Two Copper Coins

At the Cathedral of St. Philip last Thursday night, the annual Homeless Requiem honoring those who have died on our city streets was attended by many, including members of Church of the Common Ground.  When the baskets came round for a collection, a young woman in our community lifted her hand in one seamless and confident gesture and placed into the basket her nickel.  Her head was raised and the expression on her face radiated the power of community living the Gospel: love one another.

At Church of the Common Ground we talk a lot about the ways in which we are called by God to love each other.  We talk about a community of God’s love that knows the first way to show our love to God’s world is to show up.  We show up at the Homeless Requiem at the Cathedral of St. Philip and are chalice bearers or readers.  We show up with St. Anne’s to build a Habitat Home each year.  We show up at Common Soles every week to wash and nurture the feet of our brothers and sisters on the streets.  We show up learning about the labyrinth with our friends at St. Veronica’s guild.  We show up at Theology from the Margins to talk about God and learn more about the ways of God in this world.  We show up and give, not two copper coins, but one silver nickel and rejoice that God is smiling because of our gift given freely.  We live our truth that two copper coins are sometimes really two loving hands ready to embrace the world with love.

But, being a community of love on the streets isn’t always easy.  At Church of the Common Ground it takes coffee, creamer and sugar for hospitality before Morning Prayer.  It takes bottled water for Bible Study ensuring that our community has clean and healthy water available.  It takes paper to print bulletins for Sunday worship and newsletters to share the story of community.  It takes a van to transport our altar for worship, our folding chairs and ecclesia cross for Morning Prayer, our cooler and water for Bible study, our reading glasses for all of our community who struggle with reading their Bibles due to poor eyesight.  It takes two copper coins given again and again by people near and far to help sustain the message:  We are all God’s beloved. 

So, today and this week we come to you asking for help.  This is our time for appeal to help us plan the future of this church into 2019 and beyond.  To make a donation, just click here and choose Church of the Common Ground from the donation list. If you are unable to make a financial contribution at this time, then please commit to prayer for our community. 

Next Sunday when the Gospel of Mark will ask us all to reflect on the widow and her two copper coins, we invite you to celebrate what we are calling Common Gifts Sunday.  During our worship service at 1pm in Woodruff Park, we will bring to the altar all of the contributions, donations and pledges we have received from parishes and individuals.  We will bring to the altar the offering cards of our own community where they will affirm the time and talents they will dedicate to being a community of God’s love on our city streets.  It will be a celebration of hope and love not to be missed.  So, please join us and, if you are able, please give.

#commongiftscommonground

(Photos are from the Church of the Common Ground archives and a few of the Sunday worship photos are from Bill Monk who graciously shares his ministry of photography with us. Thank you.)

Opening Scripture, Opening Hearts

Imagine a space where each week a group of people gather to talk about sections of the Bible and learn about God’s way in the world.  Imagine that this weekly gathering of people and hearts happens in the middle of a city park under trees and skies and happens no matter what the weather is doing outside.  Imagine that this group has braved unbearable heat, wind, and even a tornado once, to be together and talk about God.  Hold onto that picture in your mind and heart, for it is the picture of Bible study at Church of the Common Ground.

For many years now a dedicated community of believers have huddled together and reflected on scripture.  We have shared ideas; we have challenged each other’s assumptions.  And, through it all, we have laughed, cried, pondered, consoled and encouraged each other on our respective journeys with God.  We open scripture to open our hearts every Wednesday in Woodruff Park.

Opening their hearts to make Bible study special have been our friends at Church of Our Saviour.  Their dedicated ministry provides sandwiches each week to help us study God’s Word.  And, when the weather proves to be more than the hardiest spirit can handle, our friends at Landmark Diner have sheltered us from the elements.  We are so grateful to them both!

Bible study is a special time of prayer and community for Church of the Common Ground.  All are welcome, so please join us any Wednesday at 2:30pm in Woodruff Park.

