What's worse than having to pretend for others? We prioritize being honest, open & real. We don’t pretend and we refuse to judge. Come as you are & be as you are. We ask this of you because we expect this of ourselves.
We welcome & celebrate everyone in our midst. We resist & reject the hierarchies that divide and prioritize gender, race, education level, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. We affirm the fullness of everyone's humanity.
We accept the call to do what we can with what we have. We commit to devoting our time & resources to subverting brokenness. We are accomplices in the fight for equity, we seek peace in the city & we advocate for the unheard.
We all know what it's like to feel alone, disconnected, isolated and burned out. Life can be hard, and it's not meant to be lived alone. As we commit to journeying together & sharing our stories with one another, we become family.
We celebrate the diversity of human thought, experience and story. We value mutuality & shared narratives. Leadership is flat, voices are heard and there's unity in our diversity. For creative life to flourish, we need each other.
Black & Brown lives matter. Queer & Trans lives matter. Immigrant & Undocumented lives matter. As the hands & feet of God, we stand with our neighbors & siblings. As stewards, we work to protect the earth and all who inhabit her. We are accomplices in the work that supports human flourishing, justice, liberation and love.
We are a community where everyone has a place at the table, because God makes room for us all. We limit no one's identity, participation or potential, because none of us are free until all of us are free:
We affirm all gender & sexual orientations, because God sees each of us in our fullness & has created room for us all. Regardless of where we are on the spectrum - queer, non-binary, asexual and straight alike: we’re all welcome here.
We advocate for equity & justice, because Jesus calls us one body. No matter skin color, ethnicity or citizenship status, we advocate for access & inclusion. We are allies to all migrants, people of color and all who are treated unfairly under racist and prejudice systems.
We embody generosity, because God is generous with us. We believe our worth & value in God's family has nothing to do with our wealth, earning potential, or possessions, or our capacity to spend in this economy. Rich, poor, indebted or debt-free: all can belong here.
We embrace diverse views, because God includes each of us in God’s divine family. We're all are on a spiritual journey filled with hope, certainty, mystery and doubt. Christian, non-Christian, seeker or other: each of us is trying to figure it out, we’re committed to doing it together, and God is present in our midst.
In response to the unyielding, reckless love God has for each and all of us, let us love & see one another as God loves & sees us!
Chris was born and raised outside NYC and, after graduating Penn State, he lived in Venezuela for a bit before returning to NYC for work. His faith journey began in his 20s at a conservative Evangelical church, and a few years later he was working at that church. After learning that church's policies on queerness & non-male leadership, he had a crisis of faith. Rejecting the exclusivity of his current tribe but feeling called to ministry, he & Jill moved to LA so he could pursue graduate studies & ordination in the PCUSA. After finishing his Masters in Divinity, he accepted an invitation back to NYC to launch a new church. Chris' identity & upbringing is one of contrasts: growing up without a dad, he was raised by his mom and older sister; he has Venezuelan & non-white heritage but is white passing; his family was economically insecure in an affluent town. This history has shaped him to see the ways inequity (sexism, racism, whiteness, heteronormativity, poverty, ableism, etc) shapes culture. His heart is for the marginalized, left out & left behind, and he's organizing Common Ground so all know they have a seat at God's banquet table.
Besides serving as the Worship Arts Leader at Common Ground, Chantilly Mers-Pickett is a jack of all trades. She’s an ordained minister, musician, artist and faith educator. For the last ten years, her ministry has focused on the inherent intersectionality of education, liturgy & social justice. She also leads anti-racist trainings, equity trainings & anti-oppression Bible studies. Chantilly is most passionate about the ways churches like Common Ground create space to awaken authenticity, enhance human connection and mobilize our creative, collective power as people of faith. As a native Hawaiian, Chantilly moved to CA for to study at Pepperdine before moving to NYC to attain her Masters in Divinity at Union Theological Seminary. She completed her degree in 2011 and got ordained as a minister in the Disciples of Christ. She currently splits her time between developing Common Ground’s worship culture and working with the United Methodist Women at The Inter-church Center as a faith & justice educator and event specialist.
Born and raised in Michigan, Chris came to Columbia University for undergrad and ended up sticking around! So for the last 15 years he's called the city home, and he currently serves as Chief Investment Officer at a bank. Common Ground knows Chris for his passion to include and his heart for discipleship. He joined the leadership excited to plant grow a progressive church that centers itself in the Jesus tradition, finds unity in its diversity, and takes seriously its commitment to include others.
Sarah is a Brooklyn-based music educator & musician who's always learning new instruments. Originally from Long Island, Sarah came to NYC to study at NYU, then Columbia. She's passionate about equity and access in education, especially arts education, and has worked for numerous non-profits who share this vision. Sarah is excited to join Common Ground and to shape a worship culture for post-Evangelicals that includes everyone in the process.
After stops in NJ, VA, FL and England, Lance now calls NYC home. Before earning his MDiv at Princeton, he completed an MA in Ministerial Leadership and a BS in Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Currently, Lance is pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ, works at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, and is learning all he can about how all of us can more authentically connect to ourselves, one another, and all of creation to the Divine.
When it comes to our affiliations, we value radical clarity. We believe it's critical we're crystal clear about who we are, who we are partnered with and who supports us. There are four primary partners we're in relationship with, and they're all doing fantastic work from their own angles - so we thought we'd let you know what they're up to. Here's a list of the networks we are connected with, and we hope you can get to know more about them.
1001 New Worshipping Communities is the church planting initiative of the PCUSA denomination. Part of the the goal for 1001 is to plant more LGBTQIA+ celebrating, justice-focused, Christ-rooted churches in America led by women, queer folx & people of color. 1001NWC has been a major supporter of Common Ground and regardless of our future affiliation, they've helped us tremendously with strategy, partnership & grants.
Church Clarity is a crowd-sourced database of Christian congregations - mostly for (allege) non-denom churches - scored by teams of volunteers based on how easy it is to find a church's Actively Enforced Policy online. It evaluates church websites for policies around leadership & participation that impact LGBTQ+ people, people of color, and women. Common Ground is both a partner & supporter of this work, because #clarityisreasonable.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination. Rooted in the Reformed tradition, the PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US, and is known for its relatively progressive positions on justice, gender, economy and race. The PCUSA is a financial supporter of Common Ground and our organizing pastor, Chris Romine, is an ordained minister in the denomination.
W/ is a collective of Christian faith leaders & community leaders united to support the manifold ministries of progressive Christianity. While many from W/ come from an Evangelical heritage, most have deconstructed, or are in the process of deconstructing and reconstructing their Christian faith. W/ is a growing space for relationship building, collaboration and critical thinking around matters race, gender and justice - and the ways each intersects faith.