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!   

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“...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.

Sacred Morning Prayer

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, Church of the Common Ground meets at Central Outreach to participate in the ancient and honorable tradition of morning prayer.  Gathered around a small wooden table with our ecclesia cross in its center, members read scripture, reflect on the world around us, pray for each other and for all God's people, and share in fellowship.

Even on one of the busiest streets in downtown Atlanta, morning prayer invokes moments of quiet and calm.  It is a testimony to the stillness of God's love even in the most unexpected of places.

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Koinonia Farms

Some of the folks from Church of the Common Ground enjoyed a time of retreat to Koinonia Farms this past week. We enjoyed relaxing in the great outdoors, learning about this intentional community's role in Civil Rights, and touring their pecan factory. We delighted in tasting their chocolate pecan bark!

Photos of our time together coming soon!

Give us this day

The Lord's Prayer is said every Sunday and in the prayers of many even when it isn't Sunday.  Sometimes what is so familiar benefits from experiencing it anew.  Lizzy Trawick, an Episcopal Road Fellow, led the Common Ground Bible study through an interactive exploration of the Lord's Prayer on Wednesday.  We honored God, each other, and our hopes for God's Kingdom here on Earth with battery candles, lessons in geography, the sharing of wonderful yeast rolls, and a sacred washing of each other's hands.  We ended with laughter and everyone taking a silly picture.

Bible study normally meets at Woodruff Park.  Because Atlanta was so rainy on Wednesday, we also enjoyed hot coffee and soup at the Landmark Diner instead of the park.  Our friends at the diner are always so kind to us when the heavens bring forth rains and storms.