#commongiftscommonground

"Be still and know that I am God"

Housed or unhoused, the deep yearning for quiet times in which we can feel the presence and peace of our loving God is universal to humanity.  For the community of Church of the Common Ground, that time is nurtured every Monday and Wednesday at Morning Prayer.

God’s love is shared in a cup of coffee and a smile.  The fellowship of God’s spirit is extended among friends joining in conversation with laughter, thoughtfulness, and, sometimes, in the fullness of sorrow.  The deep healing of God’s stillness is then given room on the busy streets of downtown Atlanta.  A circle of chairs and a wooden ecclesia cross create a common center of welcoming.  Then the gong rings and prayer and the stillness of God’s love permeates all.  Only God could help us create a circle of such prayer that drowns out cars, sirens, and occasional shouting.  It is still and deep God time and space.

Our beautiful friends at Central Presbyterian Church and Central Outreach open their hearts and courtyard gates to provide a space for our prayer time each week.  We are so grateful to them.  Thank you!

We invite you to join us for Morning Prayer any Monday or Wednesday morning in the courtyard at 10:30am. Contact the vicar at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org for more information.

In the weeks ahead, you will be hearing of ways that you can help Church of the Common Ground continue to be a beacon for God’s love on our city streets.  Our annual appeal process is underway and we will ask those who are able to help us share God’s presence one sidewalk, block, city park and street at a time.  Stay tuned.

#commongiftscommonground

Psalm 46:10

“Not to be served, but to serve”

God’s abiding love is reflected humbly and quietly each week at Common Soles Foot Clinic.  A number of Common Ground’s staff and volunteers, housed and unhoused, welcome men, women, and sometimes children, who are calling the streets ‘home.’  Weary feet receive a bath in water, a gentle massage, and a pair of fresh socks.  Despite the nearness of the busy downtown streets and highways, there is a remarkable stillness in the park at St. Luke’s where Common Ground goes not to be served, but to serve.  A foot lifted and cared for often makes way for a heart to be lifted and cared for, and God’s love is shared.

If you would like to volunteer at Common Soles, please contact our vicar at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org.

A ministry like Common Soles is always in need of good hearts and good supplies.  We welcome donations and have set up a wish list to aid in selecting the most helpful items.  Click here to find it.  Or, if you have other vendors you choose to use, then please consider our wish list a helpful resource in identifying the best items to send.  Thank you!

#commongiftscommonground

“Not to be served, but to serve” - Mark 10:45

"Volunteering is a form of holy worship"

We have been thinking about and living into the idea of how God’s gift of abiding love is the first and great common gift given to all and able to be shared by all. One way of sharing God’s love with others in our lives is through volunteering. We asked long-time volunteer Peggy McCurry to share her thoughts as to why she gives of her time and talents at our Common Soles program:

“Volunteering at CCG is a form of holy worship for me. I love my time there because I can see the face of Jesus in the men and women we serve and feel God’s grace and love surrounding us. Foot clinic provides the opportunity to help comfort clients who may rarely feel the touch of another person. To be part of this experience and see that what we do transforms both their feet and attitude is very rewarding. 

I feel like there is an open channel of love and emotion that flows between all the people of CCG and God is in the water!

As Christians we promise to seek and serve Christ in all people, strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. The Church of the Common Ground is doing these things in real time, everyday, on the the streets of Atlanta. I am grateful to be a part of this.”

We cannot do what we do alone. If you are interested in volunteering at any of our programs, please just send us a note at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org.

#commongiftscommonground

Angels Among Us

Central to our experience of community is Sunday worship.  We worship each Sunday in a beautiful park in our amazing city.  We gather under trees and sky in good weather and in rough weather to share fellowship and faith.  We have a small table for our Eucharist.  Coffee is shared.  Friends greet each other.  Traffic horns sometimes try to be our choir.

