Tyrone Nance Joins DOOR Los Angeles

Tyrone Nance.jpg

Los Angeles, CA- DOOR is pleased to announce that Tyrone Nance has been hired as the DOOR Los Angeles City Director.

Tyrone Nance is a Los Angeles native, born and raised in South Central. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Transformational Urban Leadership Studies from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California.

Being exposed to outreach and missions at an early age led to a love and passion for serving marginalized communities, which he continually strives to develop and cultivate. Tyrone has been actively involved in the Skid Row community for over three years with various missions such as LA Mission, Fred Jordan Mission, and, most recently, as the Volunteer Service Coordinator with Union Rescue Mission where he and his team organized and served over 40,000 volunteers yearly.

Tyrone has a wealth of ministry and leadership experience that began in his early roots at West Angeles Church of God in Christ (COGIC) under the Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake. Tyrone’s passion to serve expanded to the International COGIC Church. His highlight was assisting in the community outreach project “Christmas in November,” which provided clothing, food, haircut and other resources for the impoverished area of Ferguson, Missouri during the Michael Brown shooting protests.

Tyrone’s yearning to grow and to be part of a church that reflects our diverse society led him to Oasis Church in the Korean Town neighborhood of LA. As a part of the Oasis Outreach Ministry for more than two years, Tyrone has served locally and internationally, including a trip to Pignon, Haiti where the mission team participated in the Water Well project. Outreach continues to fuel his passion and commitment to impact his community and abroad.

Tyrone is excited to move deeper into the community, forging new partnerships, as well as maintaining those existing partnerships.

DOOR looks forward to having Tyrone and his passion for connecting faith, service, and justice join the staff team on May 14, 2018.

Nicolette Faison Joins DOOR Chicago

Nicolette Faison.jpg

DOOR is pleased to announce that Nicolette Faison has been hired as the DOOR Chicago City Director.

Nicolette is a New York native better known as “Afro-Lutheran”, reflective of her ministry embedded at the intersection of religion and identity politics. After receiving her MBA in Management at Wagner College, Nicolette earned her Master of Divinity at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia concentrating in Black Church Studies. For two years Nicolette served as a part-time vicar at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church located in Northwest Philadelphia. She also served full time as an AmeriCorps Community Projects Coordinator at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, engaging part-time service members in service learning and community development. Nicolette’s enthusiasm for the work earned her the coordinator position for a job retention based sub-program at the school. The passionate youth advocate crossed borders to complete her pastoral internship at Iglesia de San Lucas and Instituto Evangelico Argentino in Grand Bourg, Buenos Aires, Argentina. There she worked with high school youth to design a mural engaging the Latinx- Lutheran identity in respect to the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. Nicolette’s background includes faith based social justice curriculum writing, youth formation, and discernment workshops. After serving as a trauma chaplain resident to South Chicagoland, Nicolette is excited to move deeper into the community and work with young people and local organizations to ensure healthy future leaders. 

DOOR looks forward to having Nicolette and her passion for connecting faith, service, and justice join the staff team on February 26, 2017.

Executive Director Announcement

Andrea Sawyer-Kirksey.JPG

The DOOR National Board is happy to announce that they have named Andrea Sawyer-Kirksey as Executive Director. Andrea had been serving as the Interim Executive Director since August 2017.

She moved into the Interim Executive Director role after five years as the Chicago City Director. Andrea brought to DOOR her experience as an educator, justice advocate, and program development professional. She has created curriculum for youth through undergrad and graduate levels dealing with issues of justice, inequality, racism, and poverty. During her time as the Chicago City Director, Andrea shared her passion for Chicago, best summed up by the 2017 program theme of “Chicago: Beautifully Complicated.” She challenged all participants to look beyond the surface of the city and individuals to find the richer stories. Andrea has been particularly passionate about raising up local youth of color to be leaders in DOOR’s Discern program and in Chicago.

The DOOR National Board approved this change on December 2, 2017 during their annual board meeting. They were excited by the programmatic vision that Andrea presented and her energy for moving DOOR forward.

Manny Alvarez Joins DOOR Los Angeles

Manny Alvarez

DOOR is pleased to announce that Manuel Alvarez has been hired as the DOOR Los Angeles Program Manager.

