Our History

Our Story – A Historical Narrative of Holy Redeemer MCC

Prior to the Christmas rush, a small group of individuals gathered in the basement of MCC-DC to discuss the possibility of planting of a new parish extension in the Maryland, DC, Virginia area. The church had supported several new clergy through their ordination process and now had an abundance of pastoral support. Looking closely at surrounding areas of the community which could potentially support a new church, a decision was made to plant the parish extension in the Northern Silver Spring area. MCC-DC members which were involved in this process and later became founding members of HR-MCC were the Reverend Clay Witt, Reverend Gail Hicks, Deacon Kathy Roderfer, Deacon Jim Raber, Deena Dudley (Student Clergy), Eric Simpson, Jerry Atchinson, Gretchen Buchen, Renee Hill and Jeanette Black.

We celebrated Ash Wednesday, February 28, 1998 as our first worship service and founding date. It was held in a class room of the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church located in Silver Spring, Maryland. Our first worship service in the sanctuary of the church was held on Sunday, June 14th at 6:30 PM with the Reverends Witt and Hicks presiding. Kathy Roderfer became our first Director of Music and played for the service. Jim Raber served as our first Deacon.

During the first months, we were known as “MCC of Silver Spring/Takoma Park” and we worked with the Fellowship to develop a Vision and Mission statement, along with the administrative documents necessary to become a functioning church. There was much tension during this period as the Fellowship pushed for a weekly attendance of no less than thirty-five and a full-time pastor; something we were unable to meet.

We met at the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church on Sunday evenings (6:30pm) for somewhat over a year. During this time, we enjoyed a few concerts from “David North and the Gospel Celebration” a musical group, which included Rev. David North and Janina Sajka.

The church benevolence fund for individuals in need was established in the memory of Robert Smith. Robert “Bobby” Smith was a long-term Deacon at MCC-DC who provided care and support for individuals with AIDS throughout the eighties and nineties, before dying himself of the disease.

We were incorporated in October and the congregation was concerned that we would not grow without a morning service. A search committee was formed which looked at over forty potential church locations before a lease was negotiated for our home in College Park, Maryland.

During this time, student clergy, Deena Dudley, suggested that we change our name to express who we are rather than where we were located. After considering many names, including Noah’s Ark MCC, we became Holy Redeemer MCC, in December 1999. Our first worship service was held on December 12,1999 in our new College Park home. During the next several years we moved from a parish extension to a chartered church. By this time, we had been self-sufficient for several years and it was more of an acknowledgement than a milestone. Reverend Witt was hired as our part-time pastor, assisted by the Reverend Hicks. Randall Busby became our second Director of Music.

Our sanctuary altar, lectern and cross were donated by Ms. Raye-Anne Dorn and our four sanctuary stain glass windows were commissioned from Mr. Adam DeBaugh. The windows were a donation by Reverend Witt, Reverend Hicks and Deacon Raber in celebration of the memory of the Reverend Larry Uhrig and Deacon Robert “Bobby” Smith, both members of MCC-DC. In February, Geraldine Wright, a Lay Delegate of our sponsor church MCC-DC, began attending services and representing the church at denominational meetings and conferences.

During May of 2001, we worked closely with the District Coordinator, Arlene Akerman, on the strategic goals for Holy Redeemer. During these workshops, we finalized many policy statements and processes including Building/Space Use, Risk Management, and support for children’s support during services.

• Beth Johnson was appointed our third Director of Music on April 16, 2001.
• Kathy Rodeffer was reappointed as our fourth Director of Music on November 19, 2001.
• At the December congregational meeting, Geraldine Wright was elected HR-MCC’s first Lay Delegate.

• By the end of 2002 we had grown to a membership of approximately forty individuals.

• Rev. Clay Witt retired.
• Hiring of the newly MCC-ordained Reverend North on May 4, 2003.
• First “Blessing of the Animals” was held.

• Brian Norton became our fifth Director of Music.
• First Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper.
• First participation in local DC and Baltimore Pride events.
• First participation in a University of Maryland outreach event.

• Our sanctuary drum set was donated by Jeanie Broderick and Deacon Jim Raber.
• We held our first church “Yard Sale” in support of our General Fund.
• David York became the congregations second Lay Delegate.

