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 in NJ, but moved around a lot as a kid. He lived in Venezeula after graduating from Penn State, then eventually returned to NYC to work with a logistics firm. His faith journey began unexpectedly in his late 20s at a conservative Evangelical church, and was hired by that church a few years later. Feeling the call to full-time ministry but realizing the limits & exclusion of his current context, he & Jill moved to LA to study divinity. There he completed his MDiv, got ordained in the PCUSA & accepted an invitation back to NYC to gather a progressive church for the next generation. His upbringing is one of contrasts: grew up financially insecure but in an affluent town; half-Venezuelan but white passing; raised by strong women but without a dad. This history has made him particularly sensitive to how unhealthy powers affect cultures: racism, sexism, heteronormativity, economic inequality, ableism, whiteness, etc. His life has shaped his heart towards the marginalized, left out & left behind, and he's launching CG to assure all have access to God's banquet table & all know they're part of God's family.
Besides serving as the Worship Arts Leader at Common Ground, Chantilly Mers-Pickett is a jack of all trades: minister, musician, artist and educator For the past ten years, her ministry has centered on the intersection of education, liturgy and social justice - leading anti-racist trainings, equity trainings and guiding anti-oppression Bible studies. Chantilly is most passionate about the ways churches like Common Ground can create space to awaken authenticity, human connection and our creative, collective power as people of faith. A native Hawaiian, Chantilly moved to California to study at Pepperdine University before moving to NYC to attain her Masters in Divinity at Union Theological Seminary - completing that degree in 2011. Chantilly is an ordained minister in the Disciples of Christ, and she currently splits her time between developing CG's worship culture and working United Methodist Women at The Inter-church Center in New York City as a faith & justice educator and event specialist.
As a native of Puerto Rico, Jeanne recently moved to NYC to continue her career. She works on disaster legal aid and relief for a national nonprofit that uses technology to increase access to justice. She bounced around several Evangelical & non-denominational churches for two years, until she found CG. She's been with CG since the start, and still happily calls us home. Jeanne is excited to develop CG's vision of seeking equity, peace & justice locally.
Born and raised in Michigan, Chris came to Colombia for undergrad and ended up sticking around! For the last 15 years he's called the city home, and he currently serves as Chief Investment Officer at a bank. CG knows Chris for his passion to include and his heart for discipleship. He joined 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.
Andy is originally from Colorado but has been in NYC for most of his adult life. He's the founder of Grafted NYC, an organization for LGBTQ+ Christians in NYC, and he holds a certificate in Public Theology from Newbigin House of Studies. He's also currently studying church planting at PTS. He lives in Brooklyn with his fiance Joe and spends almost all his free time managing their dog’s Instagram account. Andy is excited to be an integral leader at CG, especially as he himself explores a potential call to plant a church in the near future.
Jill was born and raised in NJ and attended FIT for undergrad, having studied Interior Design. After bouncing between NYC and LA, she & Chris now call East Harlem home. Her favorite thing on Earth is her golden retriever mix (Lola), and when she's not hustling across the country growing her freelance designer business, she's in Central Park or on Randalls Island trouncing around with Lola. Jill joined the leadership team to assure CG delivers on its promise to form a community that values all people, accepts everyone for who they are, and ultimately sees beauty in all things!
Originally from California, Brian now calls NYC home. With his passion for leadership and a Masters in Management, Brian currently serves as GM of a luxury dog retreat in FiDi. He's also cares deeply about creating a healthy leadership culture at CG. An exile of conservative Christianity, Brian spent most of his adult life as a spiritual wanderer. Needless to say, he's helping CG create safe space for (alleged) outcast and asking more good questions rather than giving easy answers. He's excited to build a community that's relevant in the 21st century.
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.