Manny considers himself passionate and driven by vision and stewardship. He is most alive when he is helping and interacting with others, and when he is working towards a long-term vision. Manny looks for ways to use marketing to connect and relate to people in the marketplace and in ministry. He is a Los Angeles native of Mexican and Salvadoran (Hispanic) descent, and has enjoyed absorbing the impact and growth of the city. An extrovert with a love for people, Manny has been attracted to ministry from an early age. This led him to a week of Discover at DOOR Miami in 2009 and later brought him to DOOR Denver as a Discerner in the summers of 2011 and 2012. He then got the opportunity to be the Marketing Intern for the DOOR National Office in the summers of 2013 and 2014.  DOOR has impacted his worldview and faith significantly, teaching him about living in community, solidarity, and the power of stories. Manny obtained his BA in Marketing from Azusa Pacific University, where he also served as an interpreter for the Men’s Prison Team while visiting inmates at the Mexicali Federal Prison.

We Stand With DACA

by Andrea Saywer-Kirksey

DOOR has a long history of providing summer jobs for local youth of color. This has been a powerful witness in many areas as it demonstrates to our communities that we are not just interested in consuming them but that we also want to co-create with them. We want to help the community build strong indigenous leaders. We want to put resources that are both monetary and practical back into the community in a way that communicates mutuality and interdependency. 

This relationship also helps us to bear witness to the struggles that some of our young staff face on a regular basis. Our staff share stories of being racially profiled not only on the street by police, but in the classroom, in stores, and on job applications, just to name a few. Our staff come in a beautiful array of skin tones, cultures, and backgrounds.  

On Tuesday the President dealt a devastating blow to our DOOR community by announcing the repeal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This mandate hurts the very people that we love and support, as staff members as well as neighbors and friends. These are the young people that make our organization creative, transformative, and strong. Dreamers are not nuances, criminals, or unwanted; they are students, employees, and service men and women. They are the beloved, and we stand with them! We stand with DACA.

As people of faith we believe that God has called us to be welcoming and loving to all. So we pray for all immigrants, refugees, and pilgrims from around the world, that they may be welcomed in our midst and be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.
God hear our prayer.

 Acknowledgments: Litany adapted from original version: Prepared by the Episcopal Church Office of Government

Daniel Morales Joins DOOR Miami

by DOOR Staff

Daniel Morales

DOOR is pleased to announce that Danny Morales has been hired as the DOOR Miami Interim Program Director.

Danny considers himself an eternal dreamer, always dreaming of ways ministry can connect to and relate with local contexts and communities. He is a Miami native of Cuban descent, and has enjoyed seeing the explosive growth Miami has witnessed over the last 25 years. He’s a musician and theologian, with a love for nature photography and the beach. Since 2015, Danny has served the church in various capacities - as Interim Pastor for Emerging Generations, and assisting pastor for the Latino Congregation with Coral Gables Congregational UCC. He has also had the opportunity to serve as campus pastor at University of Miami through UKirk College ministries. Danny is an ordained elder at Riviera Presbyterian Church in South Miami, FL, as well as a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Danny obtained his BA in Liberal Studies from Florida International University and his Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary. Danny first joined DOOR Miami as a local board member in 2015 and moved to the local chair position in 2017.

Danny can be reached at daniel@doornetwork.org or 786-261-3667.

Executive Director Transition

Andrea Sawyer Kirksey

by DOOR staff

DOOR is experiencing a season of change. Glenn Balzer has resigned as DOOR Executive Director, effective August 31, 2017. DOOR is sad to lose his leadership after 23 years, but we celebrate all that he has given to the organization. DOOR blesses him and wishes him well as he also embraces a season of change.

DOOR is happy to welcome Andrea Sawyer-Kirksey as the Interim Executive Director, effective August 1, 2017. Andrea moves into this role after five years as the Chicago City Director. She brought to DOOR her experience as an educator, justice advocate, and program development professional. She has created curriculum for youth through undergrad and graduate levels dealing with issues of justice, inequality, racism, and poverty. During her time as the Chicago City Director, Andrea shared her passion for Chicago, best summed up by the 2017 program theme of “Chicago: Beautifully Complicated.” She challenged all participants to look beyond the surface of the city and individuals to find the richer stories. Andrea has been particularly passionate about raising up local youth of color to be leaders in DOOR’s Discern program and in Chicago.

DOOR is excited to see how Andrea’s experience and passions will shape the organization and its programs.