And, each Sunday, into this space we know as holy ground, walk angels among us.  On this the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, we thank our angels—our visiting churches.  In 2018, the members of these communities stood with us, prayed with us, and reminded us that we are all God’s children and no one is forgotten by the God whose love is abiding and ever present.  

Our 2018 Visiting Parishes Include:

Church of the Annunciation
St. Aidan’s
St. Theresa’s
St. Benedict’s
Christ Church Norcross
Kennesaw State University Episcopal Campus Ministry
Holy Innocents’
St. Anne’s
Holy Trinity
St. Philip’s
All Saints’ 
St. Martin’s in the Fields J2A
Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain
Episcopal Students Organization of Oglethorpe University
St. Luke's
St. Michael's and All Angels
McAfee Seminarians
Canterbury Club of Northwest Georgia
Holy Spirit

If your group would be interested in serving as a visiting church, please contact us at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org

#commongiftscommonground

Building a Sustainable Community

The common gift of God’s love—available to all and able to be shared by all—is a bedrock theme for the Common Ground community. We feel that love given to us and shared with us by so many, especially those who have committed their spirits, gifts, and financial support to the building of our community. This sharing of the common gift of God’s abiding love sustains us and makes it possible to live and breathe the Gospel on the streets of Atlanta.

Today we wish to acknowledge the many churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta who who have helped us financially in 2018 with monetary gifts to our operating budget: St. Luke’s, St. Anne’s, St. Clement’s, St. David’s, St. John’s, St. Peter’s, All Saints’, Holy Trinity, Holy Innocents, Holy Comforter, The Cathedral of St. Philip, and Christ Church. Thank you!

We are also grateful to Covenant Presbyterian Church. Thank you!

And, a thousand thank you shout outs to Central Presbyterian in downtown Atlanta. Each week, this wonderful church provides a haven in their courtyard for our Morning Prayer allowing us to share coffee, a hard-boiled egg, quiet prayer, and fellowship.

If your church would like to make a gift in 2018, please visit https://www.churchofthecommonground.org/donate

You may also pledge for 2019 using the pledge card mailed to each parish in the diocese, or by emailing vicar@churchofthecommonground.org

The streets of Atlanta are filled with greater love because all of you have shared the common gift of God’s love.

#commongiftscommonground

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Theology from the Margins

Many of our Common Ground community participated in Theology from the Margins—a faith study program led by seminarians from Columbia Theological Seminary. Over the course of several Thursday afternoons, the group talked about God, faith, and shared stories of their lives.

On September 12, 2018, a celebration of that ongoing conversation of God’s abiding relationship with his people was held at Central Presbyterian’s Fellowship Hall.

Our common ground as people nurtured by the uncommon, unending love of God is a celebration indeed!

Welcome to Our New Curate

Earlier today at our Sunday service, Pastor Monica announced that we have yet another reason to celebrate as Church of the Common Ground.  We have a new curate!  Our new curate is The Rev. Kenya Thompson and she will be assisting Pastor Monica in growing our faith community.

Please welcome her and learn more about her in the biography below.

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"The Reverend Kenya Thompson grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is a graduate of Howard University (B.S.), American University (M.Ed.), and Emory University, Candler School of Theology (M.Div.). Previous to becoming a Priest, Kenya worked in college guidance and counseling for over 15 years. From 2013-2016, Kenya attended Candler School of Theology. In her tenure there she completed her Seminarian Internship at Church of the Good Shepherd in Covington, Georgia. In May of 2016 she graduated from Candler school of theology with certificates in Episcopal Studies and Black Church studies. Passionate about outreach, evangelism and formation, she joined the staff of Emmaus House as Director of Leadership development where she was responsible for directing the Road Episcopal Service Corps. In addition, she worked as a Deacon in the Emmaus House Chapel.

Kenya adamantly believes in the abundance of God’s grace and mercy, the power of prayer and that we are all vessels of God’s love. She is committed to guiding God’s people as they strive to live their faith and share their love each other.

