Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Arts at St. Johns founder still enjoys promoting local artists

Carol Hoffman-Guzman of Arts at St. Johns.
Carol Hoffman-Guzman of Arts at St. Johns. Miami Herald File

When we have worked at a job for many years, sometimes there comes a time for reflection: Why do we keep on doing what we do? Is it the money? Or the fact that we enjoy what we do?

Recently, my friend Carol Hoffman-Guzman, the founding executive director of Arts at St. Johns (ASJ) asked herself similar questions.

One thing is certain — she certainly is not getting rich. In fact, she said she has donated her time and money to the project. “It’s kind of stressful being the head of a nonprofit arts program. But I do enjoy the people part of it; promoting the local artists,” she said.

Hoffman-Guzman, who has doctorates in sociology and ministry, founded Arts at St. Johns 15 years ago and continues to serve as its executive director.

As she thought about her role as the head of the fine-arts program, she said, “I was trying to think why I continue to work as the executive director of Arts at St. Johns and why it is important to me. I started the program with the specific mission of using the arts for intercultural understanding and for dialogue about social issues. Over the past 15 years, I have been instrumental in encouraging this vision through music, dance, visual arts, literature and multi-disciplinary art forms.”

Hoffman-Guzman said she feel so “so blessed in my life — with friends, family, education, good health, a spiritual grounding, and adequate finances. My parents were not educated or wealthy. They both came from lower-income families in Missouri. ... But they taught me good morals and careful money management. Now as a senior citizen, I have felt called to give back to our community. I want to live out the teachings of our various faith traditions — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and others.”

While some people give back to their communities through charity, Hoffman-Guzman said she uses Arts at St. Johns to educate and inform people about multiculturalism, diversity and social issues.

Hoffman-Guzman said the theme for ASJ’s 2015-16 season is, “Places We Call Home,” which recognizes the multiple places that many South Floridians call home. “At least two thirds of our residents come from another city, state, region or country,” she said.

The season will open at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10, when ASJ presents a preview of what’s to come, entitled Snapshots of Home. The preview will highlight the season’s theme and will offer a taste of ASJ’s many different concerts occurring between October 2015 and the summer of 2016.

The snapshots in the preview will include music from Appalachia, Turkey, Armenia, Italy, Latin America and “the good ole USA,” she said. The preview will include show tunes, jazz, traditional and classical music, the blues and more. Featured performers will include Von Henry, Roberto Lopez-Trigo, Sharyn Peoples, Megan Barrera, Kristen Long, Scott Bracken-Tripp, Mezut Ozgen, the Romance Project with Juvenal Correa-Sala and Emily Ricca, and Harmonic Motion’s Myriam Eli and Reza Filsoofi. Phillip Bracken-Tripp will direct the preview.

If you go, Arts at St. Johns is housed in St. Johns on the Lake United Methodist Church at 4760 Pine Tree Dr, in Miami Beach. Admission is $30 and includes food and drink.

For more information, call Hoffman-Guzman at 305-613-2325 or email her at

Rock ’N Run at Temple Beth Am

The Temple Beth Am family at 5950 N. Kendall Dr. invites the community to join them at their third annual Rock ’N Run event on Sunday, starting at the synagogue.

The event will be a day of health, strength and spirit, and was created to unite the community in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer and raise awareness to enhance prevention and early detection.

This year’s event will support the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center-Cancer Link, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Women’s Breast and Heart Health Initiative, Sandy B. Muller Breast Cancer Foundation, Sharsheret and FORCE.

According to Andrea Ivory of Women’s Breast and Heart Health Initiative, “Rock ‘N Roll plays an important role in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer by bringing passionate community members together to raise awareness about the diseases, while providing education and vital resources for local organizations serving women in our community. This effort helps to save and change lives.”

To register and for sponsorship information visit,

St. Sophia Greek Orthodox dinner

Warm congratulations to St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral on its 67th anniversary. The church at 244 SW 24th Rd., is South Florida’s oldest Byzantine Church and will celebrate this milestone with a Feast Day Dinner at 6 p.m. on Oct. 10.

St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church has grown from a white, wooden church at Northeast 15th Street in downtown Miami to the magnificent Byzantine Cathedral it is today. The first liturgy was celebrated in the present church by the Rev. Demosthenes Mekras on Aug. 15, 1949.

The celebration will begin with a reception , followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the kick off of the church’s capital restoration campaign, “Restoring Our Faith and Our Cathedral.”

The event will feature delicious Greek foods and pastries that will showcase the culinary skills of noted Chef Oscar Ornelas of the Chicago restaurant Cite at the Top of Lake Point Tower. There will also be live Greek music throughout the evening.

Tickets to the celebration are $40 for adults and $15 for children under 12. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to or call the church at 305-854-2922.

South Miami garage sale

The First United Methodist Church of South Miami at 6565 SW 57th Ave. invites the community to its garage sale to be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

If you go, I am told you will find many bargains, from household items and clothes, to books, DVDs and sporting goods.

And if you get hungry while shopping, a hot dog lunch will be available for sale. Proceeds will be used for the church’s homeless program and badly needed church building repairs.

For more information call the church office at 305-667-75-08.

Sukkot celebration in West Miami

In Biblical days, Jews had to make a pilgrimage to the main temple in Jerusalem to attend the Sukkot (harvest) services.

You don’t have to got that far today: Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami, will have Sukkot services at 10 a.m. Sunday, followed by lunch; at 10 a.m. Monday, followed by lunch and at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

The Sukkot services will continue at 10 a.m. Tuesday, followed by lunch. All refreshments are said to be delicious, Kosher and there is no charge.

Call 305-205-3846 for more information.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.