“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.

"I am the resurrection and the life..."

Today we buried our beloved friend Maurice Thomas Lewis, Sr.  Our quiet service at the garden at St. Luke's Episcopal Church was attended by many members of Church of the Common Ground.  May he enjoy his mansion in heaven (John 14: 2)

In recognition of prayerful and dedicated work

Last Thursday, seven members of the Church of the Common Ground community received their certificates for completing Peer-to-Peer Counseling training.  This training program, led by the Rev. Brady Radford, was made possible by generous funding from the Episcopal Community Foundation of Middle and North Georgia.

Peer-to-Peer counseling training has helped the members who completed the program to better understand how to be present for each other in pastoral care.  The training provided tools that members can use when called upon to be God's loving presence for others.

Congratulations to our amazing Church of the Common Ground pastoral care givers!

June Newsletter 2018

So many wonderful community experiences in June:  a retreat to Koinonia Farms, welcoming a new intern to our group, and exploring what it means to be followers of Jesus as we learned about the Acts of the Apostles at Bible study.

Below is a photo of a rained out Bible study where we took refuge at the Landmark Diner and ended the lesson with smiles and silly faces.  See more about our recent spiritual and community journeys in our June newsletter

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Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

Each week many volunteers help at our Common Soles non-medical foot clinic.  They wash feet.  They listen.  They pray with others.  They are present for others.  Serving Christ in all persons is not always easy but is our call as community.  Church of the Common Ground is so grateful to the Common Soles volunteers...long time supporters like Lorraine, Peggy, Caroline and Jen, as well as newcomers like Maureen and Murdock.  Bless you!

And, sometimes serving Christ in all persons is making lunches for our volunteers after a hard morning of serving others.  Episcopal Church of the Epiphany prepares lunches for our volunteers every week.  Volunteers gather, pray, and share ideas on how to make our ministry better for all. Thank you Church of the Epiphany!

 

"They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. "

A little bit of rain just couldn't stop Bible Study in Woodruff Park on Wednesday.  Despite a deluge earlier, the clouds parted and the sky brightened in time for our weekly gathering of scripture reading, lively discussion and fellowship.  Marcus helped us wipe down the chairs so participants would not get wet.  Others rearranged chairs in the shade.  Slowly our group grew and contained friends old and new.  Like the early church we gathered, we prayed, we encountered scripture and we reflected on what it means to be a follower of Jesus and members of a community.