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In Houston, Diocesan Center returns to downtown
On-site outreach services will assist community

12/11/2006
[Texas Episcopalian]  There are big changes going on in downtown Houston, and Christ Church Cathedral and the Diocese of Texas are at the heart of them.

The bishop's office and diocesan staff moved the Diocesan Center to new quarters in the block adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral during the first week of December after more than three years of planning and construction.

The attached four-story parking structure assures ample parking both for the Diocesan Center and the Cathedral, as well as housing the Cathedral's new outreach center.

"It has been my dream to bring the Diocesan Center and the work of the diocese back into community with our Cathedral," said Bishop Don Wimberly of Texas. "We are thrilled to finally be at this historic moment and look forward to welcoming everyone to their new Diocesan Center."

The Cathedral's Building for Community Campaign has been underway since 2003 and has been driven from its inception by a sense of ministry. The 20,000-square-foot John S. Dunn Outreach Center, located on the ground floor of the new parking garage, will be home to COMPASS, Cathedral Health Ministries and the Cathedral Clinic, Brigid's Hope, New Hope Housing and the Beacon. All of these ministries were begun by the Cathedral during the last 25 years to serve the needs of the downtown street population.

"Five years ago, the leadership of the Cathedral began envisioning the next step in our call to ministry," said Frances Kittrell, president of the board of the Dunn Outreach Center. "It is being a redemptive community of love that gives us the power to be truly a beacon of hope to the City of Houston. With the completion of this project, the Cathedral family will live more fully into its mission: to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ through word and deed to the parish, the diocese and the downtown community."
 
"We are particularly proud of the services and the example to the community that the Dunn Center will provide," Wimberly said. "It embodies Christ's love in the heart of Houston."

The Beacon, a day center, is the newest of the 501(c) (3) organizations and will provide meals, clothing, showers and laundry service to the downtown street community. Initially, the Beacon will be open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Operation of this vital outreach program will require the help of many volunteers. Those interested in volunteering or donating to the Dunn Outreach Center and the Beacon should contact executive director Paul Mandell at pmandell@christchurchcathedral.org.

By yearend, Cathedral dean Joe Reynolds and his staff will move from their temporary home in the basement of the Cathedral's Jones Education Building to new space in the McGehee building and remodeled space in the Latham and Hines buildings. The Cathedral's youth will have a new floor with classrooms, showers, a kitchen and a Great Room. A new small rehearsal hall, music library and offices will be available for the Cathedral's music program.

Immediately in front of the new Diocesan Center is a large garden area open to all, a rarity amid the surrounding skyscrapers.

On a note that few historic buildings can claim, all of the Cathedral buildings, including the nave, will be handicap accessible. Included in the renovations is an elevator and enough lavatories to accommodate large events that the Cathedral regularly hosts.

Further information is available at http://www.epicenter.org/