Heather Gordon Joins DOOR Denver

by DOOR staff

DOOR is pleased to announce that Heather Gordon has been hired as the DOOR Denver City Director.

Heather would describe herself as a wife, mother, servant, and athlete. After graduating college, she joined the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corp for a year of service. During that year, she lived in Christian community with six other young people in southwest Baltimore. A few years later, she went on to pursue a double Masters in Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology and Social Work from Saint Louis University in Missouri. While in graduate school, Heather volunteered with an afterschool program trying to curb violence and gang involvement, volunteered as a youth minister at a group home, and completed her Supervised Practice Ministry (SPM) with Let’s Start, a ministry dedicated to helping women transitioning from prison and their children. For the past eleven years she has been teaching theology, coordinating a service-learning program, and working in campus ministry at Marian Catholic High School in the south suburbs of Chicago, IL. A saying by St. Teresa of Avila has inspired and guided her ministry: “Christ has no body now but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.”  Sixteen years ago, Heather was blessed to meet her partner Phil who is equally passionate about serving God and building strong communities. They have been happily married for the past 12 years, and together are raising three loving children. Heather and her family are excited to discover and share the heart of Christ in Denver! 

DOOR looks forward to having Heather and her passion for connecting faith, service, and learning join the staff team part time on March 26, 2017 and full time on May 28, 2017.

Chambers to Conclude Service with DOOR


by DOOR Staff

DOOR staff member Justin Chambers has announced that he will conclude his service with DOOR at the end of December 2016.

In his two years on staff with DOOR, Chambers has served as the National Recruitment Associate and as Atlanta Assistant City Director. As the National Recruitment Associate, Chambers shared DOOR’s stories and programs with people interested in an experience that combines faith, service, and learning. Chambers talked to leaders of youth, college, and church groups about the weeklong Discover program. He also engaged young adults at colleges and churches across the country interested in a year of service in conversations about the yearlong Dwell program, where they could discern God’s call in their lives while engaging spiritual development, social justice, and intentional community. In addition to working closely with DOOR’s denominational partners, Mennonite Mission Network and the Young Adult Volunteers program of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Chambers sought out and developed relationships with new national and local partners.

As Atlanta Assistant City Director, Chambers had an impact on all of Atlanta’s programs. He regularly shared his story with visiting weeklong Discover groups. Chambers spent time getting to know the summer Discern participants and yearlong Dwellers, often engaging their deep conversations during community night outings.

Chambers first came to DOOR as a weeklong Discover participant as part of a college spring break service trip. That experience led him to apply for Dwell where he served at Mercy Church in Atlanta. After completing two years of Dwell, Chambers was hired as a full time staff member at DOOR.

DOOR thanks Chambers for his years of dedicated service and wishes him well in his next ventures.

Hearing Across Culture: The True Service

 Author Michelle Muñiz-Vega (pictured above, on the left) is the City Director of DOOR:Miami

Author Michelle Muñiz-Vega (pictured above, on the left) is the City Director of DOOR:Miami

A couple of years ago, I remember telling my roommate “give me a break” because I was directly translating from Spanish a phrase that works just as the same as “excuse me” (“Dame un breakecito”). The look on my roommate’s face was priceless. I’m pretty sure she even voiced a: “geez, sorry I’m on your way”. I didn’t understand her reaction until I realized she felt I was being rude. Of course, saying: “give me a break” has a different connotation in English, but I didn’t know that. I learned it that day. She was in front of the drawer and I asked her to let me open it just like I used to do back home. Interestingly enough, we had the opportunity to explain ourselves in that exact moment. We laughed about it and went on with whatever we were doing afterwards. However, that opportunity doesn’t come that often. In any other scenario I would stay confused with why Molly was mad at me when I asked her that, and Molly would’ve thought I was suddenly just rude.

Culture is such an important thing in people’s identity. It’s not only about language. Culture is reflected in lifestyles, traditions, food, music, and beliefs. It’s reflected in how we dress, how we greet, the time we arrive to places, and the amount of water we pour in our coffee. Many times we find ourselves judging someone else without realizing the cultural implications that influence their actions.

Unfortunately, Church isn’t the exception for this struggle. I’ve seen church leaders overlooking other voices just because they somehow question the status quo. How can we be mindful of the cultural differences and work towards reconciliation and true inclusiveness? How can we be intentional in paying attention to voices or actions that are different to ours? How others can challenge us to develop more empathy? How willing are we to deconstruct our beliefs and lifestyles by learning and being sensitive to how others do life?

