March 1 – March 31

83_womens_history_mo_LogoThe New Testament of the Bible refers to a number of women in Jesus’ inner circle (notably his mother Mary and St. Mary Magdalene), although the Catholic Church teaches that Christ appointed only maleApostles. Historians write that women probably comprised the majority in early Christian congregations, likely stemming in part from the early church’s informal and flexible organization offering significant roles to women. Leadership was shared among male and female members according to their “gifts” and talents. During the early centuries of Christianity, there is evidence of a great deal of activity by women in the life of congregations as deacons and, like Lydia of Philippi, as financiers. Women probably constituted the majority of Christians. Blainey notes that by around AD 300, women had become so influential in the affairs of the church that the pagan philosopher Porphyry “complained that Christianity had suffered because of them”.

The Protestant Reformation closed convents and effectively closed off the option of a full-time religious role for Protestant women, including lives in academic study. The majority of Protestant churches restricted ruling and preaching roles within the Church to men until the 20th century, although there were exceptions among groups like the Quakers and some Pentecostal holiness movements.

In modern times, Christian women played a central role in the developing or running of many the modern world’s education and health care systems, such as Florence Nightingale, who assisted with the development of modern nursing; the Sisters of Mercy, founded by Catherine McAuley in DublinIreland, whose nuns went on to establish hospitals and schools across the world; and the Little Sisters of the Poor, founded in the mid-19th century by Saint Jeanne Jugan near Rennes, France, to care for the many impoverished elderly who lined the streets of French towns and cities.

A number of Christian women are recalled as martyrs of WWII, including 8 of Poland’s 108 Martyrs of World War II and the 11 Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth murdered by the Gestapo; Swedish born Elisabeth Hesselblad is listed among the “righteous among the nations” for her religious institute’s work assisting Jews escaping The Holocaust; and two British women, Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough and Sister Katherine Flanagan, who were beatified for hiding scores of Jewish families in their convent during Rome’s period of occupation under the Nazis.

After the Vatican II, four Catholic women have been declared Doctors of the Church, including the 16th-century Spanish mystic St. Teresa of Ávila, the 14th Century Italian mystic St. Catherine of Siena, the 19th-century French nun St. Thérèse de Lisieux, and the 12th-century German nun St. Hildegard of Bingen. Barbara Clementine Harris became the first woman in the world to be ordained a bishop a in the Episcopal Church in the U.S. And among the most famous missionaries was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in “bringing help to suffering humanity”. She was beatified just six years after her death. Many Christian women and religious have been prominent advocates in social policy debates – as with American nun Helen Prejean, a Sister of Saint Joseph of Medaille, who is a prominent campaigner against the death penalty and was the inspiration for the Hollywood film Dead Man Walking.


LENT 2016

Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

lentbFirst, Jesus was driven by Holy Spirit into the desert. Then, part of God’s promise and covenant with Abram was to stretch his legacy and inheritance in every direction, from the Nile to the Euphrates. Today, God stands in the streets calling for everyone to come in! to the waters, come in! to refreshment. Throughout Lent, the scriptures and stories will show us again and again that God makes a way when there seems to be no way. God is with us in our deserts, in our struggles. God sends the river, the rain, the water, through the wilderness and into new life. Famously, the bread cast upon the waters returns to us.

Throughout Lent, the scriptures and stories will show us again and again that God is with us in our deserts, in our struggles. God sends the river, the rain, the water, through the wilderness and into new life. Famously, God leads me beside still waters. My cup overflows.

Candles in the sand, and candles in the water. All are candles of trial and temptation. All are candles of change and a new thing.

Desert and river, sand and water are intertwined and are cycles of the same growth, like winter and spring. Like evening into morning. One is not good and one bad, but desert and struggle are part of and parcel with change, redirection, growth. Like the bulb we forced in the darkest days of Advent, now a stalk. Desert and oasis, temptation and release, time and change and loss and hope, intertwined, round, all bringing us into newness.

God’s abundance in Isaiah’s poetry is unbelievable, nonsensical. Delight and refreshment make no sense in our times of exile and abandonment. And yet the bulb we forced in the darkest days of Advent is now a stalk. Wilderness and oasis, temptation and release, time and change and loss and hope are intertwined and bring us into newness.

Rev. Miller



Dr.CarterGWoodsonEvery February, Black History Month, or National African-American History Month, is observed in the U.S. to celebrate and honor the contributions and impact of black Americans throughout the nation’s history. Until the 20th century, black history was mostly absent or misrepresented. In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves who had become a scholar and a historian, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which produced The Journal of African-American History and, in 1926, expanded its efforts to tell these stories and created “Negro History Week.” This week eventually became Black History Month as we know it today. The second week in February was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of two prominent figures in history — Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, President Gerald Ford endorsed Black History Month, saying, “I urge my fellow citizens to join me in tribute to Black History Month and to the message of courage and perseverance it brings to all of us.”

Inoculation was introduced to America by a slave.
Few details are known about the birth of Onesimus (African American National Biography), but it is assumed he was born in Africa in the late seventeenth century before eventually landing in Boston. One of a thousand people of African descent living in the Massachusetts colony, Onesimus was a gift to the Puritan church minister Cotton Mather from his congregation in 1706.

Onesimus told Mather about the centuries old tradition of inoculation practiced in Africa. By extracting the material from an infected person and scratching it into the skin of an uninfected person, you could deliberately introduce smallpox to the healthy individual making them immune. Considered extremely dangerous at the time, Cotton Mather convinced Dr. Zabdiel Boylston to experiment with the procedure when a smallpox epidemic hit Boston in 1721 and over 240 people were inoculated.

