Sam Humphrey writes for Episcopal Divinity School’s website:
Church is a little different for EDS alumna the Rev. Mary Wetzel (MDiv ’06), vicar of the Church of the Common Ground in Atlanta. Her parish has no wooden pews, stained-glass windows, or even four walls and a foundation. Their “church bell” is a gong. Wetzel and her parishioners congregate for service in Woodruff Park, in the city’s downtown area.
Wetzel will speak and receive the Rev. Dr. Suzanne Hiatt Award at this year’s Alumni/ae Days on May 7 and 8. The award recognizes an EDS alumnus/a for work he or she has done within ten years of graduation that reflects Hiatt’s “pioneering, prophetic, and pastoral” ministry. Hiatt was one of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women to be ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church in 1974 — without the church’s official blessing.
Wetzel’s church serves people from all walks of life, but many of her parishioners live on the streets in Atlanta, and find the Church of the Common Ground particularly welcoming.
“Some people think we’re a ministry to homeless, but we are a church community to streets of Atlanta … and we are growing together in recognizing God in each one of us, and that we are called to serve,” she said. Though the outdoor setting distinguishes them from other Episcopal churches, their Sunday service is just what you would expect. The congregation gathers around the Word and the Sacrament, reads from the scriptures, sings from the hymnal, and holds Eucharist.
Visit Church of the Common Ground’s website.