One of the things that has been challenging for me is realizing how individualistic culture in the States is. Latino culture is very community-oriented and I’ve found myself expecting the same things I get back home. What I identify –many times- as a lack of empathy and commitment to the people around could be perhaps, that culture is built that way. The focus is just different. I’ve learned that the hard way, through many disappointments and misunderstandings. However, I can now see myself understanding many dynamics and being able to set different expectations.

Ever since I read this tweet from author Rachel Held Evans I’ve reflected a lot about this: “Church: Listen to, look out for, and lift up the people on the margins. And let them lead.” I can see how people are “invited” to conversations or spaces, but the process ends there.

I see a lot of churches welcoming “everybody”, yet not empowering all of them. Disempower doesn’t necessarily come by not putting them in leadership positions, but by also shutting down any feedback or thought. People are still pushed out from the spaces they are supposedly “welcomed”. They aren’t voiceless, but they struggle all the time getting their voices heard, or perhaps, understood. It’s like we are lost in translation, even with our actions.

I can clearly remember a lady firmly telling me “Oh, we are in America! We speak English here!” while I was chatting with a friend in a hotel in Daytona Beach, FL. What affected me the most wasn’t the rant itself, or the anger that it was transmitted with (although that definitely threw me off). What still bothers me is that I didn’t know how to respond. I was left in that elevator -next to my friend- completely speechless. The elevator doors opened right after the lady spoke and she immediately left. I wasn’t able to say anything. I wasn’t ready to be defensive in another language. I’ve never been in that position. I felt so powerless; I had so many emotions at the same time. I still carry that feeling of frustration. I didn’t know how to speak up.

I know for sure many people struggle with things like this every Sunday in church or, even worse, on a daily basis. I wonder how many of my friends and colleagues feel their opinions and actions are constantly overlooked or judged. How many still speak up and are constantly shut down and, how many stay in silence just to avoid reactions like the one I got in that elevator? How much of that struggle comes just because of cultural differences, just because we deal with conflict in a different way?

When it comes to bring people from different places together we may forget the power dynamics that are inevitably present. We invite them (or we should do so) to bring their perspective, not to make them assimilate to the majority. Unfortunately, minorities or different groups constantly struggle being forced to play by the rules of a dominant culture. If they share their thoughts, they may sound like they are complaining. Their silence, on the other hand, perpetrates the dominance of people that are indifferent to other points of views. Now, depending who’s telling the story, is how it’s going to be interpreted.

What makes me sad is that these responses do not look too far away from the “we are in America, and that’s how we get things done” rhetoric. I’ve heard things in church that make me feel the same way I feel when I hear someone saying: “Build that wall!”. How could we have a sense of belonging if our input is always being questioned? How can someone feel empowered around us if we constantly misinterpret their actions?

When we pay attention to other people’s stories we are serving them. We need to pay attention, look out for, and lift up the people that bring different experiences to the table. Even if those testimonies come in different languages, or different food tastes.

Creating spaces like that also brings a challenge. I still regret the day I asked one of our Miami YAVs/Dweller to pray in Korean in front of a group that was in town for a mission trip. After she started praying people started to laugh. This happened literally inside a church sanctuary, with church people. I still reflect in how big was my responsibility of creating a space like this without being fully aware of the repercussions. I thought I was building a bridge, but I was actually exposing a wall, and didn’t know what to do. And there was I, using my position to open up a space that ended up putting somebody in an extremely vulnerable position.

We need conversations like the one I had with Molly, where both parts share their position. We need more conversations with people like the lady at that elevator in Daytona Beach, where with grace and love we reflect in how we can show another side of the story. We need more conversations about how we make coffee. And yes, we also need to talk about moments when we are mocked and feel disempowered. This needs to be a 2-way conversation, but there also needs to be a lot of listening.

Being exposed to other stories will challenge us to remember that the way we do life is not the only way. It means we’ll be intentional of not imposing our way of doing things, and when we find ourselves in a different position, we’ll be willing to let others lead us. Some may need to let go power, and some may need to speak up.

Learning to navigate these waters is hard. People live with fear, insecurities and frequent disappointments because of other people that aren’t willing to hear across culture. Some need to hear across culture to survive, others could live without caring about it.

