Dr. Henry Curtis McDowell, with his wife Ruth answered the call to serve as pastor of the Congregational Fellowship of 45 members June 17, 1959, postponing retirement for this new Miami mission. With his inspiring leadership, 75 charter members declared themselves a duly constituted church and selected the name Church of the Open Door, Congregational on November 15, 1959. The subsequent purchase of 10 lots, along with a Building Fund Drive in 1963, were the beginning of our outreach resulting from this inspired leadership. In May of 1964 the new Sanctuary was dedicated.
The 50th Anniversary of Dr. McDowell Christian Ministry was celebrated February 26, 1967 with the church boasting over 300 members. In June of 1967 one of the finest Allen Organs was installed in the sanctuary, as a wish of the minister, in preference to any personal retirement gift. This gesture is typical of the unselfish, servant of God and man that Dr. McDowell was.
The children were particularly held dear by Dr. McDowell as year after year he readied their hearts and minds for Confirmation for fuller participation in the Church. The touch of the McDowells is felt not only in the Church of the Open Door, but throughout all of Miami. The Miami Chapter of the Talladega Alumni Club established The Henry Curtis McDowell Scholarship Fund to be perpetuated annually. This fund is for a Dade County student who best exemplifies the high quality and appreciation in Dr. McDowell.
Rev. McDowell spent many years as a missionary in Angola. The following were three of his favorite Angolan proverbs:
O pula pula ka nyelale
Learn to ask intelligent questions and you should not lose your way.
Ka ci vala ka ci nganyala
If it is not heavy, there is not much to pay. Things worthwhile have a high price tag.
Ombeu ka yi londi kocisingui, omanu o kapako
The turtle did not get on the high tree stump by itself, somebody put it there.
If blessed materially in a high office, there is no occasion for pride, you did not do it by yourself, somebody helped you.