Joyce Hollyday is a co-founder and co-pastor of Circle of Mercy, an ecumenical congregation in Asheville, North Carolina. Her most recent book, Pillar of Fire, is a historical novel that celebrates the extraordinary witness of the medieval mystics known as Beguines. She is the author of other several books, including Clothed with the Sun: Biblical Women, Social Justice, and Us and Then Shall Your Light Rise: Spiritual Formation and Social Witness. She was a founding member of Witness for Peace, a grassroots organization committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. She was formerly the Associate Editor for Sojourners.
Posts By This Author
Giving Children 'First Call'
Following Jesus in welcoming the children
The Vision That Sustains Us
Healing has come to the community
The creativity and joy of the children of Columbia Heights was unveiled in a new mural
Ending the War Against Women
On June 3, 1990, the church celebrated Pentecost. Sojourners sponsored Peace Pentecost 1990—"Breaking the Silence: A Call to End Violence Against Women." Worship services, vigils, and processions were held throughout the country.
In Washington, DC, we began our service at Luther Place Memorial Church. We followed with a procession to McPherson Square Park. Along the way we stopped four times: at Bethany Women's Shelter, where we focused on domestic violence; at The Washington Post building, where we made a note of the media's silence about incest; at an alley where a homeless woman had been raped; and at a video store which—like most video stores—carries a large selection of pornography. At each stop, we listened to statistics, then offered a litany and a refrain of the song, "O God, Give Us Power."
We concluded our service at the park, where we were moved and empowered by testimonies from survivors of the war against women. A bell was rung every three-and-a-half minutes throughout our service, a powerful reminder that every three-and-a-half minutes a woman is a target of rape or attempted rape in the United States. Below is the reflection offered by Joyce Hollyday at Luther Place Memorial Church.
When the day of Pentecost had come, the apostles were all together in one place" (Acts 2:1). So begins the Pentecost passage. In the verses preceding this one, the apostles are named: Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Thaddeus and Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Matthias, whom the others had chosen to replace their fallen brother, Judas. These men have personalities—we know during the ordeal they have just gone through who was courageous, who doubted, who denied.
And after the list of their names, the scripture tells us they were together "with the women" and Mary the mother of Jesus. These other women have no names. Like most of the women in the record of our faith, these remain marginal, unknown, present but unaccounted for.
A black salamander with a bright red stripe the length of its back skittered out from under a rock and headed toward the water. I was walking on "Marshmallow Beach," a narrow strip of pebbles, mud, and small weeds near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to its name. My sisters and I had named this stretch of earth bordering Marsh Creek some 30 years ago.
The creek and the seven acres of wooded land surrounding it, owned by my grandfather, were our childhood playground. We spent countless hours climbing the rocks, sending sticks shooting over the rapids of the rushing waterfall, and wading in the creek's shallow, sunny pools filled with minnows.
The large rocks were just as I remembered them. One resembles a whale's back, with a hollowed-out spot where I placed handfuls of grain and birdseed as soon as I was old enough to walk through snow. And the "Old Man of the Falls" remains steadfast, a profile in rock who still grows bushy eyebrows of moss above his sharp nose every summer.
Daffodils form a bright yellow carpet in spring, the children and grandchildren of the first flowers my grandfather planted three decades ago, flourishing as they spread. And the land still holds the delights that he first introduced me to—the mitten-leaved sassafras with its sweet-smelling bark; the myrrh with a halo of seeds and a root that tastes like licorice; the clean white Indian pipes that grow buried under leaves; and the mayapples on the underside of broad plants that look like umbrellas.
Smack Dab in the Middle
The thrill of semi-victory
A Decade of Solidarity
Honoring Oscar Romero ten years later
The Costs of Societal Neglect
Reports on America
'We Shall Not Be Moved'
War tax resistance creates a community of conscience
Breaking the Silence: A Call to End Violence Against Women
Peace Pentecost 1990
Clearing a Path for Lent
Lenten retreat to the countryside
A Deeper Response to AIDS
The quilt for justice and grief
Shielded from Justice
Consider the case of Mary Stone.
The Language of Friendship
World Council of Churches in Zaire
A Collection of Mustard Seeds
The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'
Abortion and the Law
How Do We Choose Life?
A Recipe for Change
A bent-over woman with a mantilla draped over her head slowly makes her way down the aisle of the small church.
Just as those "lazy days" of summer descended on the capital city...
Sisters of Dignity and Courage
Rosa Parks stands tall, the light streaming behind her through the window of the bare church, her face a statement of gentle pride.
Lighting the Torch of Conscience
The sun glistened on the reflecting pool on this clear April morning in Atlanta. In the shadow of the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr., a torch was lit for human dignity and justice.