Hearing across culture is a challenge that we as individuals (and as the Church, of course) have to take more seriously. Talking about diversity just for the sake of the demographic represented during a Sunday morning doesn’t mean we are doing the whole work. We need to share spaces with people that don’t look like us. We need to hear stories. We need to get educated. Even learning another language will open up a whole new world. Look around and reflect if the people you spend most of the time looks and thinks just like you. If they do, get out of there.

I may never understand what it means to be in everyone shoes, but when we are able to hear across language and culture we experience what it means to serve one another.

You Make Beautiful Things Out of Dust

  Russ Kerr was a 2014-15 Miami Dwell/YAV participant. Photo credit: Joe Tobiason

Russ Kerr was a 2014-15 Miami Dwell/YAV participant. Photo credit: Joe Tobiason

A friend posted a quote the other day that read, “a year from now the things you’re stressing about won’t mean anything.” While it was a little more inappropriate, its message was oddly comforting to me despite its employment of an approach avoidance tactic. Is that what it’s like a year out? The feeling that everything you stressed about doesn’t matter anymore?

Today I had the honor of attending Farm Church in Durham, N.C. I was captivated when the pastor, Rev. Allen Brimer, mentioned his vision for turning Farm Church into a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) site where volunteers run various urban gardens across the city of Durham for a year. And isn’t the YAV alumni community AMAZING? Of course I had to approach him after the service to hear more about his dream for Farm Church. I love meeting YAV alum chasing dreams and making them realities—lawyers, doctors, new worshiping community starters. It’s absolutely fascinating. A completely unexpected encounter I know that God placed into my life in this very time and this very place.

Today we sang the words, “you make beautiful things out of dust.” I’ll admit after my Dwell/YAV year with DOOR Miami I felt like dust. I felt washed out and what some people call, “YAV hungover.” Which really is just shear exhaustion. It’s how I feel now completing my first unit of CPE from this summer but this time I leave recognizing the fatigue having learned it from the year before. Did the feelings that I feel, the exhaustion, the things I stressed about during my Dwell/YAV year matter? It’s a hard question to answer because now, they don’t.

But to some extent, yes. They did matter. The things that caused me pain. The range of emotions I felt. The odd tension of holding excitement for the future and nostalgia for the past? Yes! Yes! Yes! What my friends Facebook post didn’t account for was the information. My pain informs me. My emotions inform me. The encounters and interactions were genuine and they inform who I became. They shaped me, molded me, and turned me into the messy beautiful work of art in God’s eyes that both you and I are. And that is good news! It’s good news that we are not robots trained to only take in the good and block out the bad.

There’s a messed up world around us that you will be awoken to or in tuned with during your YAV year. The world is an extremely vulnerable place. But Brene Brown and the last year taught me about combating vulnerability. As Rupert NaCoste spoke in a recent lecture, “I know things will get better because they always have.” Pretty hard to process after a year of living with your heart on your sleeve. A year of trying to get along with roommates and a small budget. A year of navigating different spiritual dimensions.

So what have I learned in the past year? Trust and be vulnerable. It’s simultaneously the hardest and scariest things to do together. To future Dwellers and YAVs, good luck. No matter how exhausted, frustrated, or vulnerable you feel, you’re doing the work. There will be days where you think you are not doing the work. Or the burden of the work of social change feels too heavy. There’s a big scary world out there that seeks your trust. It needs you. And as the song continues, “All around, hope is springing up from this old ground out of chaos life is being found in you…you make beautiful things out of dust.” And while it’s talking about God, I have to beg the question, what about you? You, too, can make beautiful things out of dust as the divine works through you. Go and do great things!  



RUSS KERR is a 2nd year M.Div student at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, V.A. He is a 2014-15 Miami Dwell/YAV alumni who spent his year working as a Community Organizer with Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida. He is excited for Gods calling and tries his hardest every day to live into that mystery. Other than guest blogging he enjoys ice cream, other people’s pets, and new music recommendations. You can read more about his Dwell/YAV experiences at http://www.miamiyavruss.wordpress.com.    

Isabella Mojares - DOOR Miami

 Isa is 18 years old and is a member of Central Presbyterian Church in Miami. She just graduated from Coral Reef High School and is getting ready to go to Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

Isa is 18 years old and is a member of Central Presbyterian Church in Miami. She just graduated from Coral Reef High School and is getting ready to go to Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

Working this summer with DOOR has been a blessing that I never saw coming. I mean, I knew I’d have fun, I knew it’d be a great experience, but I didn’t expect to love what I was doing so much and to be so passionate about it.

