Time of Transition

It is with both sadness and joy that we say goodbye to our beloved Vicar of the Church of the Common Ground, Rev Monica Mainwaring, who has accepted a call to become Rector of St Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church in Brookhaven. Her last day with the Church of the Common Ground was at a joyous worship service on August 4 at Woodruff Park when she bade us farewell with a beautiful call to share our love. We send her out to her new position with much love, support and well wishes.

During the transition, the Bishop has appointed Bruce Gunter, a lay communicant at St Luke’s Episcopal Church, to be the Interim Director until such time as a new Vicar is called. Bruce brings a long business background and years of work in affordable housing to the post. Seeing his job as “preparing the way” for a new vicar, he will focus on the administrative and stewardship aspects of managing CCG and coordinating a planning process designed to provide strategic direction to CCG and to attract a stellar candidate to the position. He can be reached at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org.

While we await our new priest, please know that the work of the Church of the Common Ground will continue on as before, with all our weekly services unchanged. Rev Kenyon Thompson and Ministry Coordinator and seminarian Jakevia Brown will provide spiritual leadership as they have been doing for the past year, with occasional help from our Deacon, Rev Devadas Lynton.

Letter From Pastor Monica

Beloved community of Church of the Common Ground,

"God is here, God is right here with us, and this is holy ground."

Proclaiming these words, together we have entered into worship in snow and rain and heat and joy and sorrow and tired and thankful and open and expectant since November of 2017. I have been humbled by your courage, honored by your entrusting leadership to me, and astounded by the goodness of God among us, as we have journeyed in life and ministry, affirming that God is indeed in our midst on the streets of Atlanta, extending that love and forgiveness offered again and again and again and again and again as we are invited to walk in Christ's love.

We have strived to honor the dignity and worth of every person in our midst, welcoming all, all of the time. In prayers and Bible studies, washing feet, and on retreats, in the midst of theological studies and playful feasts, caroling through the halls of hospice and participating in the life of the Episcopal Diocese, with guests, and interns, and new staff, and old staff, and leadership emerging from every corner of this church, we have shared a glimpse of God's kingdom come among us. And it is because I have so loved bearing witness to you - your resilience, your pain, and your beauty; because I have loved the privilege of serving you; indeed, because I have loved you, it is difficult to share that I have been called to serve elsewhere.

Beginning mid-August, I will be the Rector/Pastor of St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church in Atlanta. I have been called to love them and lead them. And the call to lead St. Martin's is also the call to leave Church of the Common Ground. My last Sunday with you will be August 4th. I will be away June 30-July 20, but will be present in ministry and for holy goodbyes this coming week, and from
July 20-August 4.

We need not worry or despair. God is here. God is right here with us. And, your clergy, Pastor Kenya and Deacon Devadas, remain, along with the presence and support of the many who assist in this ministry, and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, who will facilitate this transition.

Thank you for the gift of sharing in the life of Christ together.

Pastor Monica

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Beyond Sandwiches: A Symposium on Poverty, Race, and Homelessness

On Saturday, May 18th, Church of the Common Ground hosted a symposium called Beyond Sandwiches, which explored the issues of poverty, race, and homelessness. Church of the Common Ground parishioners were the speakers during the final hour.

“Pastor Monica gave me a piece of pizza so I wouldn’t go to jail. I didn’t go to jail that day.”

-Billy reflecting about the time he was asked to leave for the day from Common Ground

This is our church’s success. Billy may have gone to jail the next day. But not that Sunday. He trusted his pastor and Church of the Common Ground. That takes time and trust. Not pizza. (Pizza is just a tool). Church of the Common Ground endeavors to show love to people who need it.

When an audience member at the symposium asked, “What do you need on the streets?”, Johnny, a parishioner on Church of the Common Ground’s leadership team, responded:

"Show love to the people that need it or haven’t experienced it.”

Show love. Beyond Sandwiches. Love.