• HR-MCC began a feeding the homeless project.
• We were recognized and achieved full “church” status.
• Whitman Walker Clinic of DC established a PG County outreach that used our facility during the week for several years to support the local community.
• The church receives a generous gift of $20,000 from the estate of Mr. Ted Okarski, an early member of our congregation. The gift was critical to the future survival of the church and our movement to our new sanctuary in 2011.

• In December, Janina Sajka became our sixth Director of Music.

• Our first Maundy Thursday Seder dinner, “The Feast of Freedom: A Celebration in the Seder Tradition” was held.

• HR-MCC hosts its first memorial repast in the memory of Virginia Simms, Fred Simms’ mother.
• Beltway Expressions (B.E.) began and was held on the first Friday evening of each month. B.E. was an event for fellowship and the sharing of poetry and other readings.
• The Music Department held its first Hymn Auction.

• Development and approval of the “Three Year Mission Proposal for Church Revitalization, Growth and Spiritual Renewal”, January 23, 2011.

• Relocation of church from Suite #102 of our building to Suite #101. The move improved and increased the amount of worship space.
• First service in our new location was held on January 20, 2013.
• The entrance stain glass windows were commissioned and donated by Deacon Ed Moore and Stephen Decker. The window framing and installation was donated by Deacon Jim Raber.
• Celebration of our 15th Anniversary.
• A 15th Anniversary dinner was held on Saturday, February 16th at Sir Walter Raleigh Inn located in Berwyn Heights, Maryland which featured a visit from our first Pastor.
• Rev. Clay Witt preached “The Journey” on February 17th in celebration of our 15th Anniversary.
• First church fall picnic.

• The church formed its first AIDS Walk team.

• Installation of Deacon Ed Moore as our second church Deacon.

• Geraldine Wright was elected HR-MCC’s third Lay Delegate.

• Rev. David North’s last service as our pastor was April 30, 2017. The church service was followed by a special brunch.
• Rev. Gail Minnick’s first Sunday as our “Provisional Interim Pastor” was the following week on May 7, 2017.
• First Worship Team meeting was held on May 9th. The group was formed to discuss what our worship experience is, what our community needs, and how our worship can be changed to bridge the gap.
• First Board meeting under our new pastor was held on May 15th.
• First Pastoral Search and Transition (Dream Team) meeting was held June 18th. The mission of the team is to codify our history, to determine who we are and where we are going, and coordinate the pastoral search effort.
• On July 30th, the church kicked off our effort to articulate our vision, mission and core values. That effort was completed in March 2018. As part of that effort, a history timeline was developed, collages were created, and a retreat was held to facilitate communications and foster community.
• There were 4 people from Holy Redeemer MCC who attended the Eastern Network Gathering at MCC NOVA in Fairfax, VA.
• We held our end of year congregational meeting on December 10, 2017 in which new bylaws were approved, Board elections were held and a new budget was approved.
• Our annual Hymn Sing Auction which raised $100, was held on December 16th.
• A new Bible Study class was convened in January on LGBTQ images in the Bible. The class ran from January 17th to February 21st and was led by Janina Sajka.
• Many of our congregants attended the Women’s March in downtown DC on January 20th.
• The visioning retreat that was held on Saturday, February 24th was well attended and a new draft vision and mission statement was prepared. With these new statements in place, we then began updating our brochure, bulletins, and website! The new statements that were approved by the congregation on March 18, 2018 are as follows:
o Vision: We recognize that in order to do God’s ministry in the world successfully, we need to create a place, a time and a community that will embrace us, value us, replenish us, and prepare us to faithfully serve God’s creation. Holy Redeemer is that place!
o Mission: Our mission is to share the love of Jesus Christ through social justice, community building, and spiritual growth opportunities.
o Core Values: At its core, Holy Redeemer values and affirms the sanctity of every individual. We honor this commitment through our faith-based worship, music and communion that welcomes ALL people home.
• Our Easter season brought us new worship experiences for Ash Wednesday, our annual Seder meal, Good Friday, Palm Sunday and Easter.
• One of the major changes was new art work that was created by Ed Moore. The new paintings decorated our sanctuary and gave the place a sense of the “old” world and the celebration of palms.
• We brought in a new member on Easter, bringing our membership count to 20!
• There was a large group of participants (9) who demonstrated and carried signs in the March for Our Lives effort demanding sensible gun control.
• On May 1st, the church and Rev. Gail extended her contract for another 6 months and with that the Pastoral Search Team began Part 2 of the effort to actually being looking for a new long term pastor. Rev. Amy Lambert-Burns was assigned by the denomination to be our mentor.