Kenya is married to Malcolm Thompson, her high school sweetheart. They live in Old Fourth Ward. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, especially Asian Cuisine; listening to music from a diversity of genres and riding her bike on the beltline."

The Blessings of Home

Each year, the Church of the Common Ground community participates in the building of a Habitat for Humanity home alongside our friends at St. Anne's Episcopal Church.  This year we were there just after the foundation had been laid and the walls were up.  Our projects included helping to put shingles on the roof and get the insulation put in.  We helped with the building blocks of a new home.

And, we met the lovely woman who will share this home with her two children.  We worked and laughed with other volunteers.  We shared on this day the smiles and joy and work that are the building blocks of community.

Beautiful and blessed building blocks!  How have you helped to lay the building blocks of community today?

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The Theologians Within Us and Among Us

On Thursday morning, Common Ground members participated in the first of several introductory courses that are part of a theological study program called Theology from the Margins.  

 

On this first day, we were challenged to consider "Who is a theologian?"  And, we learned that everyone is a theologian.  Everyone...no matter where they come from...no matter what their life experiences...everyone can think about God and God's relation to us and to the world.

 

We also learned that some theologians believe that those on the margins of society have a privileged perspective when it comes to theology.  Common Ground participants then shared many stories of encountering God amidst homelessness and offered a glimpse into the unique perspective their experiences bring to understanding God's relationship with all people.

 

We are so grateful for the many groups that have made this program possible.  Funding for the courses came from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta's Innovations in Ministry program.  Space and other resources have been provided by Central Outreach  and by Central Presbyterian Church.  And, we thank Professor Melissa Browning of Columbia Seminary for providing organizational support and hospitality, and Professor Christopher Holmes for providing instruction.

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O God of Great Comfort

On Wednesday evening, members of Church of the Common Ground visited new friends at Holy Comforter.  Common Ground worshiped with the people of Holy Comforter.  We cleaned the dining hall, made dinner and served our new friends the evening meal.  We laughed, we talked, we learned about the paintings on the walls and talked with some of the artists who made them.  There was even time for a competitive game of bingo.  Dear God, thank you for once again reminding us that one of your greatest blessings of comfort in this life is that we have each other.

The Topography of Our Soul's Journey

Bible study yesterday explored the rest of the story of Stephen.  We heard him look to the journey of the people of Israel and their relationship with God. We then drew maps of our journeys with God and with each other.

The compelling question for us yesterday, we also offer to all of you:  "When/where has God done a miracle in your life, or delivered you from a tough spot?"  For our community, answering this question was a wellspring of surprise and hope.

"Brimming with God's grace and energy"

We welcomed our new intern Windsor Jones to Bible study today.  We have been talking about Acts of the Apostles and today's reading was about Stephen, a man "brimming with God's grace and energy."  Everyone shared stories about the Stephens in their lives and communities who show love and compassion.  Who are the amazing Stephens in your life?  Have you thanked them today?

Acts 6:8

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"What deeds of power are being done by his hands!"

Just how much good ministry can be done in one hour on a Sunday?   

If we let our hearts lead the work of our hands, we can welcome each other, pass out bulletins to each other, prepare coffee for each other, serve each other, bless each other, play music for each other, cut cake and and share a smile with each other, give peace to each other, receive from God and share with each other, pray with each other.  All this by lending our hearts and hands as community. 

Thank you Lizzy for a wonderful year of sharing your heart and ministry with Church of the Common Ground.  Blessings to you as you walk toward your new ventures.

Thanks Christ Church Norcross for sharing our worship today!   

Mark 6:2

“...there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart"

The warm summer days are upon us.  Our feet carry us through this world and grow weary when the sun beams hotly and the breeze comes not often enough.  But, even in this blazing heat we know God's loving kindness at Common Soles where feet are washed and cooled and cared for.   God's servants walking this life with all their hearts are restored and refreshed so that they may continue their journey.