaos.
"We discovered three bags that we determined to be suspicious,” said FirstWatch Security CEO Steven Colbert.
He and another security guard discovered three pieces of luggage - one larger and two carry-on sized - sitting right next to the door where construction is currently underway.
Colbert alerted church leaders, who then contacted the Dallas Police Department. The DPD bomb squad came in, but church services didn’t shut down. They just stepped outside and kept on worshipping.
It’s been exactly one week since the Orlando Massacre at the LGBT friendly Pulse Nightclub, so they were taking no chances, but nearly all chose to stay.
"We really have been preaching over this last week since Orlando that love wins, and we will not allow any terrorist or any domestic violence to thwart our ability to have our own expression of worship,” Cazares-Thomas said. “So we continued to have worship this morning.”
Then, more than three hours after the threat started came a sigh of relief.
"We are going to go back into the building!” Cazares-Thomas shouted to the congregation after getting the ‘all clear’.
The three suspicious bags were full of what you’d expect to see in a suitcase, putting the Cathedral of Hope back in business and showing this community won’t be bullied.
“We've been through similar harassments over the years at different places, and we pretty much take it in stride,” said congregation member Donn Rosenauer.
Judging by the full house in the Cathedral of Hope AFTER the threat, it seems suspicions and scare tactics are only strengthening the LGBT community.