muriel-kennedy-story1.jpgI am happy to share about my amazing Contextual Education I experience with Church of the Common Ground (COCG)! COCG is a worshipping community on the streets of Atlanta that shares the Good News that we are all God’s beloved. Through my Con Ed I experience at COCG, I was able to see firsthand what it means to be God’s beloved as I witnessed how Pastor Kimberly Jackson and her team modeled what it means to show love in word, action, and deed.  It was truly unconditional, agape love that was shown, shared, and expressed among and between the clergy and the parishioners. As clergy saw a need, they met that need. Everything was done in a natural and authentic manner, with warmth, compassion, care, and genuine concern. These are a few of the things that made this an experience that I will forever cherish.  

During pre-COVID times, things would have been slightly different, in that there would have been structured in-person worship services and Bible study classes being conducted on a weekly basis, as well as an opportunity to engage in the Common Soles foot-washing clinic. While we were not able to participate in the in-person corporate service-based activities, I’m pleased to share that, come rain or shine, we were able to consistently interact with the parishioners on a weekly basis. We provided prepared lunches, hot coffee, socks, blankets, hand and foot warmers, depending on the weather, and prayed with them while adhering to the COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. It would have been great to participate in the structured corporate worship services and the foot washing clinic. Nevertheless, my classmates and I were able to spend quality time getting to know several of the parishioners on a one-on-one basis, discern their specific needs, and do what we could to address those needs. This was one of the most rewarding aspects of my Con Ed I site experience, along with getting to know Pastor Kimberly Jackson and her dynamic team.

While serving with COCG, it was heartwarming to see how something as simple as providing a parishioner with a platform to sing from his heart can be a transformative experience. This was the case for a parishioner who longed to sing songs like I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe. He wanted to use his voice to the glory of God and minister to folks through song to lift their spirits, be it an audience of one or of many. COCG recognized the parishioner’s passion for singing and was able to make his dream come true, which served to affirm his love for the Lord and passion for singing. The unconditional love and support shown by the COCG community was truly amazing. This is what a church in action on the streets of Atlanta looks like, in spirit and truth!muriel-kennedy-story3.jpg

Top photo: Candler Con Ed students Zach Plants, Trace Rudolph, and Muriel Kennedy (far right) with Shereetha Jackson (third from right), director of community engagement at Church of the Common Ground.