Stories of Transformation- DOOR 2016
Welcome from the Executive Director
By Glenn Balzer, Executive Director
For over 30 years DOOR has been a space to make connections. We provide opportunities for people of different cultural backgrounds to sit together to talk, laugh, cry, reflect, and pray. These moments of connection help people break through walls of division and distrust.
We are committed to drawing connections between a theoretical faith and lived possibilities because an honest faith needs to move beyond words to action.
Our mission is to find ways to see the world and the people who inhabit it through the eyes of God. We accomplish this through three unique programs which you can read about inside.
Reading stories in this report is one way for you to enter into the life, ministry, and passion of DOOR. Don’t let it end here. Find ways to be involved as a board member, participant, prayer partner, or financial supporter.
DOOR is a faith-based network of cities that provides opportunities for service, learning, and leadership development within the urban context. We host volunteers for a weekend to a year and offer opportunities for individuals and groups. The Discover, Discern, and Dwell programs are offered in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Discover: For groups to participate in coordinated weekend and week long trips designed to challenge them to “see the face of God in the city” as they spend time listening, volunteering, worshiping, and reflecting on their experiences. Read about Denver Discover
Discern: For individuals, primarily from our neighborhoods, to spend three to twelve months developing their leadership skills, discerning their call, and exploring vocational possibilities. During the Discover season these individuals play a key leadership role in showing and educating visiting groups about the issues of race, poverty, homelessness, and hunger. Discerners help visitors to connect faith and justice as they lead daily devotions, reflection, and prayer.
Discern is an opportunity for emerging urban young adult leaders to hone life skills, grow professionally, and become exceptional leaders both in their community and the larger world. Read about Chicago Discern
Dwell: For individuals to spend a year living in intentional Christian community while serving in a local agency placement, worshiping in an urban congregation, and reflecting together as a community. Read a reflection from a Los Angeles Dweller
By Antonio Lucero, Denver City Director
This past year we hosted middle school through college aged Discover groups. As I reflect on the age range diversity, it always fascinates me to see that despite the 10-12 year difference, our Discover program is relevant and challenging to each of our participants. As City Directors the constant challenge is navigating the clear line of building equity in our local communities while not creating a toxic experience for both our participants and local community.
Across the network we were intentional in educating participants at a deeper level about the issues concerning our urban marginalized communities. For some of our participants this shift was challenging and hard to digest; for others it was refreshing and academically stimulating. Some cities used a gentrification tour to introduce the concept gentrification as “urban colonialism” and to capture the biblical concept of understanding and accepting the other despite cultural differences. We also introduced structural violence using examples of institutional racism and oppression. Covering gentrification and structural violence with Discover participants was a great base for understanding why intangible and tangible services are needed. This diverse service component has been integral to our participants and communities.
Despite the challenging space we invite our Discover participants to, I continue to witness them wrestle with these new concepts and urban realities while making sense of their theology. Because of this our Discover program continues to be a prophetic platform for DOOR.
2016 Discover by the numbers
2,112 participants | 17 denominations | 40,000 hours of service
By Andrea Sawyer Kirksey, Chicago City Director
Torria Mitchell has been a local Discerner for the past four years. When she first worked for DOOR Chicago as a high school senior, she was shy and soft spoken. Over the years she has grown into a very strong leader, able to guide Discover groups through the city, educating them and sharing her lived experience.
Torria is an introvert and works well with Discover participants one on one. This summer she was given the task of making short videos of Discover participants sharing how they were being transformed throughout the week. She did a great job, getting teens to open up and share about how God was challenging them to see the face of God in all people and places in Chicago.
Our Discern positions are very important to our local youth of color who depend on good paying summer jobs as part of their four year college plan. It’s one thing to encourage our local youth to go to college but it is another thing to be able to help them pay for it by providing good paying summer jobs.
In May 2017 Torria will graduate from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Working for DOOR every summer of her college career has helped her pay for books, personal items, and tuition. Torria is studying to be a nurse and she will be an amazing nurse. She has cared for and nurtured hundreds of Discover participants with her kind and loving spirit.
2016 Discern by the numbers
27 participants | 78% local participants | 12,000 hours of service
By Rowena Zuercher, 2015-16 Los Angeles Dweller
The first day I arrived in Los Angeles last year, I felt a deeply reassuring peace. It was a peace that stayed with me throughout the duration of the year and helped me feel secure and at home. I discovered a lot about myself, especially learning how much I could do without becoming overwhelmed, and how to become more independent in a city that requires a lot of confidence and resilience.
I was blessed beyond my full understanding by the kids and families on Gregory Avenue, and the greater DOOR community who welcomed me in with open arms. Throughout the year and at my agency placement I was able to confront social injustices at levels I've never been able to before, as well as explore how I can continue to be involved in working towards social change. Though while in my year it was hard to see a lot of the ways I was changing, I am now constantly reminded of what LA has given me, and how my identity will continued to be shaped by the experiences I had this past year. My DOOR year is something so significant and irreversible that I can't imagine myself now going forward without holding tightly onto it.
2015-16 Dwell by the numbers
26 participants | 8 denominations | 16 states and 2 countries represented | 45,000 hours of service
Staff - Invited to Transform
By Chad Wright Pittman, Atlanta City Director
As the newest staff member here at DOOR, I can’t yet fully explain how incredible it has been to be a part of this team. At our National Staff meeting just a few weeks ago I truly connected with my colleagues and I came away incredibly encouraged by their work, their heart, and their commitment to justice.
When I was in Denver as a Dweller (2011-12) I was blessed to serve with DOOR, and it was this experience as much as any other that helped me to connect my heart with God’s calling on my life. Having experienced the life-changing nature of DOOR’s work first hand, I am incredibly blessed to join this passionate and gifted team.
I am thankful to join DOOR in its 30th full year. As I enter my
own 30th year, I am grateful to be able to share my city in all its diversity and struggle and beauty, and to invite those who would come to enter into it with open hearts and minds to the work God is doing here.
Come and see! Come and see the face of God in the city.
The Transforming Gospel
By KC Wahe, DOOR National Board Chair
“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us” (I Thes 2:8). For over 30 years, DOOR has been about helping participants experience the true meaning of the gospel and learn what it means to share our lives with each other, our neighbors, and those on the edges in our cities. Our mission as Jesus followers is simple. If the gospel is going to have a lasting impact on any of our cities, we need to continue to pray for it’s ability to heal, transform, and empower the powerless and voiceless. This is one of the biggest reasons that I continue to participate in DOOR. I get to watch God’s story come alive in what we do. I am at this place in my life because people shared their lives with me as a youth growing up in LA. I came to faith because they shared a gospel that accepted and loved me no matter what. I’m honored that I get to sit at this table called DOOR, with an amazing group of people on the National Board who care about our mission and about empowering our staff and volunteers to be people who bear God’s story in a changing world. I’m also honored that as a National Board we get to be a catalyst for DOOR to continue to help others see God’s face in our cities. I give thanks for all the storytellers and those who loved people no matter what in 2016. For 2017 I’m praying that we will see God’s story come alive like we’ve never seen before here at DOOR.
2016 Supporters by the numbers
80+ agency partners | 7 alumni on local boards | 328 individual donors who gave between $5 and $10,000
November 2016 year-to-date