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March Gabriel’s Horn| February 21 Weekly Newsletter

Leadership & Staff

Friends & Members of the Church

Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, Designated Senior Minister

The Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss joyfully serves the community of First Church as the Designated Senior Minister. Raised in a suburb of Detroit, working for the Appalachia Service Project cultivated a love for the mountains that compelled her to move south. There, she initially worked with those living with HIV/AIDS and fell in love with the United Church of Christ, an open and affirming denomination. As a Woodruff scholar at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Amanda earned her Masters of Divinity with certificates in Black Church Studies and Church and Community programs. In Atlanta she coordinated the Georgia chapter of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), organizing anti-war protests and educational programs, as well as authoring a new curriculum, Faith Seeking Peace, on redirecting federal budget priorities to meet human and environmental needs. 
Amanda was ordained in the western North Carolina Association of the UCC in 2006 while serving as a Minister of Faith Formation. In 2009, Amanda co-founded the thriving community of Land of the Sky United Church of Christ in Asheville, NC, where she served as Co-Pastor for eight years in an intentional, power-sharing model. Her vocation as a pastor is shaped by Amanda’s particular calling to racial justice. At Land of the Sky UCC she launched a racial justice ministry in which she co-led dismantling racism training, engaged in a racial justice audit of ministries, created programming for children and youth to highlight the testimonies of local leaders of color, and launched conversations about reparations. In August of 2017, she engaged in sacred activism in Charlottesville where she served as an on-call chaplain to those impacted by the tragic violence of white supremacy. Amanda recently completed a yearlong training as part of the first cohort of UCC leaders equipped to facilitate Sacred Conversations to End Racism 2. She consistently seeks new opportunities to learn and grow on the lifelong journey of dismantling racism within and without. 
In 2017, Amanda relocated to northern Virginia with her spouse, Seth, and boys, Myles (13) and Simon (7) to enter a reflective season of ministry. A lover of words and contemplative spirituality, Amanda has served in recent years as a freelance writer, Spiritual Director, and Co-Facilitator of a clergy Community of Practice in the Potomac Association. She enjoys hiking, baking, running, reading, and snuggling her adopted dog, Ginger. Perhaps most importantly, she seeks to honor the sacred in every person she encounters and the well-being of the Earth’s family of all living things.

Rev. Sam McFerran
Associate Minister

Sam is grateful to serve alongside the First Church community as Associate Minister. He feels called to create a space to help all ages, from infants to adults, sense God’s presence in their lives. Sam desires to make the church more about how we relate to God and with one another than a static adherence to tradition, creed, or even our history. He believes God is still speaking, and through Sunday school, service, story sharing and song, prayer and acts of solidarity with the marginalized, that we are provided opportunities to hear God’s call and act upon it. Sam is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary, the University of Kansas, and Haverford College. He is joined by his wife, Lauren, and their two sons, Brendan and Ryan. Sam loves the Nationals, playing baseball, and living in DC!

John Horman
Director of Music

John retired from teaching after 20+ years with the Montgomery County, Maryland Public School System. He received the Broom Award for Excellence awarded by his home county for his work in composition for children. John served Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kensington, Maryland for 43 years as Organist and Director of Music. His compositions are found in the catalogues of over ten nation-wide publishers. He presently has over 250 anthems for children, youth, and adults in print. Over his career, John has served as clinician for children and youth choirs at national conferences held by Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, American Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ. John has served both on the Choristers Guild Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. More recently, John joined the Pallas Theatre Collective board of directors, where he serves as president. John also works as a freelance writer for a number of music periodicals including Church Music Workshop, a journal published by Abingdon Press, and The Chorister, the journal for the Choristers Guild of Garland, Texas. Combining talents with hymnist Mary Nelson Keithahn, John has co-authored four new hymn collections: Come Away with MeTime Now to GatherThe Song Lingers On, and most recently, A Faith that Lets Us Sing. Some of his hymns have been included in the United Methodist hymn supplement, The Faith We Sing, the Presbyterian supplement, We Sing the Faith, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, among others.

Byron Adams
Building Manager

Byron devotes his church hours to building relationships with a variety of organizations in the Greater Washington region (including Ford’s Theater, Washington Bach Consort, The Thirteen Choir, New Orchestra of Washington, Choral Arts Society, and many others) who use the church’s space for concerts, lectures, forums, classes, and more. His service on the Site Development Design Team and a career in marketing and event management gives him a unique perspective on how the building can be used and promoted to build the wider community in the heart of the city. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and has studied Spanish through immersion language training in Chiapas, Mexico and San Jose, Costa Rica.

Cindy Dobbs
Office Administrator

Cindy joined the staff of First Congregational UCC in March of 2015. After having lived in the DC area in her youth, she moved back to the area from Connecticut to be closer to family. Cindy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Maryland.  She served as the administrative assistant at two churches in Connecticut, along with holding several positions in the legal field and teaching private piano lessons for over 25 years. Cindy is happy to be a part of the staff at First Church. Please stop by the office and say hello!

Kim Darling


Kim joined as First Congregational in 1993 as a young adult and is now raising her three children in the church.  She values the relationships that she has with members of the congregation, and the support they have provided as she’s moved through the various stages of her life.  She works as an economist for a small business in Virginia and is working on perfecting her baking skills.