Opposed politically, religiously and medically in the United States and abroad, public reaction to the experiment put Mather and Boylston’s lives in danger despite records indicating that only 2% of patients requesting inoculation died compared to the 15% of people not inoculated who contracted smallpox.

Onesimus’ traditional African practice was used to inoculate American soldiers during the Revolutionary War and introduced the concept of inoculation to the United States.


December 27, 2015
Open Door MCC
Rev. Miller Hoffman. Pastor

Kwanzaa Celebration

We acknowledge and celebrate our creator God, provider, sustainer, and rescuer of humanity. We God to bless our worship as we learn and embrace the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the Nguzo Saba (n-GOO-zo SAH-bah). Bless us and bless the African and all other symbols we use in this worship.

98b_kawanzaaGod, grant us wisdom and understanding to honor the call to be your people. Having brought and being a people brought to an unfamiliar land and marked by this history, allow us to acknowledge you as the God who never leaves us.
“Habari gani?” (Ha-ba-ri ga-ni). What is the news?

We invoke Umoja (oo-MO-jah), the principle of Unity: to strive for a principled and harmonious togetherness in the family, community, nation, and world African community. “Behold how good and pleasant it is for family to dwell together in unity” (Ps 133). Help us to be a unified people while interacting with various communities, as unity is a blessing.
Umoja! May we employ the element of unity as we continue to celebrate God. May we strive to maintain the spirit of unity as we live as your people around the world. Umoja!

We invoke Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-GOO-lee-ah), the principle of self-determination: to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. May we be self-determining believers as God created us and know God’s will for our lives so that we may help others.
Kujichagulia! We will learn to live self-determined lives knowing that our actions must help others and ourselves. Kujichagulia!

We invoke Ujima (oo-JEE-mah), the principle of collective work and responsibility: to build and maintain our community together; to make our siblings’ problems our problems and to solve them together. Grant us the wisdom to develop and maintain collective interests, to think collectively and build family and neighborhood, and to be our siblings’ keeper, even as God keeps us.
Ujima! We will strive to embody a spirit of collective work and responsibility, building and maintaining our communities and our ancestors. Ujima!

We invoke Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH-ah), the principle of cooperative economics: to build our own businesses, control the economics of our own communities, and share in all our communities’ work and wealth. God grant us the tenacity to build and maintain businesses within our communities, to support and encourage each other’s efforts, and to share our resources with one another.
Ujamaa! God has provided for us. We will be good and faithful stewards over all you have provided. Together, we will build and profit. Ujamaa!

We invoke Nia (NEE-ah), the principle of Purpose: to make our collective vocation the building and development of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Nia! We will pursue our collective greatness. We will love God and our neighbor as ourselves. We will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden, so that all may see our good works and give glory to God in heaven. Nia! (from Matthew 5)

We invoke Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah), the principle of creativity: to do as much as we can, in whatever way we can, to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than it was when we inherited it. May we share our creativity with the world through all media and honor the creativity of our people.
Kuuma! We acknowledge the creative genius of God and hope to be open channels of design to provide for the world. Kuumba!

We invoke Imani (ee-MAH-nee), faith: to believe with all our hearts in our creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle for a new and better world. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11).
Imani! We have come this far by faith. We affirm the values of our ancestors and give thanks for their sojourn as we seek to emulate the best of what they have bequeathed to us. we have faith in God, in one another, in our race, in ourselves, and in humanity. Imani!
Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to our God, true to our native land.

“Harambee!” (hah-RAHM-beh). Let’s pull together!
We now observe a moment of silence in respect for our ancestors, living and dead, and our heritage, past, present, and future…

The Official Kawanzaa Website http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml


February 1, 2015
Open Door MCC
Rev. Miller Hoffman. Pastor


ephiphany-Three_Kings_02The Greek for “manifestation” or “striking appearance” is the season during which we celebrate the ways God makes God’s self known to us. Epiphany is illustrated primarily with the story of the magi led by the star to find the Jesus toddler to bring gifts, and the themes we celebrate in these weeks are those of starlight and illumination, and inclusion. The magi are revered as pagans, eunuchs, and national foreigners and outsiders. Matthew’s story demonstrates the gospel’s interest in embracing gentiles and bringing the good news to all people. Happy Epiphany!

Black History Month

During Black History Month, we strive to recognize the achievements and contributions of African Americans, to celebrate Black culture, and to lift up aspects of racial justice still needing advocacy and advancement. Today Vernessa will talk about the most recent “guides” group aimed at girls of color in the U.S.

From an article in The Telegraph, the London-based newspaper:
The US based group, the Radical Brownies, seems the next natural step in the movement for inclusion in “guide” groups for youth. Set up last month, the Radical Brownies are a group of young girls of color between the ages of 8-12. Similar to their more traditional counterparts, the Radical Brownies earn badges for their hard work – except theirs aren’t for tying knots or starting fires.

Instead, the Radical Brownies get a radical beauty badge, a food justice badge and a radical self-love badge. They spend their time deconstructing damaging beauty ideals and learning about social justice movements, while wearing brown berets in homage to the civil rights revolutionaries of the same name.

The group’s organizers write: ‘We were inspired by the legacies of social justice movements and the desire to create a space centered on the development of young girls of color. We desire to empower and nurture their strength. In these trying times for our communities of color with histories of struggle and beautiful resilience, this space is rare, necessary and should be celebrated.’

They’ve been inundated with requests from potential volunteers, as well as people interested in setting up their own local chapters.

The Radical Brownies might produce the next generation of revolutionary leaders. But it’s more likely that the group will turn out confident, self-assured girls who know more about their own histories than their school curriculums will likely ever teach them.

For more information about The Radical Brownies, find them on Facebook under Radical Brownies: Radical, for profound and essential, and Brownies, for elf, pixie, or delicious chocolate dessert.