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Sacred Writing

During Lent, a few women from Church of the Common Ground explored how the psalmists created their sacred poetry and learned to write some sacred verse of their own. Using Ray McGinnis’ Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-inspired Path to Appreciating and Writing Sacred Poetry, they walked through exercises exploring the psalms of creation, thanksgiving, lament, confession, wisdom, vows, as well as psalms for holding a vision.

And, each week, they explored their own voices and their own sacred expression with God. They discovered along the way a new way of talking with God; they embraced new ways of hearing each other.

Psalm
by Rhianna A.


Many people should praise God for life
All people should have understanding
God is life in all times.
Amen.


Poem
by Jen M.


As the day begins the
sun’s rays beat against
these rocks, and the
wind blows the trees
in the wind. Flowers
blooms of sunshine. A
Beautiful African child
of God, wearing a single
summer flower in her black
golden curl hair.

Her eyes are stars of brown
that glisten like
morning dew, her heart is
strong as a mountain standing
tall against the sunny afternoon.

African Queen stand tall
to know our ancestors stood
the test of time, you
Beloved Child of God.

"The Lord Needs It"

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Common Ground hosted a special visitor at Bible Study yesterday—The Right Reverend Rob Wright!  Bishop Wright led our discussion of Luke’s gospel passage telling the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  We shared ideas about blessings in the story.  We shared ideas about what captured our imaginations.  We asked ourselves:  “What does the Lord need from us?” 

We shared stories about the struggles of life, the dangerous and hurtful experiences we have lived.   We shared our stories of pain and suffering and mental illness.  We remembered the human Jesus, the Jesus who walked on the earth just like us.

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And, because we know Jesus walked the earth as human just like us, we imagine he sometimes laughed and had fun, too.  So, we ended our time together with our traditional silly photo.

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Thanks for visiting, Bishop Rob!

Communities Seeking Justice

Our fearless servant leaders and some of our clergy attended the annual Lansing Lee Conference at Kanuga last weekend. The conference theme this year was “Communities Seeking Justice.” Servant leaders Vera, Johnny, and Frank along with Rev. Monica, Rev. Kenya and Rev. Devadas and CCG volunteer Nia, learned about ways we can all work toward being communities that share God’s love. Afterward, the group also visited Church of the Advocate in Asheville, NC.

Summer Internships Available

Church of the Common Ground is delighted to open up a summer internship opportunity for those interested in trying their hand in ministry and discerning for a possible vocation in ministry.  It is a 10-week, full-time internship, with stipend ($2000), working with a cohort of young adults (age 18-28), enjoying intentional immersion, supervision, discipleship, and retreats while fully participating in the ministry of Church of the Common Ground on the streets of downtown Atlanta.  This internship is funded in part by the Forum for Theological Exploration and is intended for those who might consider ministry and have not yet entered seminary.

For detailed information, please view the flier by clicking here.

To apply for the program, please click here for the application.

For questions, please email the vicar by clicking here.

What a month in March

March is only half over and already Common Ground has been incredibly busy!

Rev. Monica and Rev. Kenya were joined by our Road Fellow and our seminarian to share Ashes to Go for Ash Wednesday. Now in its second year, Ashes to Go offers the imposition of ashes to any who wish to receive them right in the heart of downtown Atlanta. 

Ash Wednesday was also observed at Morning Prayer and Bible Study.  In the afternoon, we sought shelter from the cold with our community at Landmark Diner sharing the liturgy and receiving the imposition of ashes around the table, complete with the diner’s overhead speakers gifting us liturgical music of sorts - classics on the overhead speaker from Bob Seger, Jimmy Ruffin, Michael Jackson, the Supremes, and Phoebe Snow.  God, who knows all sorrow, all suffering, and even all laughter, we thank you! 

In February, Pastor Monica, Frank, and Antony took part in voicing support for HB 528 to Expand Expungement of Convictions in Georgia, and Monica returned to the Capitol to advocate again on Ash Wednesday.  Unfortunately, earlier this month it was announced that the bill did not move forward.