Just a short month ago I was thinking about what a bummer this job would be, since I’d be out of town for all the festivities and such before everyone left for summer semester. Sure, there were plenty of parties and get-togethers in the time that I was working, and sure it’s wasn’t fun to see it all go down on social media, but there was really nowhere I’d rather be than Miami Shores, usually hanging out in the DOOR office.

Despite the fact that I worked almost every day from 6:30 in the morning and kept going (with the occasional office nap...oops) ’till around 9:30 or 10 pm at night, I loved every minute of it. From dealing with fussy leaders, to hearing the kids talk about their day (or about anything in general), it’s been a wonderful experience.

One of the best parts of this whole experience, however, was working with and meeting all the different DOOR staff and program participants. From Michelle, Danny, and Shinhye, to the rest of the YAVs, they’ve been so kind and so much fun to be with – I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Really, there’s rarely a boring time when I’m with them. They’re the type of people who are comfortable to be around when we’re making jokes, but also comfortable to be around in times of silence (that’s what happens when 3/4 of us are introverts). We’ve cooked ground beef together, navigated through tricky leaders’ meetings together, and (most of all... most often of all) eaten plantain chips together.

The time I have spent with them has been both life giving and empowering. The conversations we’ve had have pushed me out of my comfort zone, have made me aware of the privileges I do and don’t have, and have made me rethink the way I see myself and envision my future. From Michelle and Shinhye, I’ve come to view language and life in a new light. Their stories about their experiences arriving to the States and the struggles that came along with that move have made me more aware of my identity as a person of color, and have debunked my single story about those who are still picking up English as a second language. In Quinten, I’ve found someone who can relate to my nerves about moving to a place completely different than the place I’ve called home all my life. Going along with that, our book discussion pushed me out of my comfort zone to talk about race, a topic that leaves many uneasy; a topic that I admit to not having enough confidence and knowledge to speak up about. Through Natalie and Danny, I’ve found even more pride in my identity as a member of the PC(USA), and have questioned what else is out there that can help me further explore my faith. Because of Patrick, I’ve recognized the importance of diving head-first into things, whether it be initiating a conversation with someone new, or ordering your food in a language you don’t speak.

On a more personal note, my time as a Discerner really let me think and reflect about a lot of things, especially with the multitude of changes coming my way in the fall. The time apart from my parents was helpful (and healthy), something that will definitely help us in the process of me moving away from home. I’ve also had time to reflect about what I want to do next, and what my priorities really are. Through my time with DOOR, I’ve discerned (pun not intended) that there is a difference between doing something you love, and doing something you love that helps others.

All in all, it’s been a great ride. The conversations that I’ve had this summer and the dialogues I’ve heard are some of the best I’ve ever (and probably will ever) had. Everything has been a renewing, refreshing, and learning experience all wrapped up into one. Though my time with DOOR seemed to have started so quickly, and come to a close just as fast, the fact that I got to experience and live it was enough of a blessing.

DOOR Atlanta welcomes Chad Wright Pittman!

DOOR is pleased to announce that Chad Wright Pittman has been hired as the DOOR Atlanta City Director. Chad will join Justin Chambers, National Recruitment Associate and Atlanta Assistant City Director, to run DOOR’s programming in the city.

Chad describes himself as a serial optimist, husband, musician, artist, and theologian who grew up in Knoxville, TN. He received his BM in Music Education at Middle Tennessee State University in 2010, and worked as Youth Ministry Director at First Presbyterian Church of Murfreesboro (TN) during his time there. He spent a year with the DOOR program in Denver and then a year with the YAV program in New Orleans where he gained experience in social work and chaplaincy. Through those experiences and in his time at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Chad has discovered a deep passion for empowering people to connect their faith, gifts and passions with service and love for the community. A candidate for ordination in the PCUSA and recent MDiv graduate from Columbia Theological Seminary, he and his wife Lauren are learning to love the uniqueness of Atlanta and hope you’ll visit and catch a glimpse of the beautiful things God is doing here!

DOOR looks forward to having Chad and his passion for the church and Atlanta join the staff team on July 5, 2016. 


DOOR Los Angeles Welcomes Elizabeth Leu!

