The Bible…Why Bother?

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8


The Holy Scriptures fascinate me. The fact that they are a compilation of legends, myths, histories, prophesies, poems and personal stories, all relating to the reality of God and human existence, amazes me.  When I study the ways people have discerned and interpreted their presence with God, I am often impressed and surprised how the authenticity of God is affirmed and confirmed in my own life.  It is for this reason I accept and call the Books of the Bible sacred text. When I consider the people who felt it their responsibility for maintaining with integrity and consistency the oral and written translations, I understand they did so trying to listen to the Spirit of God in the midst of their culture and social mores.

When I first began reading the Bible, it was daunting because in my ignorance, I had assumed a single person wrote it, in a single lifetime. In the Reformed Baptist Church, I was indoctrinated to believe every word was inspired by God.  One was not to argue only trust and obey.  This was problematic for me when I read passages regarding slavery and the rights of women. For a long time I attempted to not cut my hair, not wear jewelry, not wear pants and submit.   Growing up in the 60’s and the civil rights movement  and watching the mini-series” ROOTS” My conscience would not allow me to accept slavery even though scripture seemed to condon it. I began to see Justice as the plumb line regarding slavery and judging others as “less than”. It appeared to me Jesus’ focus was one of Justice and love and community and belonging.  

Today, I understand the scriptures differently.  I see the text from the point of view that God’s greatest desire is for the human family to rediscover that we belong to each other in a community of oneness. It is with this perspective, that I approach Scripture with a ‘God is still speaking’ mindset. Ultimately, 

Why Another Church in Haverhill

images (2)There is a generation  who have heard a splintered and shattered Christian voice.  Like a pane of glass broken by a stone, yet still in the frame, they realized the American Christian religion was skewed and distorted.  This generation are children who were taught to belong “only if” you know the right questions with their corresponding right answers and lived exclusivily in the christian community.   To ask questions outside of the sacred doctrine and were told they where in spiritual danger.  When questions arose regarding same gender loving individuals and transgender people, the children found themselves unable to stop asking, unable to reconcile themselves to the creeds.   Because they got to know these marginalized people and discovered God among them and wondered why they were excluded.   Conflicted in faith and in practice they sat in pews daydreaming and detached; finally deciding to leave.  All across American mainline and independent churches witnessed the great exodus.

You see you can’t put new wine in an old wine skin.  Mothers and fathers and others were confounded and grieved by this.  Where are the children?  Why are they leaving? Why don’t they just do what we did?  The Children had no peace because others were excluded. They could not stand the insincerity and scattered.

Some went to other religious traditions or practices. While others went on a quest to find the real Jesus, the real Good News! They were free to ask the forbidden questions and low and behold the answers came like a cleansing spring rain.  The answers were new but ancient.  The scattered came together and as they spoke, they realized they had all found   pieces of deep truths long forgotten and whey they came together they rejoiced!

They had discovered that Jesus was radically inclusive. He was a rebel rouser. He asked forbidden questions and spoke truth to power. He ate and drank with the marginalized and outcast. He welcomed all at his table even the oppressor and hypocrite. “Jesus did not impose salvation as a solution: He narrates salvation into being through leisurely conversation, intimate personal relationships, compassionate responses, passionate prayer and putting it all together a sacrificial death”[1]. The children were excited and free! They had found the real good news and set out to show others by tell the story,  by building relationships, by being compassionate and passionately praying. They called themselves the Emergent Church.

Phoenix Rising is a reemerging Christian community. Whose parents  are some of the children fromFirst Congregational Church Haverhill. These small band  had rediscovered the radically inclusive Jesus. They wanted to continue to ask questions    So they sold their brick and mortar institutoin and set out to be become a church made of living stones.  NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU ARE ON LIFE’S JOURNEY YOU WILL BE WELCOME HERE TO COME AND ASK YOUR QUESTIONS AND DISCUSS YOUR DOUBTS AND DISCOVER YOUR BELONGING TO GOD AND OTHERS!


[1] Peterson, Eugenie H. The Gospel of John pg 4 ©2003, NavPress

Born Anew June 4, 2014

ImageLast Wednesday night Phoenix Rising UCC had it’s first gathering with members of First Congregational Church Haverhill, our parent Church, and the Advisory team. We met in the Executive Room at the Roma Restaurant;  the place we saw the eagle gliding over the river a few weeks ago.  One doesn’t see an eagle every day.   I believed this to be a God wink and decided to have our first of many meeting there.  The Folk’s at the Roma have a wonderful sense of hospitalty. New to the community, staff and patrons have welcomed Audery and I with open arms; it has become our favorite place to eat and on Friday nights Karaoke.  