Our intrepid parishioner-students have been studying many things in the latest installment of Theology from the Margins including these topics: Theological Methods, Jesus and the God of Israel, Salvation, and a close look at our creeds.

Last Sunday afternoon, parishioners joined Monica at a Lenten study we’re participating in with St. Luke’s and All Saints’ studying James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

On Monday, Pastor Monica attended the book launch for Barbara Brown Taylor’s new book—Holy Envy. Church of the Common Ground is the focus of the book’s epilogue!

And, on Wednesday, our annual Lenten Bible Study speaker’s series welcomed The Rev. Horace Griffin of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, who guided us through chapter two of our Lenten focus, Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited. Still to come are The Rev. Thee Smith of the Cathedral and The Right Rev. Rob Wright, our bishop!

Next weekend, a lay leadership cohort of parishioners will go with our clergy to Kanuga for a retreat focusing on social justice, and the following week the Theology from the Margins course will take place on Columbia University’s campus.

A holy, and a bit full, Lent!  We welcome you.  Come and see!

Beyond Sandwiches: A Symposium on Poverty, Race, and Homelessness

Hosted by Church of the Common Ground
Saturday, May 18, 11am-3pm
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Ellis Hall
634 West Peachtree Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30308

Education – Action – Conversation

Education – Featuring Panelists: Dr. Richard Dien Winield, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia; Rev. Natosha Reid Rice, Associate Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Associate General Counsel for Real Estate and Finance, Habitat for Humanity International; Dwayne Patterson, Director of Regional Organizing and Civic Engagement, Partnership for Southern Equity; and, Matthew Elder, Director of HomeFirst Gwinnett Initiative, United Way of Greater Atlanta; moderated by Elliot Watts, JD, of the CCG Advisory Council and Alston & Bird. They will lay bare the economic inequalities in Atlanta and beyond, outlining of the vast, inter-generational, and systemic wealth and income disparities that plague us.

Action – We will make, and eat, sandwiches – the type often given to ‘the poor’ – building many for our partner ministries and agencies. And, we will have an interactive hour greeting and engaging CCG’s partners, ranging from housing and food provision and medical care, to criminal justice reform and race relations.

Conversation – With a panel of street ministers and people experiencing homelessness, we will have a conversation inclusive of ‘primary voices.’

Register – $10; scholarship monies available;

https://public.serviceu.com/RegistrationForm/10461241-427858317/?OrgKey=7d7ed618-26bb-48b6-b8da-5273f3545433

Questions – Contact The Rev. Monica Mainwaring, vicar@churchofthecommonground.org

God's Love on the Streets of Atlanta

What does God’s love look like? This Valentine’s Day we thought we would share some of the signs of God’s love that we see in our community all the time.

Ecclesia Cross Day

It was Super Bowl Sunday yesterday and, while many awaited a big sports game and trophies to follow, our Church of the Common Ground was handing out a different kind of symbol that Sunday afternoon.

The first Sunday of each month, Common Ground hands out ecclesia cross necklaces to congregants, volunteers, clergy—all who experience ministry in and with outdoor churches a calling of the heart and soul.

God's Game Day Huddle

Teams around the world huddle every Sunday, in football season and even when it’s not football season, to answer God’s call to be spiritual athletes.  These teams hold hands; they pray together; they focus together on how to help each other reach God’s goal line…love, kindness, compassion, community. 

Church of the Common Ground is filled with spiritual athletes who know that being an athlete means sometimes facing challenges.  This Super Bowl weekend our spiritual athletes may face more challenges than usual.  Recently, WABE published a story about homelessness and Super Bowl weekend featuring our community.  You can listen to it at the link below. 

As community, as a team, our spiritual athletes will again join hands at 1:00pm on Super Bowl Sunday.  We will huddle up and offer up to God our hopes and prayers…that we will all learn to love each other as God has loved us.