DOOR Los Angeles is excited to introduce Elizabeth Leu, our new Los Angeles City Director! Elizabeth is from Texas and moved to LA in 2010 to attend Fuller Seminary. She has a deep compassion and empathy for those experiencing injustice and oppression, having grown up as a minority woman in a broken family. Her faith and commitment in Christ empower her to seek reconciliation and life-changing transformative opportunities in the community by the power of the Holy Spirit. With experience in both business and ministry fields, she seeks to use her talent and gifts to serve God in this community. Previously, Elizabeth worked at three multicultural churches, and she continues to feel called to do racial reconciliation work. In addition to working with our Discover, Discern, and Dwell programs, she is excited to partner with other churches and ministry networks. She believes Los Angeles is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and everyone should come to LA to experience the wonderful things God is doing here.

DOOR Hollywood to Change Name

We are excited to let you know that DOOR Hollywood is in a process of changing our name to DOOR Los Angeles!  We have always worked in the greater LA area, and, especially the last four years, God has clearly been building our program towards increased intercultural ministry and reconciliation work. We are still located in Hollywood, the storytelling heart of LA, and be sure to keep your ears open for the larger launch party sometime later this year!

Powell to Conclude Service with DOOR

A longtime Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR) staff member, Tonya Powell, has announced that she will conclude her service with DOOR in June 2016.

In her four years with DOOR, Powell has served as DOOR Atlanta City Director. As Atlanta City Director, Powell oversaw the weeklong Discover program, hosting an average of 440 youth and college service participants per year. She also guided 17 young adults through the yearlong Dwell program, helping them discern God’s call in their lives while engaging them in civil rights history and continuing systemic issues. Powell worked to increase the impact of the Discern program, predominantly hiring local young adults to serve as summer staff, develop leadership and professional skills, engage vocational discernment, and build faith and spiritual practices. Powell worked with 30 young adults, primarily from the Atlanta area, helping them pursue school, employment, and leadership opportunities beyond DOOR.

DOOR thanks Powell for her years of dedicated service and wishes her well in her next ventures.

Tired of Talking About Racism

by Tonya Powell, Atlanta City Director

I am sick and tired of talking about racism.

I am sick and tired of talking about racism when I serve a God who is love. Lately all the race talks I have had reek of some underlying hatred with no one trying to understand anything. Don't get me wrong, it is almost unbelievable to have a job with an organization that does staff book studies and even hosts BCC meetings where someone who looks like me can freely speak their mind. A job where city directors across the country bravely try to tear down the walls of racism and teach understanding through service work and reflections. But I am tired of talking about racism when there is so much hatred that I have to respond to.

This week we have over 40 Discover participants. We have had a fun week so far. Tonight I had the opportunity to drive one of our participants back to the church after we finished a service project. It was just the two of us in the car. Our conversation was great. She has such a great spirit and it was awesome just to have her positive energy around. Then her phone buzzed and I noticed her face dropped. I asked if she was ok. She told me she was but she was trying to make plans to meet her aunt and have dinner with her while she was in town. I told her I was happy that she was able to do that. She responded that she wasn't. She continued to tell me how her aunt was prejudiced against people of color. How she knew the dinner would be hard because her aunt would probably say some offensive things about people of color during their dinner. She said she would not even allow her aunt to pick her up from the church because she was afraid of what her aunt may say to the people she saw there. The more she talked the sadder I became. I heard her say most of her family feels this way except for her mom who "taught me to love everybody." I told her so did mine.

I thought she was brave to share all that she had with me, but I wondered how many more of our participants had the same issues. Then I was reminded of how important it is for us to talk about the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. this week. I am so sick of talking about racism, but tonight we both agreed with our mothers that God is love and we should love everyone!

To know that people who don't even know me hate me because of the color of my skin is my reality. However, this reality does not make me feel any less. I love the color of my skin. I can't help that stereotypes help allow others to look down on me. No, I am not the stereotype of the angry black woman because I am naturally quiet, but when I do speak, I speak my mind. That's not anger, that's confidence. I am not only confident, but I am strong. I have great reasons to be confident and strong. Not only am I the seed of Abraham, but I also am the seed of slaves who endured captivity, a treacherous boat ride, ridicule, and shame. Yet my ancestors survived. I am the seed of a grandfather who, although hated in this country for being a person of color, still had enough dignity to go to another country who hated him even more and defend this country and its citizens of all races in WWII. I am so sick of talking about racism, but if I never talk about it how can I help others to better understand?