The Room is a private dinning room so it was the perfect place for each person to shared their excitement and talk about why they made the decision to join our journey.  Good conversation abounded as we got to know each other better around our meal. We also talked about the role of the adsisory team.  Toward the end of the meeting I read a letter.  Here are a few exerpts:

“It is my hope that together with your support and particular passions I will be empowered to work hard in bringing together a reemerging Christian Community in Haverhill: one whose roots go back to 1642 at the Worshiping Oak and the first Christian community lead by John Ward First Congregational Churches founding father.  A lot of history has taken place from then till now. Nevertheless, I feel God has led me back in time so that we can rebuild and reemerge from the first place the vision of a Haverhill Christian community began. 

We have an 18 month plan that will lead to the launch of our public worship.  The goal is to create a critical mass so that this church will thrive.  A Critical mass refers to the number of people necessary at an event in order for the attendees to feel like there are “enough” people there.

…Building Phoenix Rising UCC is going to take a tremendous amount of effort with lots of people joining and contributing. I have a stewardship saying: “ If everyone gives a little a little becomes a lot.” Over time the compounding effort required to keep it growing will become streamline and will take different kinds of effort.

 …whatever I [we] do in the next 18 months will become the DNA of this ministry.  So I seek to be in the company of many so that together we discern how God is leading and gathering.  I need your incites and prayers so that every day I go out,  I am awake and aware as I meet people and listen to their stories and help them identify the following areas of need:

 1. …a place to belong

2. …a sense of balance

3. …authentic relationships

4. …spiritual answers

5. …help through transitions

Then I can share how Phoenix Rising UCC can help fulfill their desire.

So, I am declaring that June 4, 2014 is  officially the birth date of Phoenix Rising United Church of Christ Haverhill as together we became its first critical mass!

When I finished, someone said this evening feels historical. Then someone else said lets all sign this letter,our first offical church document. And so they did (See picture above)  


Member of the Parent Church, the Advisory Team and Pastor Donna 

From Left to right in the front row: Rev. Judy Proctor, Lina Bartow, Linda Hacker, Pastor Donna, Rev. Paul Sangree                                

From left to right in the back row: Audrey Spencer Collins, Rev. Paul Nickerson, Rev. Gretchen Elmondorf, Bob Clark


Friends, No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you will be welcome here. Are you wondering if  Phoenix Rising UCC is the place for you? Are you looking for a place to belong, a sense of balance, authentic relationships, spiritual answers, help through life transitions?  You are in good company. I am convinced God has been preparing the way for many to come from the north, the south, the east and the west,are you one of them? 

Want to talk or know more contact me @:

This is My Story. What is yours?

CHILD-OF-GOD_CHILD-OF-BLESSINGI simple wanted to know if God really existed, If God really cared about me,  if I really was a Child of the Divine and where do I belong.    And so I started seeking and God indeed showed up.

In 1985 I began attending a prayer group in my church, which met from 5:30 -6:30 AM Monday through Friday. I attended two or three times a week. There is something that happens to a person who purposefully plans their day around prayer. We would gather for ten minutes of devotion, then scatter around the sanctuary and pray together, yet in solitude.

Although it was late spring, the sanctuary was often cold. Not a wintery cold but a spring cold that is transformed in moments by the warmth of the sun’s rays. I would say my prayers and meditate on a passage of scripture then wait in silence.  I had a burning desire to hear that still small voice spoken of by Jeremiah, Isaiah and Samuel.  I went faithfully expecting to hear for Months, then one day it happened!  I heard, ‘the voice’, “Donna I have called you and will equip you for the work of the ministry.”

I took this as my answer and so began my long journey in discovering  my vocation and  my call,  There were times I thought, “O this must be the ministry God meant for me ”  as I served as an R.E. Director, Evangelist/Psalmist, Chaplain, Pastor or  my Graphic Design and DJ/KJ Businesses or  my passion for community outreach for disabled people and LGBT Youth. But then there were times I was sidelined even stuck believing my purpose had come to an end.  Yet again and again these perceived pit falls turned out to be pit stops; places I grew deeper in faith and understanding of my place in this world.

Today, I can see that this equipping has born in me a deep sense of love and justice modeled by Christ Jesus and the Gospel message.   The Gospel message:  of God sending the Son and the Son living among us a life of radically inclusive, unconditional love and oneness with God and others. He loved boldly, authentically and in peace, in the midst of suspicion, judgment, rejection, exclusion, torture and death.  Only to rise again still… radically inclusive… loving unconditionally and calling people to join Him in proclaiming this Good News that all are loved, beloved forgiven and chosen children of God!

Now the question becomes one of believing this to be true or not.  The faith I have is a verb not a noun. It is not based on a set of beliefs or a specific religious denomination but on the Love of God out of which I live and move and have my being.  If I believe I am loved by God who loves me despite myself then how dare I not love others in the same way God love me.

My heart aches when I see how people who call themselves Christians treat others with suspicion and as outside God Love unless….  Jesus’ invitation is a conversion towards love and justice no matter who you are are where you are on life’s Journey.  Conversion is NOT a ticket to heaven or a Get Out of Hell pass.     What are your thoughts?

Donna Spencer Collins Child of Love Child of Blessing